A looming Walgreens development along Route 1 in Laurel will mean the closing of at least two popular restaurant locations and other businesses as early as November.
According to the Laurel Department of Community Planning and Business Services, construction is slated to begin this year on a Walgreens store near the 600 block of 2nd Street at the Route 1 and Route 198 intersection. The site is being developed by the Ohio-based Visconsi Companies.
The store’s construction would mean the demolition of the buildings that house the Irene’s Restaurant, Mango’s Grill, an Ace Cash Express store and a multistory office building. All businesses were told by the city they would have to relocate no later than late October.
Karl Brendle, director of Community Planning, told Laurel Patch that the city has reached out to the businesses to offer vacant spaces for them to relocate. So far only Mango's Grill has responded to the city's offer, Brendle said. The Ace Cash Express store is slated to move south along Route 1 near the Laurel Lakes area.
News of the closure of the restaurants' current locations was met with shock and disappointment by patrons.
Anne McCrea of Ellicot City, eating lunch with a friend last week at Mango’s Grill, said she’s been going to the restaurant for six years and had no idea it was closing.
“I don’t want the restaurant to move,” she said.
Ana Gladys Figueredo, owner of Mango’s, said she’s been in that location for seven years. She said she also didn’t want to move but was confident her restaurant's reputation for good food would mean her customers would find her elsewhere in the city—though she has not decided on a location.
Mango’s and Irene’s, both Spanish eateries, have remained popular attractions, with crowds converging on the Mango’s small space on weekends.
Figueredo confirmed that she and the other storeowners were given as late as October to vacate before the demolition.
“I’m very sad,” she said. “There is nothing we can do about it. I didn’t expect this to happen so soon."
The Walgreens store would sit two blocks from a 24-hour CVS drug store. Brendle said the city can’t tell developers what to build or where if they are in the correct zoning area. The city’s Planning Commission, however, did weigh in on the building’s design and was able to negotiate with the developer for a brick façade, among other features.
Plans will be shown at the commission's Sept. 12 meeting in the Laurel Municipal Center.
Messages left for Irene's Restaurant owners were not immediately returned.