Four years after Ali Sadeghi purchased the River Hill Sports Grille, he has opened a second restaurant, Grille 620, in the Turf Valley Towne Square, a new development off Marriottsville Road.
"I've been looking at different sites in the area," he said. "I personally wasn't looking for the chance to start something from scratch, but when this came up, I kind of found it interesting."
His restaurant, which opened Oct. 14, is one of five in the new development, which is anchored by a Harris Teeter and also houses retail shops, a hair salon, a tae kwon do studio and more.
All the restaurants are expected to open before December, said Tom Fitzpatrick, president of developer Greenberg Gibbons. The company approached the owners of some of Howard County's most popular restaurants, including Facci.
"We felt like this particular area was underserved by better-quality restaurants," Fitzpatrick said. All five restaurants are locally owned, and each serves a different kind of food. "I think it's important that the restaurants are unique," he said.
Grille 620 serves fresh seafood and steak. Italian restaurant Facci has been earning kudos for its Maple Lawn location. Mexican restaurant Xitomate has been perfecting the art of tableside guacamole-smashing at its earlier location, on Waterloo Road. Red Parrot, with locations in Baltimore, Hanover, and Arlington, Va., will serve Asian fusion fare; and Mimi's Kabobs specializes in Afghan food, including kabobs and curries.
Sadeghi believes the location will become a destination for diners, and he's hopeful his restaurant, which seats 130, will be a popular choice.
"I don't think it will be a competition," he said of the restaurants. "Our concept is simple and fresh. All our seafood and all our meats are coming to the door fresh. We don't use heavy ingredients to make these foods taste any different."
He chose the concept because he felt there was nothing quite like it in Howard County. "There is no fresh seafood or steakhouse concept," he said.
Construction of the 108,000-square-foot Turf Valley Towne Square shopping center began about a year and a half ago, said Fitzpatrick, and the 48,000-square-foot Harris Teeter opened April 2.
"Obviously, Harris Teeter is a big calling card," he said. "It's one of the better grocery stores."
The retail space is now 92 percent leased, he said, and all stores should be open by the holidays .
Turf Valley also includes townhouses and single-family homes being constructed near a golf course by the Keelty Company. The units start in the low $500,000s, according to the developer's website.
The average household income within a mile of Turf Valley Towne Square is $156,529, according to Greenberg Gibbons. Fitzpatrick said he sought out restaurants that would fit with that relatively high-end demographic. The retail shops are similarly upscale, and include the 8,500-square-foot Petite Cellar wine shop; Inspire, a hair salon that uses only organic products; and the Tiger World Class Tae Kwon Do studio.
Smyth Jewelers closed its five-year-old Enchanted Forest location to open a store nearly twice the size in Turf Valley, said Rob Smyth.
"It's a great opportunity to expand," he said, noting the local family-owned jeweler, with locations in Timonium and Annapolis, was able to create the corner store to its specifications.
The store opened its doors in September, and already has as much traffic as it did in Enchanted Forest, he said.
"It's been a great start and we look forward to more growth," he said.