The Greene Turtle at McHenry Row (Greene Turtle )
The new Greene Turtle at McHenry Row is set to open February 14. It'll become the Maryland company's 31st location, the result of an aggressive expansion strategy.
The opening is a day before another high profile bar-restaurant opening: Heavy Seas Ale House in Little Italy.
The bar is one of the biggest in Locust Point - about 7,000-square-feet and with a capacity for 270 people indoors - said general manager Kevin Day.
It is Greene Turtle's second new opening of the year, following a location in Arlington, Virginia.
The sports-themed bar started in 1976 with one bar in Ocean City, and grew slowly through the region. By 2001, it had five locations.
Since 2007, when Columbia-based JPB Partners bought a majority stake, it's quickly sped up the expansion of its franchise network.
The company's strategy is to grow in "concentric circles," spilling over from the Mid-Atlantic, where it's established a foothold, into neighboring states, Greg Carey, JPB vice president, has said. JPB has a history of helping regional brands - like the Arizona-based P.F. Chang's - pursue similar broad expansions.
While Greene Turtle's 31 locations are now in Maryland, Virginia and Delaware, it has a goal to open 150 locations on the East Coast over the next several years, says Tom Finn, vice president of franchise development.
It says it intends to sign franchise agreements for 25 bars in 2012, including in Pennsylvania, with North Carolina and Florida as their next goal locations.
Greene Turtle's growth is part of a larger trend in the food service industry. While industry-wide the recession has been a period of stagnation, mid-sized companies with average overhead, like the Tilted Kilt and Five Guys Burgers, have thrived.
The Tilted Kilt, a Celtic-themed alternative to Hooters, grew from 18 to 46 locations last year, according to consulting firm Technomic.
Construction of the new Greene Turtle started in September. The company was attracted to the flurry of development in the area, which includes, most recently, a brand-new Harris Teeter. General manager Day said it's in line with the newer models in the franchise, like the locations at Arundel Mills and Columbia.
In addition to featuring a casual dining menu (burgers, crab cakes), the bar-restaurant has an outdoor area off the main dining room and a 20-line draft system.
The beer selection is highly commercial, featuring a mix of domestic and well-known craft brands - Natty Boh, Heavy Seas, Fat Tire, Fordham Brewing, Sam Adams, Flying Dog and Dogfish Head. It's light on smaller Maryland brands, like Evolution Brewing or Baltimore-Washington Beer Works (The Raven).