Rob Brough grew up in Indian Head. In high school and college, during the 1990s, he worked at the Super Fresh grocery store in town.
The Super Fresh had replaced the A&P in the same space along Indian Head Highway. It was the place where locals had done their shopping for decades.
Then Brough moved on to pursue a career elsewhere, and the Super Fresh closed its doors. The space sat empty for more than 20 years. Indian Head had no grocery store and fell into federal food desert status.
Now things have come full circle.
Brough is the chief operating officer and part owner of CMI General Contractors, the group enlisted to help renovate the Algonquin Building outside the base gates to become Oasis Fresh Foods Market, the town’s first grocery store since shortly after he worked there.
CMI has been the general contractor responsible for a lot of high-profile projects in Southern Maryland, including the College of Southern Maryland’s Velocity Center in Indian Head and the new Maryland Technology Center, which now fills the long-vacant space that once held the Super Fresh and CVS stores.
“I grew up in Indian Head,” he said. “My parents worked on the base. We stayed in the area. My oldest son graduated from Lackey this year. My youngest is in 10th grade. I just want to be part of bringing back the town the way I remember it growing up.”
All remains on track for Oasis opening its doors in 2023. CMI recently completed architectural plans and shared them with Mark and Marilyn Steele, who will own the store before transitioning it into an Employee Ownership Trust business model.
For now, CMI is focused on the permitting process and lining up subcontractors to carry out the specialized tasks of turning the building’s empty shell into a lively, thriving store. Brough estimates that construction will begin around the end of the year.
In addition to the grocery store, an area near the front of the building will become Papaleo’s Ice Cream, offering soft-serve ice cream to go and take-home containers of Baltimore’s Taharka Brothers Ice Cream.
Plans also call for a community garden and green space that will add a layer of natural beauty to the town and to the shopping experience.
Brough said he understands that residents of the town and nearby areas are itching to see progress on the site, so they can begin getting truly excited about what’s to come. He asks, for the moment, for just a bit of patience.
“Just be patient and I think everyone will be happy with the end result,” he said. “I commend Mark and Marilyn for taking on an effort in the town that everyone has been screaming about for some time. It takes people like that to make these things come to reality. It’s an important project for the town and another stepping stone for revitalizing the entire area.”