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Haute Blow Dry opens in Harbor East

A new salon specializing in professional blow dries opened its second location in Harbor East Nov. 22 and is eyeing Howard County for its third.

The Haute Blow Dry Bar doesn’t do haircuts. Instead, clients come in for a 45-minute wash, scalp massage, and professional blow out. Owner Abi Frederick, a California native, says the concept is big on the West Coast and is now reaching Baltimore.

The 650-square-foot blow dry bar at 644 S. Exeter St., across from Whole Foods, has  seven styling chairs, blue walls, and white marble countertops. Frederick is investing about $115,000 in the renovation with money from a private investor group. Haute Harbor East employs seven.

Frederick opened her first Haute at 720 Dulaney Valley Road in the Dulaney Valley Plaza in Towson in July. Frederick hopes to expand to Columbia by summer 2014.

Frederick says Harbor East has the cachet she was looking for in a location. The tony area is home to the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore and J. Crew, Anthropologie, Lululemon and other shops.

“I think that with the development of Harbor East and the new retail stores going in, I just think it’s a concept that will do really well here. Harbor East, with all the professional women and all the restaurants right there, and the hotels, I think that there’s a real need.”

Clients come in for a professional styling, for special events, or a girls’ night out. Haute offers clients a glass of wine, champagne or a soft drink to enjoy with their blow out.

“I’ve already had women coming to weddings in Baltimore and asking us if we’re open.” 

Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: Abi Frederick, Haute Blow Dry Bar

Ryleigh's Oyster opens new Timonium location

The owner of Ryleigh’s Oyster House opened his second location in Timonium this month after investing $2 million to transform the former Gibby's Seafood spot into the 300-seat restaurant.

The 10,000-square-foot location at 22 W. Padonia Road has a 2,000-square-foot rooftop herb garden available for private dining, and a patio.

“There was never any curb appeal,” Ryleigh’s Owner Brian McComas says of the former location. “So we definitely made it ‘shore house chic’ and rebuilt the whole front section of the building.”

The original Ryleigh’s is a Federal Hill stalwart, featuring over 100 different kinds of oysters in the course of a year. The new Timonium outpost will have a similar menu, with a few tweaks for the suburban dining scene, focusing a little more on traditional entrees, and a little less on shared or communal plates.

As in Federal Hill, the oysters play a starring role. In partnership with the Shooting Point Oyster Company, Ryleigh’s grows its own farm-raised oysters called Avery’s Pearls on Virginia’s Eastern shore. McComas says these smaller oysters are good for bivalve beginners.

“In order to address the people who think an oyster’s this big slimy thing, we cultivate our own," McComas says. Avery’s Oysters are small, petite, cocktail oysters, so that you don’t get this big hunk of slimy stuff.”

McComas recently held the Moet Oyster Ball Oct. 9 at Ryleigh’s in Federal Hill. The $65 tickets included an oyster bar, open bar and hors d’oeuvres. The event kicked off OysterFest Oct 12-13. The Cross Street festival featured the annual Baltimore Oyster Shucking Competition, as well as live music and raw bars. Proceeds for both benefited the Living Classrooms Foundation and the Oyster Recovery Partnership. 

Writer: Amy Landsman
Sources: Scotti Offutt and Brian McComas, Ryleigh's Oyster 


New coworking space opens in Charles Village

A new coworking space in Charles Village is offering entrepreneurs and freelancers the chance to work in a shared office.
 
The Charles Village Exchange, which began operating Oct. 1, has dedicated about 900 square feet for coworking. The practice involves sharing office space in an environment that is more professional than a home or coffee shop, but that is less expensive and less contractually binding than renting an executive suite. The Exchange joins several other coworking spots in Greater Baltimore. 
 
The space is located at 2526 St. Paul Street on the third floor of the building, where co-owners Doug Austin and Eve Austin’s businesses are housed on other floors.
 
The Charles Village Exchange includes an enclosed meeting room, a kitchenette, a lounge, a bathroom, soundproof phone booth and seven workspaces that make up the main area.
 
The cost varies based on how many desks are licensed and the duration of the license but range from $260 a month per desk to the entire floor for $1,600 a month for a year.
 
Doug Austin says that he and Eve Austin chose the building about a year ago, when his business, UPD Consulting, outgrew its previous location in Ridgely’s Delight and moved to its current Charles Village location.
 
“This building in particular is a really beautiful building,” Doug Austin says. “It’s in the heart of Baltimore. It’s close to the train station, which was convenient for us. And we just really liked the neighborhood.”
 
But after realizing that they had extra space on the third floor, he says that coworking was the perfect way to put the space to use.
 
“It’s actually kind of exciting to have that kind of energy and different types of people and businesses in the same building with us,” Austin says. “There are a lot of budding entrepreneurs in this neighborhood. We don’t want them to move down to D.C. or Philadelphia or something because they don’t have something like this that is enticing to them.”
 
Charles Village Exchange will hold an open house on Nov. 20. For the first 25 guests at the event, the business will donate a turkey in each visitor’s name to the Margaret Brent School in Charles Village.

Writer: Daryl Hale
Sources: Doug Austin, Holly Burke, Charles Village Exchange

Brookshire Suites new lobby lounge to feature local food and wine

The Inner Harbor’s Brookshire Suites hotel will feature Baltimore beers and wines in its new lobby lounge when it opens in January.The yet unnamed lounge is part of the Brookshire’s $3 million property-wide renovation.

The 100-seat lounge will likely serve coffee during the day and transition to beer and wine around 4 p.m., says Brookshire General Manager Jason Curtis. He expects to hire four full-time staffers for the lounge.

“Our hotel is going to be very Baltimore specific, we’re trying to provide our guests with a very unique experience in Baltimore,” Curtis says. The hotel hasn’t decided which brands of local beer and wines it will serve.

The 97-suite hotel, at 120 E Lombard St., lost its liquor license three years ago when the property went into receivership. Baltimore City’s liquor board approved its new liquor license Nov. 14. Modus Hotels in Washington, D.C., now owns the property.

Renovations to the club level, meeting room and exercise room have been completed. Work is currently underway on the lobby, registration desk and on the lounge, after which work on the guest rooms will begin.

The Brookshire is positioning itself as an “urban playground” with its renovations. It's the latest Baltimore property attempting to rebrand itself amidst more competition. The Radisson Hotel at Cross Keys is undergoing a $6 million facelift and is soon debuting a new contemporary Italian restaurant Scoozi. The Lord Baltimore Hotel on West Baltimore Street is undergoing a renovation and opening its new Matisse Kitchen and Tavern later this month.

“Our goal is to be fun and creative and do something that no one else in the Inner Harbor is doing,” Curtis says.
 
Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: Brookshire Suites Hotel
 
 

Persian restaurant opening in the former Stoneleigh Bakery spot in Towson

A Persian restaurant is taking the place of the former Stoneleigh Bakery Cafe in Towson.

Villagio Café is opening Dec. 1 at 6805 York Road in the Stoneleigh neighborhood. Serving grilled kabob, lamb, salmon, basmati rice, hummus, baba ghanoush and Greek salad, Villagio will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Owner Foad Borhani is renovating the 1,800-square-foot space to seat 40 and another 10 on the sidewalk. He says he hasn’t set the menu yet.

Borhani was a restaurateur in Phoenix, Arizona, where he previously lived. He moved to Baltimore about a year ago to be closer to family. Borhani says Villagio will be very casual, with comfy booths for eating in, and take out service available. The restaurant will employ four.

The Stoneleigh neighborhood is a quaint historic district that was first developed in the 1920’s. The storefronts lining York Road are nearly all independently owned shops, including Uncle Wiggly’s Ice Cream, Mandarin Taste, Gennuso’s Barber Shop, and Stoneleigh Duckpin Lanes. 
 
Reporter: Amy Landsman
Source, Foad Borhani, owner, Villagio Café

Cunningham's restaurant opens in Towson

The highly anticipated Cunningham’s restaurant at the Towson City Center building made its debut Nov. 22 with a cafe soon to follow.

The 10,000-square-foot restaurant employs 80, Bagby Restaurant Group Director of Marketing Dave Seel says. Cunningham Café will open early 2014.

Specializing in local, sustainable and seasonal cuisine, Cunningham’s relies on produce from Bagby Group Owner David Smith’s Cunningham Farms in Cockeysville. 

Billed as a sophisticated take on mid-Atlantic cuisine, Cunningham's will serve wood-fired flatbreads, grilled seafood and dry-aged steaks. Executive Chef Chris Allen recreates flavors that tap into his childhood in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Ryan Shacochis, formerly of the Wine Market, has been brought on as the restaurant’s general manager. 

The 260-seat restaurant consists of three dining areas, including a bar and a private dining space. The patio will seat another 80 during the warmer months. The modern decor includes big yellow lights that ador the ceiling and a lighted marble bar.

Cunningham Café, a 2,000-square-foot café and bakery on the ground level just under the main restaurant, will feature locally sourced ingredients for breakfast and lunch, fair trade coffee, artisanal bread and pastries. The café will seat 40 indoors and another 20 outside.  

Though Towson has lots of fairly casual places serving office workers, students, and the community, Seel says he believes Cunningham’s will fill a gap in terms of destination dining.

“There’s a huge need for new restaurants, different types of restaurants up there,” he says.
 
Cunningham’s will be the Bagby Restaurant Group’s fourth restaurant. The others are Bagby Pizza Co., Ten Ten and Fleet Street Kitchen, which are all located in Baltimore’s Harbor East neighborhood.
 
Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: Dave Seel, Bagby Retaurant Group.

Nickel Taphouse opens in Mount Washington

About a year after opening his popular artisan pizza joint Birroteca, Robbin Haas has tackled his next restaurant venture in Mount Washington.

The Nickel Taphouse opened Nov. 20 in the former Blue Sage Café and Wine Bar space at 1604 Kelly Ave.

The 100-seat restaurant serves grilled oysters, mussels, burgers and roast beef served on kimmelweck rolls, topped with sea salt and caraway seeds. The sandwich is a specialty in Haas’ native Buffalo, N.Y. The restaurant also serves 32 craft beers on draft and about 50 wines. Menu items cost between $5 and $19. 

The 4,000-square-foot Nickel Taphouse is inspired by the places Haas used to frequent in his working class neighborhood. “They had great food and a lively bar crowd. These are places to hang out and stop in everyday.”

Haas, who is leasing the space, says he wasn’t looking to expand but a good business opportunity came along. He declined to say how much he spendt on the business.

“I like Mount Washington. I think there’s an opportunity for another restaurant there. I like it because it’s homey, it has a wide diversity of people. It has a great vibe to it.”

Located in the Jones Falls area, Birroteca serves pasta, calamari and other modern Italian fare. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Robbin Haas, Birroteca

City planning department approves $17M conversion of historic Hampden mill

Terra Nova Ventures LLC last month received approval from the Baltimore City planning office for the $17 million redevelopment of a Hampden mill into apartments, offices, restaurant and retail space.
 
The Baltimore developer expects to request building permits in early 2014 and begin construction on Whitehall Cotton Mill in the spring. Construction on the historic building will wrap up a year later, in spring of 2015.
 
David Tufaro, Terra Nova principal, says the building at 3300 Clipper Mill Road, about 100,000 square feet in size, will be divided into thirds for the different uses – one-third for apartments, one-third for offices and one-third for restaurant/retail. The plan calls for 27 rental apartments although he says it is premature to predict rents.
 
Though Tufaro is now calling the project Whitehall Cotton Mill, the name may change upon completion.
 
The building is located along the Jones Falls, where other former mills and factory buildings have been redeveloped in recent years. Among them is Mill No. 1, Terra Nova’s most recent project, the 1847 cotton mill that opened last month. Like 3300 Clipper Mill Road, Mill No. 1 contains apartments, offices and restaurant space.
 
Tufaro says the 3300 Clipper Mill Road building is adjacent to Mill No. 1. Distribution firm Komar Company owns the circa 1900 building and currently uses it as its headquarters. 
 
“It’s in the middle of the city and close to everything,” Tufaro says of the location. “And the buildings are different from other areas.” 
 
The Clipper Mill Road building and property was assessed at more than $616,000 in 2008. The building is located in the Hampden Historic District, and Terra Nova’s plan requires both federal and state historic approval.
 
Source: David Tufaro, Terra Nova Ventures LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash
 

New restaurant at Cross Keys' Radisson opening in December

The Radisson Hotel at Cross Keys is putting the finishing touches on its new contemporary Italian restaurant Scoozi that will open Dec. 11 at the Roland Park property.

Scoozi — a play on the word for “excuse me” in Italian — will seat 120, about double the capacity of the old restaurant, Crossroads, Radisson General Manager Tom Cook says. He estimates the restaurant renovation cost around $300,000. A $6 million facelift is also underway at the property. 

The 1,500-square-foot eatery will serve pizzas, salads and pasta dishes throughout the day. Scrambled egg-and-sausage pie and caramelized apple and almond pizza are some of the breakfast dishes cooked up by Culinary Institute of America graduate and Scoozi Chef Tim Robertson. Scoozi will employ 30 and feature 60 types of wines.

The revamped space will include a show kitchen and a hearth oven for pizzas. The hotel will remove a wall currently separating the main dining room and the lounge as part of the renovation.

The 147-room hotel at 5100 Falls Road is in the midst of the second phase of a building-wide renovation, with a new lobby and new carpeting, furniture and fixtures. The lobby now displays new artwork from Renaissance Fine Arts in the Village of Cross Keys. The first phase of the renovation was a complete overhaul of the Radisson’s mechanical systems, water lines, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

Built in 1973, the Radisson is part of the original Rouse Co. vision for the Village of Cross Keys, a planned residential and retail community. The hotel was last partially renovated 12 years ago. In April 2011, Greenwood Hospitality of Denver purchased the hotel from Meitzel Hotel Partners LLC.

The Radisson will remain open and operating throughout the renovation process.
 
Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: Tom Cook, general manager, The Radisson at Cross Keys
 

Pikes Cinema Bar and Grille brings movies back to Pikesville

Movies have returned to Pikesville for the first time in 27 years with the Nov. 1 opening of the Pikes Cinema Bar and Grille.

Ira Miller, the owner and operator of the Rotunda Cinemas in Hampden, operates the new Pikesville theater in the historic Art Deco building that also houses the Pikes Diner & Crab House. The cinema consists of two, stadium-style theaters that seat about 75. The theater will show a mix of first-run films, art films and independent movies. 

Pikes Diner Owner Wil Reich has spent about $200,000 to renovate the building at 921 Reisterstown Road. The project also received $50,000 from the Baltimore County Department of Planning.

Miller came up with the idea of turning the front of the diner into a movie theater, Reich says.

"I’d like to take credit but I can’t. Miller approached me with the idea."

Reich subdivided the approximately 7,000-square-foot, circa 1930s building. Reich is turning the front portion, about 3,000 square feet, into the theater space.The rear portion remains a restaurant but with a new menu that serves a combination of seafood, burgers and Mexican cuisine.

The Baltimore County Council approved a zoning change in April that will allow movies to return to the location. The building originally opened as a movie theater in 1934.  It has gone through several changes since closing as a theater in 1986.
 
After an extensive renovation, it reopened as an Italian grocery store. It then became a kosher restaurant before Pikes Diner opened in the rear portion of the building. Pikes Diner last year changed its name to Pikes Diner & Crab House. The restaurant has a separate entrance; the marque from the original movie theater remains atop the front of the building.
  
Reich says that because the last movie ends around 11 p.m., the future Cinema Bar and Grill will stay open later than the current Pikes Diner to accommodate patrons. Reich also owns Jilly’s Bar & Grill, located across the street from the Pikes Diner, and it too will adjust its hours, he says.

Source: Wil Reich, Cinema Bar and Grill
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 

Dooby's Coffee opens in Mount Vernon

After months of anticipation from Mount Vernon residents, Dooby’s Coffee opened Saturday in the building that once housed popular coffee shop Donna's.

Owner Phil Han says the coffee house features his four favorite things.  If “we can excel in coffee, in-house pastries, sandwiches, and craft beers, then we’re perfectly happy."

The cafe serves 12 draft beers and assortment of wines. Dooby's is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Reviewers on Yelp praise the cafe's avocado toast and butter-brown chocolate chip cookies. 

A pop-up version of the coffeehouse had been operating over the last few months in the Hatch, Han's incubator that is located around the corner from Dooby's. Home accessories retailer zestt is moving into the pop-up space. Founded by Jessica Diehl and Benita Goldblattt, zestt sells contemporary textiles, art and accessories. 

Extensive renovation at 800 North Charles St. took place following a five-alarm fire in 2010. The fire forced local favorite restaurants Indigma, Donna’s and My Thai to close. Indigma has since opened across the street at 801 N. Charles St. and My Thai opened next to Heavy Seas Alehouse in the Tack Factory in Little Italy. Donna's is not reopening in the building. It has locations in the Village of Cross Keys and Charles Village. Its Columbia location closed in May.

The 2,500-square-foot location will have seating for 75 inside and an additional 22 seats outside once it gets its permit for outdoor seating. It will feature clean lines and natural colors.

Han says it took more than a year to settle on the perfect name for the coffeehouse. “Dooby” is Han’s childhood nickname and comes from a Korean word. 

Han says many Korean-Americans like himself are in the food service business, but he says a Korean-American owned coffeehouse was an unfilled niche. So, as a gift to the Korean-American community, he decided to jump in.

He first searched for a space in Howard County, home to many Korean-owned businesses. When he couldn’t find what he was looking for, he turned to the city’s Mount Vernon neighborhood.

“It was like a no-brainer spot for me. This is such an awesome place, with colleges, young professionals. The amount of art and creativity that surrounds us is just amazing.”

Han says he believes the neighborhood is looking forward to having a new coffee house in the now-renovated block. Many area residents have taken pictures and asked him when he is opening.
 
Source: Phil Han, owner, Dooby’s Coffee
Writer: Amy Landsman landlink1@verizon.net 
 
 

By Degrees Cafe opens in Little Italy

A Baltimore chef who has worked for the Wine Market and Fleet Street Kitchen opened a casual contemporary restaurant in an industrial building on the edge of Little Italy Oct. 15.

The 1,350-square-foot By Degrees Cafe serves soups, salads and sandwiches for lunch and half a dozen entrees for dinner. By Degrees serves lunch at the counter and relies on wait staff for dinner.

Located in the redeveloped Fallsway Spring building at 415 S. Central Ave., the restaurant will hopefully appeal to young professionals in the neighborhood and adjacent Harbor East, Owner Omar Semidey says. 

Semidey says he wants to offer a small, intimate dining experience for diners who want an alternative to the massive, swanky eateries in tony Harbor East. By Degrees will seat 50 in the dining room and another six at the bar. 

He describes By Degrees as a “third-day” restaurant. When you have a friend in town, you take him somewhere nice the first day. The second day you cook dinner at home. And the third day you’re ready to eat out again, but somewhere that offers "solid food that doesn’t break the bank.” Most entrees at By Degrees cost less than $17 and soups around $5 and sandwiches under $10.

“The goal is not to revolutionize the culinary landscape, but shift it by degrees,” Semidey says.

Semidey is working with a silent business partner, whom he declined to name. He also declined to say how much he and his business partner will spend on the restaurant, financed with cash. 

The building’s developer Larry Silverstein is responsible for refurbishing several other properties in East Baltimore, including the Union Box Co. and the Holland Tack Factory, home of Heavy Seas Ale House and My Thai

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Omar Semidey, By Degrees Cafe


Morgan State plots $149 million campus expansion

Morgan State University is undergoing a major expansion of its campus in northeast Baltimore, on property it owns at Hillen Road and Argonne Drive. The new west campus will contain the long-awaited Earl G. Graves School of Business and Management, opening in 2015, and the Behavioral and Social Sciences Center, to open in 2017. Together, the two buildings cost around $149 million.
 
An undetermined amount of funding is being sought for a third building and parking garage on the site, according to Cynthia Wilder, a Morgan State planner. Morgan State owns more than 170 acres, of which 143 acres constitute the main campus for its approximately 8,000 students.

The expansion is taking place on nine Morgan State-owned acres on the west side of the main campus. Part of the property is occupied by the Northwood Shopping Center, although Wilder didn’t have an acreage breakdown. The shopping center will remain and the Morgan State buildings will be built next to it. A bridge across Argonne Drive will connect the West Campus to the main campus.
 
“The main campus is filled and we had no option but to look elsewhere to replace facilities that can’t serve what we need,” she says. The new business school will have a trading simulation hall like that of the New York Stock Exchange and offer more hands-on instruction. The social sciences center will contain demonstration spaces, observation rooms and a forensic anthropology laboratory.
 
Wilder says Morgan State’s business programs are held in a building on campus, McMechen Hall, and will be consolidated in the new business school, which will house management, accounting, hospitality and marketing. The 140,000-square-foot business school cost $82 million, of which the state funded $81 million and Morgan State the rest.
 
The design process has begun for the Behavioral and Social Sciences Center, a 125,000 square foot facility that will house classes now being held in the circa 1974 Jenkins Hall. Construction will begin in 2015 and the center will open in 2017. The state will issue bonds to pay for the approximately $67 million project, Wilder says.
 
Wilder says that both the business school and social sciences center will be green buildings, the LEED certification level still to be determined. 
 
Source: Cynthia Wilder, Morgan State University
Writer: Barbara Pash
 

Rendering of Morgan State University Earl G. Graves School of Business and Management courtesy of Ayers Saint Gross / KPF Associated Architects. 

A honey of a store opens in Owings Mills

Kara Brook hasn’t got time for the pain — of bee stings, that is.
 
It happens every time she checks on the 18 hives at her Eastern Shore farm. But that hasn’t stopped her from harvesting the honey to create honey-made products sold in her Owings Mills shop Honey House.
 
Brook opened a 2,200-square-foot production facility and retail outlet in the Pleasant Hill Center at 10989 Red Run Blvd. last month.
 
About 700 square feet is set aside as a retail showroom called the Honey House, where Brook showcases her all-natural candles, honey lollipops, body butter and scrub, and other beauty products. She also features a wide selection of different types of honey in jars.
 
The bulk of the facility is dedicated to honey processing equipment, including centrifuge tanks that spin the honey out of the hive, gravity pumps to send the honey through filters, and two honey storage tanks. Brook hopes to add new honey-based products every year.
 
Brook is the owner and has one employee. She used her savings to finance the operation, though she declined to say how much she invested.
 
“I really pride myself on the handcrafted nature of everything that’s involved in this product line.”
 
Brook started her honey and honey-based products business in her kitchen in 2010. Also an artist, Brook says she initially wanted the beeswax so she could make a special paint. In the process, she discovered the potential of honey. She produced 70 pounds of honey from her one hive that first year. She now has 18 hives and produced 500 pounds this year.
 
She also carries honey from other beekeepers, mostly from the Eastern Shore, but extending up and down the coast from Florida to New Jersey.
 
Brook hopes kids will visit the Honey House, and if she has time she’ll show them around. “I hope that I can inspire kids too, because we need future beekeepers,” she says.
 
Reporter: Amy Landsman
Source: Kara Brook, owner, The Honey House

National Aquarium still 'committed to a presence in D.C.'

The National Aquarium may have shuttered its D.C. location last month, but the nonprofit wants to continue its mission of conservation in the nation’s capital.

Though it lacks the funds to construct another facility just like the old one in the Department of Commerce building, the aquarium has hired a Chicago architect and a research firm to determine whether it can build an attraction in D.C. sometime in the future, the aquarium's Senior Vice President Eric Schwaab says.  

“Do we have the capital resources to turn around and build a new aquarium there? In the short term, the answer is no. But we’re committed to a presence in D.C.,” says Schwaab, who is also the aquarium's chief conservation officer, a position that the aquarium created recently as it seeks to emphasize its role in sustaining marine life. 

Whether that presence is an actual aquarium or more of an ocean conservation center will be determined after the companies that it hired, Studio Gangs Architects and Impacts Research & Development, prepare a report in the spring.

“The sets of questions we’re asking are ‘What kind of facility is most valuable? How does it fit into our mission? And how do we articulate a vision that is compelling enough to garner the resources to make it work?” Schwaab says. 

The aquarium closed its D.C. facility to make way for renovations in the Commerce building. About 1,700 animals were moved from the D.C. aquarium to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, including a giant Pacific octopus. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Eric Schwaab, National Aquarium 
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