For months, the closing of Leon's Triple L Restaurant in downtown Arbutus left many people wondering what will open in place of the community landmark.
Now, they have a new, full-service, family restaurant named Oak Creek Cafe to fill the hole left when the owner of Leon's Triple L, Leon Lineburg, died April 26. The new restaurant is expected to open Friday, Dec. 12, said Sharon Andrews, 47, who co-owns the restaurant with her husband, Jim Andrews, 64.
"I want to carry on the community feel that Leon started," said Jim Andrews. "Leon was a huge supporter of the community — all the athletic associations, the schools, the churches."
Even in these final weeks leading up to the planned opening, the sounds of construction were easy to hear as workers hammered away inside the building at 5309 East Drive.
The building's interior and exterior are being completely renovated, with new plumbing, walls, electrical wiring and kitchen equipment, the couple said.
"It hasn't been updated in a long time," Sharon Andrews said of the building, which had been inhabited by Leon's for 55 years.
Re/Max New Beginnings business owner Deborah SeBour said the restaurant is a much needed addition to the community.
"I love it — I'm so excited," SeBour said. "Arbutus is experiencing a turnover of businesses, and this is what we need."
Terry Nolan, outgoing president of the Arbutus Business and Professional Association said, "We think this is a marvelous addition to our community and it seems to be well thought out and well done."
The couple said they have received a $250,000 loan from Baltimore County to assist with remodeling.
Oak Creek Cafe is one of three businesses to receive money through the county's Boost Fund, a financing resource for small, minority- and women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs, according to an October press release from the county.
Although business was booming for Leon's in the 1960s and '70s, it began to decline in recent years, people in the community said.
"A lot of those who patronized the business were older people; their business really started falling off," SeBour said.
"A lot of the businesses in that community are older and haven't been renovated in years," said Pete Kriscumas, legislative aide to 1st District Councilman Tom Quirk.
"I think it's the economic boost that Arbutus needs right now to jump-start the business community."
Kriscumas, who lived in Arbutus for 20 years, said the new restaurant "will have a huge impact" on the community.
Quirk called the new restaurant's arrival "promising" for the neighborhood.
"It's a great sign of things to come. I remember a long time ago when they invested in Catonsville at the beginning of a great renaissance for the Catonsville community," Quirk said of Jim and Sharon Andrews, who took over a fading bar in downtown Catonsville and renovated it.
The couple opened Ship's Cafe in 2002 and received a $9,285.75 loan through the county's Business Improvement Loan Program for businesses in designated commercial revitalization districts, according to county spokeswoman Fronda Cohen.
The Andrewses said they were in the process of purchasing the restaurant before Lineburg died in April.
"We feel honored to know that he was very happy... we wanted to buy it," said Sharon Andrews, who grew up in Arbutus and once managed the Chesapeake Bank of Maryland on Carville Avenue.
Customers who walk into the restaurant on opening day can expect to see country-style, rustic decor and experience New Orleans-style, homemade cuisine, unlike many restaurants in the Baltimore area, said Jim Andrews, a retired Baltimore County police officer who worked at the Wilkens Station.
The Andrewses wanted it to be different from Ship's, which specializes in seafood and crabs.
The Oak Creek Cafe menu was inspired by the couple's many trips to The Big Easy, where they have traveled on business, they said.
Menu items will include po' boy sandwiches, pot pies and jambalaya.
While menu favorites from Ship's Cafe such as crab cakes and shrimp salad will be offered, the Catonsville business' signature steamed crabs won't be on the menu, the couple said.
There will be, however, plenty for seafood lovers at the raw bar, including oysters, clams and steamed shrimp.
Latest Baltimore County
In addition, Oak Creek Cafe will have a full bar offering 13 draft beers and signature cocktails, Jim Andrews said.