At least once a month, Max Sagastizado of Laurel said he takes his family out for a nice dinner at a restaurant in Washington, D.C.’s Penn Quarter or 14th Street neighborhoods. He said he would prefer to support restaurants in Prince George’s County, but when it comes to fine dining, he said there are not many choices.
“We would like to see more fine dining restaurants in the area,” said Sagastizado, who had just finished lunch at LongHorn Steakhouse in Laurel on March 31. “Somehow the residents don’t support this type of business.”
Sagastizado is one of several residents who said the county lacks high-end dining options, a longstanding issue that made headlines this election season as a gubernatorial candidate pointed out that the county has struggled to attract restaurants with tablecloths.
Scott Peterson, a spokesman for County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), said the administration hopes developments such as the new Towne Centre at Laurel, the MGM casino scheduled to open in 2016 at National Harbor and a mixed-use project now being planned in New Carrollton will attract the types of restaurants residents are seeking.
“We are open to absolutely all restaurants and businesses of all sizes and tastes,” he said. “High-end and fine dining has long been a request from our residents.”
But when it comes to defining what “fine dining” means to county residents, Peterson said this comes down to “diversity and options” and not necessarily the cost or appearance of a restaurant.
Qualamiya Collins of Beltsville, who was on her way to eat lunch at Red Lobster in Laurel on March 31, agreed that restaurant goers in the county need more options. Collins said there are plenty of places to have a meal nearby, but whenever she is celebrating a special occasion she decides to go outside of the county.
“We just need more here,” she said.
The waterfront restaurants at National Harbor had drawn many looking for a dinner destination in early April — and among them, several Prince George’s residents who said they would like to see more upscale restaurants elsewhere in the county.
“If we want to do fine dining, other than here, we have to go to Virginia or D.C.,” said Tim Montgomery of Clinton, a network engineer who stopped to check out the menu at Bond 45 Prime Steak & Seafood along with Jon Hawkins, a database administrator who lives at National Harbor.
“The varieties that are surrounding Prince George’s County need to also invest within, because that will bring more revenue,” Hawkins said.
But others, such as Sen. Jim Rosapepe (D-Dist. 21) of College Park, said the culinary scene in the county already has a lot to offer.
“There are a lot of good restaurants in Prince George’s County,” Rosapepe said, mentioning establishments that serve South Asian, Latin, African and Italian food, among other cuisines. “It’s about the quality and the diversity of the cuisine.”
The county’s administration hopes to attract more, Peterson said.
“We have residents who, literally, have an appetite for fine dining, and it’s our administration’s goal to continue to find opportunities for fine dining restaurants to come into the county,” Peterson said.
One of the county’s newest upscale casual restaurants, Copper Canyon Grill at Woodmore Towne Centre in Glenarden, has been busy since it opened in November, said Zania Patterson, director of marketing at Blueridge Restaurant Group, the management company that operates the restaurant.
“It’s been doing better than we anticipated,” she said. “Everyone loves the service and the food.”