Metro Weekly

The 18th & U Duplex Diner is Closed

The Duplex Diner, a popular LGBTQ-owned venue, has announced its immediate closure after its landlord terminated its sublease.

18th & U Duplex Diner in Washington, D.C. - Photo by JD Uy
18th & U Duplex Diner – File Photo: JD Uy / Metro Weekly

The 18th & U Duplex Diner, an Adams Morgan-based staple opened in 1998 by Eric Hirshfield has closed following a dispute with the venue’s landlord. The venue has long attracted loyal LGBTQ patrons for its homestyle, down-to-earth food and vibrant drink specials.

A post on the diner’s Facebook page (copied from a note posted to the establishment’s front door) says that JAM Holdings (owned by Mark Hunker and Jeff McCracken) was notified on May 31 that the landlord would be terminating the venue’s sublease on July 31.

JAM Holdings,  has agreed to sell its assets to the diner’s general manager, Kelly Laczko, who is not mentioned by name in the note.

Laczko will be “creating a new concept” for the space, which will reportedly reopen under a new name later this summer, possibly as early as August.

“This decision is not made lightly,” the post reads. “We know how much The Duplex Diner has meant to so many people who worked here, played here, had our rosé-all-day here, laughed here, cried here, over-imbibed here, celebrated here, found love here, and trusted us enough to leave credit cards on file here. Like us, we hope you have memories that last a lifetime.

“We leave this community with love and gratitude and will miss this beloved neighborhood institution more than we can describe. Thank you all for making The Duplex Diner a stop on your journey!”

JAM Holdings also notes that it is searching for a location in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, to  open “Duplex 2.0” and continue the diner’s legacy.

News of the closure spread on Facebook, where people shared memories and lamented the loss of yet another much-beloved D.C. institution. 

“This is beyond sad. I’m heartbroken,” wrote one Facebook user.

“Sad to hear, so many memories here!” wrote a second poster.

A third person lamented the loss of the Diner’s trademark “Lemon Squeeze” drink. The popular cocktail, which typically costs $13 but has been offered at a reduced price on several special occasions, consists of vodka, muddled lemons, sour mix, and Sprite. 

“Is there any chance that the new owner would reconsider at least a closing party?” asked someone else. “I hate the thought that this place that has meant so many to so many members of our LGBTQ+ community and allies over the years would just immediately disappear without a chance to say goodbye.”

In a message posted to social media, Laczko sought to alleviate the community’s concerns over the loss of a beloved LGBTQ-affirming space.

“Tots and squeezes never die,” she wrote on Instagram. “While the Duplex Diner owners may have closed the original spot abruptly, we will be opening your next hang in this location. We remember your order, know where you sit and when you left your credit card.

“Watch this space. More to come,” she added.

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!