By Elizabeth Janney
After more than a year of construction, the Maryland House is getting ready to open its doors to millions of motorists along Interstate 95.
The rest stop will officially reopen to the public next week; it has been closed since September 2012 as it underwent a makeover to bring it up to modern standards.
Elected officials, transportation authorities, developers, service staff and construction workers gathered at the Maryland House Monday morning for a sneak preview of the building.
Lt. Gov. Athnony Brown said that since its opening in 1963, the Maryland House had become the "busiest travel plaza in the country," serving 2.8 million visitors a year.
Hospitality company Areas USA will operate and manage the redesigned and rebuilt $30 million travel plaza.
The date wasn't firmed up yet for the Maryland House reopening because new staff needed to be trained and other finishing touches had to be in place, according to Areas USA CEO Xavier Rabell.
The wait will ensure that travelers have "the best," which is what officials said the Maryland House would deliver.
"Customers expect the best in service, aesthetics, convenience and food quality and selection—and they are going to get it here," Bruce Gartner, executive director of the Maryland Transportation Authority, said.
The new plaza features the following:
- Free wifi
- Natural lighting and contemporary design
- Food from Wendy's, Phillips Seafood, Dunkin' Donuts, Jerry's Subs & Pizza, Currito, Nathan's Famous, Auntie Anne's, Carvel
- Indoor/outdoor seating
- Shopping at Brookstone, Orange Optix, Bijoux Terner and Sunshine Market
- Kids Korner seating area
- High-speed fueling at Sunoco gas station
- A Plus convenience store at gas station, featuring food from Elevation Burger