Three of the four restaurants at The Hotel at the University of Maryland — Old Maryland Grill, Potomac Pizza and Bagels 'n Grinds — opened Friday afternoon, with the fourth, Kapnos Taverna, slated to open within the month.
The restaurants had originally hoped to open before The Hotel itself, but delays related to securing necessary permits made that impossible, said Adam Greenberg, owner of Potomac Pizza and Bagels 'n Grinds.
Greenberg's two restaurants bookend The Hotel, with one on each side of the ground floor. Potomac Pizza will offer Italian food, with Bagels 'n Grinds serving coffee, bagels and other baked goods.
"This is exactly what College Park needs," Greenberg said. "People willing to invest money into their community."
Potomac Pizza, now College Park's newest pizza joint — following Lotsa Pizza's opening earlier this summer — became the "Proud Pizza Partner" of this university's athletics program in August 2016 and provides pizza at sporting events.
In the months leading up to the restaurants opening, Greenberg has been hosting fundraising nights and giving out free food at local charity events. Greenberg is also planning a grand opening weekend for Potomac Pizza between Sept. 16–17, and there will be an opportunity to win a free Jeep Wrangler, he said.
"In the long run, it will help us by helping the people that support us," he said. "If you do the right thing enough it'll come back to you."
Bagels 'n Grinds has an on-site water treatment facility that's visible upon entering the site, and Greenberg said this ensures his product tastes like true New York style bagels. The restaurant also offers free refills from its 28-foot drink bar, which Greenberg said he expects to be a big draw for students.
Potomac Pizza will be open from 11 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 11p.m. Sunday through Thursday. Delivery, which Greenberg said won't be available for the first two weeks as the restaurant works out any kinks, will be available until at least 2 a.m. Bagels 'n Grinds will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day, but Greenberg said the hours can be extended if there is enough customer demand.
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The Hotel's third restaurant opening today is Old Maryland Grill, a more upscale restaurant owned by Mike Franklin, who owns Franklin's restaurant in Hyattsville. Old Maryland Grill, which has exclusive rights to room service at The Hotel, serves "locally-sourced everything" and has an atmosphere of "comfortable fine dining," he said.
Officials from The Hotel approached Franklin and asked him what kind of concept he would open if he were to have a restaurant in The Hotel. His answer: The city needed a nicer restaurant.
Jeff Makhlouf, general manager and hotel operations director of The Hotel, said Southern Management Corporation — the company that built The Hotel — doesn't own the restaurants in its hotels, because hotel restaurants have a reputation for having bad food and no personality. That's why David Hillman, chairman and CEO of SMC, looks for partners for restaurants at SMC hotels, Makhlouf said.
"David talked to different politicians and different university people and different locals and he said, 'Who do you recommend? Who should I choose as a partner?' And on about 10 different occasions, and people not connected to each other, they said Mike Franklin," he said.
Greenberg said SMC originally approached him to partner with The Hotel because they had been partners since 2012, when Greenberg opened Bagels 'n Grinds at The Hotel at Arundel Preserve, another SMC building. Then, SMC officials said they were looking to open a pizza restaurant at The Hotel, so Greenberg added a Potomac Pizza location.
Being partnered with The Hotel provides the restaurants with customers more easily, as guests and employees at The Hotel will need food, Greenberg said, adding that The Hotel also helps with the marketing for the restaurants.
At every Potomac Pizza location, Greenberg said he tries to create a family-friendly atmosphere. At The Hotel, he said, he hopes professionals and university students and their families will come and enjoy the food, because "in College Park, there's a lot of food, but not a lot of places to eat."
"We want to make a presence," he said. "We believe the best form of marketing for us is sticking a bagel or pizza in your mouth."