La's Night Spot Dunked By Mo's Mussels

Seafood Restaurant To Replacediscotheque

December 04, 1991|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe | Deidre Nerreau McCabe,Staff writer

Palm trees, neon signs and an 800-square-foot dance floor will soon have to make way for flounder, snapper and shell fish, when a popularGlen Burnie nightspot becomes a seafood restaurant and market.

The music that kept hundreds of local patrons dancing half the night away at LA's Restaurant and Bar on Ritchie Highway will continue to play a while longer.

But if plans of the property's new owner proceed on schedule, thesuccessful nightclub will become Mo's Fisherman's Wharf -- Ritchie Highway in about a year.

The property, between a Dunkin' Donuts anda Sizzler on Ritchie Highway, was sold Nov. 4 at a public auction after Glen Burnie Realty Inc., former owner of the building, defaulted on its loan.

Baltimore restaurateur Mo Manocheh, owner of Fisherman's Wharf Restaurant Inc., bought the 9,400-square-foot, trilevel restaurant and bar for $965,000. His company owns three seafood restaurants and two seafood carry-out establishments in the Baltimore area.

Manocheh said he was attracted to the Glen Burnie site because the area has a dearth of good seafood restaurants.

His plans for the restaurant call for extensive renovations, including additional windows and large skylights to open up the building and make it brighter. Manocheh said his plans will take about a year to finalize, so in the meantime, he intends to give LA's a temporary lease.

David Vogelsang, co-owner of LA's with his brother John Vogelsang, said he is disappointed with the turn of events. But, he added, he and his brother will make the best of it, using the next year to build up their clientele and find a new location for LA's.

"We're not going to give up and throw in the towel," he said. "We're two young guys who have put everything into a business and we want to continue it."

Vogelsang and his brother had leased the former Beefsteak Charlie's from Glen Burnie Realty Inc. for a 10-year period. But under Maryland law, leases generally do not have to be honored by a new owner after a foreclosure.

After sinking more than $100,000 into the place for improvements and putting in six months of labor, the two Glen Burnie brothers opened LA's on Dec. 17, 1990. Almost overnight, the large restaurant and nightclub became a success, attracting more than 500 patrons a night on the weekends.

Then, two months shy of LA's first anniversary, the brothers learned the property would be auctioned.

"We heardit was going to be sold and three weeks later it went on the auctionblock," David Vogelsang sang. The quick turnaround did not give the brothers enough time to dig up investors so they could bid on the place themselves.

"I'm a young guy, and with this economy, if I had gone to the bank and asked for that kind of money, they would have laughed," he said.

Although moving will be a large setback, Vogelsanghopes his patrons will follow LA's to a new location. Most of LA's diners and night-clubbers hail from Anne Arundel and Howard counties, but many come from as far away as Rockville and Washington D.C., he said.

Some of the additional improvements the Vogelsangs had planned will be put on hold for the time being. But some, such as buying new furniture to replace that left behind by Beefsteak Charlie's, will proceed as planned.

Vogelsang also hopes to improve the restauranttrade by hiring a new chef and making some changes to the "casual" menu, which now features sandwiches, pizza, salads and a limited selection of steak, chicken and seafood dinners.

The restaurant trade has been LA's "weak" spot, admitted Vogelsang. About 75 percent of thebusiness's trade has come from the bar and nightclub, about 25 percent from the restaurant. Vogelsang said he is striving for a 50-50 split.

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