Liquor license approved for new Italian bistro and wine bar in Catonsville

An empty storefront which formerly housed Regions Restaurant is expected to be filled by early September with the scent of brick oven pizza and other homemade Italian food.

Franco's Italian Bistro and Wine Bar, a partnership between two Arbutus restaurant owners and a Catonsville financial advisor, is expected to be open in time for the Catonsville Arts and Crafts Festival Sept. 7.


On Monday, Aug. 18, the Baltimore County Liquor Board approved an application for transfer and change of location of a Class B (on sale) Beer, Wine, Liquor License from Kevin Murphy of Murphy Enterprises, Inc., trading as Champs Sports Bar and Grille at 6600-P Baltimore National Pike to Catonsville resident Jimmy Furletti, 52, one of Franco's partners.

Furletti, a senior vice president at financial services company Robert W. Baird & Co., will open the restaurant with business partners Greg and Colleen Orndorff, who have owned Gianni's Italian Bistro on Washington Boulevard for eight years.


The Orndorffshave plenty of experience in the restaurant business, as owners of Gianni's and Luigi Petti Restaurant from 1990 to 2006.

Furletti said he was a frequent customer of Gianni's and developed a friendship with the Orndorffs.

They saw the empty restaurant on Frederick Road and thought it would be an opportunity to open "something different" in the community, Furletti said.

"One thing lead to another and here we are," Furletti said. "I'm viewing it as something that is fun. It will be energizing for me and I think it's going to be something that's good for the community — that helps young people get jobs."

While this is Furletti's first time opening a restaurant, he is confident his partners' experience will work in their favor.

"I would not have pursued such an endeavor without someone like Greg who has years of experience," Furletti said. "It was critical to come into this with a business partner who understands the restaurant industry."

Furletti said he hopes his ability to stay organized administratively, will allow Greg Orndorff the opportunity to do what he does best — make a great menu, oversee the kitchen and ensure customers are happy.

"It's a team effort," Furletti said.


Furletti said the partners expect to hire between 10 and 15 new employees.

Both owners will have their children working at the restaurant.

"It will be family run," Orndorff said.

Greg Orndorff said he will focus on opening the new location, while his wife Colleen will oversee Gianni's.

His eldest son, Mark Orndorff, will be the head chef, while his youngest son, Anthony, will work in the dining room and make pizza in the brick oven, he said. .

Furletti said he hopes his three daughters will become involved in the business.


His daughter Margaret, 18, a CCBC Catonsville student, works at Dimitri's International Grille on Frederick Road and has a talent for cooking, Furletti said.

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He hopes his daughter Maria, 21, a student at Mount St. Mary's University, will work at the restaurant during school breaks, and his 12-year-old daughter Annie, an Arbutus Middle School student, will be involved.

The Italian style restaurant will offer brick oven pizza from a one-ton brick oven expected to be delivered to the restaurant at 803-805 Frederick Road by Sept. 3, Furletti said after the hearing.

While there will be a few items on the menu from Gianni's, such as their crab cakes, there will be few seafood options, said Greg Orndorff.

Instead, they will offer "old Italian flavors" like brick oven pizza, homemade pastas and sauces, homemade mozzarella, osso buco, homemade ravioli and beef braciola.

The restaurant will also offer a number of wines by the glass and bottle, Orndorff said.


The partners were not ready to reveal their menu yet, which is still in the process of being finalized.

"I'm really excited it went well today," Furletti said after the hearing. "Now we can move full speed ahead."