Santoni's in discussion with retailers to take over vacated location

Santoni's Supermarket closed its doors on Tuesday after operating in Baltimore for 83 years.

The Highlandtown store blamed its demise on the city's tax on bottled beverages, which more than doubled to 5 cents per bottle in July. The store said its sales dropped 18 percent since the tax was adopted in mid-2010, Santoni's said. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake disagreed that the tax was at fault, and said the revenue it generates will help build schools in the city.

Another retailer may move into the vacated store located at 3800 E. Lombard St.

"We are having discussions with a lot of promising prospects," said Rob Santoni Jr., the retailer's chief financial officer.

Santoni's was cited with a notice from court for unpaid rent, Santoni said Wednesday.

"This is just part of the situation when Baltimore City destroys a business," he said, declining to comment further.