Bill Bateman's Bistro to close its doors in Towson: 'The time has just come'

Bill Bateman’s Bistro — the beloved local restaurant known for all-you-can-eat wings — will close its Towson location Sunday.

According to the eatery’s ownership, recent changes to the neighborhood have made it difficult to remain at its space on York Road.

“The construction next door is keeping a lot of the regular people away, and I don’t want to stand in the way of progress,” co-owner Tony Gebbia said, referring to the construction, which started in the fall, of Towson University’s new Science Complex.

Bill Bateman’s opened on the ground level of a Towson University-owned building near campus in 1996. University spokesman Sean Welsh said the future plans are to convert it to university space.

“The bistro was a convenient place to have lunch without leaving campus, catch dinner before a night class or to meet fellow students or colleagues. It was also a place to gather for Tigers sporting events. We wish them well,” university officials said in a statement.

The restaurant has been a popular spot for college students, sports fans and anyone in search of a crab pretzel.

Gebbia said the restaurant lost parking after Towson broke ground on the science building, which will be the university’s largest academic building. The university did, however, open up parking for restaurant customers in the Glen Garage at the corner of Cross Campus Drive and York Road, Welsh said.

“This area is really growing,” said Gebbia, who has worked at Bateman’s for 10 years. “There’s a lot of competition downtown and in uptown Towson that’s a magnet for diners.”

In a Facebook post shared Tuesday night, restaurant management thanked customers and employees “who made coming to work every day so much fun. We are so grateful to have been a part of the Towson community for the past decade.”

Despite the closing, the community has been largely supportive.

“The feeling from the people that I’ve talked to is pretty good,” Gebbia said. The restaurant’s Facebook post received hundreds of comments from longtime customers who shared stories of their college days, first dates and happy hours with friends.

Alana Mercante, 25, remembers meeting up with her sorority sisters at the establishment when she was a student at Towson.

“My favorite thing about Bateman’s was its proximity to campus,” Mercante said. “It felt like an extension of Towson, where you could walk straight from class to meet your friends for happy hour and you would unexpectedly run into a dozen other people you knew. It had a special vibe to it that felt like we were all family there.”

Bill Bateman founded the chain of restaurants in 1987. He opened the first location on Harford Road in Baltimore County, according to the restaurant’s website. There are five other locations in Maryland and one in Pennsylvania.

Maggie Griffin, 47, has been eating at Bill Bateman’s for about five years. She blames the nearby construction for deterring customers.

“I don’t doubt for one second that, from an outsider’s perspective, that the construction was the death of them,” she said. taurant lost its entire parking lot after Towson broke ground on the science building.

“The university has been good to us over the years,” Gebbia said. “The time has just come.”

This is the second Bill Bateman’s closing in just one month. The restaurant’s Hanover, Pa., location closed in May and re-opened as The Broken Clock.

llumpkin@baltsun.com

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