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More eateries coming to downtown Towson

Paris Baguette will be opening its first Baltimore-area location, in Towson
Posted at 4:50 PM, Jun 12, 2024

TOWSON, Md. — Downtown Towson continues to get new eateries - to the point that some community leaders say it might be oversaturated.

Holy Cow Edible Cookie Dough & Ice Cream just reopened (this time on York Road).

And Cinnabon, Auntie Anne's Pretzels, Jamba Juice, and Paris Baguette will soon join the Towson Row shopping center. Little Forest, a Thai restaurant, is working on financing so it can open its doors on West Chesapeake Avenue.

Work is now underway on Cinnabon, Auntie Anne's and Jamba Juice, all of which have multiple locations in the Baltimore area.

This will be Paris Baguette's first location in Baltimore. The South Korean chain has several thousand restaurants internationally, mostly in Korea and China.

Dessert at Paris Baguette
Dessert at Paris Baguette
Paris Baguette
Paris Baguette

The husband-and-wife franchisee team of Vipra Kundoor and Rajesh Pingili said they expect to open in the next six months, and "are very much interested in opening more locations in the Baltimore area."

They said: "We feel Towson is towering and expanding rapidly, and personally feel that this would be apt for Paris baguette given that we are right across Towson University and a lot of foot traffic in that area. Paris Baguette has a great selection of food and beverage items, and we want to bring that fresh and great selection of items to this community directly."

An undisclosed tenant is also coming soon to the former Urban Outfitters building on York Road at East Pennsylvania Avenue.

Towson has at least 94 restaurants (including coffee shops, etc.) within one square mile. In fact, the Towson Chamber of Commerce is now talking with some property owners about leasing to some different types of businesses, said executive director Nancy Hafford.

Although there are some prominent vacancies - including many at the Circle East shopping center, where BJ's Brewhouse and Bonefish Grill recently closed - vacant square footage overall is about 16 percent lower than it was before COVID, said Sameer Sidh, Baltimore County's deputy administrative officer for economic development and infrastrutcture.

Hafford said:

Truth is, from 10 years ago, we have more restaurants here than we've ever had in the history of Towson... It's huge.

Part of the reason is a newfound willingness of businesses from Baltimore to come to the county seat, she said.

"Seven, eight years ago, we could have never gotten a Banditos or a Nacho [Mama's] or The Point. Those were all places in the city. They would never have considered coming to Towson... And now we have them," Hafford said. "Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse [opening soon at Towson Town Center] would have never thought of coming here in the past."

Aerial view of downtown Towson
Aerial view of downtown Towson

Other prominent vacancies along York Road, however, include the former CVS, at West Chesapeake, and the former Wells Fargo location, at Pennsylvania.

Hafford said: "It would be great if we had like a pharmacy or a small mom-and-pop place like that." The Chamber is also talking to a company that offers games - like a "smaller Dave & Buster's kind of thing."

Since office space remains a challenge to lease post-COVID all across the country, she's hoping the county will encourage more mixed-use properties - perhaps turning the top floors of some office buildings into apartments.

Sidh noted that the county keeps incentivizing its workers to return to offices, and, last week, the county agreed to a three-year extension of incentives for offices to move into Towson Row.

The Chamber has been working to help "the businesses survive," Hafford said, by getting almost $600,000 in safety initiatives that helped nearly all of Towson's small businesses get surveillance cameras (up from about 65% of the businesses), security guards, and lighting in parking lots and alleys.

The Chamber also just got $120,000 in state and county grants for small businesses to get new signage and do facade improvements, which has served about 15 businessowners so far.

Sidh said:

In a general sense, we're actually really bullish about what we're seeing in the Towson core. From a foundational point, the area has a ton of assets.

Another noticeable development downtown has been the increase in student apartments, but Hafford said students are not the main driver of Towson business.

"We've found one unintended housing that comes from student housing, and that's when the summer comes, they're gone," she said. "We have 2,400 students living in the downtown area and any of those times, they're gone back home."

She believes that serving area residents is ultimately what will keep Towson thriving.

And, if more eateries do arrive - "we could really use a good Italian restaurant," she added. "We haven't had one in a while."