UPPER MARLBORO – While business continues to boom at the Olde Towne Inn, the restaurant’s chef and owner plans to open the doors of a second location in Largo. Donnell Long, owner and chef at the Olde Towne Inn said his restaurant is best known for its seafood fettuccine and as a hotspot for local politicians, actors […]
UPPER MARLBORO – While business continues to boom at the Olde Towne Inn, the restaurant’s chef and owner plans to open the doors of a second location in Largo.
Donnell Long, owner and chef at the Olde Towne Inn said his restaurant is best known for its seafood fettuccine and as a hotspot for local politicians, actors and professional athletes.
“It’s a very warm and friendly place, similar to the television show Cheers,” said Delegate Jolene Ivey. “It’s a place where you’re not going to be a stranger. There are not a lot of other places to go in Upper Marlboro. It’s certainly the nicest place as far as food, ambiance and the selections that you can get to eat.”
Long said his culinary expertise, regional flavors and seafood fettuccini set him apart, but most important is his ability to make the patrons of his restaurant feel like family.
After growing up as a foster child without money, Long said he struggled and overcame many odds to make his culinary dreams come true.
“If I could tell you I planned to be where I am today, I’d be lying to you, but I just persevered,” Long said. “I knew I wanted more than what was before me. When you have a dream, for it to actually manifest you have to keep pushing for it. There’s always going to be an obstacle or someone trying to knock you back down. You’ve got to put it to the side and persevere.”
Long, 43, opened the Olde Towne Inn on Main Street in Upper Marlboro nine years ago.
“Your first impression is that you’re surprised it’s on Main Street,” Long said. “You look at the building on Main Street and stuff you wouldn’t expect to see. People are always taken aback about how the restaurant looks.”
The one-level venue holds about 75 people. With the patio seats included, it can hold about 110. Despite the popularity, Long said challenges exist in owning and operating the restaurant.
“The most challenging part is living up to expectations,” Long said. “The restaurant is very popular and we’re very thankful. We don’t ask people to leave when there’s a wait but it’s challenging to guarantee you that at 6:15 on a busy day that table’s going to be available.”
With popularity rising, Long made the decision to open up a second location. Long said he chose Largo because it represents a “homecoming” for him after he got his start in the area. Long said Prince George’s County continues to be the best place for his business despite many other business owners who choose not to open shop in the county.
“My belief with that is anytime you’re in an area that’s underserved or in need, those are the visitors that tend to come out and support heavily,” Long said. “You’ve got a good mix of county residents who travel to restaurants and they get tired of driving to D.C. and Annapolis. I figure I can keep them dormant if my restaurant opens in the right area.”
County Executive Rushern Baker III, former Gov. Martin O’Malley, actors and football players including members of the Washington Redskins, frequently dine at the Olde Towne Inn—which prefer to call O.T.I.
Baker said he considers the Olde Towne Inn his “go-to restaurant” with his favorite meal being the turkey sandwich. He expressed excitement about the opening of a second location.
“O.T.I. is more than just a restaurant – it is a quintessential Prince George’s County meeting and socializing establishment. It defines the type of place that families, friends and business colleagues share good times over breaking bread,” Baker said. “I expect the same who’s who of Prince George’s County foodies to follow Chef Long to his new location in Largo as he attracts new diners to his fine food.”
Despite many of his customers being well known, Long said he hopes to attract “everyday folks” to his restaurant, people who are looking for a good dining experience that does not require extensive travel.
“I’ve always been impressed not only by the physical style of the restaurant but also Donnell’s commitment to the community and to the area,” said County Councilmember Todd Turner. “So it’s always been open and welcoming for people around Upper Marlboro and around the community to kind of have a spot to call their own.”
With a second store waiting in the wings, Long said he continues to dream and has big plans for his business.
“I want to become the dominant restaurant concept in the county with great food and great value,” Long said. “As the county continues its growth with MGM and Westphalia, I would like to be on the forefront of those.”