“On several occasions, Elvis has been sighted eating here,” said Jim Filipidis, co-owner with his twin brother, Nick, of the Honey Bee Diner, 7346 Ritchie Highway in Glen Burnie.
Evidently, Baltimore has an abundance of Elvis impersonators. “I’ve seen two of them sit at my counter,” Jim added, “They’ll eye each other from opposite ends.”
That would be the counter that stands in front of the grill where everything on the menu is served twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
Jim even prepares something special when customers request it. Sour beef and dumplings for the pregnant daughter of a Honey Bee regular was added to the menu when the mother-to-be had a craving for it.
I had the grilled chicken wrap, $7.79. Served warm, of course. The wrap was soft, flavorful (herb and garlic), delicious. The generous chunks of grilled chicken combined with a Cesar dressing rich in parmesan cheese and crisp, fresh romaine lettuce were exceptional.
My lunch was served with cole slaw just the way I like it, not sweet; it was creamy and tart. The dill pickle slices were also good and the French fries were hot off the fryer.
KC waited on us. She has been with the Honey Bee thirteen years, working her way up to the favorable lunchtime shift. We noticed lots of fellas sitting all around us being served large hot meals and eating their vegetables.
Larry Harris, who said he was sixty-two years old, has been coming to the Honey Bee since he was ten. “Because the food’s good, the people are good, and I almost always run into someone I know,” he told us.
Larry pointed to his waist, “Look at me! The food here is good!”
The Honey Bee’s specials ranged from chicken ala king on toast (when was the last time you had chicken ala king?) with one vegetable for $10.25 to country fried steak, port cutlets, meatloaf or sautéed chicken livers with two vegetables for $9.99. Vegetables included baked or mashed potatoes, sting beans, pickled beets, spinach, apple sauce or macaroni salad.
There are also favorites on the menu like a grilled cheese sandwich for $4.99 or something fancier: the Monte Christo with ham and turkey, topped with cheddar cheese and served on Texas toast for $7.59.
My companion ordered two eggs over easy with an English muffin and hash browns for $5.99. The eggs were done to perfection and the hash browns had a slightly crumbling coat to them. My companion pronounced the whole meal, “Very good!”
The Honey Bee Diner has been on Ritchie Highway since 1952. It started as a “car hop” where the waitresses served the food on roller skates. One of those waitresses, Nellie Anderson, began her sixty-three year career at the Honey Bee on roller skates.
The Honey Bee has changed owners three times. The current location is about a mile down the road and across the street from the original. Jim’s dad, George Filipidis, purchased it from the second owner in 1975. Jim’s dad retired in 1992 and Jim, who studied accounting at Villa Julie College and worked as a bartender, took over the business with his brother.
“It’s that big, Greek guilt thing,” he shrugged. “But I really didn’t like accounting.”
The Honey Bee serves 1,500 meals a day on the weekends. “You’ll see a line of headlights on Ritchie Highway to our parking lot starting at about 1:45 AM each weekend night,” Jim said. “By 2:30, the human line is starting out the door. It’s not quiet again until 4:25 AM.”
Governor Schaeffer was a regular at the Honey Bee, according to Jim. “He’d come from Baltimore [when he was mayor] or Annapolis [when he was Maryland’s Governor]. Governor Schaeffer loved it here,” he added.
We asked KC, our waitress, if she ever waited on Elvis.
“Oh yes! He was very good looking,” she said. “He was doing a show in New York. He ordered breakfast.”
She added that Elvis came in a Cadillac and he was dressed all in white, with extra wide bell bottom slacks. She asked him if he wanted bananas with peanut butter, which he declined.
KC smiled, cocking her head at the booth right next to us, “He sat right there!”
View Honey Bee Diner in a larger map
CARYN COYLE IS AN ADOPTED BALTIMOREaN. ASIDE FROM ANYTHING CHOCOLATE, HER FAVORITE FOODS ARE CHESAPEAKE BAY CRAB, SILVER QUEEN CORN, AND MARYLAND TOMATOES. SHE CAN BE EMAILED HERE.
PHOTOS BY CARYN COYLE