With the company's president on hand for the occasion, Royal Farms officially opened its 12th store in Harford County on Friday morning, in the Hickory area north of Bel Air.
The newest store, which includes a gas station and car wash, means a more entrenched commercial presence at the crossroads of Route 543 and the Bel Air/Hickory Bypass, near the outer edge of the county's development envelope. A Burger King restaurant is also near that intersection, as is Royal Farms' arch competitor, Wawa.
Royal Farms leaders showed off the environmental friendliness of the building, which is built to LEED standards although it is not actually LEED-certified.
They also gave out checks to several local organizations, including the Harford County Public Library and volunteer fire companies.
Company spokeswoman Laura Church said all stores built within the past two years include ecologically-sensitive features, like low-flush toilets.
Though the Hickory store makes it an even dozen stores in Harford for Royal Farms, a baker's dozen isn't far off, nor is it likely the Baltimore-based company will stop there.
Another Royal Farms is under construction in Aberdeen, on Philadelphia Road near Edmund Street. It is expected to open this spring. And, the company has unveiled plans to build a second store in the Aberdeen area barely a mile west at Routes 40 and 7. The Aberdeen stores will also feature gas stations, as do all stores the company builds.
Royal Farms had also been considering a store in Forest Hill, next to RiteAid on Rock Spring Road, but President John Kemp said Friday that store is still tentative.
Kemp would not disclose if more stores are planned locally but said: "We have been looking at other locations in Harford County."
During the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Hickory store, Kemp said the county "has always been pro-business and they have been great to work with."
County Economic Development Director Jim Richardson, who also attended the ribbon cutting, said the newest Royal Farms is "a great facility and a great location."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun