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Restaurant ventures from its ocean roots

In a few days, a taste of Ocean City will be coming to Harford County.

Bull on the Beach, a restaurant featuring the same beef and seafood menu offered at the company's Ocean City locations, plans to open a branch between Bel Air and Churchville by Thursday.

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"The same distributor serving the Ocean City restaurants will be making daily deliveries here," said Todd Rodano, 36, manager and partner of the restaurant under construction on Route 22, just a short drive from the Harford Community College campus.

Work on the restaurant began in March.

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"I'm really enthused about this location. I'm happy I've been given the opportunity to bring our product to this market," said Rodano, a native of Harford County.

The restaurant needed a county resident for the liquor license, so Rodano relocated to the county.

"This gives me the chance to grow with the company and allows me to spend more time with family members," he said.

Rodano has been working for Bull on the Beach since 1988. "I have enjoyed every moment. I can't tell you how many Harford countians would visit our Ocean City restaurants. They always seemed to be asking when we would bring our product here. Well here we are," he said.

A graduate of Pennsylvania's Millersville University with a degree in business administration, Rodano said that he and his business partner, Kevin Hauck, decided it was a good idea to bring the restaurant to Harford. Expansion is their long-range goal.

"We are currently looking at two other locations on this side of the bay." Rodano said. "All future restaurants will look exactly like this one, which is modeled after the one on Route 50 in West Ocean City."

The site was important to the expansion plan - they wanted it to be on a heavily traveled road. Keith Rawlings, a county entrepreneur and owner of the Arena Club fitness center on Route 22, had two parcels available on that street.

A Wawa convenience store and gas station took one, leaving the second for Bull on the Beach.

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Rawlings worked at Bull on the Beach during his college years at Salisbury University and has remained friends with Phil Hauck, the restaurants' owner and founder.

"It's a terrific location," Rodano said of the site. "It fits our needs. Our building will handle about 200 customers, and we have parking for 100 cars."

A potential problem facing customers leaving is the difficulty in making a left turn onto eastbound Route 22. A traffic signal planned just west of Wawa should ease that problem.

The restaurant will open daily at 11 a.m. and close at 2 a.m. It will feature a "happy hour" from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m.

Rodano will be assisted by Keith Galka and Bobby Richardson. Galka, a graduate of Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, has been with Bull on the Beach since 1996. Richardson, also a native of Harford County, attended C. Milton Wright High School before graduating from Harford Community College.

This trio will cover the 15-hour day and oversee a staff of about 80.

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"I figure our customers will be more relaxed than the ones in O.C.," Rodano said. "We've eliminated that long drive to the beach, the heavy traffic on Ocean Highway and the lack of ample parking.

"And, if they miss the water, they can come here directly from any of the area swim clubs or their backyard pools," he said. "I guarantee that once they're inside our place they'll be saying, 'This is just like being downy ocean, hon.' "


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