Beach mainstay Grotto Pizza will open its first Maryland location beyond the shore next year, the first step of a long-term plan to expand in the Baltimore-Washington area.
The company is planning a 300-seat restaurant with a bar in the Village at Waugh Chapel in Gambrills. Jeff Gosnear, vice president of the Rehoboth Beach, Del.-based company, said officials are aiming to open in early spring.
"We had a very successful opening of a location in Ocean City, Md., two years ago, and we felt that we were ready to expand regionally," he said. "The logical choice for us in the regional expansion is to go where our summertime customers are, and the summertime customers are all in the Annapolis-Baltimore-D.C. triangle."
In addition to its Ocean City restaurant, the company has 16 locations in Delaware — seven of them in beach communities — and three in the Wilkes-Barre area of Pennsylvania.
The Anne Arundel County location had previously been used by the family-owned Italian Market, which closed this year after the death of the owner. His family is leasing the building to Grotto.
John L. Sindler, vice president of sales and leasing for Hyatt Commercial, which represented the landlord in the deal, said it was good to get another family-owned restaurant — one with regional name recognition — in a center dominated by franchises.
"Everyone kind of knows Grotto's from the beach," he said. "You can get your Grotto's fix over here."