Before the owners of Lenny's delicatessen expanded their site in Owings Mills nearly six years ago, they were teetering on the edge of closing.
But then they decided to add to their 1,750 square feet of space by leasing an adjacent 1,000 square feet and knocking down a wall. In the process, business boomed.
"Thank God it did," said Alan Smith, who along with his father, Lenny, own Lenny's delicatessen at the Valley Village Shopping Center in the 9100 block of Reisterstown Road.
"The expansion made the difference between surviving or not surviving," Smith continued. "The previous spot was too small. The expansion made it viable to do business."
It also allowed Lenny's delicatessen to grow from a small sandwich shop to a full-service delicatessen and bakery, Smith said.
More recently, Lenny's has grown again, taking over another 750 square feet of adjacent space and adding 30 percent more seating. And again, Smith said, expansion was the charm.
"The minute we knocked the wall down again, business picked up instantly," he said.
Today, the Smiths boast that they sell more than 600 pounds of corned beef, 200 dozen eggs, 300 pounds of tuna and 250 dozen bagels every week.
The latest expansion, which cost more than $50,000, not only brought in new seating, it extended the service line 18 feet, added a frozen yogurt machine, and meant installing new carpeting, wallpaper and ceilings.
A former district manager for Jack's Corned Beef, Alan Smith said that the moment they heard about the Owings Mills location in 1985, he and his father, a former Chevrolet finance officer, decided to make a down payment.
"We knew all this was construction going on, the mall was being built and it was kind of a mutual thing," said Lenny Smith. "My son and I just looked at each other, and before you knew it we were talking about it and that was it."
"We just knew this was probably going to be a hot spot, with Owings Mills growing," Smith said.
Opening the shop allowed the Smiths to offer something different from Jack's. "Nothing here is pre-made," said Alan Smith. Cookies bagels and sandwich rolls are made on the premises, he added.
While the Smith's partnership is 50-50, their duties at the deli are different.
"My father's the guy that everybody sees when they come in to the shop," said Alan Smith of his gregarious father.
The younger Smith said he prefers to work in the background.
* Annapolis Associated Architects, in partnership with Zeidler Roberts and Edmunds & Hyde Inc., have been chosen to design the University of Maryland's new, $83 million replacement bed clinical tower at Lombard and Greene streets.
The selection was made by the university's medical system board of directors after reviewing proposals by 25 groups of architects from the U.S., Canada and England.
Zeidler Roberts is a Toronto firm. Edmunds & Hyde is based in Baltimore.
* Marty's Oriole Mart, a local baseball card shop, has leased 1,225 square feet of space at the Oklahoma Center on Liberty Road in Eldersburg. Barbara Goldberg, of Hicks & Rotner Associates Inc., represented the tenant and the landlord during the transaction.
* Plunkert Construction Co. Inc. leased 3,600 square feet of office and warehouse space at 5320 Enterprise St. in Eldersburg. Tim Bahr and Paul Danko, both of CB Commercial, represented the tenant and landlord.