The Washington Post

The Maryland governor’s election is now about whether Prince George’s County has good restaurants

Whether Prince George’s County has any decent restaurants became a campaign theme in the Maryland governor’s race after Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler said the county hasn’t added much in the way of decent places to eat since the candidate — who is 51 years old — was growing up in Montgomery County.  

Gansler’s opponent, Anthony G. Brown, then asked supporters on Facebook Tuesday for some culinary suggestions.

Via Facebook.

Brown got plenty of suggestions, among them Franklin’s in Hyattsville, Jerry’s Seafood in Lanham, Desserts by Gerard in Oxon Hill, Copper Canyon Grill in Glenarden and Old Town Bowie Grill. By noon Wednesday, more than 100 comments had been posted.

The thread evolved into a discussion about how much progress the county has or has not made in terms of places to eat, with some of the commenters supporting the point Gansler made in opening his campaign office in Prince George’s, when he told supporters that, “there’s no economic development” in the county. 

“You couldn’t shop in a mall in Prince George’s or go to a restaurant with a table cloth in Prince George’s,” Gansler said. “You had to come to Montgomery County or Anne Arundel County. And it’s not that different now.”

Here’s a video of the remarks, beginning around the 2:30 mark:

Here’s what one person wrote on Brown’s Facebook page: “I would like to see some high end restaurants in the area. We have to travel out to other jurisdictions to spend our money. Which could be in our own backyard. Same with retail.”

Another wrote: “Are we saying that we are satisfied with the level of choices on the County? Can we improve on our choices of amenities? Doesn’t Howard, Montgomery, and Anne Arundel have more choices??”

After Brown supporters took issue with Gansler’s economic development comments, his campaign press secretary wrote a response arguing that Gansler’s comments were actually very well received in the county.

Hi, Jonathan,

Read your story and wanted to say, Doug Gansler made it clear at the campaign office opening on Saturday that he has nothing but love for Prince George’s County.

Perhaps you would like to watch the video, where Doug’s comments were met only with cheers from 200 supporters, not jeers, and you’ll see that he’s arguing in favor of MORE economic development in Prince George’s County. (I’d be happy to send it to you.) Of the letter signers, none of the 28 came to our event or heard the speech. Twenty-three of the 28 had previously endorsed Brown.

Your story actually proves Doug’s point. Of the six businesses/development projects listed, five do not exist yet, and one of those is only a “candidate” for future existence (the sixth is the Tanger outlets). Your article mentions a business that is leaving. So basically of the two projects that exist, one is leaving. Prince George’s deserves much, much better.

Here is a comment in response to the letter from Delegate Jolene Ivey, head of the Prince George’s House delegation and Doug’s running mate:

“Saturday’s office opening was an extraordinary event dominated by an outpouring of public support for a team that believes the children of Prince George’s deserve #1 schools and our hard-working families have earned thriving economic development. Don’t let 28 people who weren’t there and have a vested interest in the status quo drown out the voices of the more than 200 Prince Georgians who cheered their support. The Gansler/Ivey team will not tell the people of Prince George’s they should smile and be happy with less than everybody else. We will fight for them to be part of our state’s shared prosperity.”

And finally … Doug has enjoyed his fair share of Prince George’s dining options and would be the first to say Jerry’s has some of the best crabcakes and Rip’s has some of the best ribs in Maryland, but it doesn’t change the fact that Montgomery County with a population just over a million has more than 900 restaurants while Prince George’s with a population just under a million has roughly 350. Pretending that we don’t need to improve in these areas simply means we’ll stay stuck in place — we can’t fix the problems if we’re scared to even acknowledge that we have them.

I enjoy reading your pieces as a reader and as an armchair urban development geek, but this one missed the mark. Is this going in the print edition tomorrow?


Katie Hill


The item did not run in print, but the debate continues. If either Brown or Gansler becomes governor it looks like Prince George’s County development could get a lot of attention.

Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.



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Jonathan O'Connell · February 12, 2014