Here's a Hudson's Corner vote for Graul's Market as the boutique grocery store for the Rotunda mall

April 02, 2013

If I had to vote on which food store I would like to see at the Rotunda, I would vote for Graul's Market. My reason is simple: Graul's is a full-service market.

Retirement communities and apartment buildings, all inhabited by senior citizens, surround the Rotunda. St. Mary's Roland View Towers is a two-building complex near the intersection of Roland Avenue and 40th Street. Roland Park Place and Keswick Multi-Care are right across from the Rotunda on 40th Street.

Many who live and work in those complexes depended on the Giant for groceries until it moved down the hill. Down the hill is not a problem for some walkers with carts, but uphill is. The Giant is now too far for many seniors, who do not drive.

Numerous other apartment buildings stand around the Rotunda: the Wyman Park Apartments; Hopkins House; the Carlyle; Broadview; University One; and other small apartment and condominium buildings on 39th Street, Charles Street and University Parkway.

Many who live in them are students without cars. Walking to the Rotunda would be convenient. A full-service grocery store there would be preferable to shopping at two different stores.

For potential tenants of the new apartments and offices planned for the Rotunda, a full-service grocery would be a draw.

With a nod to sustainability, it is possible that prospective apartment dwellers, who work in the city, would not need a car. The Rotunda is well-situated on major bus routes.

The city is encouraging sustainability. Having more renters without cars would help. For renters, walking down and back up the hill to the new and improved Giant would not be as easy as using a full-service grocery store right outside one's door.

Having two full-service supermarkets near each other would not be a bad thing. People drive to this area to shop from as far away as Bolton Hill.

There is plenty of room for two large grocery stores on 40th Street. Having Graul's would keep area prices competitive.

I regularly shop at the Giant, Eddie's and Whole Foods. I make special trips to Graul's. It is our go-to place for baked goods: cheese bread, English muffin bread, biscuits, petits fours and birthday cake.

We also drive out there for ham spread and finely cut chicken salad. Others who live in and around Roland Park do, too. Having Graul's at the Rotunda would further sustainability by reducing gas usage for some area residents.

I am not against MOM's Organic Market, another chain being considered for the mall by its owner, Hekemian & Co., which plans to redevelop the Rotunda.

I like MOM's.

Our nephew and his wife shop frequently at the Timonium store. It is clean and bright with fresh produce, meats and seafood. Much comes from local sources. I am all for local and organic, but a more comprehensive Graul's at the Rotunda would include both.

Something that many may have forgotten is that Graul's has a long history in the area. When I was a child, Graul's occupied the space that is now the Roland Park Wines & Liquor store on Roland Avenue near 40th Street. It was our after-school place for sherbet cups and ice cream "rockets."

Prior to that location, Graul's was farther up on Roland Avenue, near Tuxedo Pharmacy.

Why would the developer of the Rotunda want to decrease the size of the footprint of a grocery store? Full-service groceries bring foot traffic and plenty of customers to the other stores and restaurants that will open in the renovated Rotunda.

Hopefully, Graul's would also offer an eatery at the Rotunda, similar to the one at May's Chapel. If that were to happen, the void created long ago by the closing of the Cross Keys Market & Deli might finally be filled.

The time is ripe for a Graul's comeback to Baltimore.

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