Marco’s Pizza in Essex set for grand opening

Marco’s Pizza in Essex set for grand opening
Chris and Rabihah Fries, Marco’s newest franchisees. Photo by Patrick Taylor.

(Updated 6/28/17)

- By Patrick Taylor -

On July 9, Marco’s Pizza, located at 149 Orville Road in the Waterview Town Center, will hold a grand opening celebration. And for pizza lovers in the area, there’s certainly reason for celebration.

For those who don’t know, Marco’s is a Toledo, Ohio-based pizza chain that is taking the nation by storm. The pizza chain currently has more than 800 stores nationwide, but the location in Essex is only the second Maryland location to open.

“We were looking for an opportunity, started doing some research and obviously we looked at all the usuals - Dominoes, Papa John’s, Little Caesars - and there just wasn’t any growth there,” said Chris Fries, who opened the Essex location with his wife Rabihah. We started seeing Marco’s name pop up in magazines like Forbes and Entrepreneur, named as the fastest growing pizza company and third-best franchise.”

For the Fries, it was practically a no-brainer. The couple both have backgrounds in the restaurant business - as well as a host of other endeavors - and they knew they wanted to open up a restaurant focused on pizza. After getting in touch with corporate and learning about the company, Chris and Rabihah traveled to Norristown, Penn., a suburb of Philadelphia, to see what they had to offer.

“We bought just about everything on the menu and we were blown away. It was the best pizza we had in probably forever,” said Chris. “And it was worth it.”

The couple said that they were impressed with the corporate culture and the product being sold. Dough is freshly made in-store each morning, the vegetables and meats are high quality, the sauce is the same recipe that has been used since the company opened in 1978.

“It’s quality all the way through,” said Chris.

I stopped by the new Marco’s location last week to try out their pizza, and it certainly is worth the hype. The chicken fresco pie was served up with delicious, white-meat chicken, a nice helping of fresh, thinly sliced tomato, onions and a pile of crushed bacon. I can honestly say I haven’t had pizza that good in a long time.

With only one other Marco’s location in Maryland, Chris and Rabihah see plenty of opportunity to grow. Already they’re looking to the future, saying they’d like at least five locations in Baltimore County. They cited Dundalk, Perry Hall and Parkville, among other locations, as potential landing spots. But before they do that, they know they need to focus on getting the first store up and running.

“We’re all still learning,” said Chris. “I’m still learning, employees are still learning. We want to provide the best customer experience we can, providing a great product in a short amount of time. We want the customers to know they’re what’s most important.”

The Fries are extending an invitation to any who can make it to their grand opening celebration on July 9 from 1 - 4 p.m. There will be a bounce house for the kids, games and prizes - including free large pizzas for a year.

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Norris Ford celebrates 100 years in Dundalk

Norris Ford celebrates 100 years in Dundalk
Diane Craig gifted the Norris/Cook families with an honorary plaque. She noted that there are only 36 other Ford dealerships in the country who have hit the 100 year mark. Photo by Patrick Taylor.

(Updated 6/20/17)

- By Patrick Taylor -

This year, Norris Ford in Dundalk is celebrating their centennial anniversary, and on June 9 and 10 they hosted local politicians, members of the Ford team and the Dundalk community to join in the celebration.

With an array of classic cars on display, the Norris and Cook families discussed the history of the dealership, which stretches back to 1917.

George Norris was in the buggy business when things started, and when he heard about Henry Ford he traveled out to Michigan to meet with him. Just a couple weeks later, Norris and Ford had a dealership agreement, with the first dealership located on Dundalk Avenue where Pinland Lanes currently sits.

“Norris Ford is not only a pillar of our community, it’s part of the fabric of Dundalk,” said Councilman Todd Crandell (R-7). “We look forward to having you here for another 100 years.”

Over the years, Norris Ford has shown great ability to adapt. When economic downturn halted new car sales, they started selling used cars and parts. Eventually, they realized they had a golden opportunity with wholesale part sales and committed to that endeavour. Now, they sell approximately $2.5 million worth of wholesale parts monthly, which puts them in the top 10 wholesale parts dealers in the nation.

“It’s just an incredible accomplishment,” said Diane Craig of Ford. “What makes our company so special is family businesses which is what we have in Norris/Cook. Continuous ownership in a single community is just fantastic.”

Craig noted that Henry Ford’s mission wasn’t just to make money, but to give back to the community.

“You’ve done so much to give back to the community,” Craig continued. “It really is a role model store. This is the face of Ford in this community, and it’s the people who make it special.”

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Experienced executive director leads team at Brightview White Marsh

Experienced executive director leads team at Brightview White Marsh

(Updated 5/25/17)

The current executive director of Brightview Towson, Heather Wojcik, has been named the new executive director at Brightview White Marsh, a Brightview Senior Living community in Nottingham.

“We are thrilled for Heather,” said Eileen Adams, regional director of operations. “Heather is an exceptional and experienced leader and sets a terrific example for everyone. The reputation she has earned at Brightview Towson from residents, families and associates alike is one for excellence. She is an outstanding asset to our team.”

As executive director, Wojcik is responsible for all aspects of the community, including providing high-quality resident service and care, overall resident satisfaction and hiring top-notch associates.

Before joining Brightview over three years ago, Wojcik worked as the director of operations at Levindale Geriatric Center and Hospital and, before that, her roles included positions in guest relations, marketing and admissions.

A certified memory care practitioner through the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners, Wojcik is also a member of the Maryland Culture Change Coalition for health care facilities. In 1998, she graduated from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Sociology with a gerontology focus.

“I am very excited to join the team at Brightview White Marsh,” Wojcik said. “We have an outstanding team at the community and I am honored to work with them to deliver Brightview’s tradition of service. It will also be exciting to return to my roots - I grew up in the Hamilton area and, in high school, moved to Ebenezer Road, near Nottingham and Perry Hall.”

Brightview White Marsh offers Assisted Living and Wellspring Village®, Brightview’s innovative program and approach to people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. The community is currently undergoing renovations including upgrades to the living room, dining room, front entrance and hallways. A country store, fitness center and rehab room, as well as a new medical suite, are in the process of being added and each apartment home has renovated kitchenettes and bathrooms.

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Win a TV by playing the Maryland Lottery at Essex BP

Win a TV by playing the Maryland Lottery at Essex BP
The Essex BP, located at 220 Eastern Blvd. in Essex. Photo by Devin Crum.

(Updated 3/17/17)

- By Devin Crum -

The owner of the BP gas station at the corner of Eastern Boulevard and Berkshire Road in Essex is working hard to let you know that there is no better place to play the Maryland Lottery.

Jamal Khawaja, owner of the station for close to two decades, prides himself and his establishment on his customer service. But he also has stepped up his lottery game, giving you additional chances to win - even with a losing ticket.

The Essex BP runs a second-chance draw for Maryland Lottery tickets, according to Khawaja, through which customers have a chance to win one of two new televisions every month.

“You can win a 32-inch TV whenever you have a non-winning ticket,” Khawaja said. “You can just drop [the ticket] off in the box and you have a chance at the end of the month to win a TV.”

Khawaja started the promotion back in September and said it has so far been successful.

“I’m hoping to keep it going,” he said, adding that he will continue it as long as it continues to grow and be successful.

On top of that, the Essex BP has been approved to pay out up to $5,000 in cash for winning lottery tickets while most retailers are capped at $600.

And if that weren’t enough, the station offers 20 cents off each gallon of gasoline when you buy a car wash.

With spring (maybe) approaching, you’re going to want to wash off all of that dirt, grime and road salt from the winter anyway. You might as well benefit when you fill up your tank.

Khawaja said customer service sets his business apart from other gas stations. Because he has served the community for nearly 17 years now, he knows his customers personally, he explained.

“They come every day to get their needs,” he said.

And the station is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So show up anytime to get whatever you need.

The Essex BP is located at 220 Eastern Blvd. in Essex. They can be reached by calling 410-686-3244.

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Parker, Pallett, Slezak and Russell - your neighborhood law firm - turns 40

Parker, Pallett, Slezak and Russell - your neighborhood law firm - turns 40
The Parker team.

(Updated 3/1/17)

- By Marge Neal -

In its 40 years of business, the law firm of Parker, Pallett, Slezak and Russell has served thousands of clients and recovered tens millions of dollars for those clients.

But those successes aren’t how the White Marsh-based attorneys define themselves.

“The culture here is that we are a team,” lawyer Perry Lericos told the East County Times. “We are the Parker Team and we are here to take care of our clients - we hear all the time how much we care and we pride ourselves in that.”

The “Parker team” was founded 40 years ago by Ronald W. Parker. Over the years, the firm grew to its current size of eight lawyers - five partners, one associate and two who are “of counsel” to the group.

The Parker firm is the largest law group in eastern Baltimore County, according to Slezak. The eight attorneys bring more than 240 years of experience to the table, with individuals who specialize in different areas of law but are able to pitch in as needed to help a fellow team member.

“Most of what we do is plaintiff work, with personal injury the biggest part of what we do,” Slezak said. “Trips, slip and fall, dog bites, car accidents, that sort of thing.”

Retired Judge G. Darrell Russell Jr. specializes in traffic and criminal defense and also helps out with personal injury cases.

Tara Westra is the firm’s workers’ compensation expert.

“I represent injured workers,” she said, adding that workers’ comp hearings are held before a judge in a separate court system.

While injured workers can consult an attorney at any time during the legal process, she recommends sooner rather than later.

In addition to its legal work, the firm prides itself in its community philanthropy.

“Both as a firm and as individual lawyers, we are proud to give back to the community,” Slezak said.

The MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and the White Marsh Volunteer Fire Company are just two local entities that receive financial support from Parker and Pallett, while individual lawyers serve local Rotary, Shriner and other community organizations, according to Slezak.

The group also offers social events twice a year, with a “Meet the Parker Team” cookout planned for Saturday, May 13, at Parker’s restaurant in White Marsh.

The lawyers stress that they are the go-to local firm, with a comfortable environment and an honest and thorough approach to the law and their clients.

“We really do think we’re your neighborhood law firm,” Lericos said. “You don’t have to go to Towson or downtown, we’re right here, with plenty of free parking right out front.”

The law is intricate and complex and, in the case of most personal injury cases, the insurance companies want to pay out the least amount of money possible, according to Slezak.

“The insurance companies will try to resolve cases early on, while clients are still undergoing medical treatment and are still out of work ,” she said. “They need someone on their side who knows the law and knows how they apply to the case.”

Lericos cited a case in which a client received life-altering injuries in a car crash. She was unable to ever return to her former line of work, which rendered her hard-earned college education worthless.

“We were able to procure a seven-figure settlement for her, which gave her some security while allowing her train to do a vastly different kind of work, and work that would never compensate her as her previous line of work did,” Lericos said. “That’s where our job satisfaction is, from helping people.”

Parker, Pallett, Slezak and Russell is at 11450 Pulaski Highway in White Marsh. They can be reached by phone at 410-335-3800, and their website is

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Auto Point ‘stands behind’ what it sells

Auto Point ‘stands behind’ what it sells
Auto Point Used Cars. Courtesy photo.

(Updated 3/1/17)

- By Marge Neal - 

Auto Point Used Cars on Pulaski Highway in Rosedale is a family-owned-and-operated business that  has specialized in Japanese cars, truck and cargo vans for more than 12 years.

Owned by husband-and-wife teams Cloves and Regiane Da Cunha and Andre and Adriana Wilbert, Auto Point offers quality used Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Hyundai vehicles and usually carries an inventory of about 80 from which to choose, according to Cloves. Other makes are also available. Prices range roughly from $5,000 to $25,000.

“And we’re in the process of expanding the lot with the goal of building the inventory to about 120 vehicles,” Da Cunha said.

Auto Point is strictly in the sales business and does not have a service department. But the company does offer financing and prides itself in its relationships it has with local lenders.

“We have good relationships with banks and credit unions for financing,” Da Cunha said. “For someone with no credit problems, we can get loans as low as 1.9 percent.”

Another point of pride for the company is its standing with the Better Business Bureau. Da Cunha said Auto Point has not had a single complaint filed against it in the 12 years it has existed.

“We have one of the best reputations you can ask for as a used car dealership,” he said. “I would say 70 to 80 percent of our business is repeat customers, and people who are happy with us are always referring their friends and family members to us.”

The dealership at 8312 Pulaski Highway in Rosedale is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Inventory can be viewed at The showroom can be reached at 410-682-9999.

Da Cunha invites all customers in the market for a good used car to stop by to check out Auto Point’s inventory.

“When we say we stand behind what we sell, we really mean it,” he said.

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