Mamma's Cucina hoping Giant will help draw a bigger lunch crowd

When Chris Ilardo joined Mamma's Cucina as part owner and manager last fall, he never imagined that Giant would replace Fresh & Green's as anchor of the sleepy Greenspring Tower Shopping Center.

Now, Ilardo and partner Joe Ptak are sitting pretty as the closest tenants to the soon-to-open supermarket, and the potential beneficiaries of more foot traffic for the Italian eatery.

"I'm really excited," said Ilardo, 26, a Charles Village resident. "I'm expecting when Giant opens, we'll see a spike in business."

For now, the 47,000-square-foot space sits empty and stripped of its former Fresh & Green's signage. In the window, a lone sign announces, "Coming soon! Your all new 41st Street Giant."

Giant Food purchased two Fresh & Green's stores in Parkville and Hampden on Feb. 3 for an undisclosed price, and is relocating the undersized Giant store in the Rotunda mall to Greenspring Tower this spring.

Fresh & Green's, which replaced Superfresh last July and advertised itself as a hybrid of a traditional store and an organic market, "did a subpar job" and chose the wrong community, Ilardo said.

"I don't think this was the neighborhood for it," he said. "The neighborhood was happy with Superfresh and sorry when it closed. I've talked to customers and I haven't had a single person say they're sorry the Fresh & Green's is going out.

"With Giant, we're looking forward to having an anchor that's healthy and bustling. That's what drives a restaurant."

Ilardo said Giant's arrival could energize Greenspring Tower, where tenants range from a Dunkin' Donutsto a T-Mobilestore. The former Payless Shoes and part of the former Blockbuster video store are vacant.

"We're looking forward to a new feel for the center," Ilardo said.

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