Thirty years ago (in 1989,) with his business partner Executive Chef Ype Von Hengst, Robert Giaimo co-founded Silver Diner, Inc. Having grown up in diners, he has always seen them as neighborhood gathering places where everyone can find something they like, day or night. Giaimo sought to bridge the gap between tablecloth restaurants and fast food. This vision came to fruition with the establishment of the first Silver Diner in Rockville, MD. Silver Diner, Inc. now has 15 locations, street and airport, in three states and is poised to open additional locations in Gaithersburg (at RIO) this summer; Loudoun County (Commonwealth Center near One Loudoun) next year; Woodmore in Prince Georges County (near Redskins Stadium) next year; Alexandria and Ballston.
Giaimo, a native New Yorker, moved to Washington, DC to pursue his undergraduate education at Georgetown University. As a freshman at Georgetown, Giaimo was responsible for opening and operating the first Blimpies outside of New York City, in Georgetown, DC. Prior to developing the Silver Diner concept, Giaimo founded and served as President of the innovative, award-winning American Café Restaurants; a pioneer in founding the “American Cuisine” movement, and included five gourmet markets and a catering operation. Giaimo also enrolled in Harvard University’s Smaller Company Management Program. Later, Giaimo was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young, Inc. Magazine and Merrill Lynch in 1993. Last year, he was named Restauranteur of the Year by the Maryland Restaurant Association.
Giaimo holds the philosophy that everyone can make a difference; we just have to get involved. He has put this philosophy to work by being an active member in the community.
Giaimo and Silver Diner are champions of community partnership. In 2012 Giaimo served as the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Hitchcock Humanitarian Award Honoree. As an outgrowth of Silver Diner's fundraisers, Giaimo served as Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) Gala Chairman and made a significant impact during his tenure, helping to establish the MDA Gala as a major Washington fundraising event. Giaimo continues to support MDA along with other causes that support the health and wellbeing of youth and young adults. Giaimo also founded the Silver Diner's Eat Well Do Well program (EWDW), an initiative that has provided more than $1 million in funds to improve nutrition and fitness programs in schools, bringing together local and national leaders in the food and educational world to make EWDW a replicable, public/private model national program.
As someone who never rests, Giaimo works constantly with Von Hengst to make the diner the best it can be. As major leaders in food industry trends they successfully brought farm-to-table to the diner model creating a flexitarian menu that appeals to everyone. Most recently, the duo has added vegetarian, plant-based, vegan, gluten-free and low calorie dishes to the menu.
In 2015, Giaimo and Von Hengst launched another restaurant concept—Silver, American Brasserie with the first location in Bethesda. A second location launched in 2017. Silver is modeled on a Paris Brasserie that is more upscale than Silver Diner and features a more refined menu, although still flexitarian. As with Silver Diner, many ingredients at Silver are sourced from local farms and plant-based, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and low calorie items are part of the menu.