New Greene Turtle in California, MD
Greene Turtle location planned for California
The Greene Turtle Sports Bar and Grille plans to open its second Southern Maryland location on Three Notch Road in California later this year. It is the 23rd location in Maryland and is slated to create 75 to 100 new jobs.
The restaurant plans to open its doors in mid- to late-September, according to Jamil Jamaldinian, former Greene Turtle chief operations officer and current multi-unit franchisee for the brand. Jamaldinian will be opening his sixth location, including the one in La Plata, with the addition of California.
Founded in 1976 in Ocean City, Jamaldinian said the casual restaurant atmosphere plus excitement and unity of sports has been a staple of the Greene Turtle. He said the restaurant has more than just average “bar food,” with flatbreads, crab dip, crab cakes and healthier options. He said he is excited to bring another Greene Turtle to the Southern Maryland market.
Jamaldinian said the new location has already begun training four salaried managers at the La Plata location and plans to have on-site hiring from now until when doors open for business. He said the success the La Plata location has seen and the community involvement made him believe that could be replicated in California.
“We will do a lot for the community in California, we are looking to partner with the military base, local fire department, local hospitals and youth sports,” Jamaldinian said. “I think the area truly mimics where La Plata is at with a small town feel, we might be regional brand but we are local to the community we are in.”
Greene Turtle President and CEO Geo Concepcion said the restaurant become popularized with a “come as you are” feel in accordance with promoting a great time and an energetic vibe. He said the company hit some financial decline in 2016 and 2019 and since joining, he has aimed to get that excitement back and realize where they fell out of step with consumer focus.
Concepcion said he wanted to reignite guest’s passions through beverage service and the unveiling of a new lunch menu this past March. He said they began a period of rapid innovation and focus on elevating what is done in the restaurant, pushing two years of negative sales into up 5% February, with good momentum before the novel coronavirus pandemic temporarily closed businesses. Concepcion said Jamaldinian is a key component and partner as they look to expand the brand in the future.
“When we looked at site selection, one of the biggest things was good brand awareness,” Concepcion said. “It’s great to have something with a more local flair, with part of that fabric I think is one of the beautiful things about full service. Service is part of what we do, we need folks to deliver on that.”
Concepcion, as a franchisor, has supported the franchisee, Jamaldinian, in showing recognition to the local sports, military members and emergency workers to show the importance of a closely-knit community. Concepcion said the restaurant wants to have a special place in the community.
“When we look at what we are trying to do here, a big part is getting everyone involved and reflecting the local community,” Concepcion said. “The plan is to have a mural of local sports and give a tip of the cap to local community.”
Jamaldinian, while involved in day-to-day operations, growth, development and finances at the new location, said he is giving hands-on direction to managers and other staff on how to safely operate amid the pandemic. Jamaldinian said the restaurant will be operating at 50% capacity inside and look to expand outside seating, as there are currently two patios, one on either side of the building.
Jamaldinian said that owning multiple locations amid the pandemic has helped him get a feel for what operations do and don’t work. He said he figures the new location will be easier as they have already gone through trials on how to operate amid the pandemic.
“Our expectations are well above current guidance, we want to put on a high standard, we want our guests and team members to feel safe,” Jamaldinian said. “We changed operations and procedures to make sure everyone feels safe and is safe as we continue to operate.”
Concepcion said the goal is not to move far away from the “come as you are, have fun” sports type of restaurant, but that does not mean there isn’t room for aesthetic improvement.
“We think there is modernization for that environment,” Concepcion said. “I think part of what made Greene Turtle a success was a truly deep connection with the local community. For Jamil, the keys to his success are focusing on community and being an active participant, I think he will continue that with the California store.”
Jamaldinian said he plans to do just that and it is easier to partner with military members, hospitals and fire departments because he believes that is the right way to do business. He said the new location will have a mural dedicated to the town, high schools and colleges, tying the whole community together within the building.
Jamaldinian said he is already working on planning an event at the restaurant for just military members and their families, as they will get first looks at the restaurant and get to know the staff. He said police officers and firefighters may be involved in the event as well.
As for other expansion plans in Southern Maryland, Jamaldinian said he is always looking and will expand if the opportunity presents itself. He wants to have 10 franchised locations total within the next year or so, while working on the development of the newest location.
“This location is going to have different feels and looks than other Greene Turtles because we were working on refresh of the brand,” Jamaldinian said. “We are collaborating with corporate to have new look, nice new design elements, the restaurant itself will have more modern feel to it.”