As 29 Diner recovers from a devastating fall fire, a Vienna community organization has partnered with the kitchen team at the historic Fairfax restaurant to revamp its menu and organize food and charity drives.
Vienna Moose Lodge #1896 welcomed restaurant executive chef Earl Green to work on Monday, January 10 in a temporary setup to provide meals to lodge members at events such as Sunday morning all-you-can-eat breakfasts.
“Most of the members who sit on the board have been in the restaurant at some point in the past 10 or 20 years,” lodge president Dan Sullivan said. “I’ve been going there since I was in high school.”
The collaboration began when lodge board member Scott Flesch contacted 29 Diner owner John Wood following the fire that destroyed the restaurant’s kitchen two days before Thanksgiving.
Wood said the kitchen was a total loss, but his insurance company gave him the green light to rebuild. The works will require gutting and rebuilding the kitchen, and the dining room needs a fire, soot and heat remediation.
“Our community just rallied around us to support us,” Wood said.
Local teachers launched a GoFundMe that raised more than $60,000 in 30 days, and the Salvation Army delivered a mobile kitchen to the restaurant at 10:30 a.m. the day after the fire.
The company has provided 100,000 free meals over the past two years to the community, including those living in domestic violence shelters, healthcare workers and veterans, Wood said.
Through this new partnership, the Vienna Moose Lodge – a fraternal organization that organizes social events for its members and supports philanthropic groups – has hired Wood and Green as paid workers. Four other restaurant staff will also get interim work.
The restaurant was temporarily using the Salvation Army mobile kitchen unit to run operations, but needed something more stable.
Wood expressed his gratitude for the lodge’s support. He will run his catering business from his hall at 9616 Courthouse Road in Vienna from this month under a lease agreement.
He also plans to continue campaigns recognizing community heroes, as an ongoing suicide prevention effort.
As for the 29 Diner’s Fairfax Boulevard location, Woods hopes to reopen on July 20, which would coincide with the restaurant’s 75th anniversary.
Meanwhile, the lodge welcomed temporary staff into its kitchen after bringing in volunteers.
“We’re looking forward to different dishes,” Sullivan said, noting his favorite 29 Diner dishes include shrimp and grits and a dish with mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans and chops. pork. “Ultimately, I hope he shows us and the new staff we hire in the future to continue… his good food in the future.”
Founded in 1958, the Vienna Moose Lodge is part of the Moose International Fraternity, which began in 1888 in Louisville, Kentucky, and today has more than one million members in 1,500 lodges in the United States, Canada and in Great Britain.
The Vienna lodge has seen significant membership growth in recent months, adding 122 members since April to 405, according to Sullivan.
“I can anticipate that we’re going to enroll new members just because John came to help us,” he said.