Grano Emporio Hampden closing
Photo by Ethan McLeod

Grano Emporio, the traditional Italian restaurant tucked into a Hampden rowhouse and known for its simple and delicious fare, will close down on June 30, its owners announced Thursday night.

“I could give many reasons for giving up Grano Emporio but for what scope,” said a message posted to Facebook shortly before midnight. “We had fun, we made a lot of friends.”

“We certainly enjoyed Hampden but we are not leaving,” the note said. Its operators, Gino Troia, of the Troia restaurant family, and his wife, Yolanda Padilla, will continue running Grano Pasta Bar nearby on W. 36th Street.

The family will also keep offering its regular culinary tours of regions in Italy, and “we will enjoy visiting the other restaurants and juice bars of the Troia family and spend more time with friends and relatives,” the message said, adding, “can we think of anything better?”

In an interview Friday afternoon, Troia and Padilla said the closure is simply a “business decision,” and not attributable to rising crime or flight of customers away from the city, factors that other local restaurateurs have blamed amid a slew of recent closures.

“It’s very easy to blame somebody because you don’t have any business,” Troia said, “but we’re not gonna do that. We have been in the area since 1986, we’ve had restaurants, and we still do.

“When you’re done with something and you want to move on, you just close it.”

“Of course it’s sad,” Padilla said. “It’s really sad. We’ve had eight years of working here. This is our second house.”

Grano Emporio opened at 3547 Chestnut Ave. in 2010, two years after the debut of the smaller, more casual BYOB pasta bar down the street. Beyond offering traditional family recipes made with local ingredients—”We’ve been doing farm-to-table since 1986,” Troia proudly told The Sun in 2015, referencing his family’s tenured eatery in Towson, Café Troia—the space sells wine and liquor, meats, pastas, cheeses and other food to go from a small market at the front of the house. It also boasts a secluded patio out front, picturesquely lined with grape vines.

Troia and Padillo had been updating the Grano Pasta Bar space in the weeks leading up to the closure announcement. They pointed out that they own that building, but rent the larger space that houses Grano Emporio, which also factored into their decision.

They’re also eyeing expansion plans for the pasta bar concept, with hopes of franchising other locations around Maryland. They previously opened a second pasta bar in Federal Hill in winter 2015-16, but shut it down about one year later.

The couple said they learned from that experience–specifically about opening a location in a nightlife district. “We learned that we really didn’t want to be open until 2 o’clock in the morning,” Padilla said. “Our business started at 10 p.m. We are just not interested in that.”

Grano Emporio is the second Hampden eatery to announce its closure in the last two weeks, joining the Corner Restaurant and Charcuterie Bar, and is among a growing number of restaurants around the city that have recently shut down.

In addition to Cafe Troia and Grano Pasta Bar, the family also operates the vegan-friendly Zia’s Cafe in Towson and Plantbar, a juice bar with locations in Belvedere Square and Harbor Point.

Amid all of the business talk, Troia acknowledged the Chestnut Avenue rowhouse is “a very romantic space.” Padilla pointed out that they’ve hosted weddings and rehearsal dinners there. They’re sad to see it go, she said.

“We’ve been having a really good time in here. Unfortunately it has to finish, but with a smile on our face.”

This story has been updated.

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Ethan McLeod

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...