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Proposal to convert Vienna bank into modern diner gets key approval

A rendering of the front entrance for the Yellow Diner, a planned restaurant (via Town of Vienna)

As if the universe sensed a need for balance, a bank in Vienna is set to turn into a restaurant.

The Vienna Board of Architectural Review gave its approval last month to a team that plans to rework the former SunTrust Bank at 501 Maple Avenue West into the Yellow Diner, which has been described as a modernization of a classic American diner.

“It’s somewhere we can enjoy a good meal and not feel rushed, and you can go at different times of the day,” the project manager said when introducing the proposal to the BAR on March 11. “The new twist to it is we want to probably have more sustainable food, more organic food, but it’s still kind of the same menu we all know and love.”

According to the application materials, much of the bank’s exterior shell will remain, but the existing drive-through facility will be covered and converted into a private dining room. The brick facade will also be painted, and an entrance vestibule will be added.

In addition, the restaurant will have an outdoor dining patio with 12 seats and a pergola. A total of 92 seats are planned, including 24 for the private dining room and five at a bar.

Next to the patio will be a wall mural by an artist that owner Peter Pagonis — who’s behind the Greek restaurant Nostos in Tysons — plans to commission, architect Benjamin Webne told the BAR before its vote on July 21.

“We’ll be replacing all existing windows with more energy-efficient windows,” Webne added.

The board’s approval of the planned exterior modifications came with the conditions that the wall for the future mural be left as bare concrete until it’s painted and that the planters around the outdoor patio be weighed down with gravel so they don’t topple over.

Though the vote means renovation work can start on the building, the restaurant team will need to return to the board in order to get approvals for the mural, signage, and outdoor furnishings before occupancy is permitted.

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