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New owners take a swing at running Allview Inn


The Allview Inn & Restaurant, a favorite watering hole of area golfers, sports fanatics and residents, will reopen under new ownership after being closed two months.

G. L. Shacks, a Catonsville-based restaurant, bought the 33-year-old bar and restaurant after the Howard County Liquor Board approved the transfer of the liquor license Tuesday.

Joseph M. Novak Jr., former owner of Allview Inn's restaurant and bar, says the name has changed to G. L. Shacks, but the traditions of golfers and softball teams coming by after games and talking sports probably will remain.

"The Allview Inn hasn't really changed over the years and that's what makes it like a family bar . . . like the one you'd have in your LTC basement," said Joseph Novak, 54. "It's not fancy, but comfortable.

"You could come in there with a tuxedo on or in your Bermuda shorts and fit in," he said. "The Allview Inn will be remembered for my dad and probably the best crab cakes around."

Mr. Novak's father, Joseph M. Novak, opened the business in 1962 with a now-deceased partner. Over the years, the restaurant had become popular for its crab cakes and jumbo fried shrimp.

The elder Mr. Novak, known to patrons as "the coach," often sat in a corner of the bar and talked about sports -- everything from horse racing to football and the Orioles -- during the restaurant's heyday in the 1980s.

"When I opened that restaurant years ago, Howard County was six policemen and a small group of people; Columbia wasn't heard of," said Mr. Novak Sr. "It was a strictly country music place."

But poor management in the past few years caused business to decline, the senior Mr. Novak said. Howard County court records show that in March, state and federal agencies filed liens against the Allview Inn and Novaks Inc. totaling more than $70,000 for unpaid sales and employment taxes. Those debts drove the business to close in May.

The Novaks began looking for a buyer for the restaurant, bar and adjacent liquor store. But they hoped to be able to stick around in an unofficial capacity.

"My Dad's 81 years old, and he didn't want to stay home because those were his friends up there, so he's kept the business up," said Mr. Novak Jr. "He'll still be up there, just not as the owner with the headaches."

Catonsville real estate agent Thomas Jarvis negotiated the sale of the restaurant and liquor store off Route 108, west of the U.S. 29 interchange. He also bought the liquor store, which he plans to reopen by June 30 under the name of All view Liquors.

G. L. Shacks owner Greg Tolker said the new establishment will offer 50 seats on the outdoor deck. Spanish-style roofing tiles will cover part of the deck and will be put on within the next few weeks, owners said.

Mr. Tolker said the restaurant will start serving pit beef and steamed crabs by midsummer on the deck, in addition to G. L. Shacks' menu offerings, which range from cold-cut sandwiches to crab cakes, surf-and-turf and pork chops.

"I don't know of any other place in Howard County like the old Allview Inn," Mr. Tolker said.

"That restaurant has been there for over 30 years though, and [the elder Mr. Novak] made that location successful," he said. "Its a great location and great opportunity for us to expand our business.

"With the townhomes, condos and parks out there, there's a lot of activity, but no place like that restaurant."

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