BOWIE – The largest city in Prince George’s County, is bringing in new businesses that hope to have their next ribbon-cutting in a city of fresh opportunities. Residents in Bowie can expect a larger variety in the Bowie Town Center with the arrival of several new businesses. During a time when the Bowie Town Center […]
BOWIE – The largest city in Prince George’s County, is bringing in new businesses that hope to have their next ribbon-cutting in a city of fresh opportunities.
Residents in Bowie can expect a larger variety in the Bowie Town Center with the arrival of several new businesses. During a time when the Bowie Town Center has seen many businesses come and go, the arrival of businesses such as Potbelly Sandwich Shop, Ya Mon! Island Grill, Heaven Sent Cupcakes, Wing Stop, First Watch daytime café, and the Kirei beauty supply store are drawing attention to the city’s outdoor mall.
John Henry King, Bowie’s economic development director, said residents should be happy about seeing the Bowie Town Center and other areas of the city come such a long way.
“Bowie’s economy is healthy,” King said. “We are very fortunate, but not better off than any other place in the nation because we understand that businesses come and go at any time. Our retail properties are owned by both medium and large companies and active retailers, so you never know if the store you really like will shut down or go out of business.”
According to the 2015 U.S. Census Bureau’s updated data analysis of Bowie businesses from 2013, there are 1,473 businesses employing a total of 22,510 people in the seven zip codes that comprise the Bowie area. Bowie’s business base represents 10.2 percent of the total Prince George’s County business base (14,281) and 9.1 percent of the total employees (243,260) in the county.
“The city staff isn’t just sitting down,” King said. “People become curious when they see a sign go up in the window, but there are plenty of negotiations going on behind the scenes. We actively support the efforts of our shopping owners to find vacant space by also running an efficient advertising program. The city has an ongoing effort to get shopping owners to choose Bowie as a potential location for their business and help them grow.”
Small businesses flourish in Bowie with 799 (53.9 percent) of them having four or fewer employees, compared to the county total of 7,169 (49.8 percent) and state total with 71,891 (52.9 percent) having four or fewer employees.
Potbelly General Manger Leslie McGruder-Swann said it’s really exciting to have residents react positively to the company’s newly found presence in Bowie. The new franchise shop is located across the street from Panera and considers itself the “friendly neighborhood sandwich shop.” Potbelly opened Aug. 17 by hosting an “oven warming” with 100 percent of the proceeds donated to the Bowie Boys and Girls Club.
“It has been amazing so far,” McGruder-Swann said. “During our ‘oven warming’ we raised $1,140 to donate to the Boys and Girls Club. The community has been so supportive of us. It’s like they were just waiting for a Potbelly to come here to Bowie.
“I get a lot of customers who said they had to travel to our company’s Annapolis location and are glad that now there’s one right by their home,” she said.
McGruder-Swann has been a Bowie resident for 20 years and worked for Potbelly for seven years. She said business is great and the line has been out the door for the past few weeks. She’s sure the Potbelly craze in the city will attract other businesses to the Bowie Town Center as well.
“I think Potbelly the brand means a lot to people,” McGruder-Swann said. “Other companies seeing us become a staple restaurant in Bowie will make them consider the possibility of coming here as well.”
McGruder Swann is an advocate for the students living in the county and is looking forward to doing more school fundraising. She said Potbelly gives back 25 percent of funds raised during fundraising events at the restaurant. The establishment also has local artists from different genres come in to perform three of four times a week.
“We have small things for students, like if they have A’s and B’s on their report card or if they make honor roll then they get a free shake,” McGruder-Swann said. “We have a book reading program where if children and teens read three books then they get a free shake. We want to support the families and give students the incentive to do well in school.”
Residents will no longer need to travel to other cities to buy Caribbean cuisine for lunch or dinner either with the recent opening of Ya Mon! Island Grill.
Ya Mon! Island Grill is in the town center’s food court next to Heaven Sent Cupcakes. The grill serves authentic Caribbean food and is now in its fifth month of operation. Owner Ian Barthley is also a culinary arts teacher at Oxon Hill High School and an adjunct professor at Prince George’s Community College.
“We try to bring as many authentic Caribbean flavors as possible but we are mostly known for our jerk chicken,” said Barthley. “Our jerk chicken is the ‘Real McCoy’ because we created our own jerk marinade. So far the feedback has been great. We have a lot of regular customers and as long as business is this good we won’t be leaving.
“The availability of vendor’s space in Bowie made this the perfect location. We were offered a great deal that we could not pass up. So far our first few months in Bowie have been above my expectations. I noticed the key to this location is modest pricing.”
Barthley is excited about business’ continued progress and plans to give his students as well as other teenagers, jobs and the opportunity to see that owning their own business is possible in cities like Bowie.