Drive-through pharmacy may replace restaurant Rite Aid considers building 10,000-square-foot facility

October 20, 1997|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Uncle Y Y's Szechuan, a restaurant that has developed a loyal following in Ellicott City during the past four years, is apparently going to be replaced by a drive-through pharmacy at U.S. 40 and Rogers Avenue.

The distinctive restaurant -- painted white with a red roof and green lettering -- closed Sept. 20.

"We're pursuing other challenges," said Joanne Eshain Lee, daughter of Yuen Yi Lee, the man behind Uncle Y Y's.

She said the family plans to open another business in Howard County by 1999, added, "Not being able to devote ourselves full time to the restaurant, the family felt that it was better to pull out instead of hiring others.

"That restaurant had become our life," she said. "But this was for the best."

The building has been empty since the restaurant closed, but Rite Aid has approached officials from the county Department of Planning and Zoning about clearing the site and building a 10,000-square-foot pharmacy there.

Richard Blood, supervisor of the agency's plan review section, said county planners met with officials from the Harrisburg, Pa.-based pharmacy giant about three weeks ago to discuss the project.

Blood said the plan included entrance-only access on U.S. 40, an entrance/exit on Rogers Avenue and a freestanding kiosk to provide drive-through service.

According to Blood, planners were concerned about storm-water management and access from Rogers Avenue and asked Rite Aid officials to submit a more specific site development plan.

Several residents questioned the need for a new Rite Aid store when the chain has stores in the Normandy and Golden Triangle shopping centers.

"We've got two within a mile away from each other," Angie Deuber, an Ellicott City resident who frequented Uncle Y Y's, said. "Why are they going to open up another one?"

Rite Aid officials did not return several telephone messages.

Blood said he could not confirm that Rite Aid was planning to close the existing stores and consolidate operations in the new pharmacy.

The demise of Uncle Y Y's left some patrons dismayed.

"I can't believe it's closed," said Debbie Boyd, of Ellicott City, who didn't know about the closing until she drove into the restaurant's parking lot Tuesday.

Deuber said she would miss the restaurant's habit of sending birthday cards to longtime patrons and offering them gifts.

"That was something quaint and nice," said Deuber. "It was nice that they thought of you."

Others in the area said the closing was not surprising because Uncle Y Y's seemed to have few customers. Ms. Lee said the restaurant enjoyed a loyal following, many of whom were emotional when the family printed fliers announcing the decision to close and attached them to every carryout order.

"Saying goodbye was very hard," she said. "People started crying when we told them. I didn't expect that kind of emotion from our customers."

On the front door of the restaurant, the family posted a four-page announcement thanking patrons.

The announcement ends with a Chinese saying: "There is no final departure, we always look forward to the next gathering."

Pub Date: 10/20/97

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