Meet me at the Turtle, just not the one in Mount Airy.
The Greene Turtle in Mount Airy shut down last Thursday after 15 years in operation, according to company CEO Geovannie “Geo” Concepcion.
Concepcion called the coronavirus pandemic the “nail in the coffin” for a location that had underperformed for years. “Even prior to COVID it had been one of our more challenging locations,” he said. In 2021, the Mount Airy restaurant “never really recovered in the same way everything else did.”
The brand of sports bars, which started in Ocean City in 1976, is in the process of modernizing while looking back to its roots, said Concepcion. The restaurant’s goal is to provide guests a “beach town vibe while they’re not at the beach.”
The Turtle has 35 locations including some in West Virginia, New York, and neighboring states, including 23 that are operated as independent franchises, said Concepcion, a Chicago native, formerly of Famous Daves, who took over the leadership of the Columbia-based chain of sports bars in 2019.
The shuttering of the Mount Airy spot marks the latest closing of a franchise location.
Concepcion said the company is exploring opening new corporate-owned restaurants after years of sticking to franchises. This fall, they will open a new restaurant in Gambrills in Waugh Chapel Towne Centre. That’s the same shopping center as the old Greene Turtle, which is now Smashing Grapes.
Concepcion said the company wants to remain in the Mt. Airy market — and is actively looking for a new site. He said the location that closed “just wasn’t providing our guests with the type of brand experience that we were able to provide at other locations.”
He touted The Greene Turtle’s California location — that’s California, Southern Maryland, not the West Coast — which opened last year and is now “the best performing Turtle in the system.” The restaurant offers an enclosed patio with garage doors that allow open-air dining. Particularly in light of the pandemic, he said, “going forward, patios will be a big focus for us.”