Ex-Peter Pan Inn could leap into OTB

Baby boomers in the Baltimore-Washington area probably recognize the name of the Peter Pan Inn.

In the 1950s, '60s and '70s, a visit to the Frederick County family-style restaurant, with its country setting, eclectic architecture, outdoor sculpture and peacock colony constituted a Sunday drive and a meal for many area families.


Now it could become an off-track betting parlor.

Current owner John "Pappy" Poole bought the Urbana restaurant about four years ago. He renovated, reopened and renamed it "The Cracked Claw" after a restaurant he had owned and operated in Germantown.


Now, Poole thinks that the 33,000-square-foot restaurant, with five sprawling rooms, seating for 1,200 people and parking for 360 cars, is the perfect setup or one of the state's first OTB outlets.

Poole said that thoroughbred track operator Joe De Francis, his general manager Jim Mango, OTB coordinator Tom Lattanzi and Ted Snell, president of Rosecroft Raceway, have been to the place and listed it as their "first choice."

But, so far, no contracts have been signed.

De Francis said he likes the facility and told Poole he had been there as a child with his family. "But," De Francis said Friday, "I'm not quite sure of the location."

Even though the Cracked Claw is close to Route 270, which services the Montgomery County suburbs of Washington, D.C., and is five miles from downtown Frederick, it is still basically in the country.

But Poole said that's an asset. "We are zoned general commercial and we're in a location where an OTB facility is not going to affect anybody," he said.

Last week the director of zoning for Frederick City, the mayor and the board of aldermen balked at giving preliminary zoning approval to 1-70 Truck City, a large truck stop with a country music lounge that also wants an OTB facility at its site.

Poole added that he has canvassed his neighborhood and met acceptance even from a local church. "They hold Sunday School in our ballroom," he said.


Poole and his key employees have visited the Upper Darby outlet in the Pennsylvania OTB chain and found the facility comparable.

"That's the beauty of our place," Poole said. "We don't need to refurbish anything. After we had a hearing (and were approved by the Maryland Racing Commission), we could be up and running in 10 days."

New ticket for AmTote

When GTech Corp. of Providence, R.I., announced its intent to purchase AmTote International Inc. this week, it added another chapter to the colorful history of the Baltimore-based company.

AmTote was originally known as the American Totalisator Co., formed after its founder Henry Loeb "Harry" Strauss was instrumental in patenting a ticket-issuing machine in 1932-33.

Strauss, who grew up in Baltimore and graduated from Johns Hopkins, first installed his equipment at Pimlico Race Course. The company now provides and services pari-mutuel wagering equipment to more than 100 horse and dog tracks in this country and overseas.


Whether GTech will maintain AmTote's corporate headquarters in Hunt Valley is undetermined.

How to win $753,694.40

Jim Love, a building inspector for the city of Las Angeles, spent $24 last weekend at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., betting on the Breeders Cup Pick 7 and ended up winning $753,694.40.

Love had one of the four winning Pick 7 tickets. Love said he threw out the Europeans, concentrated on the Californians, and just got lucky."

Love also collected four consolation prizes worth $2,883.20 for selectlng six out of seven winners.