After a two-year hiatus, a long-standing, popular Asian restaurant is making its return to York Road in Towson sometime this month, according to its owner.
The Orient Restaurant, which previously operated out of a leased restaurant space at 319 York Road, will reopen a block up the road at 416 York Road.
The restaurant shuttered its doors in 2016 after decades in downtown Towson when its lease expired, according to owner David Huang, who also owns two other locations of the Chinese-Japanese restaurant in Perry Hall and in Bel Air.
Property records show the commercial restaurant property at the old site, which has been a Lotsa Stone Fired Pizza restaurant since May 2016, is owned by Midstreet LLC.
Huang, who lives in Phoenix, said he decided to close his old restaurant to focus on renovating the new restaurant space, which he purchased through a limited liability company called GQH LLC in 2013. It comes with a mortgage that is cheaper than rent, but the renovations have taken longer than he expected, he said.
Though a sign on the outside of the building advertises a February reopening, Huang said he missed that self-imposed deadline because the state, county and local paperwork that was required was time-consuming and more than he expected.
The location is wedged between The Melting Pot restaurant on the left and The Real Thing restaurant and Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille on the right. The space was previously a futon store, Huang said, and turning it into a roughly 3,000-square-foot-restaurant with three apartments upstairs has been a process that has taken almost five years because his attention has been split with the other two restaurants. However, if all goes as planned, the restaurant will open sometime in mid-March, he said.
The Orient Restaurant in Towson will serve the same Chinese and Japanese menu as its locations in Perry Hall and Bel Air, including Mongolian lamb, Szechuan-style shredded tender beef, Hunan scallops and sushi, and will be open the same hours, but the new space is much more modern, Huang said.
Granite countertops line a sushi counter in the front of the space which is enveloped in cherry wood paneling and counters throughout. It will seat 99 customers and have 15 employees, Huang said.
Baltimore County records show Huang presented before the Baltimore County Liquor Board at a Feb. 16 hearing to change the location of his Class B liquor license from the former Orient Restaurant location in Towson to his new location. A Class B license allows restaurants to sell beer, wine and liquor.
Huang also visited the office of Liquor Board Commissioners on Feb. 27 and received a list of the remaining paperwork that must be filed to open the restaurant, according to Baltimore County spokeswoman Ellen Kobler.
The business received its use and occupancy permit March 2, and Huang is in the process of completing the remaining paperwork, Kobler said.
Huang said some of his customers from Towson have visited his other restaurants while awaiting the reopening in Towson, but that he is looking forward to welcoming them back to the Towson restaurant soon.
Jim Pomfret lives nearby and said he is excited about the reopening.
The downtown resident moved to Towson with his wife, Gretchen, when the the two became empty nesters in 2011.
He and his wife visited the former York Road location at least a dozen times and look forward to being able to walk to the new restaurant soon, he said.
“The food was always good,” Pomfret said. “Everybody liked it and I think folks in Towson are going to be very excited about having The Orient open again.”
After a still-to-be-determined soft opening, The Orient Restaurant in Towson will be open Sundays to Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
“I’m back,” Huang said.