Clyde's of Columbia, located on the downtown lakefront since 1975, announced plans Tuesday to close for a $4 million renovation project that also will shutter its sister restaurant Tomato Palace for six to eight weeks beginning in January.
While renovation plans are not finalized, Clyde's president Tom Meyer said the restaurant's offices will move upstairs, allowing Clyde's to expand its rest rooms and revamp the kitchen, which Meyer said will allow for more innovative menu items.
Clyde's also plans on adding beams to the ceiling and altering the flooring to give the restaurant a warmer feeling, Meyer added.
"The whole place will be fresh and new and somewhat different, but you know it will be Clyde's when you walk in," Meyer said.
In addition to structural renovations like adding a sprinkler system, other possible renovations include extending the dining room space a few feet toward the lake and adding booths along the lakeside windows.
While Meyer admitted the renovation was a long time coming — the last major work was done in 1985, he said — nothing could be done until a new lease agreement was reached. In addition to the renovation, Meyer also announced the signing of a new 10-year lease agreement with the building's owner, Howard Hughes Corp.
Meyer said the bill for the $4 million renovation would be shared between the two companies.
County Executive Ken Ulman, who bussed tables at Clyde's growing up, said the renovation makes a statement about the future of downtown Columbia.
"This is about more than just a restaurant; this is about Clyde's," Ulman said. "The fact that Clyde's is here now, and taking the time to renovate and reinvest, it makes a statement to what the downtown is now and what it's going to be in the future."
Meyer said reinvesting in the Columbia location was a "business decision" and not a difficult one.
"I can't imagine not being in Columbia," he said. "We've had such support since the day we opened this restaurant. We just love being a part of this community."
The announcement is the latest one regarding the revitalization of downtown Columbia.
In July, Howard Hughes announced that upscale grocer Whole Foods had signed a lease to open a market in late summer or early fall of 2014 inside the former Rouse Company building.
The Whole Foods announcement came one day after Mall in Columbia owners General Growth Properties announced plans to create an open air plaza in the space currently occupied by L.L. Bean.
One month later, Howard Hughes purchased a nine-story office building located on the corner of Little Patuxent Parkway and Broken Land Parkway.
The office building, which was formerly the headquarters of the Ryland Group, will be developed in unison with Metropolitan Downtown Columbia, a $100 million six-story luxury apartment building with 14,000 square feet of retail space.
Construction on the 380-unit apartment building is scheduled to begin early next year.
Other downtown improvements include the redevelopment of Symphony Woods Park, the construction of a multi-use pathway connecting Blandair Park to Howard County General Hospital, and the proposed redevelopment of Merriweather Post Pavilion.
According to Howard Hughes senior vice president John DeWolf, there is more to come.
"This one of the many announcements we are going to make about Columbia," DeWolf said. "We're doing this, and we are doing much more."