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Wine bar and brick-oven pizza restaurant to open on the west side

Downtown Baltimore’s west side will get another dining destination when a wine bar and brick-oven pizza restaurant opens this fall.
Bryan Noto, a former manager at Alewife, is spending $500,000 to open Forno at the Avalon Centerpoint apartment building at 17 N. Eutaw St. Noto says he expects to hire 25 to 30 to work at the 130-seat restaurant, which will open by the end of September.
Noto describes the restaurant as “upscale casual,” which will hopefully appeal to downtown workers, young professionals who live in the area and theater fans. The location is across the street from the Hippodrome and next to the new home of Everyman Theatre. The space once housed World of Wings and has been vacant for a number of years.
Forno — which means oven in Italian — will serve artisanal 10-inch pizzas, craft beers and 30 wines by the glass.
“We’ll try to get some local wineries on board,” Noto says.

It will also serve six to 10 entrees and small plates, varying the Northern California-inspired menu each season according to what’s fresh at the local farms it will use to source the produce.
Noto says he is financing the restaurant with a bank loan, his own money and some money from the developer that will go toward construction. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Bryan Noto, Alewife 

Family friendly restaurant Sweet Caroline's opening this summer in former Pazza Luna spot

Sweet Caroline’s Bistro and Tavern will open in Pazza Luna’s old space in Locust Point by early August.

Owner John Ferrari Jr. is renovating the 2,100-square-foot spot at 1401 E. Clement St., adding new lighting, paint, upgrading the floors and doing some repairs. The restaurant will seat 80 indoors and about another 16 outside. Ferrari declined to discuss his investment in the property or his financing for the 80-seat restaurant.

He says Sweet Caroline’s will be upscale but relaxed, American cuisine with influences from Italy and Spain. The restaurant's dishes will include crab guacamole, a bruschetta trio and a tomato, mozzarella and basil salad. Sweet Caroline’s will be family friendly, with a kids’ menu as well.

Ferrari expects to employ about 10 to 12 people and is currently interviewing chefs.   

Ferrari used to own Bamboo’s Restaurant in Ocean City, which he sold a couple of years ago. After six years on the Eastern Shore, Ferrari says the time was right to head back to Baltimore. Between the fast-growing Under Armour and the influx of young families, Locust Point is the place to be, he says. Nearly 1,600 people work at Under Armour’s Locust Point headquarters, and the company recently announced plans to hire an additional 300 this year.

Ferrari chose the name Sweet Caroline’s because it’s a “good, catchy name,” that says “come out and have a good time.”

The Facebook page and website will be up shortly. 

Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: John Ferrari Jr., Sweet Caroline's

Top Kitty Boutique opening second store in Mount Vernon

Maria Smith, owner of Top Kitty boutique in Waverly, is opening a second location in Mount Vernon next month.

Smith will share a third floor, 300-square-foot rental at 516 N. Charles St. with Sharifah Gavins, owner of design consultancy Butterfli Affect. Top Kitty offers styling services, accessories, and clothes geared toward professional women. 

Smith and Gavins are in the process of painting and decorating the suite, located above A People United fair trade shop. The shop is located on the building’s ground level, with four stories of office space above. Smith has one intern, but no additional employees.

Smith says she believes having space in both Waverly and Mount Vernon covers many bases. Shoppers have discovered her Waverly boutique, while Mount Vernon tends to be home base for her VIP styling clients.

Smith and Gavins are still working on a name and slogan for the new location. They may go with: “House of DecoFash: Where a Butterfly Designs and a Kitty Styles.”

Smith will use the Charles Street office for Baltimore Fashion Week model calls, and for year-round one-on-one fashion consultations with clients.

Along with running Top Kitty, Smith serves as a stylist and production team member for Baltimore Fashion Week. Now in its sixth year, Fashion Week takes place Aug. 8 –11 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Pikesville.

“Most of my clients who come to me for styling are going to be the type of woman who wants to meet with me in Mount Vernon. She’s the upwardly mobile kitty. She’s busy. She’s a professional. She’s a business owner.”

In addition to operating Top Kitty, Smith works full-time in residential and commercial property management. She says she self-financed both the Waverly and Mount Vernon locations.

Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: Maria Smith, owner Top Kitty Clothing

International pastry shop and cafe opens in Mount Vernon

There’s a new place in Mount Vernon for residents to pick up steamed pork buns, Cuban pastries, Turkish coffee and Paraguayan empanadas.

The Bun Shop opened last month at 239 W. Read St. Co-owner Andrew Bui says he and his business partner Minh Vo will expand the BYOB café’s offerings in the next month to include furniture, home goods and flowers since the 1,700-square-foot spot offers room to grow.

“Originally we wanted a small store front but we just found this place. It was a bakery so it had a lot of equipment that we needed that we couldn’t afford,” Bui says.

The owners also will begin selling Vietnamese spring rolls and other appetizers on the weekends starting this month. The café will host its first event with the May 17 launch party for Slight-Mag, a fashion magazine started by Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) students.

Childhood friends Bui and Bo spent about $30,000 to open the Bun Shop, using their own cash and money borrowed from family. Bui says he left a product design job in New York while Bo left his pharmacology Ph.D. program at Johns Hopkins University.

Bui says the Bun Shop has been attracting area residents, including MICA and University of Baltimore students, interested in late-night cheap eats. The Bun Shop is open until 3 a.m. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Andrew Bui, the Bun Shop

Hampden dog care business relocating to bigger spot

The relocation of a Hampden business gives neighborhood dogs something to bark about.
The nine-year-old Good Doggie Day Care will be moving from 3500 Ash St. to a larger space at 529 W. 29th St. by early July.
The 14,000-square-foot location gives business owner JoAnne Garrett 5,500 square feet of more space and 13 playrooms instead of six. The new space, which formerly housed the Hanover Uniform Co., has two floors with a large ramp for the dogs.
“The new location is much easier to get to, and it won’t crowd the dogs,” Garrett says. “Also, some of our dogs are aging, and we’ll have a place for our ‘older kids’.” The new location will have a “Senior Paws” area dedicated to older dogs.
Garrett employs 23 and will will hire one assistant manager, one evening assistant manager and four daycare attendants for the new location.
Good Doggie takes care of 50 to 100 dogs per day. Prices range from $20 for one half-day session to $28 for five full-day sessions. One-third of the customers come from the neighborhood while many also come from downtown, Garrett says.
Contact: JoAnne Garrett, owner of Good Doggie Day Care
Writer: Jolene Carr

Developer moves ahead on 86-unit apartment complex in Station North

The developer behind Milk & Honey Market and the reopening of the Chesapeake restaurant is plotting an 86-unit apartment complex on Lanvale Street next to his new food establishments, which are weeks away from opening.
Ernst Valery says he expects to select an architect by July for the market-rate studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments. Construction on the yet-to-be named building in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District will begin a year from now and wrap up by summer of 2015. Valery says he hasn’t yet determined apartment rates.
The apartment building is the latest project in a neighborhood that is attracting more interest among city officials, developers and universities. A developer hired by Amtrak has proposed shops, housing and offices around Penn Station. Johns Hopkins University is moving some of its arts programs to the neighborhood and the Maryland Institute College of Art has purchased two buildings in the area.
But the neighborhood could use more housing, Valery says.
“Its a step toward making the neighborhood really great and realizing its full potential,” Valery says of his project.
Valery says he is now securing financing for the apartments and declined to provide details until the plans are finalized.
Station North’s Milk & Honey Market and the new Chesapeake Restaurant will open in two to three weeks, Valery says. It will be the city’s second Milk & Honey. The other one is located in Mount Vernon. Chesapeake, which will focus on regional cuisine, bears the same name as the restaurant that shuttered a quarter century ago. The property has since been vacant.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Ernst Valery

New art gallery and cafe coming to Highlandtown

A new art gallery, café and gift shop is coming to Highlandtown this summer that will showcase local artists in permanent and revolving art exhibits.  
Highlandtown Art Gallery Owner Felicia Zannino-Baker will showcase10 to 12 artists per month at the 1,000-square-foot gallery at  248 S. Conkling St., near the recently opened Baltimore Threadquarters. Baker will devote an area to slideshows of historical Highlandtown and host book signings, artist talks and workshops with local crafters making scarves, wooden puzzles, textiles, wooden puzzles, collages and handbags.
The gift shop will sell notecards, duffle bags, mugs and local books, including Gary Helton’s “History of Highlandtown.” Baker says she is working with the owners of Highlandtown's High Grounds Coffee Roasters to create a special blend specifically for the gallery café.
Baker was born and raised in Highlandtown and owns the residential and commercial design company Magnolia Studios LLC. In addition to a Washington, D.C., location, Magnolia previously had a location next to the gallery and now has a studio on Eastern Ave.
Baker is also a member of the Highlandtown Arts and Entertainment District advisory board. “This is a wonderful experience. Once you tap into these people, you see it’s very rich and diverse, and there’s something for everyone. It’s all different mediums: sculpture, watercolor, collage. You name it, they’re there. It’s in their hearts and in their minds.”
Baker owns the building that houses the gallery. The gallery will occupy the first floor while the second and third floors are residential space.
Writer: Jolene Carr
Source: Felicia Zannino-Baker, Highlandtown Art Gallery

Owner of Waverly's Darker Than Blue hopes to hit a homerun with new sports bar

The owner of Waverly’s popular Darker Than Blue Café is opening a neighborhood sports bar in the city’s Cedmont community, six blocks south of Northern Parkway.

Casey Jenkins’ new Birdland Sports Bar & Grill at 6319 Belair Road will open by late May. It's just one of several restaurant projects for Jenkins, who is scouting new locations for an expanded Darker Than Blue.  

Jenkins says he’s put about $100,000 into redoing what was once the Ray Charles Lounge. The 2,000-square-foot space will seat 125 and employ six.

While Darker Than Blue is an 85-seat white tablecloth establishment, Birdland will have a bright, more casual vibe. The menu will feature some Southern cuisine — Darker Than Blue’s specialty – and serve pasta and 15 types of sliders. The restaurant will be decorated with art and memorabilia that links the city’s rich sports history of the Colts and the Orioles of old, with the Ravens and Orioles of today.

“It’s gonna be a hip sports bar,” Jenkins says.

Jenkins says he hopes to repeat the recipe for success he’s had with Darker Than Blue on Greenmount Avenue with this new venture on Belair Road. That is, he’s opening a locally owned restaurant on a major thoroughfare in a neighborhood underserved by good dining options. He predicts Birdland will be the spark that brings other local businesses to the community.

Jenkins attended a community meeting to hear what neighborhood residents themselves wanted along Belair Road.

“They said they wanted someplace they could sit and go to. There are no sit-down restaurants in that corridor, and that’s extremely shocking to me, and that’s exactly what they said in the Cedmont community meeting.”

The renovations are being financed by Jenkins and two partners. Jenkins is also looking at gap financing, including micro-loans.

Birdland will feature a a full bar. The menu will showcase about 15 different types of sliders, pastas, and a variety of dishes with “Southern flair.”
Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: Casey Jenkins, owner, Darker Than Blue, Birdland Sports Bar & Grill.

Darker Than Blue owner eyes Rotunda and Charles Village project for new location

The owner of Waverly’s Darker Than Blue Café is talking to the developers of two of Baltimore City’s biggest residential and retail projects near Johns Hopkins University about relocating the popular restaurant to a bigger spot. And he’s cooking up plans for a new eatery at his current home on Greenmount Avenue.

Casey Jenkins says he is working with Artios Retail LLC, a Bel Air leasing and brokerage firm, to assist with the expansion by 2015. The business owner is looking at the Rotunda in Hampden and the lot at 32nd Street and Saint Paul Street in Charles Village as possible locations for the expanded Darker Than Blue.

“Our dream is to move to a large development,” Jenkins says, noting that a larger development will give the restaurant more visibility.

Jenkins opened the 85-seat Darker Than Blue at 3034 Greenmount Ave. seven years ago. The move will hopefully allow him to seat as many as 150 in the expanded location. The new Darker Than Blue will be more polished and upscale and have less of a mom-and-pop feel.

The restaurant will still serve Southern-inspired food, including catfish and grits and chicken and waffles. Jenkins will also continue to feature regular live jazz. A bigger restaurant will allow Jenkins to feature new items, including a rotisserie with ribs, pork and chicken. 

Virginia’s Armada Hoffler and Baltimore’s Beatty Development Group LLC are leading the redevelopment of the lot near Johns Hopkins University. Formerly a condo project called the Olmsted, it is now dubbed the St. Paul Street Project in Charles Village.

New Jersey’s Hekemian & Co. is leading the $70M Rotunda redevelopment in Hampden, slated to include a local grocer, apartments and restaurants when it is completed in summer 2015.

Meanwhile, Jenkins says he will open a new restaurant in the current Darker Than Blue location — most likely West Indian or Latin. Jenkins says he’ll probably open up the space a little more, and that the new place will be a bit more casual than Darker Than Blue. The as-yet unnamed restaurant would seat the same number of people.

Jenkins is in expansion mode. In May, he’s opening Birdland Sports Bar and Grill in Cedmont.
Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: Casey Jenkins, owner of Darker Than Blue and Birdland Sports Bar & Grill

Cigar and hookah lounge opens in downtown Baltimore

There’s a new place in downtown Baltimore for hookah parties.
Midnight Kings Lounge opened April at 318 North Charles St. next to Cazbar Turkish restaurant in a space once occupied by London’s Boutique. Co-owner Amir Shuaib says he and his cousin will ultimatley spend $400,000 to open the 1,500-square-foot business, which sells cigarettes, cigars, hookahs and tobaccos in more than 20 flavors.
The lounge area includes two televisions and seating for about 100. Shuaib says he’s working to get a liquor license so he can add a bar. He also hopes to serve food within the next couple of months and expand into the location’s second floor.
Midnight Kings offer $15 individual hookah use Sunday-Wednesday, with Thursday college night specials. 
“With the casinos and everything coming in, (entertainment business) seems to be popular.” Shuaib says. “And downtown is where all of the entertainment is.”
Shuaib and his cousin will employ two during the week and three on weekends.
Writer: Jolene Carr
Source: Amir Shuaib, co-owner of Midnight Kings Lounge

New Mount Vernon restaurant promises to serve healthful fare in former Five Guys space

The owner of a new Mount Vernon eatery bDelight Restaurant is out to prove that a nutritious meal can still be tasty.
The 50-seat restaurant will open in the former Five Guys Burgers and Fries space, across from the Walters Art Museum, on April 19. The 2,000-square-foot restaurant at 111 Center St. will employ 12.
BDelight will offer customers food choices based on their daily calorie intake goal and use this to determine what items to order off the menu. They also have the option of ordering individual items, or a 1,000-calorie “balanced meal” that is low in cholesterol and saturated fat. Each balanced meal costs $12 and includes a main dish of a sandwich, pasta or a Chinese dish, along with a drink, salad, side and dessert. Individual menu items cost between $4 and $7 and include fruit cup, marinated vegetable salad and reduced-fat potato chips. Sweet-and-sour tofu with vegetables and beef with broccoli are among the Chinese dishes.
If successful, owner Rajah Anandarajah says he plans to open more Baltimore locations and possibly expand nationwide, including locations in California where he has relatives.
“People are watching what they eat these days. The local community, is more health conscious,” Anandarajah says.
Computers and scales in the kitchen area provide prompts to remind cooks and prep workers how much of each ingredient should be included for each dish, Owner Rajah Anandarajah says. Customers can place delivery orders on the website. The restaurant also has cashiers and two kiosks for self-orders.
Anandarajah says he used personal finances to purchase the 2,000 square-foot space. He declined to say how much he spent.
Writer: Jolene Carr
Sources: Rajah Anandarajah, owner of bDelight Restaurant; Christina Camba, Profiles PR

Mount Washington's Pepe's Pizza undergoing $1.5M renovation

Pepe’s Pizza, a neighborhood hangout in Mount Washington for 34 years, is undergoing a $1.5 million expansion and renovation that will wrap up in August.

The makeover will include an expanded dining area with new wood floors, a new kitchen, bathroom heating, and second floor storage and an office for the restaurant’s catering business, Owner Andy Makris says. The 6,000-square-foot addition will bring 124 seats to the establishment and an outdoor patio. It currently seats 50.

Makris says he hopes to open a second location within the next five years.

The Pepe's Pizza building is run down, and the time is right for a new look, especially as more competition enters the market, Makris says. The Mt. Washington Tavern unveiled a $4 million renovation in the fall.

Makris says he is also renovating for his father, who was murdered in the restaurant 12 years ago. Two brothers are serving life in prison for the crime.

“This is something my dad and I planned,” he says. 

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Pepe’s attracts neighborhood residents, construction workers and parents and kids from the Gilman School.

Regulars include Sinclair Broadcasting Vice President Duncan Smith, who’s been known to grab a towel and clean his own table.

Makris is expanding the menu with more coffee selections, bagels, and Danish for the morning crowds. Makris says he is adding fried chicken for the construction crews, and more salads for female patrons.

“Thai salad. My wife says that’s what she eats when she goes out.”

Pepe’s employs 23. Makris says he isn’t sure if he will add staff.
Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: Andy Makris, Owner, Pepe’s Pizza

Clothing stores Sixteen Tons, Doubledutch moving into shared spot on the Avenue

Two independent clothing stores in Hampden, Sixteen Tons and Doubledutch Boutique are moving into a shared space on the Avenue next month.

The move will allow the two stores to share overhead expenses and carry a wider array of merchandise, Sixteen Tons Owner Daniel Wylie says. 

The two-story, 1,400-square-foot spot at 1021  W. 36th St. is the former home of Denova furniture store. Doubledutch — a women's clothing store owned by Wylie's wife Lesley Jennings and Sixteen Tons will retain their separate names and brands.  

Wylie says he hopes the central block on the Avenue, next to the Food Market — a restaurant named a "hot spot" by Open Table diners — will give both stores more visibility and foot traffic. For Doubledutch, it's a chance to move off Falls Road and onto Hampden's central thoroughfare, the Avenue. Wylie opened Sixteen Tons at 1100 W. 36th St. in 2010.  

Moving into a larger space will allow him to sell more shoes, accessories, shaving products and house wares. Diversifying his inventory will hopefully increase sales, Wylie says. If someone doesn’t want to buy a pair of trousers, maybe they might buy a table or shaving cream.

Wylie says he does not yet know how much the move will cost. He says the store is profitable, though sales fluctuate with the seasons. 
Learn more about Sixteen Tons in this video made by Shine Creative

Source: Daniel Wylie
Writer: Julekha Dash

Italian deli opening on Ellicott City's historic Main Street

Ellicott City Main Street’s refurbished home goods and specialty foods store will soon offer a new tasty takeout option.

Randy & Steve's The New General Store will open its Italian-style deli at the end of April. Owners Randy Neely and Steve Archuleta’s menu will include sandwiches made with cured meats and international cheeses, soups, salads, desserts and teas. They will also carry organic milk, butter and farm fresh eggs from northern Maryland farms.

Neely and Archuleta will hold a Grand Opening April 27 with music, free massages and wine tastings from Pure Wine Cafe. A Vanns Spices’ rep will discuss the company’s products and a chef of Bittersweet Herb Farm will present cooking demos.

The New General Store currently sells soup and pesto mixes, truffle and olive oils, sodas, spices, honey and herbs stored in a 1904 meat cooler.  It also carries gifts and home spa items such as diffusers, lotions, soaps and candles.

Neely and Archuleta formerly owned The Good Life Market, an Ellicott City garden gift shop. They returned from a sabbatical in Portugal once they heard that Yate’s Market, a 127 year-old staple at 8249 Main St., was going out of business last June. Neely and Archuleta opened the New General Store in late September, promising former owner Betty Yates to preserve the vibe of Yate’s Market but incorporate elements of a boutique. Neely and Archuleta renovated the 2,380-square-foot space and are securing a food license and modern equipment.

Neely and Archuleta will use the basement for a garden room and other retail items and carry perennials, annuals and garden statues outside.
Writer: Jolene Carr
Source: Steve Archuleta, co-owner of Randy & Steve’s The New General Store

$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
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