www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-county/catonsville/ph-ca-at-hot-dog-closing-0522-20130516,0,2072019.story

baltimoresun.com

Home Depot tells hot dog stands to relocate

By Julie Baughman, jbaughman@tribune.com

9:09 PM EDT, May 20, 2013

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Home Depot is not the first place most people would go to grab a bite to eat.

Angelo Micklos has spent the past 21 years changing that.

The Canton resident's M & M Concessions company owns the hot dog stands which sit outside the Home Depot stores in Lansdowne, Catonsville, Owings Mills, Glen Burnie and Bel Air.

Last week he received a notice from the company that he had 30 days to vacate the premises.

"They didn't give us an actual reason," the 49-year-old said. "It's the end of an era."

Micklos said he was sad to hear he has to move and bring an end to years of service at the five locations.

The stands at the Baltimore National Pike location in Catonsville and Washington Boulevard in Lansdowne have been in place since the day the Home Depot stores opened in November 1992 and October 2002 respectively, allowing him to build solid relationships with his customers.

"We have so many customers who come through here for lunch every day," Micklos said. "It's more than just a hot dog stand, it's like a hot dog stand on steroids."

Over the years the stands expanded from small New York style hot dog carts to large trailers where he and his employees cook and serve hamburgers and steak subs while providing fresh squeezed lemonade, in addition to hot dogs and chips.

"It's a business I built out of nothing," he said. "We have 17 employees. It's just a sad way to end."

At the Lansdowne location on May 14, the trailer where the food is cooked and sold gives the appearance of a small house.

At noon, there was a steady line of customers from the parking lot and the store stopping to purchase their lunch.

Some walk up with their carts full of purchases while others stop on their way in.

Some just double park by the curb. For them, the sole reason for their visit is one of Micklos' hot dogs, subs or burgers.

Tim Hooty is a park and run customer. He said he makes frequent trips to Home Depot for his lawn mower repair company, but usually comes by the store near the Baltimore Beltway exit for the food.

"I have to come up here for parts a lot," said Hooty, whose business is down the street from the store. "(But) like right now, I came up for lunch."

"I usually come for breakfast," he said. "The breakfast sandwiches are the best around."

The decision to ask Micklos to leave was not an easy one, according to Home Depot spokesperson Stephen Holmes.

"The agreements with food vendors provided space at Home Depot stores, it clearly states that these are temporary establishments, even when they've been in place for many years," Holmes said.

"It's always a difficult decision and it's not one that we take lightly," he said. "And that's especially true given the length of time that they've been at the store."

Holmes said that while Micklos' five stands are the only ones being asked to leave in the metro area, there are no hard feelings.

"I know of one other one (vendor), but most stores do not have food vendors even in that area," Holmes said of the food stands near his stores in the Baltimore metro area.

That other vendor is not being asked to leave because his trailer is not as close to the stores' entrances.

"His (the other vendor) is out in the parking lot, not up against the building like his (Micklos)," Holmes said. "It's different."

He said the five stores in the area simply need the space near their entrances to display spring and summer products in their busiest season of the year.

"It's not unusual to see these closed and see space reused in locations where we have them all across the parking lot," Holms said.

"The reason for the timing behind it, with the 30 days, is that we're into our busiest selling season," he said.

"We're constantly evaluating our business and determining store by store, department by department," he said. "In this case, we need to use the space currently occupied by them for purposes that are really critical to the store."

Hooty said he hadn't heard that the stands were going to close before last week.

Further news from Micklos quickly consoled him.

Micklos said he is working with Lowe's in Catonsville, White Marsh and Glen Burnie to move his stands to their locations after leaving Home Depot.

"Every one of these managers at the Lowe's locations knows exactly who we are," Micklos told Hooty.

Hooty said he would be at the Lowe's on Baltimore National Pike in Catonsville as soon as Micklos moved.

"Where am I going to get my lunch? Well, there you go, that's where," he said.