284 MARCH/APRIL2015 | BETHESDAMAGAZINE.COM
BETH COX, MANAGER
Beth Cox, 56, says that she remembers criticism more than compliments.
Take the woman who called to complain about a BLT she had ordered.
Her servers had always asked her what type of bread she prefers, but this
time nobody did. Consistency, Cox says, is what keeps regulars returning.
Yet when weighed against the “thank-yous” and the holiday cards
lining the walls, the complaints seem trivial, she says: “It’s so much
more than a restaurant. It’s family.”
Cox, who was hired as a cashier by Wilkes when she was 20, has
seen the diner through good times and low points, including a devastating fire that closed the restaurant for nearly 100 days in 2002.
She laments the upscaling of Bethesda and the regulations—
minimum-wage hikes, the Affordable Care Act—that she believes will
eventually put the diner out of business. She is proud to say that she
raised her daughter as a single mom on diner wages, and that her
child is now a physician.
Cox describes the food as “phenomenal,” all cooked and served with
lightning speed. Yet she also believes that the diner is a dying breed
of restaurant that many feel is more novelty than necessity. “It feels
out of place,” she says.