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New restaurant and market coming to Union Wharf in Fells Point

The owners of popular Canton eatery Fork & Wrench are opening their second restaurant and a market inside the swanky new Fells Point apartment complex Union Wharf this spring.
About one-third of the 4,350-square-foot space will be dedicated to a market selling produce, meat and prepared foods, Co-owner Andy Gruver says. Work on the 140-seat restaurant and market will begin in a few weeks, once the owners get the necessary permits.
Gruver estimates that the investment in the new business will total $600,000 to $800,000. The restaurant will employ around 30.

Gruver and partner Jason Sanchez are building the restaurant themselves and relying on recycled materials, like its sister property on Boston Street. The new restaurant will serve locally sourced food, but other details, including the chef and menu, are still being worked out. Fork & Wrench is known for its farm-to-table menu, hand-crafted cocktails and an interior that evokes the working classes of the 1920s, 30s and 40s. 
Fork and Wrench owners had been looking for spot for a second restaurant for some time. The owners decided that the space at the 281-unit at Union Wharf presented the best opportunity since potential diners live right in the building and in several other apartment buildings nearby.
The first phase of the apartment building is fully leased and residents will soon begin moving into the building’s second phase, which includes the units that jut out into the water. That’s according to Jeff Kayce, vice president of Bozzuto Group, the building’s developer. The average monthly rent at Union Wharf is $2,350.
The building’s amenities include a fitness center, conference room and an infinity pool. The developers were going for a South Beach, Miami vibe with the property.

The restaurant's Executive Chef Cyrus Keefer will create his Charm City Common Dinner at the James Beard House Monday Feb. 24. The restaurant will offer a sneak peek of the James Beard dinner in Baltimore on January 28. Call the restaurant for tickets. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Andy Gruver, Fork & Wrench; Jeff Kayce, Bozzuto Group

David's Restaurant reopening in Hampden

After being closed for nearly three years, renovation is underway at a revamped David’s Restaurant and Deli in Hampden.

Restaurant owner David D. Morgan has submitted an application to the Baltimore City liquor board for permission to house a full bar and hold live music.

In October, the Hampden Village Merchants Association gave Morgan a conditional letter of support. The conditions being that the restaurant open within three months, and the ownership doesn’t immediately transfer to somebody else.

Community leaders say they are looking forward to seeing the vacant property at 3626A Falls Road put to use.

“This has been sitting vacant for several years,” says Benn Ray, president of the Hampden Village Merchants Association. Ray is also owner of Atomic Books, located next to David’s Restaurant. The block could use a viable restaurant, he says.

“Having that amount of real estate right next door being inoperable is not at all helpful.”

Ray says the space is essentially two properties: the former David’s and an old toy train store. He says construction is underway and it appears it’s to be shaping up as a sports bar and restaurant.

Morgan could not be reached for comment and Hampden community leaders say they do not know what kind of food the restaurant will serve. The old David’s Restaurant featured breakfast, burgers, and sandwiches.

The Hampden Community Council also voted support of the new restaurant’s new liquor license application.

The Baltimore City liquor board will hear Morgan’s request on or after Jan. 31. 

Writer: Amy Landsman
Sources: Benn Ray, President Hampden Village Merchants Association; George Peters, Chairman Hampden Zoning Committee

Acupuncture studio debuts in Hampden

A new business on the Avenue in Hampden allows visitors to try holistic healing on a budget.
Mend Acupuncture opened last month at 1008 W. 36 St. above Hampden Junque. Owner Sarah O’Leary offers $25 acupuncture sessions to clients in her 600-square-foot studio.
Mends houses six reclining chairs but O’Leary may be purchasing two more. She currently works with ten independently contracted acupuncturists. The Mends acupuncture procedure is a more modest version than your average, O'Leary says. It  focuses on areas from the elbows down and knees down and sometimes the ears and head.
O’Leary also owns Seeds Center for Whole Health and decided to open a separate drop-in acupuncture studio after noticing a growing interest in the healing technique. Acupuncture is commonly used to treat back pain, infertility and digestive difficulties while enhancing overall well-being.
“The acupuncture aspect really expanded, there was a two month waiting list at Seeds,” O’Leary says. “More and more insurance companies are covering it, but people who don’t have insurance can’t afford it.”
O’Leary says the low price is bringing a lot of newbies to acupuncture, many of whom are graduate students, artists and people who work in the hospitality business. Mend stayed open late along with other businesses on the Avenue for First Fridays during the holidays and administered 200 acupuncture treatments by the end of December.
O’Leary rented the space above Cafe Hon to open Seeds in 2007. Seeds offers services like reiki, massages and organic waxing. O’Leary enjoys being a business owner in Hampden, where it’s affordable and where there are fellow moms who own their own business. 

Writer: Jolene Carr
Source: Sarah O'Leary, Seeds

Pizza the Color of Ravens' Purple? It's Coming to a Food Court Near You.

The duo known for their Reuben and brisket sandwiches will bring pizza fit for Ravens’ fans to downtown Baltimore next month.
Owners of Beef Brothers Deli Brad and Mark Quint will open Purple Pizza in the Center Plaza Food Court at 222 N. Charles St. Located next to their deli, the eatery will sell pizza by the slice with the option of getting the dough in the Baltimore Ravens’ team color.
The restaurant will also sell subs and other Italian dishes and offer delivery and catering, Brad Quint says. The food court holds seating for about 200 indoors and 50 outdoors.
The Quint brothers started out three years ago after investing about $6,000 in a hotdog cart that they still operate seasonally and then opened their deli the same year. They decided to open a business that sells pizza by the slice after they felt something was missing for downtown employees during lunch hour.
The brothers named their new eatery in honor of the Ravens — now heading to Massachusetts for the NFL Championship game against the New England Patriots. It’s also the name of a favorite hangout of the brothers in College Park that has since closed.  The owners hope Purple Pizza will serve as a friendly spot for people to converse about sports, partake in sports trivia and eat pizza. They also might try adding patterns and designs in their pizza for special occasions, Brad Quint says.
Writer: Jolene Carr
Contact: Brad Quint, co-owner of Beef Brother’s Deli and Purple Pizza

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

Investors Spending $1.3M to Resurrect Former Pabst Brewery

A South Baltimore entrepreneur is brewing up plans to revive the former Pabst Brewing Co. building at the corner of Wells and South Charles Streets.

Former Austin Grill General Manager Spike Owen and a team of investors are spending more than $1.3 million to renovate the historic vacant building for the yet-to-be named project, expected to wrap up by fall. Baltimore's Green Door Properties LLC is the developer. 

Owen says he hopes to open a brewery that produces European and American-style ales and lagers and a taproom that seats 65 to 80 with a limited food menu. He says he is partnering with a veteran brewer with 25 years of experience but declined to name him as the brewer is employed elsewhere in town.

He’s the latest in the recent spate of hopeful entrepreneurs who have tapped into Baltimore residents’ thirst for locally made brews and beer-themed restaurants. Other recent entries include Union Craft Brewing in Woodberry and Heavy Seas Alehouse in Little Italy.

The idea of renovating a historic building that dates from Baltimore’s brewing heyday appeals to Owen. Beer manufacturing thrived from the late-1800s to the mid-1900s, thanks to the city's German immigrants.

“We like the sense of history,” he says. “We’re trying to bring [the building] back to what its original use was. When you have something like this, it helps with the branding.”

Owen says he’ll spend the next few months getting permits, ordering brewing equipment and modernizing the building’s infrastructure. The idea is to retain the historic features, including brick walls, wood beams and high ceilings.

The property is down the street from the National Federation of the Blind and a new apartment complex set to open spring of 2014. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Spike Owen 

Japanese Tea House to Open in Ellicott City

A new gift shop and café called Matcha Time is making its home in downtown Ellicott City.

Owner Hatsumi Watanabe-Smith grew up outside Tokyo, and later traveled the world. Now she and her family are settled in Ellicott City, where she’s decided to open shop, named for the Japanese green tea known as matcha. The gift shop opened this month at the 1,000-square-foot space at 8381 Merryman St. The café will open in the coming months once it gets county approval.

Though Ellicott City is home to a tea room, Tea on the Tiber, Matcha Time will offer sushi, Japanese baked goods and, hopefully, a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.

Watanabe-Smith and her husband Derek Smith invested about $70,000 in the store, whose entrance faces a parking lot. The space was previously home to the Hackers Inc. Mancave, which moved last spring to a larger location in Ellicott City. Smith says the search for a suitable space took months, as good locations in Ellicott City tend to get snapped up fast.

The space is divided between a retail section, and the teashop and café. The retail side features Japanese crafts, origami, and handbags and clutches fashioned from vintage kimonos.
Writer: Amy Landsman  [email protected]
Sources: Hatsumi Watanabe-Smith, Derek Smith, owners, Matcha Time

$1.3M Sports Bar Opening in Ellicott City

A new sports bar is hoping to hit a home run in Ellicott City. Construction will begin this summer on a Glory Days Grill at Forest Green, a LEED Silver retail and residential apartment complex under construction on Route 40.

The 16-year-old Gaithersburg company is spending $1.3 million on the 300-seat eatery, Glory Days Co-founder Jeff Newman says. The company will hire about 100 employees to staff the 6,000-square-foot restaurant, expected to open fall of next year.Glory Days operates 22 locations in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, including restaurants in Eldersburg, Glen Burnie and Towson.

The Ellicott City location appealed to Glory Days executives because there aren’t a lot of full-service restaurants in the area.

“We’re lacking a lot of direct competition,” Newman says. “Nobody is playing in our sandbox.”

The new restaurant will feature a glass-covered atrium at the entrance, high ceilings and a patio with heaters and awning for year-round alfresco dining. The patio will seat about 50. And of course, there will be plenty of sports memorabilia and flat-screen TVs to watch the game.

The restaurant will incorporate more energy efficient, LED lighting in keeping with the center’s green theme. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Jeff Newman, Glory Days 

Nutrition and Wellness Club to Debut in Federal Hill

Federal Hill residents whose New Year’s resolution is to stay fit will get some help from a new business in the neighborhood.
Baltimore Nutrition Club will open at 1005 South Charles St. Jan. 14, the store’s Co-owner Carin Beldin says. Beldin and Co-owner Matthew Christ are both personal trainers who work at Baltimore area health clubs.
Nutrition Club customers will pay a daily fee — $6 to $9 — to receive a healthful breakfast that includes a shot of aloe, a 200-calorie meal replacement shake packed with 15 grams of protein, and metabolic tea. The store will also sell Herbalife products for an additional charge.
The daily fee also covers specials like a free wellness evaluation, wellness coaching and fitness classes. The club will hold three to five classes per week. Fitness activities may include hula-hoop lessons, Pilates, pre-and post-natal training, boot-camp boxing and Mommy and Me group walks. Beldin says she also anticipates starting a Federal Hill running club, like those in Fells Point and Canton.
Beldin says she wanted to open the Nutrition Club in Federal Hill since she’s been working with neighborhood residents for seven years.
“There’s a need for healthy options and nutritional habits in Baltimore,” Beldin says. “I know from working in gyms that people get nervous. Here, there will be no judgments. It’ll be low key with weight-loss challenges and celebrations.”
Beldin might host book club meetings and offer Wi-Fi in the 600-square-foot space. She and Christ don’t plan to hire additional employees, but they each know 10-15 independent distributors they will potentially do business with.
Beldin hopes to expand to others areas like Canton. With the success of nutrition clubs like First Nutrition in Bel-Air and Aberdeen, she envisions them proliferating like Starbucks, popping up on every block.
Writer: Jolene Carr
Source: Carin Beldin, Baltimore Nutrition Club

Breathe Books Hiring Former Louie's Pastry Chef For New Cafe

Hampden’s Breathe Books will add a café in February that offers beans, grains and greens.
Owner Susan Weis-Bohlen is spending $150,000 on the café, generated from area foundations and investors.
Vegan, vegetarian and Ayurvedic foods will be on the menu, in addition to café staples like scones and muffins. The new-age bookstore will also offer vegan cookies and cupcakes and raw macaroons, along with light meals like the Chick Pea Pick Me Up and Your Tart’s Desire and a daily blue-plate special. All treats will be made without white sugar and white flour. Weis-Bohlen is looking for local coffee products to sell at the venue at 810 West 36th St.
Joann Goshen, the former pastry chef of beloved Mount Vernon institution Louie's Bookstore Café will be working in the kitchen. Joining her will be Rene and Don Gorman, formerly of Pikesville’s Puffins Restaurant. Weis-Bohlen will also prepare dishes that conform to the Ayurvedic tradition. Ayurveda is a form of alternative medicine that relies on food for its healing properties.
In addition to the chefs, Weis-Bohlen will hire three additional employees as the hours extend from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Breathe currently employs four.
The coffee bar will be in the front of the store, with a lounge area in the back, outdoor seating on the porch and as many as six tables upstairs. The store will carry magazines and international newspapers once the café opens.
Weis-Bohlen says she considered finding a new space for the café but decided to include it in her 750-square-foot store, a renovated house that already has a kitchen. She says she wanted to stay in Hampden because of the support from the community and the Hampden Village Merchants Association.  
Breathe’s café will bring in another source of revenue as more people turn to digital books. “Books themselves aren’t what they used to be,” Weis-Bohlen says. “Customers need a healthy, happy living. Food makes a bookstore more comfortable and casual.”
Writer: Jolene Carr
Source: Susan Weis-Bohlen, Breathe Books

Carryout Barbecue Joint Comes to Hamilton

After 35 years in the food service business Dexter Ellison is serving up his mom’s old time soul food recipes in a small storefront in Hamilton.

Sarah’s Down Home Cooking opened last month at 4915 Harford Road, serving dishes created from treasured family recipes from Ellison’s late mom, Sarah. The dishes include barbecue minced meat, spare ribs and oxtails.

The 2,400-square-foot shop was previously an African restaurant, but had been vacant a few years when Ellison and his wife Terry took over.

The family, including daughter Shahidah Abdullah, renovated the entire space. There is a snug counter that seats four —  five if you want to get cozy.

They’ve been passing out flyers and trying to spread the word about their opening, says Abdullah, who is in charge of the fresh baked cupcakes, Rice Krispies Treats, and cookies.

Ellison spent 35 years as a food service supervisor and manager. This is his first restaurant venture. He’s keeping Sarah’s open seven days a week, and admits he hasn’t gotten a lot of sleep the past month.
The Ellisons live in Rosedale, but are happy they chose Hamilton for their new venture. “It seems like a real nice area,” Ellison says.
Writer: Amy Landsman [email protected]
Sources: Dexter Ellison, Shahidah Abdullah, Sarah’s Down Home Cooking

New Fed Hill Boutique Sells Second-Hand Gucci

A second-hand boutique in Federal Hill promises shoppers stylish, affordable purchases that are cleaned for new owners.
B'more Betty, which stands for “Bringing Exclusive Trends To You,” opened at 1316 Light St. earlier this month. A buyer and seller of designer and vintage clothing and accessories for women, Betty carries Gucci, Anne Klein, Ann Taylor, Christian Dior, Burberry and Nine West, with prices between $7 and $100.
Customers can bring their items for selling and trading on Sundays. Owner Camille Edwards exchanges clothing and accessories up front for cash, 25 percent store credit or other store items. Inspired by her own thrift store purchase nightmares complete with deodorant-stained dresses and food spots, Edwards takes all previously used items to Zip’s Dry Cleaners every Tuesday.
Edwards, a Federal Hill resident who has lived in the area for one year, says she believes Betty fits the neighborhood. “People are open to buying and selling vintage things here. It’s a safe area with foot traffic,” Edwards says. When looking for places to open her boutique, Hampden came to mind because of the vintage feel and friendly atmosphere, but she believed the price range and formal style of the designer brands would attract more customers in Federal Hill.
Edwards’ inspiration for opening a small shop and decorating the 900-square-foot boutique with vintage, artistic styles came from her love of Parisian shops. She currently has only one other employee who helps during evenings but would like to hire more and expand in the current building to include men’s clothing.

Writer: Jolene Carr
Source: Camille Edwards, B'more Betty 

Indian Grocery Store Opens in Downtown Baltimore

Downtown residents now have a place to buy ingredients to make chicken tikka masala or palak paneer.
Annapurna Grocery and Gifts opened last week at 323 North Charles St, selling Indian and Nepalese spices, ready-to-eat foods, sweets and Korean noodles. Owner Ryan Thap, who also owns the neighboring Lumbini Restaurant, says he believes his grocery store will be well-received by downtown customers who appreciate ethnic foods but look for ways to save a buck. “They like the ready-to-eat foods. If they go to a restaurant for it though, they pay more than $20,” Thap says.
Thap says that although the grocery store has already opened, he will hold a Grand Opening in one month during which he plans to incorporate customer feedback and extend store hours from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. The store is currently open daily from 11.a.m.-8 p.m. Thap has already received specific customer feedback he plans to incorporate, like carrying more Indian vegetables, frozen foods and breads along with ingredients to make chicken curry and paneer. Customers with purchases of at least $100 can have their groceries delivered.
Thap planned to open the grocery store since February and invested $60,000 in the 1,600 square-foot space. He currently has one employee but is considering hiring two more.

Writer: Jolene Carr
Source: Ryan Thap

Sofi's Crepes Expanding to Fells Point, Delaware and New Jersey

Oh la la! The sweet smell of crepes will soon start wafting over the cobblestone streets of Fells Point and two other mid-Atlantic states as Sofi’s Crepes expands to new locations.

By mid-December, Sofi’s Crepes will open in a former office at 1627 Thames St. that is currently under renovation. Founder Ann Costlow is also plotting an expansion outside of Maryland. Costlow says she expects a Sofi's Crepes in Delaware and another in New Jersey to open within a year. 

The creperie's fifth location will be a franchise owned by one of the creperie’s employees, Michael Calhoun, says Costlow. The restaurant in Fells Point will hire about 15 and include a small seating area, Costlow says. 

“There’s a little alleyway in there and we are going to be actually in that alley. We’re going to have a pass-through window in that alley, so people are going to be able to smell it from the street, and they can either grab it and go, or they can come inside,” Costlow says.

Sofi’s has a standard menu of sweet and savory crepes. Plus, each location showcases a variety of local specials. The Fells Point specials are still being tweaked.

Costlow says she thinks the location will be popular with both locals and tourists.

“It’s a tourist location because you’ve got the water taxi, and you’ve got a lot of tourists down there, as well you’ve got a lot of walk-around traffic.”

The Fells Point shop is the third franchise in Costlow’s growing chain: the Owings Mills, and Annapolis locations are franchises. Costlow owns the shops on Charles Street and at Belvedere Square.

Over the past three years, Costlow says she’s had talks with probably 20 people about franchising. Most of those discussions didn’t pan out, either because it wasn’t a good fit, or because of financing, which Costlow says is the biggest holdup for potential franchise owners.

The initial startup for Sofi’s could be anywhere between $100,000 to $250,000 depending on the extent of the build out. 

The Owings Mills, Annapolis, and now the Fells Point stores are franchises. Costlow owns two: on Charles Street in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District and at Belvedere Square. 
Reporter: Amy Landsman
Source: Ann Costlow, founder, Sofi’s Crepes

New Ellicott City Shop Caters to Yoga Lovers

Yoga enthusiasts and fans of yoga-inspired apparel have a new shopping destination in Ellicott City's historic downtown.
Gogo Guru will open Nov. 17 in the Reedy Electrical building at 8289 Main St. in Ellicott City, next to Tersiguel’s restaurant.
The shop will sell yoga equipment such as mats, yoga clothes, yoga-themed gifts, as well as yoga-inspired fashion apparel.
Owner Hilary Brich has put an emphasis on getting clothes from independent designers that are made either in the US or from a fair trade partner that adheres to fair labor practices.
"We vet the sources of our clothing to make sure it's not made in a factory in China. Our stuff costs a little more but you're supporting independent designers, there's more quality, design, style, and more interesting fabrics," Brich says.
An avid yoga practitioner who became a certified yoga instructor, Brich wanted to combine her extensive business background--working in varying capacities from IT to marketing-- with her love for yoga. Thus, the idea for Gogo Guru was born.
Brich spent the past two years scouring for a retail location for her shop, including Baltimore City neighborhoods like Mount Vernon and Fells Point, to locations in Columbia.
She ultimately selected a location in Ellicott's City's historic downtown because of her ability to work with the building owner to customize the space to her needs within her budget.
The 480-square-foot space is still undergoing the final touches of construction after a renovation that knocked down a wall and opened a big window that had been covered for years in the historic building. The process required approval from the county's historic preservation board.
Brich says she was drawn to the area by the eclectic mix of shoppers and visitors from 20-somethings to an older generation of motorcycle riders that come downtown to have a good time.
Additionally, the yoga scene in Ellicott City is incredibly vibrant with yoga studios and spaces at community centers within every square mile of the city, Brich says.
A quick search on Yelp indicates more than 15 yoga studios in the vicinity of Ellicott City.
Source: Hilary Brich, owner, Gogo Guru
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]
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