Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Little Tavern - "Buy 'em by the Bag"

“Buy ‘em by the Bag” was the advertising slogan for this chain of hamburger joints. It is interesting how the mention of a bag of miniature hamburgers can stir up so many nostalgic memories in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. community. I hear stories with vivid details of the social rituals revolving around a bag of tasty burgers. A friend confessed to some juvenile high-jinx performed with the burgers in the 1970’s. He and his teenage friends occasionally drank beer late into the night and in their alcohol haze wandered into the LT and bought a “bag ‘o bombs” then promptly tossed them at passing cars. Last fall an elderly widower expressed his yearning for the return of the miniature burgers. To him they really hit the spot. When the Little Tavern on Holabird Avenue in Baltimore closed in 2008 it left a big void in his weekly dining-out adventures. He really misses the place. Others admit to consuming cup after cup of coffee as they whiled away the hours on a padded chrome stool at the tiny counter. In my memory the small buildings’ exteriors were a tudor style and yes the interiors were little as their name promised. However I have an assortment of some very early black and white photos, (thanks to a Baltimorean named Steve) which depict a suggestion of castle-style architecture. I have included one here. Don’t ask me about the location. Perhaps it was somewhere in the suburban D.C. area. According to legend the chain began to enjoy success around the late 1920s in the D.C. urban and suburban neighborhoods. It is impressive that they owned a fleet of delivery trucks which probably delivered, among other things, the linens for the drawers where the burgers were kept warm. To quell my craving for delivery trucks I chose to include one in my painting of the Little Tavern.


  1. Hi, the black and white photo you have is Little Tavern washington No. 2. It opened February 12, 1929 at 3701 New Hampshire Ave. NW Washington DC. Amazingly, that location's still there and recognizable. It's currently operating as the sweet mango cafe.


  2. Thanks so much for writing Spencer. Am happy to have this mystery solved. And how interesting to know that this building, though somewhat altered, still provides a place where food is served.