The unidentified man waited patiently for Gino’s Burgers and Chicken to open for about an hour before anyone inside the Glen Burnie restaurant noticed him Thursday morning.
But the man was about a week early. Franchise owner Karen Foreman approached him to tell him the restaurant wasn’t due to open until early September. The man said he had heard on the radio Gino’s was open and Gino Marchetti, its namesake and former Baltimore Colts defensive end, was inside.
Marchetti was inside, but to give media interviews, Foreman told the man. That’s when she noticed the man’s Colts memorabilia, and she asked if he wanted it signed. She said she would take the stadium seat cushion inside and see if Marchetti would sign it.
Not only did Marchetti sign it, but he also took it outside to the waiting man and posed for photos.
“Gino said, ‘It only takes a couple minutes to make someone happy,’” Foreman recalled.
Marchetti said he hopes to make many more people happy when the restaurant, located at 7598 Ritchie Highway, opens.
He, Foreman and other officials are awaiting final inspections from county officials, and he said he plans to be there opening day.
If the unidentified would-be patron is any indicator, there should be plenty of Colts fans waiting, Foreman said. That man was not the first to ask when Gino’s will be open, she said.
Both Marchetti and Gino’s have a long history in Maryland, and Marchetti said he still has a fondness for the Glen Burnie community. The new restaurant is described on the chain’s website as a descendant of Gino’s Inc., which Marchetti founded in 1957.
The new Gino’s other Maryland locations are open in Towson, Perry Hall, and at Camden Yards. The Glen Burnie location was home to an Ameche’s Drive-In, which Marchetti founded with Colts running back Alan Ameche.
“We had a home on Back Creek [in nearby Pasadena]," said Marchetti, 86. “To me, it’s amazing all the changes around here. Now, I couldn’t even find my way to the corner.”
Even before being considered as a location for Gino’s and after its life as Ameche’s, the location has had a long history as a restaurant. It previously was home to a Three Brothers pizzeria and an AVP pizzeria, among other eateries.
Marchetti said he hadn’t even considered a return to the restaurant business until Tom Romano, who was chief operating officer of the former Gino’s, approached him a couple years ago.
Even though Glen Burnie has changed since the 1950s, Colts fans haven’t, Marchetti said. Fans abound even nearly 30 years after Colts owner Robert Irsay moved the team to Indianapolis in the middle of the night.
Before the Maryland locations were open, Colts fans would drive to the Gino’s in King of Prussia, PA, and tell Marchetti their parents used to take them to the old Gino’s.
“I don’t know anyone like Baltimore fans,” he said.
“It’s a very loyal community,” Foreman agreed. “They have in their hearts for the brand of the Colts.”
Some things about the new restaurant will be a little different. New menu items include chicken tenders and sandwiches, formulated under a new recipe being tested at other locations, Foreman said. The affiliation the old Gino’s had with Kentucky Fried Chicken is no more, she said.
But other things remain the same, such as the popular Gino’s Giant, a burger similar to McDonald’s Big Mac that Marchetti said he is looking forward to eating on opening day.
And on that day, Foreman said she can’t wait for fans to meet him.
“Gino’s isn’t Gino’s without you,” she told him.