Arbutus institution Leon's Triple L closes, changes hands

An Arbutus institution on its main street, Leon's Triple L Restaurant, recently closed its doors after serving crabcakes and hamburgers to hungry residents for more than 55 years.

The restaurant's last day was Saturday, May 31, before closing its doors and a chapter for generations of Arbutus residents. The closing follows the death of the restaurant's owner, Leon Leroy Lineburg, on April 26.

"I think it's sad, because Leon's has been around for [more than 55 years]. It's a great family restaurant," said Sue Miller, a Catonsville resident who coordinates the Arbutus Arts Festival each year. "Everyone is used to it being there and now it will be gone."

Miller, 63, grew up in Arbutus and has been organizing the Arbutus Arts Festival for the past 30 years. The festival committee often used Leon's as a place to hold its meetings, Miller said.

Jim Andrews, owner of Ship's Cafe in Catonsville, had the liquor license from Leon's Triple L transferred to his name for a new business called "Oak Creek Cafe" at a hearing held May 19, according to Baltimore County public records.

Andrews, who runs Ships with his wife, Sharon, said he would rather not discuss the sale, which is still pending.

Loren Lineburg, Leon's son who was co-owner of the restaurant, was not available to discuss the sale or the restaurant's future.

"As much as I hate to see it go, I think the new owners will turn it into something special, " Miller said. "I know that Jim and Sharon Andrews were close with the Lineburg family. They will really take that into consideration when opening the new restaurant."

Miller said she believes the Andrews will continue the engagement that Lineburg had with the community.

"Even though it's changing hands, it will be in the hands of someone who cares about the community," Miller said.

Nancy Ehrlich, of Arbutus, who knew Lineburg since high school, said, "I hated it when he passed away because the place was such an institution.

"It was like home to us. I'm sorry that the restaurant is gone," said Ehrlich, whose son, Robert Ehrlich Jr., became the first Republican governor of Maryland in 2003 since Spiro Agnew in 1969.

"We all lost something with the closing of Leon's. I don't know who is going to open there, but we really lost something and I'm going to miss him," Ehrlich said.

Many agree the restaurant played an important role in the community for decades.

"They certainly have been an important part of the community. It's one of those places like [Paul's Restaurant] that has been there for so long, you sometimes take it for granted," said Paula Wolf, aide to state Sen. Edward Kasemeyer.

"I remember going to the restaurant with my parents as a kid because they had good seafood during the carnival held in Arbutus," Wolf said.

Terry Nolan, president of the Arbutus Business and Professional Association, echoed that sentiment.

"Leon was the personification of a community leader that had his base of operation in a bar. He used that position and income to hold a 50-year-long series of positive events such as founding the ABPA, building parking lots and allowing community organizations to use his restaurant for meetings," Nolan said. "He was a real activist for positive change.

"The restaurant had passed its heyday and a different restaurant with a different motif would play better in that spot," Nolan said. "I hope whoever take it over is also community oriented."

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