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Historic Ellicott City’s River House Pizza Co. to Open New Location

March 29, 2017

River House Pizza Co., a Historic Ellicott City wood-fired pizza company and outdoor courtyard dining restaurant, is set to open a second location in the Forest Green Shopping Center along Route 40 in Ellicott City this spring.

River House Pizza’s new Forest Green location more than doubles its current kitchen and refrigeration space, offers plenty of room for company growth and even provides its customers some indoor seating.

“This new space allows us to take advantage of the high visibility afforded the businesses along the Route 40 Corridor,” said Owner and Head Chef Nathan Sowers. “I expect this expansion to be the first in a series of targeted community business bases from which the company can expand its brand and farm-to-table focused wood-fired pizza from the community center outward.”

The Courtyard Kitchen, River House Pizza’s 500 sq. ft. facility located in Historic Ellicott City’s Tonge Row, was originally intended to support off-site production at farmers markets, festivals and catering events. Soon, the location became a popular destination in its own right, offering on-site outdoor service on its large courtyard.

“It’s always great to see small businesses outgrow their original facilities. It’s a sign they make a great product that the community loves,” said County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. “River House Pizza’s expansion is also a great sign of the recovery taking place in Ellicott City, and I look forward to their continued success at both locations.”

The Howard County Economic Development Authority provided Sowers with a $100,000 loan from the Catalyst Loan Fund to facilitate his expansion. Full repayment is scheduled in 5 years.

“The process really opened my eyes to the potential for River House Pizza,” Sowers said. “The Catalyst Loan Program is going to be just that for the company; the catalyst for growth into additional community bases of operation in Maryland and, quite possibly, beyond.”

The Catalyst Loan Fund uses funds from Maryland’s Video Lottery Terminal Small, Minority and Woman-Owned Business Account initiative and acts as a revolving loan fund. Borrowers repay loans, and the principal and interest payments are returned to the fund for lending to other businesses to create more jobs and investment opportunities.

“This is a perfect example of what the Catalyst Loan Fund was designed for,” said HCEDA Chief Executive Lawrence Twele. “River House Pizza is a home-grown business that’s expanding and reinvesting in our own community. We couldn’t be happier with the success Nathan is having.”

This is not the first time the HCEDA has worked with River House. In the wake of the Ellicott City flood, fencing impeded Sowers access to the Courtyard Kitchen. The HCEDA helped Sowers gain regular access his kitchen so he could continue his off-site services.

“Within days of the flood I was sharing seats in Gators and taking hard-hat tours with them. It was first names and cell phones from the beginning and a focused and coordinated effort to help us get back to business,” Sowers said. “The organization really took my interests and the interests of the company to heart.”