Greene Turtle in Bel Air Closes

The Greene Turtle on Main Street in Bel Air closed its doors Tuesday after the restaurant felt it was “unlikely” that a new lease agreement could be reached with its landlord.

In a statement to The Dagger, a company spokesman said the Greene Turtle parent company and its Bel Air franchise decided that they would be unable to reach a new lease agreement but hoped to find “a new home.”

“The Bel Air franchisees are committed to The Greene Turtle, having just opened another location in Aberdeen and signed a franchise agreement for Rehoboth Beach, [Del.], and are working closely with [the parent company] to reopen in Bel Air as early as possible,” spokesman Greg Pitkoff said in a statement.

Licensee Mike Venanzi of D&M GT of Aberdeen LLC did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday afternoon. That same LLC also owns the Greene Turtle on Beards Hill Road in Aberdeen, but as of Tuesday afternoon the Aberdeen restaurant was still open for business.

The Harford County Liquor Control Board confirmed Tuesday that the Greene Turtle had turned in its alcoholic beverage license, but wouldn’t comment on the restaurant’s reasons for doing so until after the Board discusses the matter during its Nov. 18 session.

On Tuesday afternoon, Marc McFaul of Ropewalk Properties confirmed the Bel Air Greene Turtle had closed, but didn’t have any further details.

“They did close. I am not sure what is going to happen next. I am new to this too. I wish I knew more,” McFaul wrote in an e-mail.

The Greene Turtle’s building once housed Ropewalk Tavern, which was shut down two years ago. The Greene Turtle opened at that location in August of 2007 and employed between 35 and 45 people at the time of its closing, Pitkoff said.

Comments

  1. says

    Following is an authorized statement from The Greene Turtle Franchising Corp., for whom I am a designated spokesperson.
    The Greene Turtle closed its franchise restaurant on South Main Street in Bel Air today. The Greene Turtle Franchising Corporation (TGTFC) and its Bel Air franchisees had hoped to reach an agreement with the current landlord that would allow them to remain in the South Main Street location, but realized that such an outcome was unlikely and have instead opted to find a new home. The Bel Air franchisees are committed to The Greene Turtle, having just opened another location in Aberdeen and signed a franchise agreement for Rehobeth Beach, Md., and are working closely with TGTFC to reopen in Bel Air as early as possible. In the meantime, we encourage fans of The Greene Turtle to visit one of the 22 other locations throughout Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C., addresses for which may be found online at http://www.thegreeneturtle.com.

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  2. Phil Dirt says

    It’s hard to stay when the the landlord wants you to go… just because you (allegedly) haven’t been paying your rent for several months. (See Breach of Lease filing at Maryland Judiciary Case Search)

    …and it’s “Rehoboth Beach, DE”, not “Rehobeth Beach, Md.”

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  3. belair Mike says

    Being born and raised in Bel Air, I am suprised that this took as long as it did. No one can compete with Looney’s Pub in the area..Its big, its great and they know how to serve the public. Hopefully, Mcfaul will sell the property because the last thing we need is him running another bar in Bel Air, because we all remember the debacle that that turned into and the way he left bad mouthing everyone in town..

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    • Phil Dirt says

      I don’t blame McFaul for being mad about the way he was treated. He called the cops when he found fake IDs, was praised for it, and then was criticized for having so many calls to the cops. His bar was next to the parking lot for all of the town businesses but whenever there was trouble, it was “Ropewalk’s parking lot”, regardless of whether or not the troublemakers were in his place. He was about to open another restaurant on North Main when they (including the Aegis) put the screws to him, so he did the right thing by not staying where he wasn’t wanted.

      Unfortunately, thanks to some boneheads who think power isn’t worth having if it’s not abused, it’s Bel Air’s loss.

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      • gg says

        There was a fight the opening weekend of Ropewalk and shortly into operation the police department felt it necessary to park themselves on Main St. outside for when they were needed. Which was often. More loud, unruly and vandalous people came out of Ropewalk than any of the other bars. I don’t blame McFaul directly because I’m sure that he was never there but he obviously did not have quality manager, bar tenders or security for the crowd that he was attracting (intentianly.) The atmosphere and food of Ropewalk was far superior to that of the Green Turtle until 10:00pm. Then they didn’t care about capacity and lost control.

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    • Phil Dirt says

      Greg, sorry if I sounded snarky in my comment. I’m guessing you’re from a national management or public relations company, and aren’t as touchy as some of us (uh, that would be me) about the friendly rivalry between Maryland and our neighbor to the northeast, Delaware.

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  4. Matt G says

    Greene Turtle Domenic told the Aegis, he has tried to re-negotiate rent for 2 years, They have only been open 2 years.

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  5. Gr says

    Good riddance. Food was bad. Service was fair to poor. Atmosphere was terrible. I look forward to whatever goes in next!

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  6. gia F says

    Maybe they shouldn’t have gotten in over there heads and not been able to pay their bills. Blaming someone else for the mistakes instead of taking responsiblity makes me think twice about patronizing a Greene Turtle. There are all these comments from the franchise corp., who are now trying to save face because they let unexperienced franchesise open. Everyone is quick to jump on Ropewalk and the “Aegis” reporting on the events leading up to them closing. The fact is Greene Turtle could not just pay thier rent but any of thier bills for that fact.

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  7. RC says

    The owners of Greene Turtle are cowards and are trying to blame thier POOR business on anyone but themselves. Maybe if they actually filled any seats, and not walk into an empty bar on a friday night they would still be there.

    And i would love to know why ropewalk was/is such a huge deal, but when a guy a couple weeks ago was shooting a gun off outside of magerks, and then killed himself in the detention center why isnt this a big story?

    The aegis is a joke of a news paper, as are all of the reporters there, i dont know why anyone wastes their time even reading that crap of a news paper.
    DEAR AEGIS REPORTERS:
    IF YOU WERE ANY GOOD, YOU WOULDNT LIE CONSTANTLY AND YOU WOULD WORK AT A GOOD NEWSPAPER

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    • A Bel Air Resident says

      i could not AGREE more! The aegis is by far the worst newspaper I have ever had the displeasure of reading. They have been a mockery ever since I can remember, and have done NOTHING about it. I cant even count how many times I have emailed the editor with corrections… not only spelling and grammar, but regarding blatant lies. The libel they published about Ropewalk was unbelievable. Pathetic.

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  8. Ren and Stimpy says

    How do we know, as many of you claim, that the Green Turtle and their owners weren’t paying their bills? Several people stated this but do those people know that for a fact?

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  9. NPreston says

    Look I worked at Turtle. The opened with 6 managers at 50k each. The owners thought they didn’t have to work the location, but just collect money. They paid 20k a month in rent for a bar spot. The paid Turtle 5-9% of sales. They paid 950k for the business. All of this for a bar spot! Then they decided, to be a family restaurant. They had cartoons on and balloons. Music was low. Lights were bright. Most of all they closed early when ever they wanted to. They lost $ from day one. The spent all their savings on making business payments they thought profits would pay for. Then they blamed failure on streetscape, then on the economy, and now Ropewalk landlords. I read the court case mentioned above. They owe over 50k. They also have been through this many times before (almost being evicted). They are declaring personal bankruptcy. They will never open a turtle again. Its not turtles fault or anyone else, but themsleves. Their busy months were the Ropewalkers slowest months. Anyone that has ever gone their knows it was the slowest Turtle anywhere. When the realized it. They made all the managers bartend and manage for FREE!!!!!! The staff then got drunk every night. My friends drank there and never paid for any drinks, just food. They failed, screwed my staff, and they deserve to lose.

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    • RC says

      AMEN, well said. Everyone needs to realize it was completely poor ownership/ management by the owners that is why they failed. Even if it was a high lease, they should have realized that when they made their business plan, and realized that their non-bar atmosphere was not going to do the sales that ropewalk was doing. Nicely said.

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    • sp says

      Im glad someone has spoken up and said the truth. The franchasise of The Greene Turtle dug themselves a hole day one that they could not get out of. They are cowards for not standing up taking responsibilty for thier mistakes. Hiding and blaming Mr. Mcfaul, also shows their poor business sense. They trusted the wrong person with little experience to run the turtle that was thier first mistake, they expected business to just come to them, they did not try to go after until they already made a bad impression on to many people.

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  10. Bel Air Music Lover says

    I’m sorry to see the GT go. They had great bands. I don’t go to a place like the GT to eat or to watch TV (I have my own large screen TV and can cook for myself) but I do like to hear a good band and have a few drinks. Looney’s is ok but I liked them better when they were smaller. Now if I want to see a band there, I have to wade amongst a crowd of 20-something, amateur drinkers and wait 15 minutes for their way-too-cool bartenders to give me the time of day. At the GT, the crowds were good sized, the bartenders were friendly and worked hard and the bands weren’t all playing the same songs (ala Looney’s).

    I agree that Ropewalk was a joke – a haven for thugs (since when did Bel Air get thugs?) and people looking for a fight because they couldn’t get laid.

    I hope the GT reopens soon somewhere nearby. They’re a class act.

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  11. Jim Hesson says

    gg Your dead wrong. Ropewalk was opening a second Italian place on Main Street. The franchisees decided to buy Rope instead, not even being for sale. Rope agreed because it was a great business deal. They didn’t have to leave. It was politics that keep them in the Aegis. A States Attorney took many fights to the Aegis for news. This included police dragged at Looneys, people hit with 2×4 boards at Looneys, and massive brawls there. Tower fights never got in because police got free pizza and sodas. The Aegis would not print any of it. At the liquor board hearing, Liquor board Norman said the video fight at Ropewalk was a push broken up by a samll waitress and not a fight. They had less incidents than any bar. Just 2 and one was in the county parking lot not Rope. DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ……………………………….

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    • vercetti says

      Actually the restaurant McFaul was going to open was going to be named Senor McFaul’s and was going to be a Tex/Mex theme. Location he was looking at was where Tiddlywinks & Tiger Lily stores are now.

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  12. Jim Hesson says

    Come Gt was empty. It was sad. It was the joke. The music at GT was poor old people music. You must have played there to think it was good. Thugs are at Loonies. Do you ever go out? OH only where you play music…………………..

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    • Bel Air Music Lover says

      Jim – I may be old(er) but I’m far from poor and I know good entertainment when I see it. 4 guys in Affliction tshirts with the same haircut, jumping up and down and playing all the songs too fast is just not my idea of good “music”. I’ll take “seasoned” musicians who and who can actually play and sing, any day of the week.

      And yes, thugs are @ Looney’s too, soon to be everywhere I’m afraid.

      Oh and Jim, when you get to be old like me (39), I wonder what music you’ll listen to? Probably the stuff you enjoyed in your 20′s, which all the current kids will think is “old people music”. If I see you in the GT (or Looneys) then, I’ll buy you a Geritol shooter!

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  13. Jim Hesson says

    Sorry I meant the music was poor not you. Young guys can’t write I guess. Did you ever go To Ropewalk. Sean Bolans is the last place that had a crowd as good as them. I am 29 and not too far behind. Bolans music is old, but good! Gt had 1st Friday bands. Simply poor!
    Sure you didn’t play music at GT?

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    • Bel Air Music Lover says

      Well, we can’t generalize. Some younger musicians are great and write amazingly cool music. You just really have to look to find them.

      I’ve been to every one of the Bel Air bars, past and present. Bolan’s was cool. Ropewalk was a joke. It seemed like everyone there was rude, copped a major ‘tude and was there purely to get plastered. It could have been any band and it wouldn’t have mattered.

      No, the musical gene passed me by. I’m doomed forever to be nothing more than an admirer of those who have the talent I long for. Only once did I get up and sing at one of the GT’s open mic nights. I’m sure I sucked but the musicians were very gracious and fun.

      That’s what I mean – certain places attract a certain type of clientele – from the quality of the band to the demeanor of the patron. I’m just way beyond hanging out with people who still have something to prove, years after high school. I can nurse 4 beers over the course of an evening and not get drunk. That plus a good band and I’m in heaven.

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  14. jimmy stillwell says

    when it’s all said and done, Looney’s is the heavyweight champ of Bel Air…good food, good prices….good vibes and nice folks running the place…they had a rough time getting open, no one paid them any favors…they were the new kids on the block and the health dept. and other inspectors made the Larney’s tow the mark…
    they did…and they are a part of the town now…a big part, bringing in young and old to wine and dine…

    Turtle never did a lot for me, or the young man who made honor roll that i took there as a reward…even the 13 year old wasn’t impressed…and he picked the spot….

    the benchmark is Looney’s with MaGerk’s a close second…it’s all about supply and demand boys and girls.

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  15. belair Mike says

    Jim Hesson…Stop the lies abouth Looney’s. That never happened there..Also, Marc Mc Faul brought all the problem’s to himself. His pompus attitude thinking he was better than everyone in Harford County, kissing everyone’s ass in the beginning and then completely lying to the entire town at the end.It was his attitude that began the downfall of the Ropewalk (as well as the Music and the $1 Drinks on Thirsdays when Bel Air Main Street became round zero after midnight)

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    • RC says

      You tell jim to stop the lies, please show me one time where mcfaul said anything about anyone in particular. You obviously have never met him because the guy is a class act(much more of one than your buddy larney). The liquor board and police department in harford county are extremely political, and when you stop kissing their asses thats exactly when they will try and come down on you. If you knew anything about this town you would know that. Cheif Leo = a huge joke. and if what mcfaul did was so bad at ropewalk how come his liquor license was never revoked?????

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      • Vercetti says

        I also know McFaul personally and agree that he is a class act. What you had with GT was a couple of inexperienced business people (soccer coaches actually) that ran a business into the ground. That shouldn’t be a reflection on Mcfaul…if anything he looks good in my book for striking such a nice rental for his property. Shame on GT Corporate as well for allowing the 2 coaches to make bad business decisions and drag their brand down. I’m wondering how the Aberdeen location is really doing and why is it that they (the 2 coaches) haven’t taken over the Rehoboth location yet. Seems I heard from one of the coaches myself that they were going to take it over about a year ago…… hummmm

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        • sp says

          Actually they really dont own the aberdeen location, someone else fronted the money they just “run” it. Also they (bel air coaches) are not doing Rhehobeth. they are not allowed to do any greene turtles again. The corp is just trying to save face for letting them open in the first place

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          • vercetti says

            Seems like someone could have fronted a whole bunch of money to them ($950,000 franchise fee) Wonder where that came from. Maybe the man who owns the Burger King’s in town and whom Dom R. worked for????

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          • That guy says

            Rehobeth is under construction right now and they do own Aberdeen (although they are not the sole owners). Aberdeen is doing very well (just as good as Loooneys)and not in any trouble what-so-ever.

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        • RedEye says

          Many of us around here volunteer our time and money to support the local rec councils…I am one of those volunteer coaches. I fail to see how this has any impact whatsoever on making “bad business decisions”? Your attempt to link the two together is ignorant. What does being a soccer coach have to do with it? Your children (speaking metaphorically) would not be able to participate in the football, soccer, lacrosse, baseball, etc. programs if it were not for us volunteers.

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          • Phil Dirt says

            I take it as meaning that they didn’t have relevant experience. Volunteer coaching is a good thing (I have no idea if they were volunteers or paid coaches), but it doesn’t help a whole lot in running a restaurant and bar. Specific knowledge and experience is required, especially with the financial situations they face today.

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          • vercetti says

            RedEye..sorry to get your panties a bunch about the reference to being a soccer coach and running a fiscally sound business… my bad…. Bottom line these 2 guys had no clue what they got into and the results show. And any inferences about McFaul and the terrible person, landlord, business man he is are totally unwarranted. The Town of Bel Air ran him out of town and with that we lost a valuable citizen who seems to be doing well in Federal Hill and is an active part of that community.

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  16. belair Mike says

    Problems happen anywhere all the time. But it is what hapens after that is the question.. The owners of the Turtle have no one to blame but themselves. Even in a great economy, they would still be closed. You can not make it paying that much rent, %s back to corporate and mortgage on the business selling burgers and buds.(why the agreed to those amounts is absolutely ridiculous) I know the owners of Looney’s and they don’t pay nearly that amount and they are hurting doing over 5m in sales a year..Turtle couldn’t of done 1/4 that amount of sales. Bel Air is back to where the 4 can compete and profit..

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    • Phil Dirt says

      Gee, I wonder why. Maybe because, as I stated above in comment 3.1, Ropewalk called the cops when they found fake IDs and Turtle didn’t?

      I apologize if the facts contradict your post.

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      • The Pike says

        I think we’re comparing apples and oranges here. The Ropewalk and Greene Turtle were two very different places that just happened to share the same address.
        Ropewalk just seemed to get a vibe from the get go as a rowdy place after 11 or so. Maybe it was just bad luck or more likely because they tried to shoehorn as many people as possible into a small space. When there was even a small problem it looked huge because everyone was trying to leave via one small exit door onto an equally small slice of sidewalk right on Main Street.
        GT changed the layout of the building to exit to the parking lot and did not emphasize the late night (read: party) crowd. They did not have nearly the problems that Ropewalk did but they also went broke.
        Pick your poison I guess.

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        • RC says

          Pike your right on the dot, but the poison i would pick is the one that keeps me in business.. Just a thought..

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      • sp says

        the turtle frequently had underage people in it as well as drunk staff. Which is a violation of liquor license. I have been there while the bartenders were drinking and doing shots behind the bar.. even shots with me.

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  17. belair Mike says

    Well RC thats one we agree..Leo, but Larney is the best thing to happen to downtown Bel Air..period..ask his 100 employee’s that most of which have been with him since 2002..Keeping people employed and staying in Bel Air when before he got there, at 9:00 pm it was a ghost town (exactly like his other two establishments) I am biased however since I am a regular, but that man knows what the public wants and delivers..and his employee’s are loyal to him for it

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    • sp says

      he might be a good business man but as a person he is a discusting rude pig and have seen him sexually harrass his staff.. they are have stayed because yes it is busy and they are making good money.. after all that is the reason for a job.. when you can leave with a couple hundred dollars cash a night you can put up with alot

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      • sp says

        and what has he done for bel air other then own a business he involved in any local organztions or any local commitees. Mr. Mcfaul was involved in everything that went on in the town, he moved to bel air and tried to be an active memeber of the community.

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        • RC says

          Billy did do alot to get main st to where it is. And he’s a smart business man. But hes not exactly a “Role Model Business owner”..

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        • tmbrandis says

          Well sp, I guess all of the benefits for breast cancer, leukemia, non profit foundation fund raisers, allowing cub scouts to sell stuff in front of Looney’s to raise money, donations of food during the holiday season to local food banks and families isn’t considered community involvement.

          You may not like Billy Larney, but please, think before you post.

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  18. Marty McLovin says

    Well not that it matters anymore but yes the Greene Turtle Bel Air was mismanaged.. I’m still underage (just like I was when the place opened)if you knew the right people and had an okay quality fake all it took was a wink and a nod and you were on your way.
    Otherwise if you knew the right people you ate for free, drank for free, and stayed as long as you’d like. The place already had a tight budget with the rent what it was, but when you bleed money it’s only a matter of when you run out

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  19. belair Mike says

    Sp, way to make it personal (again, you have no clue)..Jelousy will get you no-where in life. There is a reason Looney’s is the most succesful rest/bar wherever they go..The turtle came to Bel Air, thought their name could carry it, and served bad fried food, nothing fresh, and an untrained miserable staff.. They were buried before they ever opened their door.

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  20. tmbrandis says

    Hopefully this is a lesson that both Mike V. and Dominic R. can learn from. Being a business owner myself, all I can say is that it is very difficult and trying. Both Mike and Dom are good guys. I went to school with Mike and his wife and Dom used to manage BK in Bel Air for years. Some of my friends worked for him there and said his was great to work for.

    Some of the most successful business people failed several times before making it. There’s no shame in learing from your mistakes.

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    • sp says

      I do agree business is difficult and there is no shame in trying and failing. But the way they handled the business and themselves is shameful.

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  21. Phil Dirt says

    In post 16 you said “Marc Mc Faul brought all the problem’s to himself. His pompus attitude thinking he was better than everyone in Harford County, kissing everyone’s ass in the beginning and then completely lying to the entire town at the end.” and then you criticize someone for “making it personal”? Sheesh.

    And despite all of the criticisms, I did have some pretty damn good burgers at the Turtle.

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  22. Len says

    It might also help to comply with the Health Department. Making their list is NOT a good thing.

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  23. frustrated says

    They had to sell 300 beers a day at $2 each, every day, to make the rent alone. Add insurance, payroll, utilities and it is easy to see. That building will go to foreclosure before anything else goes there. I don’t believe for a minute that McFauls bank is going to let him open again. The lending just isn’t there.

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    • annoyed says

      the building is not going into foreclosure.. because the business failed the building itsefl is seperate corp. and seperate owner. The Mcfauls pays thier bills. They are smart business men and able to cover the mortgage althoug they have not benn paid rent for months.

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      • frustrated says

        It will ultimately either be a short sale or foreclosure. The numbers just don’t work on Main St, even in a good economy. It has nothing to do with McFaul paying his bills or not. The likelyhood of paying off the debt from future cash flow, either rental or another Ropewalk is almost ZERO.

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  24. df-ex employee says

    Ladies and Gentlemen I am an ex employee of the Bel Air Greene Turtle Location. I have lived in Bel Air for 15 years. I worked for the restaurant from Start to Finish, I was a volunteer firefighter before that and worked as a career firefighter in Baltimore while also working for the GT. There are several problems with the posts in this forum and I would like to try and clear them up.

    Owners: Mike and Dom were great individuals, and still are. They were respectful and hard working, even if business decisions were poor. Their work backgrounds prior to the Greene Turtle far exceeded just soccer coaches at a high school. Dom managed many Burger Kings in the area as a full time job, he had more years in the restaurant business then most people do. Mike works for a Pharmaceuticals company, not restaurant business but still he has experience that most people don’t. Both these men worked full time jobs while running a restaurant. Again there were poor decisions made, but there are more factors to take into consideration then just blaming the owners.

    Ropewalk: I did not personally enter ropewalk while it was in business however I did work with prior managers and bartenders who worked their on their busiest nights and have heard the stories of all the fights, and the problems that ropewalk has become known for. From these people who I learned to trust, I believe them. Also, for working for the Bel Air Vol. Fire Company I was well aware of the complaints from the police and the fire side and I cannot say that was the reason for closing, it did not help the situation. Also the owner of ropewalk, was not a well thought of man in the same employees eyes. I was told many times of how he wondered through the restaurant drunk, dancing with the girls in the crowd and not watching his business. Just a thought to keep in mind.

    Looney’s: There is no denying that Looney’s makes money. However the owner is not a respectable man. He is, to put simply, an asshole. I have been to Looney’s prior the expansion and after the expansion and the atmosphere before and after is a huge difference. The atmosphere of Looney’s on a weekend night is for a select crowd. Not everyone likes it, you guys can go back and forth about how it is the best/worse place to go, but in the end it is all opinion. As for the staff. I have personally caught 3 Looney’s bartenders taking notes of the Greene Turtle business trying to figure out the finances to learn how it stayed in business. Some way to do business, having your employees spy on the other businesses.

    Greene Turtle: The turtle went through a lot of different things from the start that made it hard to run a business. There were three major manager shifts, along with employees coming and going, it made it hard to staff on certain days with unclear schedules and availabilities. While poor decisions were made, not everyone is to blame. I would personally work for and with most of the staff that was employed prior to closing. It was a diverse group of people with different backgrounds but we worked together and made the best of what it was. And as for the talk of the staff getting drunk, i am not going to comment of the actions in the Greene Turtle because I cannot say for sure if anyone drank, though I would not doubt it. However on that note, do you people honestly believe that the other bars in the downtown area did not have staff members who drank on the job, including underage staff? While I expect no one to admit to that question, I do personally know bartenders from most of the bars, including Looney’s and current staff who work or have worked in the other bars, and can say that it does happen whether people want to admit to it or not.

    Again this is all my take, however that is the very problem with this forum is that everyone has a take and not everyone is right but everyone thinks they are right. The truth is the only people who do know what happened are the ones who are directly involved. This constant bickering back and forth is not accomplishing anything. Take the thoughts you have and leave it at that, cause anything said is going to have an opposition.

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  25. belair Mike says

    Looneys Bartenders taking notes of Turtle’s business is probably the funniest thing I have evr read in my life. My God..

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  26. belair Mike says

    Bottom Line..Selling Burgers and Beers and paying the rent and %s back to corprate doomed the Turtle. Move Looney’s there and they would not make it. No One could. These people we are talking about are Bar owners, not curing cancer. But, you will find no more loyal workers than Looney’s has.. And that is a fact

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