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Day spa moving into former Salamander Books' spot on Charles Street

Downtown residents will have a place to relax and unwind this month when a Parkside neighborhood spa moves to the neighborhood.
Simple Wellness Hair and Day Spa will relocate from 4327 Plainfield Ave. to 519 North Charles St. March 16. The new location will hold more space and hopefully generate more foot traffic, co-owner Angela Hardy says.
Simple Wellness offers holistic care, incorporating techniques to target the mind, body and soul. That includes therapeutic massages, facials, hair styling and nail treatments. Hardy advocates natural ingredients and makes her own natural oil blend for hair and scalp treatments. Nail treatments include brands like Scotch Naturals that don’t use acrylic. The spa will also provide monthly package deals, and customers can rent the space for spa parties.
Hardy opened the spa in 2007 in a two-bedroom home slightly under 1,000 square feet. The newly rented space, which is the former location of Salamander Books, is 1,500 square feet.
The spa currently employs four and Hardy is hiring nine to style hair, provide massages and do nails. Hardy studies Trichology, a field that combines medicine and cosmetics to treat the hair and scalp. She plans to incorporate this more into spa services in the future, including consultations where she can help treat conditions of the hair and scalp while referring customers to physicians.
Writer: Jolene Carr
Source: Angela Hardy, co-owner of Simple Wellness Hair and Day Spa

Peabody Heights Brewery hiring and expanding production

Things are hopping at the Peabody Heights Brewery.

The 50,000-square-foot Charles Village brewery produced its first beer in December, and is building up production, says Stephen Demczuk, one of three co-owners, along with J. Hollis B. Albert III and Patrick Beille.

Peabody is expected to reach its first year projection of 10,000 barrels this year, says Albert, also the brewery’s general manager. The co-owners’ long-range goal is hitting the 35,000-barrel mark. 

Peabody currently employs 6, but may hire additional staff for the warehouse.

“As we ramp up production, of course [hiring] is going to increase,” Demczuk says.  “We have to start slow.”

Peabody is a co-op brewery, which means it brews and distributes beer for local craft brewers. It currently produces three beers: Baltimore-Washington Beer Works’ Raven Beer, Full Tilt Brewing’s Baltimore Pale Ale and Red Center Amber from Public Works Ale. The beers can be found in liquor stores, restaurants and grocery stores in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. It will soon begin selling in West Virginia, California and New York. It's one of the many breweries and beer-themed restaurants that have been growing in Greater Baltimore. Another one is underway as investors ressurect the former Pabst Brewing Co. building in South Baltimore. 

Peabody Heights Brewery is located in the old Capital Beverage bottle plant at 401 East 30th St., which moved out about three years ago. In April, the owners started the building overhaul. This includes installing an activated charcoal filter to remove chlorine and any impurities beer lovers don’t want in their brew.

“That’s the start of our beer, so our beer, batch to batch, is going to be consistent,” Albert says.

Currently, there is no Peabody Heights beer, but hopefully will be someday, Albert says.

**Correction. An earlier version of this story said that the brewery is hiring up to 80. It was based on incorrect information that was given to BmoreMedia. 

Writer: Amy Landsman
Sources: Stephen Demczuk, owner, Baltimore Washington Beerworks, co-owner Peabody Heights Brewing; J. Hollis B. Albert III, co-owner and general manager, Peabody Heights Brewing

Entrepreneur opening 10 Smoothie King locations in Greater Baltimore

Locust Point residents will have a spot to fill their craving for fruity drinks like Mangosteen Madness and Celestial Cherry High when Baltimore City’s first Smoothie King opens next month.
Franchisee Minseok Yu will open the Smoothie King at 851 East Fort Ave. by April. Yu says he plans to open 10 Smoothie Kings in Greater Baltimore and is currently looking for a location for his second store in Canton or the Inner Harbor.
Yu previously owned commercial property in his native country of Korea and will be moving to Baltimore the end of this month. He invested $250,000 in the franchise, which includes rent, training and travel fees. The 1,200-square-foot space was formerly a tanning salon. Yu says he believes Locust Point will be a good location for the first store because the neighborhood is growing but still could still use more retail.
Yu noticed how popular Smoothie Kings are in his native country. When he came to visit his brother who lives in Baltimore, he was surprised that there wasn’t a Smoothie King in the city. “A lot of people in the city go to the Smoothie King across from the Towson Mall,” Yu says. Yu says he plans to hire 10 employees for the first location.
Smoothie King is a health store that offers fresh-blended smoothies, vitamins and herbs, nutritional supplements and sports nutrition products. There are over 600 Smoothie King locations in the United States, Korea, Singapore and the Caymans. The company is headquartered in New Orleans.
Source: Minseok Yu, Smoothie King franchisee
Writer: Jolene Carr

Sewing supply shop opening in Highlandtown

Baltimore seamstresses take note: a new shop carrying yarn, crochet hooks, buttons, sewing supplies and knitting needles is opening March 1 in Highlandtown.
Baltimore Threadquarters 1,880-square-foot store will open at 518 South Conkling St., with space for retail in the front and a classroom, kid’s room and sewing room in the back. Owners Marlo Jacobson and Allison Fomich will also sell vintage fiber arts supplies and an assortment of Cascade brand yarns that range from $2 synthetic to $20 Alpaca fur yarns. Some items come from estate sales and others are handmade by local artists.
The owners established an Indiegogo crowdfunding page to help raise the money needed to pay six teachers and buy materials. Their goal is to raise $5,000. The entrepreneurs searched for space in their neighborhood and found the first floor of the Botteon Building through the Southeast Community Development Corp.
With a background in nonprofits and doll making, Jacobson teamed with jewelry maker Fomich when she couldn’t find fiber art materials in the city.

“We want these services and supplies available for city people," Fomich says. "It all started when we couldn’t find them. If you have to go out to the county each time it becomes daunting. Now you can go to the farmers' market, go to the library and then come here.”
Writer: Jolene Carr
Sources: Marlo Jacobson and Allison Fomich, co-owners of Baltimore Threadquarters

Northeast Market begins $2M facelift

The Northeast Market in East Baltimore began it first significant renovation in decades, a $2 million facelift that will take about  six months to complete.

The 36,000-square-foot market near Johns Hopkins Hospital will get new doors, facade, entrance, more seating and better lighting. A candy and flower stall in the front of the market that will hopefully create a more upscale look that is more inviting for visitors, says Casper Genco, executive director of the Baltimore Public Markets Corp. Genco says he'll relocate five tenants in order to make room for additional seating and new tenants.

The nonprofit oversees Baltimore’s public markets while the city owns the property. The Baltimore Public Markets Corp. is putting $750,000 toward the renovation. Another $300,000 is coming from Johns Hopkins University and Health System. It's also getting grant money from the Historic East Baltimore Community Action Coalition Inc.
Modernizing the facility will hopefully appeal to Johns Hopkins Hospital staff and visitors. Genco says he will also look for opportunities to expand the market’s healthful food offerings and hopes that new menu boards will help visitors locate vendors who sell healthier fare.
The Avenue Market on Pennsylvania Avenue reopened in the fall with about $500,000 worth of renovations and seven new stalls. The Baltimore Public Markets Corp. also oversees Cross Street Market in Federal Hill and Broadway Market in Fells Point. 

“Each of these public markets is a focal point of the community,” Genco says.

Check out BmoreMedia's 2011 feature on Northeast Market and the companion audio piece

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Casper Genco, Baltimore Public Markets Corp. 

Kilwins ice cream and dessert shop opening in Fells

Life is hectic but sweet for an Anne Arundel county couple opening Kilwins ice cream and dessert shop franchises in Fells Point and Anne Arundel County’s Crofton.

Dave and Karen Gilmore will open the 1,500-square-foot Fells Point shop in May at 1625 Thames St. Located at the former site of children’s clothing boutique the Corduroy Button, the 20-person shop will sell fresh chocolates, chocolate-dipped apples, fudge and ice cream. The Corduroy Button, an upscale children’s clothing store, has moved a few doors down to 1636 Thomas Street.

Karen Gilmore says the Fells Point store, which will be next to aMuse toys, should appeal to both families and tourists.

Just under 1,300 square feet, the Crofton location will employ between as many as 20 when it opens in April.

“The point of going to a Kilwins store is really to experience with all your five senses, with the sights of products being made in the store,” Gilmore says.

Michigan-based Kilwins has been expanding in recent years, and now has more than 80 stores. Its one Maryland store is in Annapolis, though some locals may be familiar with the shop from their vacations in Florida or Rehoboth Beach, Del.

“We weren’t worried about people not knowing the brand, and the quality of the product,” Gilmore says. “I’d say about three-quarters of the people we’ve talked with either already know about it, or are really excited about the fact that there will be one in their neighborhood.”

Opening a Kilwins' franchise costs $40,000 for the initial franchise fee. Equipment, promotions, real estate and other expenses can run nearly $500,000.
Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: Karen Gilmore, co-owner Kilwins in Fells Point and Waugh Chapel

Coal Fire Pizza taking over former Carmine's space at Hunt Valley Towne Centre

Come June, restaurant owner Dennis Sharoky won’t have to travel far to enjoy his own pizza.

Sharoky is spending $750,000 to open his fifth Coal Fire Pizza at Hunt Valley Towne Centre, not far from his northern Baltimore County home in Sparks. Sharoky says the 3,500-square-foot location will be completely renovated, and will feature a coal-burning oven made in Washington state and shipped to Hunt Valley. The restaurant will seat 80 and employ 30.

“I live in that area. Everyone I know asks ‘Why do I have Coal Fire’s everywhere else and not where I live?’” Sharoky says.

Sharoky owns Coal Fire restaurants in Ellicott City, Gaithersburg, Frederick, and Gambrills. Coal Fire is taking over the spot previously occupied by Carmine’s NY Pizzeria, which has closed. Anchored by Wegmans, Hunt Valley Towne Centre's tenants include Calvert Wine & Spirits, DSW Shoe Warehouse, Dick's Sporting Goods and Plow & Hearth. 

Coal fire has a 900-degree oven that chars the pizza.

“It’s a lot of work to get it charred," Sharoky says. "It takes a lot of training to work a coal oven. There’s a lot of hot spots in the oven, you have to rotate it. You have to pay attention to it,” says Sharoky, who trains his pizza chefs in house.

In addition to the pizzas, Coal Fire also uses the coal ovens to bake chicken wings.

Coal Fire features fresh mozzarella, made in-house daily, and a choice of three homemade sauces, a traditional Italian plum tomato sauce, a signature sauce sweetened with a little honey and with just a touch of heat, and a spicy sauce.

Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: Dennis Sharoky, principal owner of Coal Fire Pizza

ETC scouts Station North, UMB BioPark for new location

The head of the Emerging Technology Center in Canton says she is eyeing the Station North Arts & Entertainment District and the BioPark at the University of Maryland, Baltimore among possible locations when the incubator's Canton lease is up in October.

Several growing firms have moved out of the ETC's Canton location recently to bigger offices and some where prompted by the fact that the incubator's future in Canton is uncertain.

Deborah Tillett, executive director of the Emerging Technology Centers, says the ETC is in talks with landlords in both locations.

“There’s a lot going on in both of those places,” says Tillett, who described the areas as “exciting and vibrant” with a “lot going on.”

The Station North area is attracting investment from the Maryland Institute College of Art and a number of private developers. Located on the city's west side, the UMB BioPark's tenants include Noxilizer, Gliknik and PathSensors. In conjunction with Advanced Particle Therapy LLC of San Diego, the biopark is building a $200 million proton treatment cancer center.

Tillet says that she isn’t ruling out staying in its current home, the retail and office complex known as the Can Company where the ETC has about 40,000 square feet. Also on the table is moving to the ETC’s other location @ Johns Hopkins Eastern on 33rd Street.

“We’ve taken a look all over the city,” Tillett says. “We’re exploring all kinds of options. I do need to keep my options open.”

Operated by the Baltimore Development Corp., the ETC’s tenants include early-stage tech, biotech, engineering and design companies. Storyfarm New Media LLC, Urban Design Group LLC and Localist recently moved out of the ETC’s Canton location. Groove Commerce is moving to a 10,000-square-foot space in the Fallsway Spring building.

Video production company Storyfarm moved this month to a 1,500-square-foot office at 1909 Thames St. in Fells Point. Storyfarm was lured by the waterfront location and a chance to split an office with architecture firm Urban Design Group, says Storyfarm Partner Dan Gerlach. The company, whose clients include T. Rowe Price Group Inc. and Exxon Mobil, employs seven. It will hire a video editor, cinematographer and office coordinator over the next several months.
Last month, Localist moved to a 1,500-square-foot office in Canton’s the Broom Factory, at 3500 Boston St. The company, which provides a customizable online calendar for universities, needed more space, CEO Mykel Nahorniak says. Localist employs six and is hiring a developer and someone to run customer service. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Deborah Tillett, ETC; Dan Gerlach, Storyfarm; Mykel Nahorniak, Localist 

Samos Restaurant's Canton Crossing shop to open in October

After 36 years in Baltimore Greektown’s neighborhood, Samos Restaurant is expanding to Canton with a fast-casual restaurant opening by October at the Shops at Canton Crossing.

Customers at the new store will order and pay at the counter and the 20-person staff will deliver soups, salads, tzatziki, hummus, and pita wraps to the tables at the 1,650-square-foot restaurant.

“We’ll have most of our favorites from the original locations, the ones that can be prepared quickly,” Samos Owner Michael Georgalas says.

He expects the developer will have the shell of the building ready to go in late spring, with interior renovations expected to take about four or five months after that. Georgalas is still planning the space and working on layout and doesn’t know yet how much he’ll spend on the new restaurant.

If the Canton location is successful, Georgalas says the family may expand further. He says there are no specific areas under consideration, but he points out that Samos has a customer base that extends from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia.

Canton Crossing developers earlier this month unveiled the names of more than a dozen shops and restaurants that will open in the long-awaited development anchored by Harris Teeter and Target. Ulta, Old Navy, Michael’s and Five Below are among the new tenants in the East Baltimore shopping center. Samos is one of the few locally owned businesses that are part of the mix.

“This gives us an edge on being able to meet the needs of local customers, better than the national chains. We’ve been in the area so long,” says Georgalas. “There’s a lot of promise in the area, there’s a lot of people moving to the area. We wanted to serve that area.”

In 1977, Michael Georgalas’ father, Nicholas, opened the original Samos on the 600 Block of Oldham Street. Michael Georgalas currently manages the original Samos, and is the owner of the new location.

After so many years of only one Samos, what made the Georgalas family decide to expand now? Georgalas says a lot of it had to do with Neil Tucker, a principal with developer Chesapeake Real Estate Group LLC.

“He’s been a customer of ours for many years. We’ve considered several locations. Some of them were a little too big for what we wanted to do. This one seemed like a perfect size and great location.”

Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: Michael Georgalas, Owner, Samos at Canton Crossing

Retro clothing boutique moves from Hampden to Station North

A retro clothing boutique has moved from Hampden to the growing Station North Arts and Entertainment District.
My Dear Vintage relocated last month from 3610 Falls Road to 2015 North Charles St. in the Charles North neighborhood. Along with the women’s vintage clothing and accessories, owner Brandi Foster now offers men’s vintage and home goods in her 1,800-square-foot shop.  She held a grand opening party Jan. 26 with wine and cupcakes for her 115 guests.
Foster opened her first physical location last June in the 200-square-foot space above Lovely Yarns near the Avenue but moved out to search for a larger store. Foster enjoyed having her boutique in Hampden but wanted to look for larger locations so she could add more merchandise.

She started searching for available places in November and was impressed when she came across the former church that has a massive storefront window to showcase items, an upstairs loft area and space for fitting rooms. The new location has the potential for drawing customers because the Station North Arts neighborhood is attracting more college students, Foster says. More students are coming to the area with the expansion of the Maryland Institute College of Art.
My Dear Vintage carries seasonal vintage and home decor ranging from $2 to $50. Current hot items include men’s graphic T-shirts and faux fur jackets, Foster says. Foster still runs her boutique alone. She plans to add children’s vintage to her clothing line this spring or summer.
Source: Brandi Foster, owner of My Dear Vintage
Writer: Jolene Carr

Stone's Cove 'kitbar' restaurant opening in Owings Mills, other locations

It’s called a "kitbar." What’s that? It’s a mash-up of kitchen and bar’ and it’s a new concept in dining and entertainment.

Stone’s Cove Kitbar will open in May at the Boulevard College Center at 10995 Owings Mills Blvd., a retail, office and student housing complex in Owings Mills. 

Founder Bob John “B.J.” Stone says he expects to hire between 40 and 50 to staff the 4,200-square-foot restaurant, which will seat 72. Founder Bob John “B.J.” Stone says he expects to hire between 40 and 50 to staff the new store.

And that’s just the first of up to three more Stone’s Cove locations planned for Maryland between now and 2014. The founder says another Stone’s Cove will open in Maryland this fall, with one or two more in Maryland, Virginia and/or Washington, D.C., in 2014. He declined to say where in Maryland he is looking.

Stone says he chose Owings Mills for Stone Cove’s second location because he’s familiar with the Owings Mills area and because of the College Center’s proximity to Stevenson University. 

“I think Stevenson is a really up and coming university. We’re very excited to be close to Stevenson.”

The first Stone’s Cove opened two years ago in Herndon, Va. Stone says the idea is to combine the best things about a house party and put them in a restaurant.

“Normally when you go to somebody’s house, the party’s always in the kitchen. So we put a kitchen in the middle of a building, and we put a bar around it. So it’s a kitchen-bar. A kitbar,” he explains.

Some of the menu items include ‘appetapas,’ which are a cross between appetizers and entrees. The idea is to order a couple of different items, so diners can experience a variety of flavors in one visit. Some of the menu items include lobster salad in black sesame cones, honey-jalapeno chicken wraps, and roasted flatbreads with a variety of toppings.

 “I like the hospitality industry,” says Stone. “We have a lot of fun.”

The Boulevard College Center is a 55-acres mixed use complex.
Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: B.J. Stone, Founder, Stone’s Cove Kitbar

Sub shop Jimmy John's scouting for new locations

Fast-growing Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches is opening its latest shop in an office and retail building at 537 Ritchie Highway in Severna Park and has plans to open others throughout Greater Baltimore.

The Severna Park location, currently under construction, will be the 11th Maryland location for the sub and sandwich shop when it opens in the spring. Others are located in Annapolis, Baltimore, College Park, Columbia, Frederick, Bethesda, Rockville, Silver Spring, and Hagerstown. Jimmy John's spokeswoman Katherine Perry says the company has plans to grow in Greater Baltimore but wouldn't release locations or the names of franchisees.

Headquartered in Champaign, Ill., Jimmy John’s features fresh bread baked in-house every day. Meats and vegetables are also sliced fresh in-house. On its website, Jimmy John’s boasts its products contain “no fake stuff, no additives, no fillers.”

Jimmy John’s currently has over 1,200 stores that are both franchise operations and company owned. It is expected to open 250 stores in 2013, according to FranchiseDirect.com. The average store is 1,200 square feet.

Starting a Jimmy John’s franchise requires an initial investment of between $306,000 to $488,000.
Source: Katherine Perry, spokeswoman, Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches; FranchiseDirect.com
Writer: Amy Landsman

Mexican restaurant Xitomate takes over former Donna's spot in Columbia

A Howard County restaurant owner has taken over the former Donna’s space in Columbia with his second Mexican eatery in the county.

Xitomate Mexican Restaurant opened this month at 5850 Waterloo Road, at the intersection of Route 108 and Snowden River Parkway. The 100-seat restaurant had a soft opening Jan. 16 with a limited menu of about 40 items, General Manager Octavio Moreno says. By early next month, it will offer about 100 menu items.

Moreno estimates that owner Julio Soto, who also owns Azul 17, spent about $500,000 to open Xitomate. Moreno says the new restaurant is similar to Azul 17, except “more fun, more colorful.”

Xitomate serves fresh-made guacamole, tacos, enchiladas, fajitas and ceviche. The word Xitomate means tomato in Aztec and reflects the restaurant’s commitment to fresh tomatoes and other fresh produce on the menu.

Margaritas are made from premium blue agave tequila. Moreno says the daring should try Margarita La Diable, made with tequila infused with Serrano peppers and mango.

“We are authentic Mexican cuisine,” Moreno says.  

All the decorations were brought from Mexico, and include Day of the Dead motifs and a display of 25 Mexican wrestling masks.

“We decided to do something more family oriented.”

Xitomate employs 28 and will hire four more to work in the patio when it opens in the spring. Patio seating will let it accommodate another 40 diners, Moreno says. 

Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: Octavio Moreno, Xitomate 

New fast-food restaurant opening three Maryland locations

A local entrepreneur is bringing fried chicken and fish to diners in Greater Baltimore with his new fast-food concept.
Munir Qreini is opening three Freestyle Fish n' Chicken restaurants in Maryland by the end of the year and could spend as much as $200,000 on each of the new restaurants. Qreini says he is in negotiations to open two spots in Baltimore City by the end of April. One is in a former Quiznos in Dundalk and the other in the 2000 block of North Howard Street in midtown Baltimore, just north of the Station North Arts and Entertainment District. He is still scouting sites for the third location.
Qreini already has two other Freestyle Fish n’ Chicken stores. In July, he opened a 2,100-square-foot restaurant in a former KFC at 100 N. Howard St. And earlier this month he opened a store in Bowie.  
Freestyle serves salads, fried tilapia and catfish, Philly cheese steaks, chicken tenders and tacos. Qreini has devised his own Mambo sauce, a spin on honey mustard, that’s served with chicken, fish and fries. The business owner gets his fish from Jessup’s Reliant Fish Co.
Qreini’s 15 years in the restaurant business, including opening three Jack’s Famous Wings in Chicago, helped him devise the menu and concept. He considers his first Baltimore eatery on the west side a good area because it’s near the Hippodrome and new location for the Everyman Theatre. The restaurant also has a 1,000-square-foot space for private meetings that can hold up to 50.
Qreini currently has five employees for his west side location and plans to hire more as business expands.
Sources: Munir Qreini, Owner of Freestyle Fish n’ Chicken; Janine Nickel, Marketing Consultant, Maisel Development Co.
Writer: Jolene Carr

Panini shop adding Maryland franchises

Amorini Panini, a Washington, D.C., restaurant that serves sandwiches and salads, is franchising its business starting in New York, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Matt Gray, the sandwich shop’s co-founder, says he has filed franchise registration forms and plans to start offering Amorini Panini franchises by early spring.

"The hardest part is building the template and making sure that template works," Gray says.

For the past six months, Gray says he has worked with ifranchise, a consulting firm based outside Chicago, to help him create a manual that instructs future franchisees how to choose a location; handle permitting, construction, and hiring; and run the business.

Gray says his goal for 2013 is selling just five franchises, but his five-year plan includes expanding to 100 franchise-owned restaurants in the Northeast.

Gray, who opened the first Amorini Panini with his business partner Rich Twiley in D.C.'s Penn Quarter in 2010, says that a second location will open its doors by the third week of January. The new restaurant is located at 801 18th St. NW, and will hire 10 employees.

"We’re actually documenting the process so that when we start selling franchises, the franchise dealer will have all this information.

"Today we’re selling paninis, and tomorrow we’re selling systems," he says.

Its menu features breakfast paninis, including a strawberry nutella sandwich; a Montana buffalo chicken panini; and an Italian salad.
Writer: Luis Velarde
Source: Matt Gray, Amorini Panini

Luis Velard is development news editor for Elevation DC, a sister publication. 

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