Greene Turtle Sports Bar building franchise in Morgantown

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille is speeding into Morgantown, thanks to the owner of a Harley-Davidson dealership and his business partner.

Cliff Sutherland, owner of Triple S Harley-Davidson, is adding the restaurant to the offerings in The Gateway, a retail development adjacent to Interstate 79 at Exit 155 in Star City he is developing with Steve Solomon.

The franchise is expected to open in May and hire about 100 employees, said Tom Finn, vice president of franchise development.

The Greene Turtle will offer the same things as other locations Mountaineers may have visited in Baltimore, Ocean City, Maryland and Washington, D.C. "" family-friendly casual dining and a dynamic sports bar experience, fun promotions like the Mug Club customer loyalty program and fantasy sports league mobile apps as well as a full menu of higher-quality food and craft beers, wine and cocktails.

What it won't do is look exactly like any other Greene Turtle location, and that is part of the company's careful branding, Finn said.

"We're a company that has 37 restaurants and not one is the same shape or size," he said. "When you go inside a Greene Turtle you know you're inside one but there are a lot of unique aspects that make you feel part of that community, such as local high school jerseys and, in Sutherland's case, there will be a tremendous amount of WVU interaction." Finn said a connection to the local community is an important component of The Greene Turtle concept and Sutherland embodies that.

Sutherland is the founder of the MountainFest Motorcycle Rally that attracts 60,000 people to Morgantown every July. Naturally, he plans to hang a couple of motorcycles from the 23-foot-high ceilings.

Sutherland says he's trying to make The Gateway a destination, particularly for Canadian tourists, snowbirds, golfers and bikers passing through West Virginia on I-79, by building "the Disneyland of motorcycling." In addition to the region's largest Harley dealer, The Gateway has two hotels: Candlewood Suites and La Quinta Inn and Suites are under construction. A Burger King is planned; a BFS gas station and convenience store, Dairy Queen, Little Caesar's and Tim Horton's have already opened.

The Greene Turtle will complement Triple S's Harley store and its 40-by-60-foot performance stage that will host national musical acts from May through September.

The restaurant, which will have a 3,000-square-foot deck and 6,200-square-foot interior, overlooks the stage, and the building was designed to give diners a good view of the performance venue. Bands could also perform on the deck or inside.

"It's all glass on the end and we have four all-glass garage doors in a row that can raise straight up in the air and the inside and outside become one," Sutherland said. "It seats over 300 people and you can sit there and look out over Morgantown or look at the stage when we have events there." He has been familiar with The Greene Turtle since the first location opened in 1976 in Ocean City, Maryland, and he befriended one of the co-founders, Steve Pappas. But, Sutherland said, he chose The Greene Turtle because he liked the idea of a family restaurant that also happens to have a bar. Also appealing is the menu.

"In the last 10 years they have developed a really nice menu and the food has become extremely consistent from one location to another," Sutherland said.

Finn said The Greene Turtle serves more than typical pub food. The flavor of its Maryland roots has a big presence.

"We have the traditional great quality burgers, sandwiches and shareable appetizers," Finn said. "We have a lot of Maryland-based foods.

"We have a great and very popular crab dip appetizer, a crab cake sandwich, crab cake meals, crab soup. At times during the year we offer as a special seared ahi tuna. We're not your everyday menu by any stretch. Another unique item is our gourmet tacos; the fish tacos are particularly popular." Craft beer maker Heavy Seas brews a pale ale exclusively for The Greene Turtle called Shell Raiser.

This is the first Greene Turtle location in West Virginia. There are currently 37 locations in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, the District of Columbia and New York. In addition to the dining room and separate bar, it will offer takeout, catering and space for meetings.

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The Greene Turtle Franchising Corporation
7550 Teague Rd Ste 113
Hanover, MD

Phone: (443) 661-4298
Fax: 443-661-4395

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