The demolition site.

The original Silver Diner on Rockville Pike served its last milkshakes about a year and a half ago, and has been vacant ever since.

Alas, there were no takers for the 23-year-old stainless steel eatery, and two weeks ago, it was demolished.  

“Nobody was interested in it. Everything was old and dilapidated,” says Ype Von Hengst, co-founder of the chain, which has grown to 17 locations in three states (including a spiffy new restaurant a few blocks up the Pike).

Mid-Pike Plaza, the shopping center where the diner was located, is also in the midst of a major overhaul—the new Pike & Rose mixed-use development will ultimately replace it.

But first on the agenda, Federal Realty, which owns the plaza, is turning the former diner location into a grassy area with seating (the sod is being laid this week). It’ll serve as a “hang out” hub for people shopping at the new Pike Central Farm Market.

“All the farmers are going to be surrounding the park, and we’ll have music and chef demonstrations in the center,” said Mitch Berliner, co-manager of the Pike Central Farm Market, as well as the Bethesda Central Farm Market and Northwest Central Farm Market. “It’s really going to be a cool place.”

Andrea Simpson, director of marketing for Federal Realty, said the space will have “some type of seating. We don’t know if it’ll be benches, or interesting funky furniture.”

As for how the idea came about, Simpson said the start of the new farmers’ market and the demolition of the diner happened simultaneously, and the “two conversations merged.” Using the space as a place where people could relax while shopping at the market, or enjoy entertainment, was “one of those a-ha moments that absolutely made sense to the community,” she said.

Aside from the farmer’s market, Simpson said Federal Realty is looking into using the grassy square for other public events. And while the market is part of the long term vision for Pike & Rose, it’s unclear at this point whether the square will remain, or whether the farmers will relocate to a future green space in the development. 

While the market will be operating in front of the Toys R Us at the Mid-Pike Plaza on 11806 Rockville Pike (at Old Georgetown and Montrose Roads) for the next two Saturdays, the grand opening (at the grassy area) will be June 2. Market hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Beginning on June 14, the market will also operate on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, go to www.centralfarmmarkets.com