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The Silver Diner is not known as a dieter’s mecca. There’s something about the Oreo cookie shake and the pancakes piled as thick as a stack of Business 2.0 magazines that makes it seem unlikely that the techies and government contractors who descend on the Tysons Corner, Va., location for a working meal will emerge with only their business portfolios a little fatter. Nonetheless, operating partner Orson Williams reports that many of his regular breakfast clients have recently been placing orders for bacon — nothing but bacon — as well as pancakes without butter and eggs without the yolks. It looks suspiciously as though the Atkins diet has hit Northern Virginia. Even though Williams says the trend has begun to subside, he believes the clientele at the Tysons Corner restaurant remains unlike those at the other dozen or so other locations in the Rockville, Md.-based Silver Diner chain. His staff has learned to accommodate guests who tend to spread documents all around their booths or the power lunchers who show up knowing the names, but not the faces, of the folks they are meeting. “It’s kind of unique to this location,” says Williams. “A lot of suits and a lot of business going on.” On a busy weekday, the view from the waiting area — where early footage of Elvis singing “Ready to Rock” flickers from a TV monitor — reveals plenty of small clusters of folks in suits hard at work at their booth or table. In the classic diner style, each booth has its own mini-jukebox, allowing entrepreneurs to contemplate cutting-edge technology from a different era, such as 45-rpm records featuring country crooner Patsy Cline or doo wop from the Del Vikings. But almost no one seems to be playing their jukeboxes, perhaps because they have already downloaded what they need via MP3 or loaded up on CDs at the sprawling shopping mall nearby. Indeed, mixed in with the business types are a healthy stream of shoppers and families, who can pick up a cardboard replica of a classic American car from behind the counter and see just how many packets of Sweet & Low fit inside. Those solo diners perched on the pink-cushioned counter stools have a bird’s-eye view of the open grill and kitchen churning out standard American fare with a few local or newfangled twists. The heart and soul of the menu includes burgers, naturally, as well as patty melts, meat loaf, and salads. More exotic possibilities include the Thai shrimp and pasta and vegetarian specialties, while nods to regional cuisine include a crab-cake sandwich. There is very little on the menu that costs as much as $9. Since the Atkins diet seems to be fading, it may be tempting to try those fresh fruit pies and cakes rotating behind the glass of the cylindrical cooler case near the register, or the frozen delights built on a foundation of Breyer’s ice cream. Meanwhile, Williams says he is considering another small innovation for his business customers: A sandwich board by the entry where patrons can leave notes for their appointments, directing them to the right table.

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