Weekend Hotspot: Dining at PaperMoon
March 17, 2010
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Collections of plastic baby doll heads and Pez dispensers are not usually found in typical diners. Neither are collections of mannequins or action figures. Baltimore isn’t typical either, and no establishment proves this better than the PaperMoon Diner.
About ten minutes from Fell’s Point, this diner has been a landmark in its neighborhood since 1994, as well as a center of controversy for its eccentric decorations and design.
Owner Un Kim teamed up with designer David Briskie to create the unusual eatery. Inspired by strange dreams he was having during their collaboration, Briskie’s artistic vision for the diner transformed a plain building into a nonsensical fantasy world, both frightening and interesting all at once.
The diner is decorated with mannequins and dolls, the majority of which can be found on the ceiling. The mannequins (which were once the cause of much controversy and protest for their lack of clothing), and the rest of the diner, are covered almost completely with various action figures, knick knacks, buttons, mirrors, toys, and Pez dispensers. The walls, both inside and outside, and tables are painted in a variety of neon colors, and each menu is decorated with its own unique cover.
And the décor is not the only uncommon aspect of the diner. Each employee is trained in all areas of service, so a server one day could be a chef the next. “It’s a little different, upbeat, and unique,” said employee Amanda Kelly.
PaperMoon used to remain open 24 hours a day, until last June when the damaged economy took a toll on businesses everywhere. However, the diner still manages to stay open quite late, with final seating at midnight Sundays through Thursdays, and 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Despite the economic changes, PaperMoon’s customers have remained faithful. “During the week, we see a lot of our regulars; couples and families from the neighborhood,” said Kelly. “But we also see different clientele, people visiting the area. So we get a little bit of both.”
Visiting customers may hear about the small diner through word of mouth or even media promotions. PaperMoon has been featured on the Travel Channel’s “Diners Across the U.S.” as well as countless local newspapers.
In addition to the scenery, PaperMoon provides sensible and delicious breakfasts, burgers, sandwiches, dinners, and desserts, many of which are vegetarian friendly, such as several types of garden-burgers and a tofu dinner. Unique food options include a “Crabbi Patti” (a grilled crabcake sandwich), a “Breakfast Quesadilla,” a “Create Your Own Omelette” option, pasta, and countless desserts, like the Oreo Monster Mouse Cake. And with no meal surpassing fifteen dollars, diners can satisfy their appetites without emptying their wallets.
Chemistry teacher Rebecca Jansing-Kaestner recalls the day she visited PaperMoon with a friend almost ten years ago because of its exciting atmosphere and delicious food. “It’s rare that I can still remember from ten years ago,” said Jansing-Kaestner. Nevertheless, this is the effect PaperMoon seems to have on all who visit. Desirable food and exceptional atmosphere mesh together to provide a memorable experience found in the most uncommon of places: a vivacious, local diner.
Nicky Hatzidimitriou can be reached for comment at [email protected]