Giant Following for New Gino's

The beloved burger chain opened Wednesday to long lines of hungry fans.

"Everybody goes to Gino's," as the jingle once sang.

And on Wednesday, several hundred went back when the rebooted Gino's Burgers and Chicken held its grand opening, and fans old and young came to welcome its return.

The Towson restaurant, located in a business park at 8600 La Salle Road, is the second Gino's to open since the chain relaunched in King of Prussia, PA, last year. It's the first in Maryland since the original Gino's chain closed its last location in Pasadena in 1991.

First in line on Wednesday was Mike Goldman of Pikesville, who arrived at 6 a.m.—20 minutes before the next two men in line, his friends Bruce Voge III of Gwynn Oak and Marty Martmiodek of Columbia.

"I remember the sign and the bucket of KFC on it," said Goldman, 35, of the old Reisterstown Gino's. "I don't remember the burgers anymore."

John Benner of Campus Hills remembers more than the burgers. The 56-year-old knew namesake Gino Marchetti's family and often hung out with Marchetti's son in the old Towson restaurant on York Road.

"We used to go there and eat hamburgers together," he said. "We'd eat till our stomachs were full and we couldn't walk home."

Yvonne Streett, 73, came from Brooklyn Park with a picture of her chatting with Marchetti in 1962. She associated Gino's with good memories and good people.

"(Marchetti) always made you feel welcome," she said.

It's that sense of nostalgia that the new chain hopes to parlay into modern success.

"It's really the wind beneath our wings with some of the former customers of Gino's and some of the former employees who all have a great story and recollection of those grand old days," said Tom Romano, the CEO of Gino's Burgers and Chicken.

Romano worked for Marchetti's old chain for 30 years.

"It was more than just great burgers and fries and chicken," he said. "It was really about what the company represented, philanthropically and from a values standpoint. It had a personality of its own."

The Towson location may be the first in Maryland, but it won't be the only one. Romano said several more Baltimore-area locations are planned, including in Perry Hall, White Marsh and Dundalk, where Gino's first opened in 1957.

Missing from the festivities Wednesday was Marchetti, the Baltimore Colts great, who was home recouping from pneumonia. Employees displayed a "get well" card outside for customers to sign.

"If there were any way he could be here he would be," Romano said. "He's used to playing in pain, being a hall-of-famer, a 10-year All Pro. Pain's nothing new to him, but we were concerned about his well-being, being 85 years old."

Shortly after a brief ribbon-cutting led by Romano (and featuring a speaker phone cameo from Marchetti), it was time for the line to migrate inside. With the grill firing, the milkshakes blending and the soda fountain running, the line moved smoothly.

Within five minutes of placing their order, Goldman, Martmiodek and Voge had their burgers. And then, surrounded by at least a half-dozen cameras, came the ceremonial first bite.

Goldman, the first in line, was also the first to take a bite. Did it live up to his expectations?

"It's even better," he said.

Concerned Mom August 18, 2011 at 03:10 PM
I am happy the Gino's is back but think that the prices are too high. Many families will not be able to eat here on a regular basis. I hope that they offer coupons.
Jackie Breau August 27, 2011 at 06:18 AM
Everybody goes to Ginos. Cause Gino's is the place to go! I remember we could hardly wait to get our driver's license so we could cruise to Gino's on Perring Parkway! The Gino Giant is back!
Emily Kimball December 16, 2011 at 03:45 PM
UPDATE: Perry Hall Gino's to Replace Honeygo Wendy's (http://patch.com/A-p3P7): "The planned Perry Hall Gino's Burgers and Chicken will replace the former Wendy's on Honeygo Center Drive, according to co-franchisee Sophie Kennedy."
Kimberly Graham July 28, 2012 at 06:03 PM
I was about 3 yrs old when, my family and myself would eat at the establisment. My parents and older siblings eat chicken, myself and younger siblings,would down burgers and fries. I loved Gino's,and though I reside in another state,I remember the jingle as clear as a bell.
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