Two businesses slated to open on Route 1 last year are searching for new locations after building permits never came through.
Last March, city officials and property owner Tony Akaras announced two tenants — Halal Guys, a fast-casual halal food chain based out of a food cart in New York City, and Junction Vintage, a vintage boutique and clothing store owned by Shannan Fales — would take over the 7207 Baltimore Ave. space between ZIPS Dry Cleaners and 7-11. Halal Guys was set to open in August, while Junction Village’s U Street location closed in April 2017 in anticipation for a June 2017 opening in College Park.
Halal Guys had signed a lease with Akaras, but the chain backed out after building permits never arrived from the county, which is required to distribute one for an owner to start construction. At a March 27 news conference last year where Akaras, Fales and other city officials met to announce the new businesses, Rabi Ullah, Halal Guys’ franchisee for the state of Maryland, anticipated the building permits to arrive within a few weeks.
“But that week or two never came,” Ullah said. “I’ve already told the landlord that we won’t be sitting around and waiting for him anymore — and that we’re looking for another space.”
After Halal Guys withdrew from the project, Akaras said he’s “still trying to determine what’s going to happen [at that location].”
“One was sort of predicated on the other, because [Halal Guys] were going to take the two floors upstairs and Junction downstairs, but now because of different delays … we’re not sure whether that’s going to happen,” Akaras said.
Fales had a spoken agreement to open Junction Vintage in College Park with Akaras — who also owned Plato’s Diner, which closed in 2016 — as well as the proposed adjacent “D3 Coffee and Ale House,” which has not been officially named, at the site of a former auto parts store.
Fales said the delay “had to do with permits, and I waited and waited … it still has not become available.”
“I still have an entire store in storage,” Fales said.
Fales put her plans to open the new business on hold, as she had twins in November. Akaras hasn’t contacted Fales in months, though Fales said she would still consider the College Park location if it opens up.
“I did start looking at other locations in Hyattsville, in College Park, so there is still that possibility,” Fales said.
Despite issues with Halal Guys and Junction Village, College Park City-University Partnership executive director Eric Olson said he’s confident Akaras will redo a separate space — 7131 Baltimore Ave., formerly College Park Auto Parts — and follow through on plans to build the proposed D3 Coffee and Ale House. Construction will likely begin in four to five weeks, he added.
“I know Mr. Akaras is going to get that building re-done, and I know he’s getting the auto-parts store up and running as a coffee and ale house,” Olson said.
The Prince George’s County Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ullah still hopes to open a College Park location for Halal Guys, but there’s nothing available for the size they need, he said.
“We’re just waiting until something comes up,” Ullah said.
Freelance reporter Isabel Cleary contributed to this article.