Uncle Wiggly's, the York Road sandwich and ice cream shop that has served communities from its York Road location in Towson for nearly 20 years, is planning to open a downtown Towson location on Pennsylvania Avenue next month.
The business' owner, Rodgers Forge resident Lee Smith, said the new shop will be open as early as March 1.
"We have been looking for a site in Towson for a long time," Smith said Wednesday at the flagship store at 6911 York Road. "It was just right for us — location-wise, space-wise — and gave us the opportunity to build it out to our specifications. The timing is right."
The renovated space in the Howard Bank building at 22 West Pennsylvania Ave. was originally meant to house Melt, a grilled cheese shop that aimed to bring the popular comfort food to downtown Towson. Progress slowed on that project, and Smith, who said he has been eyeing a downtown location for several years, jumped at the opportunity to open a third store. There is also an Uncle Wiggly's at 1405 Forge Road in Mount Washington, which opened in 2010 and which serves only ice cream.
The downtown Towson location will serve both its signature overstuffed sandwiches and ice cream.
The York Road location serves three different kinds of ice cream, but like the Mount Washington store, the downtown Towson location will only offer Taharka Bros. ice cream.
Smith, a longtime resident of the area who bought Uncle Wiggly's in 2004, said he has heard from plenty of people that downtown Towson lacked an ice cream shop.
"It's been frustrating not to be able to do it," he said. "I think that's a good niche to fill."
However, it's the lunchtime crowd he hopes to attract. Smith said he believes the sandwich crowd will do well, as will the catering service with the downtown business crowd.
Despite Towson's large swaths of announced development, it's the existing population that Smith is excited about.
"I think that (new development) will be a little bit of a draw, but the fact is, those office buildings aren't going anywhere," Smith said. "The courthouse isn't going anywhere. The county seat isn't going anywhere. So I think we're a little isolated from that (development)."
That market, Smith understands, will be different from the one he has built up on York Road.
"I was in retail for 25 years, we studied locations," he said. "I truly think they're kind of two separate markets, so there might not be a lot of overlap. This (York Road store) is more community-based. We get a lot of people who are walking around on nights and weekends."