On the Move? Midget Faces Uncertain Future

Perhaps the most unique piece of Leesburg’s architectural history may be headed to a new location, as at least three people have expressed interest owning or leasing the Mighty Midget Kitchen.

Made from a part of a recycled World War II B29 bomber, the Mighty Midget for the past 11 years has served as the main kitchen for Döner Bistro at its Harrison Street restaurant on property owned by Gordon MacDowell. But its history began long before that.

According to a town staff report, the Mighty Midget initially operated as a carryout restaurant from 1947 to 1994 at the intersection of East Market and Loudoun streets, where Mom’s Apple Pie now sits. After operations there ceased, the Town of Leesburg received title to the Midget in 1994 and moved the structure into storage. The town issued a Request for Proposals for the relocation and use of the Midget, which was awarded in November of that year to MacDowell and The MacDowell Companies. A 20-year lease between MacDowell and the town was agreed upon in February 1996, at a rate of $10 annually. The lease expired in 2016, but the Town Council never approved a new lease and there is no clause in the lease that dictates surrender of the structure.

The Mighty Midget continues to be used by the owners of Döner Bistro, but not for much longer. The restaurant is moving to the Virginia Village shopping center in July and the Midget, by terms of the lease, will remain at its current location.

A staff report notes that the town has “received interest to lease or purchase” the Mighty Midget but does not elaborate on where that interest is coming from. Mom’s Apple Pie owner Avis Renshaw on Tuesday told the council she was interest in moving the structure back to its original location and return it to use as a carry-out restaurant. MacDowell did not return a call seeking comment. The council authorized the staff to issue an RFP to accept offers for either the lease of the Mighty Midget, but agreed that it should remain town property.

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