Baci Bar & Grill closes at BWI

Local business is 3rd to fail since change in facilities manager

August 02, 2008|By Laura McCandlish | Laura McCandlish,Sun reporter

A third local business has failed at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport since BAA USA was hired in 2004 to overhaul shopping and dining options for passengers.

Baci Bar & Grill, which a Little Italy restaurateur opened outside a Southwest Airlines security checkpoint two years ago, shut down Thursday, airport officials confirmed. Its owner, Germano Fabiani, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Baci's shuttering comes as BAA and the Maryland Aviation Administration have struggled to increase small and minority-owned businesses at the airport. It leaves a 2,000-square-foot vacancy in the recently renovated Southwest terminal, which more than half of BWI passengers pass through.

"We want to bring in these local and regional concepts so you give a unique flavor to the services provided at BWI," said Carol Fearns, vice president of BAA's operations in Maryland. "We'll continue trying to add to and improve the program."

BAA's commitment to offering "street prices" as in a regular mall has crippled small businesses that struggle to compete with the larger franchises and national chains that dominate at BWI, said Melissa Fulton, owner of one of the two minority-owned local businesses that failed under BAA.

Fulton, who ran BWI's group of now-defunct Celebrate Maryland souvenir shops, and Denise and Marcus Beasley, an African-American couple forced to close their Church's Chicken franchise at the airport, have filed lawsuits against BAA, arguing that the terms of their leases made their businesses unprofitable.

In addition, two out of the three minority-run Candy Express franchises at BWI have shut down, according to Michael Rosenberg, president of Burtonsville-based Candy Express Franchising Inc.

Fearns said that these closures out of the 83 store locations BAA now leases at BWI represents "an awesome track record" for the retail mall industry.

She cited Obrycki's and Silver Dollar as two Maryland restaurant companies that have flourished - inside the secure Southwest terminal area - at BWI-Marshall.

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