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Atlas acquires two landmark Baltimore County restaurants, the Valley Inn and the Oregon Grille

Atlas Restaurant Group is adding two more landmark local restaurant properties to its portfolio.

The Baltimore-based hospitality company is set to acquire the Valley Inn and the Oregon Grille, President Alex Smith said Monday. Atlas will take over the operations of both Baltimore County restaurants on Jan. 1.

Ted Bauer, the longtime owner of both the Valley Inn and the Oregon Grille, will stay on as a partner and consultant. Smith said he and Bauer have known each other for years and had talked several times about a possible acquisition. The deal comes as Bauer looks to spend more time with family, Smith said. He declined to comment on the financial terms of the arrangement.

The acquisition is the latest for the fast-growing restaurant group, which already owns 22 bars and restaurants in Maryland, Texas, Florida and Washington, D.C. Last month, Atlas announced it had purchased the Waterfront Hotel, a historic Fells Point bar known for live music performances. The hospitality group bought the 231-year-old Admiral’s Cup, also located in the waterfront Baltimore neighborhood, in the fall of 2020.

Smith said his own family memories played into the decision to purchase the Valley Inn and Oregon Grille. He and his brother, Atlas co-owner Eric Smith, remember family celebrations and lunches with their grandmother at both spots.

“I grew up in that area, so these places have a really special meaning to me,” Alex Smith said. “As a young guy that wanted to get into the business, I always thought these were the gold standard of dining in the county, and still believe they are.”

The restaurant group isn’t planning many changes to the Valley Inn, which marks its 100th anniversary in 2022. The Lutherville restaurant, located in a historic former roadhouse built in 1832, was owned for decades by the Hatfield family before Bauer took over in 2012.

Smith said both restaurants will see some menu tweaks, among other minor changes. The Oregon Grille, which celebrates 25 years in business in Hunt Valley next year, will temporarily close in the spring of 2022 so that it can undergo a physical renovation and redesign by frequent Atlas collaborator Patrick Sutton. Changes to the property will “meld the property’s rich history with its vibrant future,” according to the restaurant group, and will include updates to the interior as well as a revamped patio for outdoor dining.

The Oregon Grille will temporarily close in the spring of 2022 to undergo renovations. It is slated to reopen in the fall of 2022.

The renovations are slated to be complete in time for a fall 2022 opening, Smith said.

Though Atlas has lately announced a slew of acquisitions, he said the restaurant group isn’t necessarily focused on buying existing restaurants.

“We’re not out there looking to buy restaurants,” he said. “If you look at the four restaurants we’ve purchased… these are institutional, landmark properties that will never go down in value.”

“When a property like the Valley Inn comes for sale, or the Oregon Grille, or the Admiral’s Cup, you have to find a way to bring that into your portfolio. We’ll never sell; it will stay with us forever until the next generation comes along and I’m long gone from here.”

Smith said he doesn’t anticipate adding any more Baltimore County restaurants to Atlas’ roster for now.

Along with Perennial and Cunningham’s Cafe, “we’ve kind of got a triangle of great restaurants in the county that give our guests a lot of great options to go to,” he said. “And I think that’ll be it. I won’t be doing anything for a while; we’ve got plenty of work ahead of us.”

The restaurant group’s other projects in the works include a second location for The Choptank, slated to open in Annapolis in April, as well as a new Italian chophouse called Marmo, which will open in February in Houston’s Montrose Collective. Parlour Victoria, an oyster and seafood house planned in the lobby of Washington D.C.’s Moxy Hotel, is now on track to open in summer 2022 after a pandemic-related delay.

Amanda Yeager | Baltimore Business Journal

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