Three longtime and well known Bel Air businesses closed earlier this week, leaving some customers surprised.
Freddie's Bar & Grill, on Boulton Street at Tollgate Road, shut its doors for good on Monday, while people at the News Center, a Hallmark gifts store in Bel Air Town Center on Route 1, said the store's last day was Sunday.
In addition, the Old Navy store in Harford Mall closed its doors on Thursday, after several years of operation inside Harford County's largest shopping center.
All three businesses were located within a couple of blocks of each other near the intersection of Routes 1 and 24.
Freddie's, a popular pirate-themed restaurant that used to be called Dead Freddie's, had a conflict in ownership, according to the Harford County Liquor Control Board's administrator.
Kathryn Thess, the administrator, read a letter from one of the Freddie's owners, Adam Horn, at a liquor board meeting Wednesday.
"Conflict in ownership has reached a point where I do not wish to be involved anymore," she read from Horn's letter.
Freddie's has not reapplied for a liquor license, which will expire at the end of April.
Another owner, Stephen Carullo, told the liquor board on April 19 that "Freddie's, due to management problems and some other business-related items would be closing their doors effective Monday, April 22."
Some of the owners of Freddie's are the same as the owners of the Hickory Lodge on Conowingo Road in Hickory. Jacqueline Impagliatelli is listed as a liquor licensee for both establishments; Jen Nichols is a licensee for Freddie's and her husband, Joseph Nichols, is a licensee at the Lodge. Besides Horn, Stephen Carullo Jr. is also a licensee at Freddie's, and Robyn Steele is a licensee at the Lodge.
The Lodge was closed April 17 but reopened the next day and has remained open since.
Thess said she could not comment on the status of either business.
'32 years of support'
News Center, meanwhile, had a sign posted on its door advising customers Sunday had been its last day.
"Thanks to all our customers for 32 years of support," the sign said.
An employee inside the business, located in the Tollgate Town Center on Route 1, declined to comment on the store's closing.
One longtime customer, Mary McGraw, of Street, was surprised to find News Center had closed when she dropped by on Thursday afternoon to look for a guestbook for her 50th anniversary.
McGraw said she has gotten many special gifts there over the years.
"I'm very sad," McGraw said about the closing. "It was always just fun to browse around."
Trish Heidenreich, the Town of Bel Air's economic development director, said she had just heard that both businesses had closed and did not have any more information about the Freddie's and News Center closures.
An employee who answered the telephone at the Old Navy store in Bel Air confirmed that the store's last day of business was Thursday.
The store had also been removed from the mall's online directory by Friday morning.
Old Navy's exit means the retailer, a division of The Gap, has no stores in Harford, and the closest store to Bel Air is in The Avenue at White Marsh.
The Gap also once had a regional distribution center in Edgewood which was closed a number of years ago.