Josephine Tavenner and her husband, Clyde 'Jake' Tavenner, ran
several restaurants, including Olney's Silo Inn. (Family Photo)
|Josephine O'Brien Tavenner
The Washington Post - Joe Holley, Monday, July 21, 2008
Josephine O'Brien Tavenner, 85, an Olney restaurateur whose establishments included the
Silo Inn, died July 13 of complications associated with congestive heart failure at Montgomery
Mrs. Tavenner, known as 'Mama Jo', owned and operated a number of suburban Maryland
restaurants with her husband, Clyde 'Jake' Tavenner. The Silo Inn, which the Tavenners
operated from 1964 to 1997, was the best known.
A converted roadhouse on Georgia Avenue, the restaurant was a landmark in upper
Montgomery County. Washington Post restaurant critic Eve Zibart, writing in 1988, described
it as one of a number of "family-style relics in the upper Montgomery County environs; driving
up there is like taking a '50s-style family vacation in the car, looking for the restaurants with
plaster fawns in the front yard and a discreet COLD DRAUGHT sign in the window. The Silo
Inn was a neighborhood Sunday supper spot back when the only 'neighborhood' to speak of
was Leisure World."
The Tavenners' son, Tommy Tavenner, recalled that the Silo Inn attracted a diverse clientele --
old, young and in-between -- and featured live entertainment Friday and Saturday nights.
Sunday, he said, was the restaurant's best day of the week. Customers had a choice of four
dinner items: fried shrimp, a steak platter, a ham platter or the restaurant's renowned fried
His mother worked in the office, Tavenner recalled, but because she ate lunch at the restaurant
every day, all the regulars knew 'Mama Jo.'
The Tavenners' other Olney restaurants were Mr. T's Sandwich Factory, the Sea Barn, the Rib
Room, Jake's Crab and Rib, Jake's Country Market and Jo Jem's. In Hyattsville, they owned
Silo Inn East, the Kahlua Hut and Jake's Hideaway. They also owned Home Arts in Wheaton
and GTW in Frederick.
Mrs. Tavenner was born in Camden, N.J., and moved to the Washington area in 1937. She
graduated from Western High School in 1940 and settled full time in Maryland in 1948. She
retired as company comptroller in 1997.
She and her husband helped establish the Olney Chamber of Commerce and regularly
sponsored local fundraisers. They also spearheaded the effort to modify Montgomery
ordinances so that restaurants could serve cocktails.
Mrs. Tavenner was a member of the Roman Catholic communities at St. Catherine
LabourÃ©'s in Wheaton, St. Peter's in Olney and St. Patrick's in Rockville.
Her husband died in 2002.
Survivors include seven children, Jacqueline Windrow of Berlin, Md., Patricia Werner of
Oswego, Ill., Cecelia Griffis of Potomac, Kathleen Mitchell and Tommy Tavenner, both of
Olney, Maureen Katzenberger of Ellicott City and Colleen Tavenner of Skiatook, Okla.; a
sister, Jackie Connolly of Bethesda; 22 grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren.