The first chain restaurant opens tomorrow in historic downtown Ellicott City, but owners Tayo and Bayo Ibraheem say it's not your typical fast-food stopover.
The couple, residents of Ellicott City, are opening Subway Cafe' at 8143 Main St. It's one of four Subway restaurants they own in the Baltimore area; however, this is the first Subway Café.
“Right now there are only about seven in the nation,” Tayo Ibraheem said.
As a Subway Café, the new restaurant is a recently created hybrid of a sandwich shop and coffee bar that will offer baked goods, espresso drinks and frozen drink blends along with all the sandwich options Subway typically offers, according to Ibraheem.
These locations are also larger in size and feature a different décor. All the coffee is Seattle’s Best, which is owned by Starbucks, Ibraheem said.
“We wanted to do something that would blend in and be a nice place for people to hang out,” said Ibraheem.
This will be the first chain restaurant in historic downtown Ellicott City, and, as would have been the case with any business opening on Main Street, Subway needed to have changes to buildings approved.
“They just had to adhere to the design guidelines, which they did,” says Samantha Stoney, Ellicott City’s Historic Preservation Planner. She said businesses need to follow the guidelines listed in the Historic District Guidelines (.PDF) and get any major changes approved.
Other nearby merchants have their own opinions on what a chain restaurant on Main Street means for the neighborhood.
“It’s a whole different kind of fast food option,” says Johnny Breidenbach, owner and chef of Johnny’s Bistro on Main.
“I think they will draw a certain clientele. As much tourism as we get, I don’t think people’s memorable experience here will be a visit to Subway,” he said.
Betty Jacob’s at Yates Market recalls concerns when other restaurants opened on Main Street.
“When there were only four, and a fifth opened up everyone was worried,” she said. But, as they did in the past, she said, "Hopefully we all make it.”
“I’m excited. I think this is good for everybody,” said David Reyes, the owner of Reyes Jewelry Exchange located across from the new Subway Café. He said he thinks the new restaurant will provide an option for visitors who want to feed their families affordably.
The new Subway Café will add 12 jobs to the community, according to Tayo Ibraheem. The duo isn't yet sure about hours and are waiting to see what works best for customers.