(March 15, 2013) White Marsh Mall, on Perry Hall Boulevard in Nottingham, Md., is home to the newest Greene Turtle restaurant.
The 36th Greene Turtle location, which opened March 11, includes a 76-seat outdoor patio, a two-floor, 6,300-square-foot interior layout with dining room seating and a bar area.
“We have great expectations for this store’s success and believe that this team will make The Greene Turtle Franchising Corporation very proud,” stated Bob Barry, CEO/president of the Edgewater, Md.-based chain in an e-mail.
There is no end in sight as The Greene Turtle brand continues to expand. Franchise sites opened in Gambrills, Md. and Newark, Del., just after Labor Day and Christmas 2012, respectively, and “next month we’ll mark two milestones, as we open a restaurant that will be our first on Long Island and the first located outside of the Mid-Atlantic region,” Barry stated in a press release.
“We’re making sure and steady progress toward our goal of having 150 locations throughout the eastern United States, and as this new site shows, we will continue doing so by opening both company and franchise locations,” he said.
Last year, Greene Turtle restaurants opened in Annapolis, Arlington and Fairfax, Va., Gambrills, Md., Newark, Del., and Baltimore’s McHenry Row. The company has 36 open locations and deals in place that will see sites debuting on Long Island, N.Y., and in Fairfax County, Va., as well as in other parts of Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. One site has been awarded in Pennsylvania, as well.
Brothers John and Jeff Froccaro will open the first of at least 10 units on Long Island, sometime next month, according to Barry.
“I think it’s absolutely great. Long Island is a natural fit,” said Steve Pappas, owner of “The Original” Greene Turtle on 116th Street in Ocean City, which will celebrate its 37th anniversary in June. “It’s a big area of local communities strung together. It also has a strong lacrosse tradition and The Greene Turtle is synonymous with lacrosse.”
The Greene Turtle strategic growth plan includes reaching 150 units throughout the east and expanding into Pennsylvania, New Jersey, more of New York and New England, as well as additional locations in Virginia, especially Richmond, Roanoke, Blacksburg and the Hampton Roads area, and on into the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida, Barry said.
While the chain will continue to open corporately-owned “company-operated” sites, much of the expansion is intended to be driven by new and existing franchisees.
As for appeal, The Greene Turtle prides itself on not only having a loyal following among sports fans, but also being a destination for families seeking affordable, “something-for-everyone” meals in a comfortable setting, friends gathering to socialize and others who crave comfort food and a friendly atmosphere for lunch, dinner, happy hour or late evening fare, Barry said.
“There’s a wide range of people that come to The Turtle and we try to create a fun atmosphere in every location,” Pappas said.
When “The Original” Greene Turtle opened on 116th Street in 1976, customers could get peanuts, National Premium beer on draft, Budweiser, Molson, Miller Lite and Miller High Life by the bottle and some liquor was available. That was about it.
Pappas said he never imagined how much the business would grow.
“We were just a couple of jocks at Salisbury. Seven, 10, 15 units at the most, we thought. We never dreamt we’d be at 36 now. We’ve gone a long way with it,” he said. “We’ve got these mega bars now. It’s just amazing. It makes you feel proud about where The Turtle’s come.”
Pappas and Tommy Dickerson worked at the Ocean City bar when it opened in 1976. In their early 20s and just out of college—they attended Salisbury University (then Salisbury State)—the pair bought the business in 1981.
In 1986, Pappas and Dickerson’s old college friend, Bill Packo, joined the business and they opened a Greene Turtle in Fells Point in Baltimore. Food was added to the menu.
Because offering food was a success, the 116th location began serving cold sandwiches, soups and some hot items shortly after. The restaurant began to outgrow its 1,600 square feet of space and soon expanded into two units next door. A kitchen was then added.
Mike Sanford, who the men met while in college, joined the business in 1990. That year a location in Laurel, Md. opened. Eight years later, two more Greene Turtles opened in Maryland: one in Edgewater and another in West Ocean City.
Sanford ran the Laurel then the Edgewater restaurants, while Pappas was in charge of the north Ocean City hot spot, Dickerson the West Ocean City location and Packo the Fells Point eatery.
In 2002, The Greene Turtle Franchising Corporation was formed. Four years later, in 2004, the first two Turtle franchises opened their doors in Towson and Salisbury.
Pappas said he and Dickerson, who both sit on the franchise corporation board, are still involved in The Greene Turtle operations.
Pappas considers the 116th Street Greene Turtle, Fells Point and West Ocean City locations the “three original affiliate” restaurants, while the others that have opened are corporate or franchise locations.
In January 2010, The Greene Turtle cracked Entrepreneur Magazine’s prestigious Top 500 fastest growing franchise list, coming in at No. 465. When the magazine’s January 2011 list came out, The Greene Turtle moved up 126 spots to No. 339. It was ranked No. 1 in the Sports Bar & Grille Category.
In 2012, Restaurant Management Magazine ranked The Greene Turtle among the Top 10 Franchise Deals. In January 2013, The Greene Turtle once again made Entrepreneur Magazine’s prestigious Top Franchise 500 Opportunities list, coming in at No. 367.
Although each restaurant is unique, Pappas said the important thing when franchising is to keep the same brand, the consistency and quality of the food, the atmosphere and good customer service.
“The concept is simple. It’s not just good food, but it’s a fun place to be,” he said. “We’ve always prided ourselves on our employees. When Tommy and I started, the most important part of The Turtle are the people that work there. There are a million sports bars, but [employees] are what makes The Turtle so successful and different from a lot of places.”
The Greene Turtle franchise received the McCormick Cornerstone Award in 2009 and again in May 2011. The award is given to individuals and companies who best illustrate that the foodservice industry stands as the cornerstone of the local communities in which they operate.
The Greene Turtle (statewide) and four other establishments were inducted into the Restaurant Association of Maryland Hospitality Hall of Honor in 2011. The Hospitality Hall of Honor recognizes leaders who exhibit dedication, courage and creativity while contributing to the positive reputation and overall improvement of the industry.
For more information about The Greene Turtle, a list of locations and franchising opportunities, visit www.greeneturtle.com.