Loss of market, restaurant leaves town hungry for business Grocer building store remains optimistic

June 14, 1992|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

UNION BRIDGE -- Change doesn't come often to this small western Carroll town, which means Vickie Hauck probably won't get a Taco Bell.

For now, she and her sister, Linda Harman, brown bag it or settle for a limited menu when they take their lunch break from the Entertrainment rail line office on Main Street.

They recently lost one of their choices -- Ken's Country Kitchen -- and will lose another later this month when Yingling's Market closes.

It hurts when a town with one traffic light and about 900 residents loses two businesses in one month, residents and other business people said.

"They're part of the family and part of the town," Kathleen D. Kreimer, the town clerk and owner of a liquor store, said of the two establishments.

Mayor Perry L. Jones Jr., owner of Tuck's Chevron Service Station on Main Street, and other business owners formed the Union Bridge Business Association last year, but the group hasn't met in several months.

Its goal was to encourage residents to shop here and to attract new businesses to what has long been a company town for Lehigh Portland Cement Co., which has a plant on the edge of town and employs about 200 people.

"Union Bridge has to grow a little bit in order to survive," Jones said.

The population here hasn't grown substantially in 50 years, but it could soon, which could be a boon for many businesses. In April the town council approved the annexation of the 110-acre Phillips property where 400 homes eventually could be built.

Some area residents oppose the annexation, however, and collected enough signatures to force a referendum on it in August.

Elwood Myers, owner of Myers' Super Thrift Market, is optimistic that population growth will attract more business.

Myers is building an 18,500-square-foot grocery store on Route 75 that is more than twice the size of his Main Street store. He said he hopes the new store will attract residents who now drive about 12 miles to Westminster to shop.

The new store -- to open in October -- will offer hot foods, a bakery and a larger deli, he said.

The expansion also will mean more jobs. Myers will hire more employees in August or September, but said he doesn't know how many. The store currently has about 14 full-time workers.

Maryland Midland Railway Co., based in a historic train station on Main Street, also needs to expand, its president said.

Paul Denton said he and his employees are cramped in their office space. The company would like to build an office on property it owns on the other side of Main Street, he said.

The train station would be for sale when that happens, and a creative business person could turn it into a restaurant with a railroad theme, Denton said.

To attract new businesses and more shoppers, Union Bridge has to bill itself as different from Westminster and other larger towns in the area.

The pitch could be "Come out here for something nice and peaceful," he said.

Ken E. Taylor, who opened a family style restaurant in October that closed June 1, said he is disappointed he couldn't make the business go. He said he had trouble keeping good employees and may have turned off customers with mistakes at the beginning. People remember that they were served green beans when they wanted applesauce, he said.

Taylor speculated that he would have made more money if the restaurant had been in Westminster or Eldersburg.

"I'm really sorry it didn't make it," he said. "I wish people would've given me a second chance."

Arlyn Yingling, who will close the grocery and carry-out store her family ran for 22 years on June 27, said residents have been loyal customers.

"It's been a big decision for us. We like it here. We like the people," she said.

But at 61, she's ready to retire, and her daughter, Debbie, who runs the business with her, decided she couldn't do it alone.

Their two-story building on Main Street has been for sale for six months, Arlyn Yingling said. The price is $159,000.

Debbie Yingling, 36, said the town could attract new business, but newcomers shouldn't have expectations that are too high.

"It's a small town," she said. "You're not going to make a killing. You're going to make a living."

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