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$1M World of Beer bar opening at Locust Point's McHenry Row

Baltimore may be the land of $1 Natty Bohs but a couple  of entrepreneurs are hoping people will pay upwards of $5 for a draft beer.
Dr. Matthew Earl and John Stein are spending $1 million to open World of Beer this summer at Locust Point’s McHenry Row residential and retail development. The 3,400-square-foot restaurant will open across from  supermarket Harris Teeter in a corner spot that faces Key Highway. It will seat 75 to 100 and feature additional seating on its patio.
Beers will cost $5 to as high as $50 for a Sam Adams Infinium, says Earl, a radiation oncologist at the University of Maryland and a beer lover.
World of Beer will feature 60 beers on tap and about 600 bottles of beer – but not your standard Budweisers or Coors. It will also serve wine, but not hard alcohol.
Earl says he hopes the pub will appeal to folks looking for a low-key alternative to some of boisterous bars in Federal Hill. And he says he thinks people will pay the higher prices to drink beers they wouldn’t otherwise get to try.
“This is unique opportunity to sample beers from around the world,” Earl says.
The bar will offer a limited food menu, including soft pretzels and stuffed sausages. The interior will feature high ceilings, a wood bar, large coolers with bottles on display, and a stained concrete floor. 
Live music will be played three nights a week and Earl says he is working with sound engineers so the music isn’t too loud.
“We’re not looking to be a place where you get trashed. We’re looking to be a place where you can enjoy a couple of beers and listen to some nice music.”
World of Beer is a fast-growing franchise based in Tampa, Fla. It recently opened its 37th location in Denver. Currently, its closest location to Baltimore is in Arlington, Va.
So how did a doctor who treats cancer decide to tap into the beer market? Earl says he always wanted to open a restaurant, but decided to go the franchise route because the company gives you a formula to follow along with its expertise.
He says the bar will be privately funded.

Writer: Julekha Dash; @Julekha; [email protected]
Source: Matthew Earl, World of Beer

Senator Theatre could reopen in May

The owners of the Senator Theatre will wrap up its $3 million restoration this spring and expect the historic North Baltimore landmark to open at the end of May after a year of closure.
The once aging, single-screen theater will open with four screens and a 50- to 75-seat wine bar, says Co-owner Kathleen Cusack.
The yearlong renovation includes restoring the murals, installing new seats and getting a new chandelier for the 74-year-old Art Deco-style theater. Kathleen and her father James “Buzz” Cusack spent $1 million on the repairs, while the remaining money for the restoration came from a bank loan and city and state money.
“We’ve been working on this project since 2009 and it’s been a very labor intensive process. We’re happy to see things finally moving along,” Cusack says.
The theater will show mostly big Hollywood productions when it opens and house a total of 1,080 seats. The main auditorium will hold 770 while the other three will contain 150, 85 and 75 seats.
Baltmore City bought the theater three years ago for $810,000 after it went into foreclosure. It sold it to the Cusacks in September at a $310,000 loss.
The Cusacks operate the Station North Arts & Entertainment District’s Charles Theater, which shows mostly independent movies. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Kathleen Cusack

Baltimore's Horseshoe Casino to feature six local food outlets

South Baltimore’s gambling parlor will hold a steakhouse, two other full-service restaurants and a Baltimore food “marketplace” that represents Charm City’s local flavors.
That’s according to Chad Barnhill, general manager of the $400 million Horseshoe Casino Baltimore that will open at 525 Russell St. in the summer of 2014. CBAC Gaming LLC, a consortium led by Caesar’s Entertainment Corp. and Rock Gaming LLC, is spearheading the development of the 140,000-square-foot casino. 
CBAC Gaming will own the steakhouse and will partner with two restaurateurs for the other two eateries, one of who will be a celebrity chef, Barnhill says.
“We’re having great discussions with a celebrity chef,” says Barnhill, who declined to name the chef since the deal has not yet been finalized.
The Baltimore marketplace will feature six smaller food outlets with a common seating area as part of a 20,000-square-foot food hall showcasing some of the city’s most popular crab cakes, pizza and burgers.
“We want to really lease out the spots to Baltimore’s best. We’re working hard to be Baltimore’s casino by the offerings.”
The casino will break ground over the next several weeks, once it receives all of the permits, Barnhill says.

The two-story casino near M&T Bank Stadium will feature slot machines and table games and employ 1,700. Of those workers, 500 will work at the table games. The casino is also going for LEED certification

In November, Maryland voters approved the controversial measure to include table games at the state's casinos. The Hollywood Casino Perryville began featuring table games this month and Maryland Live casino at Arundel Mills will debut table games April 11. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Chad Barnhill, Horseshoe Casino 

UMBC seeks state money for $13M in road upgrades

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County is laying the foundation for two major construction projects: the second phase of its $125 million humanities and performing arts building, and a proposed $12.9 million new entrance on UMBC Boulevard and Hilltop Circle at its Catonsville campus.

Funding for the project is included in Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposed fiscal 2014 budget. If the Maryland Legislature approves the governor’s proposal, the money will be available in July.

Campus architect Joe Rexing says preliminary engineering and design work will begin then if the budget is approved. If all goes well, construction will start in late spring of 2014.

“We are very hopeful. I think it gives us some confidence that it shows up in the governor’s proposed budget,” Rexing says.

After numerous rear-end collisions, UMBC officials expect the new entryway will make the campus a lot safer by replacing existing stop signs with two roundabouts. The plans also call for roadway improvement and landscaping on Hilltop Circle, and upgrades to the garage.

Traffic on the campus has grown along with enrollment, which has risen by nearly 25 percent since 2000 to nearly 13,000 undergraduates and graduate students.

Rexing says vehicles tend to go fast as they exit I-95 and Rolling Road, heading onto the campus via UMBC Boulevard. Vehicles also tend to stack up in the ramps during rush hour, also leading to crashes and problems.

“The interchange dates from the 60’s,” says Rexing, explaining the school plans to replace existing stop signs with two roundabouts.

As campus officials plot the road project, another major construction project is entering its second phase.  

The second phase, which includes a 350-seat concert hall and recording studio, is under construction and will open in the fall of 2014.
The first phase of the school’s new 178,000 square-foot performing arts and humanities building opened in September. It’s now home to the theater and English departments, three new writing labs, a 275-seat proscenium theater, a 120-seat black box theater and rehearsal space.
Writer: Amy Landsman
Sources: Joseph Rexing, UMBC architect; John Jeffries, dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Towson's Greene Turtle May Double in Size

Things may soon be looking up for Towson’s popular Greene Turtle Sports Bar and Grille.

The 26-year-old restaurant hopes to double its space with a 3,000-square-foot expansion in the form of a rooftop deck.

With the Towson Circle III movie theater, restaurant and retail project now under construction, the rooftop expansion could help it attract customers who will soon have more entertainment choices.

Greene Turtle Co-owner Jill Packo says the deck would feature a bar, small kitchen, and table seating. The additional space would accommodate more than 100. Based in Egdewater, the franchise sports bar is rapidly expanding and plans to open 16 to 20 restaurants in the Northeast by the end of 2014. 

The Baltimore County Board of Liquor License Commissioners approved the Greene Turtle’s request for an expansion on Monday. But the restaurant still needs to sign a new lease and complete a geological survey before completing any work at 408 York Road.

“We need to make sure the building can support the rooftop,” Packo says. The restaurant will double its staff if the project goes through.

She says that Baltimore County officials have been very supportive of the idea. Nancy Hafford, the executive director of the Towson Chamber of Commerce, says the Greene Turtle’s expansion will help it get more customers to the east side of York Road.

As for possible noise from a rooftop deck, Hafford says the owners have always been “very responsible” neighbors and she expects that would continue in the future.
Writer: Amy Landsman
Sources: Jill Packo, co-owner, Towson Greene Turtle; Nancy Hafford, executive director, Towson Chamber of Commerce

Portuguese, Mexican and Italian cuisine coming to Towson

Portuguese, Italian and Mexican restaurants will join Cinemark Theatres at the $85 million Towson Square project, expected to generate more than 1,500 jobs.

Plans for the theater have also been revised, with 15 screens instead of the original 16, county officials and developers said at a news conference Tuesday. The theater will be one of two in the country to feature a VIP seating section with private bar access and premium food. Work on the 850-space parking garage will finish in the fall and the entire Towson Square project will open in 2014.

Nando’s Peri-Peri, La Tagliatella and On the Border Mexican Grill and Cantina will open at the development, along with five other eateries that have yet to be unveiled. A South African-based franchise that sells flame-grilled Portuguese-style chicken, Nando's has restaurants in Annapolis, Gambrills, National Harbor, Silver Spring and Gaithersburg. La Tagliatella is a European chain that is owned by AmRest Holding SE, which bills itself as the largest independent restaurant operator in Central and Eastern Europe. This would be the first La Tagliatella in Maryland and the fourth in the US.

The development may include some retail, but the center will be predominantly entertainment focused, said Cordish Cos. Vice President Blake Cordish. 

Branding Towson as an area that can attract folks outside the county was a major theme at the news conference.

"We’ve put together a collection of amenities that would be a regional draw,” Cordish said.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz engaged in a little light-hearted rivalry with Bethesda, saying he’s tired of hearing about Bethesda’s wonderful amenities and strong business community.

“Guess what folks? We’re certainly a livable and loveable jurisdiction. We are going to make Towson a regional destination.”

Writer: Amy Landsman
Sources: Blake Cordish, Cordish Cos; Kevin Kamenetz, Baltimore County Executive 

A New Partner Dances Into the Creative Alliance

Watch out for new movement in East Baltimore as the Rayn Fall Dance Studio expands to a second location at the Creative Alliance in Highlandtown.

Classes operated by the woman-owned dance workshop will take place in the Alliance’s black box theater, which holds concerts, movie screenings and their annual holiday craft fair.

Morgan State University graduate Sharayna Christmas Rose founded Rayn Fall Dance Studio in 2004 and operates the other location at the Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center.

The Creative Alliance struck a partnership with Rayn Fall after the education coordinator enrolled her stepdaughter at the studio. She admired the program and thought dance would make a good addition to the Alliance’s community outreach. At the same time, Rayn Fall was seeking to expand in southeast Baltimore.

“We are a community based organization, and so is Rayn Fall Dance Studio, so it was such a good marriage,” Creative Alliance Marketing Director Helen Yuen says. The collaboration is a natural extension of the after-school arts education programs the Alliance currently offers to the community.

Classes for the winter session include for Mommy & Me Creative Movement education for toddlers, as well as ballet, tap and hip hop for elementary kids.

Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: Helen Yuen, Creative Alliance

Vegas-style nightclub Paparazzi to open in former Sonar spot

New owners are set to open a new nightclub this month in the former Sonar space in downtown Baltimore.
Co-owner Anil Prashar says he’ll debut Paparazzi nightclub at 407 E. Saratoga St. with an International Night-themed soft opening. From then on, the nightclub will be open Thursdays and Saturdays. Prashar and three business partners spent about $500,000 to refurbish Sonar as a Las Vegas-style lounge, bar and dance floor that can hold up to 1,000. The dance floor will be located in a former parking garage that the Prashar and his business partners are taking over.
Live music venue Sonar opened in 2001 and closed last year. Former Sonar owner Daniel McIntosh was convicted in November for his role in a marijuana and money-laundering scheme. The popular club featured electronica, rock and indie acts over the years, as well events like the Maryland Deathfest.
Prashar says believes Baltimore needs another nightclub. “It’s been missing for a long time. We’ve had Mosaic, but that’s it.”
The co-owner, who has a marketing background and helped promote former local clubs like Mist, says he was inspired by places like Vegas hotspots that incorporate luxurious style with leather cushions, hardwood floors and rich, colored fabrics. DJs will spin Top 40 songs and house dance music. Prashar says he anticipates having celebrity guest hosts while eventually opening the venue to charity events, holiday parties and live entertainment and eventually adding a kitchen.
Prashar chose the name Paparazzi based on everyone’s inner desire for fame. “The day and age we live in, a lot of what goes on with Facebook is about pictures and being seen. The biggest thing on top of customer service is social relevancy, and we want to show that everyone has social relevancy,” Prashar says.
The nightclub will employ 30 and rely on another 40 to 50 for promotions. 

Writer: Jolene Carr
Source: Anil Prashar, Paparazzi

The Walters Gets a Java Jolt With New Coffee Bar

For lovers of art and gourmet coffee, a new partnership just might get you buzzing.
Q at The Walters, an authentic Seattle-style espresso bar opened this week at The Walters Art Museum. The 300-square-foot espresso bar and cafe serves coffee, pastries, pre-made wraps, salads and sandwiches.
"We love this space. I have never been in a museum. It's the first time for my concept," say owner and operator Ashley Stark-McCauley.
Stark-McCauley runs three additional coffee bars in the Baltimore area including cafes at Johns Hopkins University and at an office building in Hunt Valley. 

As for expanding, Stark-McCauley says she's scouting other locations in Baltimore and is also considering adding locations in office buildings in New York City.
After completing her undergraduate and graduate studies in Seattle and working as a professor, Stark-McCauley says she wants to bring an authentic Seattle coffee experience to her hometown of Baltimore. She launched her first coffee business almost 20 years ago.
The model is very different than a traditional business model because she operates inside host institutions that require her to work with existing space as opposed to being able to completely remodel a location, Stark-McCauley says. 
Stark-McCauley will add roughly four employees, and has invested $25,000 in launching Q at the Walters.
Q at The Walters will be open during regular museum hours, which are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Just announced by the museum are Thursday evening hours when the museum will stay open until 9.pm.
She hopes to eventually offer early morning hours for residents of Mount Vernon.
Source: Ashley Stark-McCauley, owner of Q at The Walters
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]

Senator Theatre Could Reopen in the Spring

Construction on the historic Senator Theatre could begin the end of this month or early September now that it has the city's go ahead, says Kathleen Cusack, a co-leasee of the property with her father, Buzz Cusack.

The new Senator with its four movie screens and wine bar could open March 2013, depending on the construction schedule. The city's Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation OK'd the Cusacks' plan earlier this month. The entire project is costing $3 million, of which the Cusacks are investing $1 million, and the remainder is from a commercial bank loan and city and state funding.

The Cusacks are now in the process of restoring the main lobby. The original wood paneling and mural are under restoration and professional artists have been hired to do the work, she says. Cusack says the restored theater and its additions will open together, and not in phases. 

The Senator Theatre occupies about 65 percent of its lot, leaving a small area for parking in the rear. Cusack says they are expanding the theater by “filling in the corners” of the lot with the construction of the three new theaters and the wine bar.

The main theater “needs a lot of work,” Cusack says. It formerly seated between 800 to 900 people, but the original seats are being replaced with seats that are larger and more comfortable and she expects its seating capacity to be 770 when the work is done.

Cusack leases The Charles Theater, 1711 North Charles St., in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District. But Cusack says that plans for the Senator are quite different from the Charles.
“The Charles is an art house,” says Cusack, and plays films that are often not shown in other venues in Baltimore.  “The Senator has never been an art house. It has always played big Hollywood products. And, we don’t want to compete with the Charles.”
After a competitive process in which four proposals were submitted, Baltimore City last year awarded the Cusacks a 40-year lease on the property. The city bought the theater three years ago after it went into foreclosure. 
One of the new auditoriums will have a seating capacity of 150; the other two auditoriums will seat between 60 to 80 people each. “It will be like any movie theater with multiple screens. The auditoriums will play national movies,” like the Senator itself, she says.
The wine bar will serve light fare and feature outdoor tables along York Road.
“Our vision is to restore the Senator as a beautiful Art Deco movie palace,” says Cusack.
Source: Kathleen Cusack, The Senator Theatre
Writer: Barbara Pash

Park Surrounding Merriweather Post Pavilion Could Get $2.25M Upgrade

Columbia officials have drafted a plan to enhance the 16-acre park surrounding Merriweather Post Pavilion to make it a year-round destination for more festivals, art shows and community gatherings and not just primarily a place to see outdoor concerts.

The Columbia Association has approved more than $2 million in spending on walkways, a plaza, additional parking and a central gathering area that will eventually include an interactive fountain and space for performances at Symphony Woods. The nonprofit, which manages the planned community in Howard County, plans to use two state grants totaling $250,000 to pay for the redevelopment.

Construction would begin after the annual Wine in the Woods 2013 in May , says Columbia Association Project Manager Jan Clark. The association has presented its plan to the county planning board, which will deliberate on it July 19. The first phase would be completed by spring 2014.

Right now, Symphony Woods’ star attraction is Merriweather Post Pavilion, whose upcoming concerts include My Morning Jacket, Bon Iver and Gotye. Columbia officials hope to offer more recreational uses once the redevelopment is complete.

“We want to make this one of the leading cultural facilities in the mid-Atlantic,” says Mark Thompson, director of downtown redevelopment for Howard County. “That’s our ambition. I’m very confident we can accomplish this.”

New pathways in the wooded area will make Symphony Woods more pedestrian and bike friendly and connect it with adjacent neighborhoods. The Symphony Woods makeover is one of many long-term projects that Columbia officials are plotting to make it look more like the open-air town center in Reston, Va.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Mark Thompson, Howard County; Jan Clark, Columbia Association 

Downtown Baltimore's Ruth's Chris Steak House Adds Outdoor Lounge

The options for outdoor dining in Baltimore just got bigger.

Downtown Baltimore’s Ruth’s Chris Steak House at the Pier V Hotel expanded last month with a waterfront patio and bar. The addition also includes a 100-seat dining area that will hold private events and handle the overflow business it gets on Valentine’s Day and other busy nights, Owner Steve DeCastro says.

The restaurateur says he spent about $250,000 on furniture, landscaping, kitchen equipment and retractable awnings. The money was also spent on gutting out the interior of the space, which has held a number of different eateries over the years. Most recently, it held Pizzazz Tuscan Grille.

DeCastro says the Pier V Hotel owners had repeatedly asked him to expand his restaurant to take over the 1,700-square-foot spot. But then they finall made him a deal he couldn’t refuse, DeCastro says.

The restaurant will start offering live music this week in the 112-seat lounge and deck, including steel and three-piece bands, and serve a lite-fare menu. Items cost between $9 and $17.

“I think the patio is the best view of the city and I got a great deal on it,” DeCastro says. “We turned it into a beautiful space.”

Meanwhile, the restaurant owner is one of many who are recovering from the deadly storms that left more than 600,000 without power. DeCastro, who owns four Ruth’s Chris restaurants in Greater Baltimore, reopened his Annapolis eatery July 5, after five days without power.

He estimates he lost at least $100,000 in business. Because he had to sanitize and prepare everything from scratch, it was like opening a new restaurant. 

De Castro owns a second downtown Baltimore Ruth's Chris on Water Street and one in Pikesville. 

Writer: Julekha Dash; [email protected]
Source: Steve De Castro, Ruth's Chris Steak House

Live Jazz and Barbeque Comes to Mount Vernon

Phaze 10 opened this month in Mount Vernon and plans to offer American food, specialty drinks and live entertainment such as jazz and open-mic nights. While the business will start in Baltimore, the company eventually plans to expand to additional locations outside the area, Managing Partner Tony Randall says.
The restaurant currently employs 24 and is hiring for additional bartenders, servers and cooks. 
The multi-level, 6,000-square-foot, upscale restaurant and carry-out grill at 855 N. Howard St. offers Southern food with a Caribbean twist including barbeque spare ribs, salmon and crab cakes, Randall says.
Prices range from $15 to $25 for an entree in the restaurant, and entrees from $5 to $15 in the grill carryout location.
Randall wants to create a location for a mature crowd that enjoys the atmosphere and nightlife of D.C. or Philadelphia, but with the unique spirit of Baltimore and closer to home.
"We tried to create a place that we imagined we'd like to go to," Randall says.
The restaurant will focus on bringing live jazz and neo-soul acts in addition to open-mic nights and comedy. It has live entertainment slated Wednesday through Saturday nights.
A Baltimore native and graduate of Morgan State University, Randall has long been involved with the music and entertainment industry in Baltimore. A 30-year IT professional, Randall and his business associates founded a computer-consulting firm, TT Systems Inc. and the partners have invested in the new business together.
Source: Tony Randall, managing partner of Phaze 10
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]

Design Center Moves to Station North

A design collaborative composed of university officials and architects have found a permanent home at the North Avenue Market building in Station North.
D Center members moved this month from their temporary home at 218 W. Saratoga St. in downtown Baltimore to the 3,500-square-foot spot at 16 W. North Ave. Money from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts is funding the move and D Center programming, which will include exhibits, lectures and other events that will involve collaboration among artists, architects and academics, says D Center Board President Klaus Philipsen.
During the past year, D center collaborated with numerous partners, including the Creative Alliance’s Art to Dine For series, the Transmodern Festival, and Wide Angle Youth Media. D center has also formed ongoing partnerships with area colleges and universities, who use D center’s exhibition and meeting space to conduct classes and hold design reviews.
D center has also formed ongoing partnerships with area colleges and universities, who use D center’s exhibition and meeting space to conduct classes and hold design reviews.

Home to Liam Flynn’s Ale House and Baltimore Print Studios, the North Avenue Market is undergoing a $1 million makeover. The addition of D Center is the latest development in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District that has seen a number of new restaurants, housing and shops in recent years. One of its long-vacant buildings is getting a Flemish beer-themed restaurant and a Milk and Honey Market.

Writer: Julekha Dash; [email protected]
Source: Klaus Philipsen

Dance Studio Opens in Catonsville

 The Baltimore Salsa Dance Co. has some new moves to show off in Baltimore County.
Dance and Artistic Expressions Studio opened in Catonsville June 2. Seven instructors will offer classes ranging from salsa, hip hop, zumba, rumba, and ballet for ages 3 to adult at all skill levels. Specials include six-week lessons for $75, drop-ins for $15, and free 15-minute demos from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
Studio members plan to promote creative exercise that extends to the mind, body, and soul with alternative classes in activities like yoga and sewing.
Owner/instructor Tabitha Hitchye-Holliday says she had been searching for a Catonsville location closer to where she lives. The company closed its first Light Street location in August and signed the lease for its current 1,000-square-foot studio in April.
Its only studio is located in the county, Baltimore Salsa Dance Co. still has a presence in the city, offering dance classes at venues like Mobtown Ballroom and the Havana Club.
Hitchye-Holliday says the studio was made possible through private funding. The organization is currently searching for grant opportunities.
Source: Tabitha Hitchye-Holliday
Writer: Jolene Carr
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