Varsity Grill Closes while Varsity Development Breaks Ground (UPDATED)

The Varsity Grill is closing its doors after just under two years. The owners blamed its demise on both the local economy and its inability to attract a loyal following among students. The past two years has been a abysmal time to get a business off the ground and we are sad to see the Varsity Grill go. It would seem that with all of the construction nearby that the Grill would soon have a large base of patrons.

UPDATE: According to the Diamondback the real reason for the sudden closure of the popular restaurant is because the landlord is selling to property to a high-rise developer.

Varsity Grille co-owner Jim McGinnis said his landlord informed him late last week the property was under contract by a high rise housing developer and he had just three days to clear the premises.

Joining the ranks of its failed predecessors, Varsity Grille was empty by Monday as the owners loaded all of the televisions, wall hangings and other personal items into moving trucks.

Bad business was never the problem, McGinnis said, adding that the restaurant and bar had seen steady sales increases since its opening.

McGinnis said he and his business partners were planning to purchase the restaurant themselves but had difficulty securing financing. After discovering floodplain, or foundation prone to flooding by water beneath it, on the property, their lender backed out of the deal, he said.

“If people want wall to wall high rise, we can’t compete with that,” he said. “It was a developer coming in and offering a big number to take the property, and our pockets are only so deep.”

Speaking of construction, the Varsity mixed-use development, a six story 258 unit project, broke ground at the location of the old Jerrys Subs and Pizza and Merchants Tire. See our previous post Vogel Proposes New Student Housing Project.

16 thoughts on “Varsity Grill Closes while Varsity Development Breaks Ground (UPDATED)”

  1. This is great news. Now we have three projects under construction within a four mile span of Rt. 1. And now, East Campus will get moving again now that there is a place for the campus maintenance facilities to be moved to. 2010 and 2011 will be some exciting times for Hyattsville/College Park.

  2. What project is planned for this space?

    Also, some pictures of construction progress (like groundbreaking and other milestones) would be a great addition to this site.

  3. For that developer who bought the property, how about some office space? Maryland and College Park specifically could use some jobs, not more beds. With all the student housing projects finishing up and being built, UMD’s bed problem should be alleviated for a while.

  4. At this time the identity of any potential purchaser of the Varsity Grill property is not known by College Park. It would have been preferred if the party would have purchased the Monument Realty property two doors to the north (the other side of Taco Bell), which has an approved Detailed Site plan, but no near term prospects for moving ahead.

  5. No, the Varsity Grill parcel is not part of the University View future plan. At one point (perhaps 2005) is was part of Mark Vogel’s plan for the Northgate condos. His original plan called for combining the Varsity Grill parcel with the two parcels to the north and moving Taco Bell (the middle parcel) to the northern parcel, so that he could have two parcels for his 300 unit condo project.

    That plan had two problems (at least), one the Taco Bell owner (who owns about 75 other Taco Bells) was not all that interested in moving 200 feet (even for a free new restaurant) and two, the project was too ambitious to get financed. As a result, we ended up with a downsized project squeezed onto the one northernmost parcel, which is now owned by Monument Reality. Monument Reality has expressed some interest in converting its project to student housing. This project was to be 16 stories, but after County approval, the FAA cut it to 12 stories, but after appeals, I believe it is now limited to 14 stories.

  6. guess the development community is guided by the market demand and not our specific wishes.

    Oh yes, the perfect and omniscient market!
    Can you say bubble?

  7. I for one would like to see SOMETHING done about the parcel to the north of Taco Bell. That former restaurant building has been decrepit for years.

  8. Today’s Diamondback reports that Chicken Rico has closed. I will miss it. It was just about about the only place in College Park where you could get a real meal at a reasonable price. It wasn’t fancy or upscale, it was just good.

  9. I also heard the the new Bistro on Greenbelt Road closed down. I had lunch there one time. The food was excellent.

  10. This was my new favorite spot for karaoke! Beats going into the city and struggling with parking, and it was a lot of fun! Oh well…

  11. I loved Varsity Grille! I had hoped they’d find new occupancy as The Varsity opened up, but I guess that’s not possible with Looney’s Pub there. Still, fingers crossed. It was a great restaurant, just what CP needed, and now it sits an empty building.

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