Bob and Edith's Diner on Columbia Pike in Arlington is firmly ensconced in the pantheon of legendary Washington area eateries. Its family owners have served up the heartiest of foods for what seems like innumerable decades.
But unlike its hallowed brethren (Ben's Chili Bowl on U Street and the Weenie Beenie in Shirlington just to name a few), Bob and Edith's is open 24 hours a day. This makes it the place to go to finish off a long night of beverage consuming with bacon, eggs and grits.
Adam White, an 18-year-old Arlington native, is a waiter at the living-room size restaurant. Despite his young age, he's experienced a lot working various jobs at the diner. Over one of Bob and Edith's famous half smokes, White talked to the Arlington Connection about night rushes, 16-hour shifts and the perfect 3 a.m. song.
Arlington Connection:How long have you lived in Arlington?
Adam White: I’ve lived here my whole life.
AC: Where did you go to school?
AW: I went to Wakefield High School.
AC: What’s your favorite movie?
AW: Coming from a guy who doesn’t watch movies, I’d say my favorite movie is American History X because I’ve heard some great stories about what that movie’s done to people who’ve seen it.
AC: Do you have any hobbies?
AW: My hobby is making money. Generating wealth: that is a good hobby of mine.
AC: If you could take a road trip anywhere right now, where would you go?
AW: If I could take a road trip I’d go to California. The son of the owner of the diner is in business school in California. It takes him away from here. He’s here for this week but if he wasn’t here I’d go out there in Santa Barbara.
AC: Is there any "hidden treasure" in Arlington that you think people should know about?
AW: I want it to stay hidden. (Laughs) That’s a hard question. Bob and Edith’s is pretty cool. A lot of places have a corporate-owned diner, like a Denny’s. But Arlington has Bob and Edith’s. It’s a family owned diner that’s been here forever. You know that if you come here at 2 a.m., it’s going to be a party.
AC: How long have you worked at Bob & Edith’s?
AW: I’ve been a waiter here for 6 months. But before that I was a busboy and a deliver guy.
AC: How long has Bob and Edith’s been around in Arlington?
AW: Since 1969 and it’s still family owned. Bob and Edith, the two people who started it, had three sons and one daughter. Now the business is down to one of their sons. He has a daughter and a son — the grandkids of Bob and Edith — and they are moving up and running it now.
AC: How did you come to work here?
AW: Bob and Edith started off as our next-door neighbors about 12 years ago, so I met them that way.
AC: How busy do you get here on weekends?
AW: Busy enough to have a line out the door.
AC: Do you ever have any slow weekends?
AW: Maybe we’re slow in comparison to the weekend before. But at 11 on a Saturday morning, every booth and every stool will be taken. At night, 2 a.m. is when the Virginia clubs close and 3 is when the D.C. clubs close. So we get two rushes at 2 and at 3. I just finished working since last night, a 16-hour shift. I worked a night shift and a day shift.
AC: Do you do that often?
AW: I don’t work 16 hour shifts all the time. It was just a situation where they couldn’t find anyone so I came in.
AC: What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen here during the night shift?
AW: The craziest thing? Well, you see guys coming in here with bloody faces. But that’s just part of the nighttime. This is the only place in Arlington County that has a restaurant that’s open after 3 a.m. Everyone and anyone are here, no matter who they are. But I’ve seen some pretty cool things here too. Like if the right song plays on the jukebox — say for instance, "Friends in Low Places" by Garth Brooks — this place goes ridiculous and it’s just a big party. Nobody even cares about where their drinks are or anything like that. For the 2 minutes during that song, everyone is just singing along. It turns into a club, almost. It’s like an after hours club.
AC: What’s the best part about working here?
AW: If you do work hard, you make that tip. It’s instant gratification for the work that you do.