Jewish Times: Suburban House To Reopen
Over the past year, Joe Stowe says he has learned one thing in particular. “Life,” he says, “can change in 20 minutes.”
Mr. Stowe, co-owner with Mark Horowitz of the popular Suburban House restaurant in Pikesville for the past quarter-century, was on the Jersey Shore vacationing last July when he received a phone call that his eatery at 911 Reisterstown Road was engulfed in flames. Rushing back, he watched in tears as firefighters attempted to salvage the building, which was the home of generations of Jewish-style food connoisseurs.
Over the past year, Mr. Stowe and Mr. Horowitz say they have been bombarded with queries from regular customers and others about when the Suburban House would reopen. But the wait is over, and S&H – as it is known locally – will reopen this Monday, July 19, at 7 a.m. in the space formerly housing the former Fuddruckers restaurant, at 1700 Reisterstown Road in the Pomona Square shopping center in Pikesville.
“It’s very exciting,” said Mr. Stowe, while workers swirling around him in the kitchen prepared for Monday’s “soft opening.” “It’s like we’re meeting old friends again – new, old and what’s in the future.”
Last February, the Suburban House owners told the Baltimore Jewish Times that the paucity of parking at their former location and lack of cooperation among neighboring businesses were the primary reasons for their decision to relocate.
The Suburban House’s new landlord is Pomona Square LLC, and Trout Daniel & Associates, a commercial real estate company, represented Suburban House in securing the 6,440-square-foot space.
“We’re ecstatic that Suburban House is moving in,” Susan Sugar Nathan of Pomona Square LLC, said last February. “It’s a wonderful match. Fuddruckers has been a wonderful tenant, but this is a chance to do something new and different.”
The new Suburban House seats 196 and has a work force of 45 employees, many of them longtime S&H workers and some new ones, according to Mr. Stowe. The restaurant’s menu has been updated but features virtually all of its former staples – chicken in a pot, matzoh ball soup, homemade kreplach, etc.
“People keep asking if we’ll have the same food,” said Mr. Stowe. “It’s the same thing as we had before.”
One new addition, the owners say, references the old Sid Mandell’s deli restaurant in Woodmoor – a “four-by-four”-style feature in which French fries or onion rings can be added to a sandwich basket.
Meanwhile, Mr. Stowe and Mr. Horowitz say they have been busy renovating the former Fuddruckers facility since taking over the space in mid-April. They put up new walls, installed new carpeting and plumbing, as well opened a new state-of-the-art kitchen. The facility was repainted and features the Suburban House logo.
The owners say they hired an architect and designers to help re-conceptualize the restaurant.
“We had a good idea of how we wanted the place to look,” said Mr. Horowitz. “We had eight months of learning time to familiarize ourselves with what’s new in the [restaurant] business. We reeducated ourselves to what is popular now in doing things and cooking.
“Because of that, once we took possession [of the facility] we got the place together and built a foundation quickly.”
Said Mr. Stowe: “We wanted a newer look without letting go of our traditions. We don’t want to look like a franchise but like individual owners, which is what we are.”
Regarding the Suburban House’s former facility in “downtown Pikesville,” Mr. Horowitz said, “We think they’re going to tear it down. They’ve exhausted their time [to renovate the space], and the insurance company and [Baltimore County] will not allow it to stay idle. It’s an eyesore. They let a lot of time lapse, so they’re going to have to tear it down.”
Because of the new Suburban House’s proximity to the Baltimore Beltway, he said he and Mr. Stowe hope to broaden their customer base. “We’re looking to pull people from all parts of Baltimore, instead of primarily from the Pikesville-Owings Mills area, with our new location,” he said.
Mr. Horowitz and Mr. Stowe said they will probably have an official opening celebration sometime in the next two to three weeks, “with a lot of fanfare and celebrities,” said Mr. Horowitz.
“Everyday, we get 100-200 calls, `When are you going to open? Are you open yet?’” Mr. Stowe said. “Even our mailman said that people keep asking him when we’re going to open. But we wanted to do it right. We now have a nice atmosphere, a tasteful setting. It’s exciting.”
This article was orginally published in the Jewish Times.
Published on: July 16, 2010
By Alan Feiler, Managing Editor