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Office store, restaurants headed for Wesel plaza

June 16, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN

OfficeMax plans to move into a former Wesel Boulevard grocery building. Other shops - including a restaurant and a New York-style deli - will open there, too.

Martin's Food Markets left one building at Valley Park Commons on Wesel Boulevard a year ago when it moved into a new, larger store.

· OfficeMax, which will use the old Martin's building, will offer free coffee and free wireless Internet service, spokesman William Bonner said.

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OfficeMax already has a branch near Wal-Mart on Garland Groh Boulevard.

Bonner didn't know last week when the store would open and didn't return a phone message and an e-mail message on Thursday.

· Black Steer Family Steak House, which closed in May 2005 after 10 years near State Line, Pa., is moving into a former dollar store in the plaza.

Managing Partner Bill Kontogiannis said the much-more visible location will help his business greatly.

Even though the restaurant will have 20 percent fewer seats when it reopens as Black Steer Grill Land and Sea, Kontogiannis figures business will triple. As a result, he expects to triple his work staff, from 15 to 45.

The menu will be almost identical, but the restaurant will be more efficient and modern, he said.

When the restaurant closed, Kontogiannis expected it to reopen by September 2005, but that's looking more like late June or early July.

"It's exciting and I'm still a little nervous," he said.

· Russell Schwartz couldn't stand retirement, so he's returning to the restaurant business.

After he sold the Old South Mountain Inn in Boonsboro six years ago, he worked as a truck driver. He sold Russell's Famous Pork Seasoning, which he created. Now, he's antsy to get back into his old field.

Schwartz said he's opening three Hagerstown branches of Gandolfo's New York Delicatessen, a national chain. The first local store will share a building with Black Steer Grill Land and Sea.

Schwartz said he'll open a second branch next year on Pennsylvania Avenue, near the old Gold's Gym building. The third branch will be at a new shopping center planned at Broadfording Road and Garland Groh Boulevard.

The menu will feature bagels and dozens of deli sandwiches with New York references, such as Greenwich Village and 42nd Street.

He expects the first branch to open around the middle of August with about 50 seats and 10 to 20 employees.

· AAA is moving its Hagerstown office from the South End Shopping Center on Maryland Avenue to Valley Park Commons. Branch Manager Carol Ecton said the move will happen June 23. The office will reopen June 26.

She said the new office will be in a better spot and get more traffic. It will be about 10 percent larger and have "a cleaner look," Ecton said.

The relocated office will stay open until 6 p.m. weekdays instead of 5 p.m. Its Saturday hours - 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. - will be new.

Ecton said the branch has about nine employees. With the move, it hopes to hire another four employees, she said.

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