BIZ NOTES: Corner Grill Opens in Shady Side, Criswell to Sell Used Cars in Edgewater
Pete Litchfield is the kind of guy who likes a challenge. 15 years ago, he took a building that had been a succession of failed businesses. He cleaned it up and opened the doors as Brick House restaurant in Cedarhurst in Shady Side. He was the first one in a long line to make it a success.
He’s taking a chance again.
As of Friday, Corner Grill opened just a few blocks away on Shady Side Road in Shady Side. The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner.
We asked Litchfield if he was worried about cannibalizing his own business with this new venture.
He said that with the closing of Snug Harbor Inn and Calypso Bay, his business at Brick House has been busier than ever, with lines out the door on Friday nights. He wanted to give customers something a little different, and another option. The restaurant will serve a different need in the community, so he isn’t worried that it will detract from his current business.
When the last person who tried to make a go of the spot on the corner of Cedarhurst and Shady Side Road, Frank Coombs of J’Ollie’s didn’t succeed, Litchfield said that he didn’t like seeing the building sitting vacant again.
“Not having competition is not good,” he said.
He hopes to make Corner Grill a sports bar destination while keeping Brick House as the high-end foodie destination.
“I like to make the food,” he said, explaining his passion for his business.
“We do steaks and seafood here [at Brick House], we’ll do pizzas in the stone pizza oven and sandwiches, at the new place,” he said.
Litchfield has partnered in this new venture with Melissa “Missy” Brown, who has worked for him for 15 years. They might share some staff every now and again, but otherwise the two businesses will be separate.
Criswell Auto has hung up a new sign on their building indicating that a used car dealership may be opening at the site. The building is located at the corner of Solomons Island Road and Virginia Avenue at the entrance to Edgewater Beach. The parcel was the subject of a rezoning fight in 2011 during countywide rezoning process.
It appears from the signs that the new store will sell used vehicles. We reached out to owner George Criswell by phone last Wednesday at his Annapolis Audi dealership, and when we get word, we’ll update this story.
The building was, until about 10 years ago, the one-time Southern District police station. When police moved to their location on Stepneys Lane, it was put up for sale.
During the comprehensive rezoning process, which is a legislative (vs a judicial) process, Criswell wanted to get the parcel upzoned from C2 to C4 for a proposed Fiat dealership, noting that there are no new car dealerships in the area.
Community opposition from the neighborhoods behind the property, Edgewater Beach and Chestnut Hill was, at times, heated.
The council passed the upzone request, then-County Executive John Leopold vetoed it saying it didn’t comport with the General Development Plan (GDP). Shortly thereafter, the County Council overrode the veto, allowing Criswell to move forward with his planned new car dealership.
Since then, a group of citizens signed on to a lawsuit to reverse the zoning. That case was tossed out in 2013.
Shortly after Leopold’s veto was overridden by the council, in October of 2011, Criswell told Edgewater Patch that he was moving forward with plans for the dealership — that he had approval from Fiat and a site plan ready to go. Since then, not much has appeared to happen.
The signage and overhang that were installed this week seem to indicate that the Fiat dealership might not happen after all and that the parcel may instead become a used car lot.
There is an existing used car dealership in Edgewater. Caddy Shack Cars is located less than a mile away, near the WashHaus Car Wash on Solomons Island Road.