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Cafe Troia to close after 35 years in Towson; Banditos will take over space

Look inside Cafe Troia
(Algerina Perna, Baltimore Sun)

Where one restaurant door closes, another opens. Cafe Troia, which opened in Towson 35 years ago, will serve its last Bolognese this Saturday. Local Mexican chain Banditos will move into the location at 31 Allegheny Avenue late next spring, offering tacos and cocktails.

Cafe Troia owner Lisa Troia Martin said she and her mom, Carol Troia, decided to sell the building and close the restaurant.

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“My parents opened Cafe Troia in 1986,” said Martin. The first location was a smaller one across the street; the restaurant moved to its current digs in 2008. “Banditos saw the value in being in Towson... They made us an offer that we accepted.” The sale is set to be completed in October.

Customers have already scrambled to book tables for a last meal at the restaurant, which closes this weekend.

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“We are so fortunate to have had a fabulous clientele,” she said. “We have had wonderful people as our regulars for 35 years.”

Among the highlights through the years were theme evenings where wine and food specials centered on a particular region of Italy. Martin’s Naples-born grandmother oversaw the making of traditional Italian soups and other dishes in the kitchen.

Martin said after years of giving up nights, weekends and holidays to the cafe, she’s looking forward to getting some rest. Having previously worked in finance, she is still deciding her next move. But it won’t be another restaurant. “I’m finished with the food business,” she said.

Her mother, Carol, plans to retire. Her father, who is no longer involved in Cafe Troia, owns Grano Pasta Bar in Hampden.

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The pandemic, she said, “tested every skill that you need as a business owner.”

The three-story building near Towson Town Center will remain a restaurant on its ground floor. Banditos, the restaurant from White Oak Hospitality, will open there next spring as part of an expansion that includes a new location in Arlington, Va., which will also open next spring. Banditos also has branches in Federal Hill and White Marsh. The restaurant will launch a roving food truck this fall.

The Towson location will include approximately 100 seats outside in addition to 200 seats inside, said Jenn Pak, director of marketing for White Oak Hospitality.

The restaurant group’s portfolio also includes 101 Baltimore in Federal Hill, Wayward Smokehouse, which has locations in White Marsh and Federal Hill and the Curious Oyster in White Marsh.

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