After owning the Lansdowne Inn for 18 years, Pete Panselinos and his brother-in-law, Gus Kismos, will auction off the community staple at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6.
"We're kind of tired. We're getting old and we're working very hard," said Panselinos, 64, who took a short break from cooking to discuss the future of the restaurant, "We want to retire and spend more time with our families."
Panselinos has been working in the restaurant business for 40 years and the restaurant on Hammonds Ferry Road was his third restaurant. He opened it with Kismos in 1996, after they worked together at Sabatino's Italian Restaurant in Baltimore City.
Panselinos and Kismos both work as cooks in the restaurant, often working double shifts to keep the kitchen running. On top of that, Panselimos commutes from Pennsylvania to the restaurant each day, which eventually wore on him, he said.
"Hopefully, someone will take it and keep it for a long time as we did," said Panselinos, who was born in Greece. "It's a nice place here and we know all the people in the community. They've been nice to us for all these years."
Even two days before the auction, it was news to many customers that the longtime neighborhood restaurant was up for sale.
Jane Garey, 64, who lives nearby on Hilltop Avenue, was waiting for her lunch at one of the tables in the dining area of the restaurant when she heard the news.
"I'm sad. This is a classic of Lansdowne," Garey said. "Everyone is going to be upset. This restaurant is an icon.
"This place is packed — it's always crowded for dinner and lunch," she said. "I'm surprised there's not more people in here now."
Panselinos said slow business is not the reason for the sale.
"It's been good business," Panselinos said. "We're just getting to the point where we want to retire."
Pete Kriscumas, legislative aide to First District Councilman Tom Quirk, grew up in Lansdowne and was well aware of what the inn meant to the community. He compared the restaurant to the recently closed Leon's Triple L Restaurant and Paul's Restaurant in Arbutus.
"Every town has a hometown place for people to eat," Kriscumas said. "But Lansdowne doesn't really have that — Lansdowne Inn is all there is.
"It's sad to see that it's going. I hope whoever ends up purchasing it keeps it as a restaurant, because people in Lansdowne need a family restaurant," Kriscumas said.
"I really hope that it's put into someone's hands that wants to keep it a bar and restaurant," said Theresa Bush, 48, a bartender who has worked at the mainstay for six years. " I have a lot of local customers here that don't really have any other place to go. It would break their heart to see it change."
Robin Manser, 46, a Lansdowne resident who has worked as a waitress at the restaurant for more than 18 years, said she worked for the previous owners before it was purchased by Panselinos and Kismos.
"I hope it stays a family place," Manser said. "I would hate to see it go."
Many remember the restaurant as a place frequented by those who worked on the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad. Railroad tracks are next to the restaurant.
Once the railroad was built, Lansdowne became known as a B&O town, according to information on the Lansdowne Improvement Association's website.
Bids for the restaurant are expected to start at $200,000 and the auction will be held on the premises of the restaurant, according to a sign in front of the restaurant on Hammonds Ferry Road.
The property consists of two parcels on 0.87 acres of land zoned business local and will be auctioned with a seven-day class B liquor license by Alex Cooper Auctioneers Inc.
The restaurant was up for sale for a year, but the business partners didn't receive any reasonable offers, Panselinos said.
"Everybody wants to get it for nothing," Panselinos said.
Panselinos said the partners are hopeful that they will receive reasonable offers at the auction.
"If not, we're going to have to stick around — we'll see what happens," Panselinos said.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun