ANNAPOLIS — The latest section of the Annapolis Towne Centre will open by May, bringing five new restaurants and two financial services companies to the Parole complex.
Officials with Greenberg Gibbons Commercial, the Owings Mills-based company that owns the center, announced the businesses last week. They’ll be located in a 20,000-square-foot building that fronts Riva Road.
Restaurants planned include stir fry restaurant Flat Top Grill, Jimmy Johns Gourmet Sandwich Shop, Qdoba Mexican Grill, Saladworks and Zoe’s Kitchen, a Mediterranean restaurant.
Fidelity, a mutual fund group, and Scottrade, an online investment firm, will round out the complex. Officials with Greenberg Gibbons said they expect the businesses to bring about 100 jobs to the area.
Annapolis Towne Centre already has seven sit-down, full-service restaurants, said Brian Gibbons, president and CEO of the development company.
“But we don’t have any fast casual type of restaurants in our complex,” Gibbons said. “These are kind of quick lunch, quick dinner places.”
With the exception of Qdoba, all of the restaurants will be new to Anne Arundel County, though another Jimmy John’s is in the works for downtown Annapolis. Flat Top will be the Chicago-based chain’s first location on the East Coast.
“That speaks volumes about the project,” Gibbons said.
Annapolis natives and longtime best friends Derek Morrell and Nicole Roudiez will have Saladworks open by summer, Morrell said. They plan to hire 15 to 20 workers, all from the Annapolis area.
“Opening our first Saladworks location in the new section of Annapolis Towne Centre was a no-brainer for us,” Morrell said. “With such a diverse group of top-notch retail and dining establishments, each individual business helps to bring in a variety of new customers for one another.”
The influx of new restaurants comes as some downtown merchants struggle to attract more people to restaurants and businesses along inner and outer West Street.
At a forum last week sponsored by the Annapolis Economic Development Corp., business owners said they had been hurt by competition from businesses at the Towne Centre and Westfield Mall.
Gibbons shrugged off any notion of market saturation, especially in regard to the mall about a mile away.
“There’s plenty of room in the market,” he said. “With the mall, you’re going inside to shop … this is going to be outside, people will be coming here. It’s also going to be convenient to our residents.”
Gibbons said plans are in the works for an apartment building right next door, which will add another 225 units to the Towne Centre. The complex already has 208 apartments, which are filled, and another 150 condos that are about 75 percent filled.
Competition is a reality in the restaurant business, said Gavin Buckley of the Kapow Group, which owns Lemongrass, Tsunami and the Latin Quarter restaurants on inner West Street.
“I think our challenge is to make downtown a little more interesting,” Buckley said.
The restaurateur is in the middle of planning four festivals over the next few months to try to drum up business along West Street.
“We’re never going to be able to compete with the national chains, so we just have to hope people get behind the local names,” he said. “Our restaurants, even though they’re small, they’re a little more big city, something you might find in New York.”
Bob Burdon, the president and CEO of the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce, has a bit of a different take.
He said he sees the Annapolis Towne Centre, Westfield and downtown as three points of a triangle.
“You’ve got a critical triangle here that is going to be very important to the local economy,” Burdon said. “They complement each other, they don’t necessarily compete with each other.”
Downtown, however, is the part of the triangle that’s a little weak, he said.
“What are we going to do to attract people to downtown?” Burdon said.