American Cafe to close Rouse to seek replacement

September 09, 1996|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,SUN STAFF

The American Cafe in Columbia's Town Center will close permanently by the end of this month, as the restaurant's parent company shuts down almost the entire chain.

But the Rouse Co. says it immediately will begin looking to replace what is the only restaurant on the periphery of The Mall in Columbia, calling it an ideal location for a dining establishment.

Magic Restaurants -- the Yonkers, N.Y., owner of the area chain -- decided that the American Cafe restaurants had become dated but did not want to spend money to renovate most of its locations, said Keith Hebert, the company's vice president of operations.

Eight restaurants will close by the end of the month, including the Columbia location, Hebert said. The chain once boasted 18 restaurants in the Washington-Baltimore area, including one along the Inner Harbor.

The American Cafe in Tyson's Corner, Va. -- as well as at least one independently owned location in Washington -- will remain open, Hebert said. But the Tyson's Corner restaurant likely will be converted to another concept being developed by the company.

Rouse Co. spokeswoman Cathy A. Lickteig said it is too early to tell whether the company will replace the American Cafe with another restaurant chain or an independent restaurant. While the replacement may offer a different cuisine, she said, it likely will be similarly priced.

"This is a great location for a restaurant," Lickteig said, emphasizing that the American Cafe and restaurants located nearby on the shore of Lake Kittamaqundi do a strong business. The mall, Merriweather Post Pavilion and the Columbia Festival of the Arts draw a lot of lunch and dinner traffic to the area, she said.

Hebert disagreed that the location near the mall was very good for a restaurant, noting that access and parking is difficult.

No deadline is set for when a new restaurant will be chosen to replace the American Cafe, but Rouse hopes that a replacement will open within a year, if not by the spring, she said.

Meanwhile, Hebert said that Magic Restaurants is looking to bring its new restaurant idea -- called Red Heads -- to Columbia, possibly to a location along Lake Kittamaqundi. Red Heads would be an Italian-American restaurant with a sushi bar and would offer dancing in the late evenings.

Pub Date: 9/09/96

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