Carroll's Culinary Culture Shock CARROLL COUNTY


The aggregation of this summer's headlines has portended a great cultural change sweeping the rolling landscape of Carroll County. An anchor department store at Cranberry Mall that previously closed on Sundays decided it must open all week to accommodate modern lifestyles. Restrictions on chain restaurants from selling alcohol were loosened. Now this: Carroll is on the verge of getting its first 24-hour restaurant.

And not a minute too soon.

With only 6 1/2 years left before the start of the 21st century, a Harford County restaurant operator is beginning to build a Denny's at Carrolltown Center, formerly the Carrolltowne Mall. A spokesman for W.D.P.B. Inc. of Abingdon said he expected to have the eatery opened by year's end and would operate 'round the clock, save for Christmas Day. (At least some traditions remain sacred.)

Frankly, we're surprised it has taken this long for an all-night eatery to come to Carroll. After a too-late evening out, don't people need to put a little food into their stomachs? How have pregnant women coped with 3 a.m. cravings for cheeseburgers? The county has long had its share of fine restaurants, most

notably Rudy's 2900 in Finksburg, but never before a dependable place to devour a pre-dawn breakfast.

We toil as editorialists, not as restaurant reviewers, so we won't argue in this space over the relative merits of Denny's service or selection; suffice it to say that coming off some damaging complaints about racial discrimination, the nationally known chain has pledged to improve. Give it credit locally at least for recognizing the demographic transformation of Carroll County, the bedroom of choice for more and more young families.

Some may scoff that the coming of an all-night eating establishment is neither significant nor a cultural touchstone worthy of note. Yet there are few more elemental measures of the county's changing lifestyles.

Even before Carroll was recently named on a national survey of places faced with a loss of prime agricultural land, the Denny's announcement would have suggested such a threat. After all, when farming was more dominant in Carroll there weren't many folks eager to drive down the road for a 2 a.m. breakfast -- not when they had to feed the ham and the egg-layers a few hours hence.

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