Pub brews many motifs

Decorations: Rocky Run Tap and Grill appeals to families and young adults with its themes like the Elvis room and its six brews.

Restaurant profile

Howard Live

September 21, 2000|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

If the Rocky Run Tap and Grill has a theme, it could be sensory overload.

Music, televisions, signs hanging from the ceilings, crayon-equipped tables, electronic games, music-themed seating areas, clapping waiters singing "Happy Birthday" and Italian lessons piped into the bathrooms will keep every patron awake and alert.

To add to the busy visual atmosphere, hundreds of spicy sauce bottles are lined up on every flat surface around the booths. All of which, along with a moderately priced menu of chicken, ribs, steak, salads and sandwiches, make it a popular family place, as well as drawing a 20-something crowd to the glassed-in bar and outdoor patio.

At 6 p.m. on a recent sunny day, the parking lot was full and the outdoor patio was filled with an exuberant crowd of young adults, as families with children took the tables inside.

Younger children love drawing on the brown paper tablecloths with the crayons provided on each table, and older ones can play a televised trivia game on wall-mounted monitors, using a hand-held keyboard.

"Things are very good. Sales increased over the last few years, and we had a 15 percent increase since last year," said Peter Bosen, managing partner of the 4-year-old Columbia brew-pub.

The 300-seat pub's own six brews are gaining popularity, Bosen said.

Rocky Run began as a restaurant founded in 1993 by Mike Donnelly and his son Bert in Marley Station Mall in Glen Burnie, Bosen said.

The family has another restaurant in North Baltimore, near the Johns Hopkins University campus, and is planning one in Fairfax, Va., due to open in November, Bosen said.

Bosen, who has been with Rocky Run for four years, said he worked last at a brew-pub in Kentucky but wanted to return to this area.

What's the secret to succeeding in east Columbia, which seems to be dominated by national chains?

"I'm not sure there is one secret," Bosen said. The different things Rocky Run offers make the place unique, he said. Still, "we're not a cookie-cutter copy" of the other two Rocky Runs. "Our menu is more eclectic" than most national chains, he said, and the restaurants' decorations vary, too.

The "Elvis" room, for example - an eating area adorned with Elvis Presley memorabilia - is much larger in the original Glen Burnie restaurant. In the Columbia location, other dining areas have musical themes based on Jimmy Buffett and the Beatles.

"I think what's really unique about our place is we really have one of the best staffs around. We hire people with experience. The goal is when you find someone good, hold on to them," Bosen said.

Columbia's Rocky Run has 85 full- and part-time employees.

Rocky Run

Where: 6480 Dobbin Center Way, Columbia; 410-730-6581.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 11 a.m. to midnight Sundays.

Prices: Appetizers, $3.27 to $10.55; entrees, $11.77 to $16.92. Children's menu, $2.69 to $4.28.

Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Diners Club.

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