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Art Work Provider Moves To Curtis Bay

A framed art work provider and wholesale manufacturer that serves Bed Bath & Beyond and La-Z-Boy has relocated from Linthicum to a 34,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Curtis Bay.
Big Fish, acquired by Beyond the Label in 2010, moved into a facility that combines warehouse and office space in the Brandon Woods Business Park this month. The space is the same size as the company’s previous location, but configured differently to allow for more usable manufacturing space. In addition, the company added five manufacturing jobs to its 30-person staff on-site.
With the move, owner and CEO, Melissa Van Hise hopes to continue to grow her business, which Van Hise says is the largest framer in Maryland.
Van Hise wants to bring more of a local focus to a business that has long served clients across the nation.
Van Hise was drawn to the space because it was already used as a manufacturing facility and didn't need additional renovations. The building also has a space that Van Hise uses as a gallery area to meet with clients.
“It’s a perfect amount of space, there’s a great labor pool nearby and it’s a great facility for growth,” Van Hise says.
Big Fish Inc. specializes in innovative framing techniques and artwork including hand-colored prints, limited editions and posters.
In recent years, the company has expanded into publishing, graphic arts and private label manufacturing in addition to framing and manufacturing, Van Hise says.
“Graphically, we can make anything, people never believe me when I say that, but we can,” says Van Hise.
Big Fish creates and manufactures products for retail stores of all sizes, the hospitality industry, interior design firms as well as companies such as Havertys, La-Z-Boy, Arhaus Furniture, and Bed Bath & Beyond, according to Van Hise.
The company has no retail store, but does take orders through its website.
Other businesses in the area include Reliable Churchill, a wine distributor and Commerce Corporation, a distributor serving garden centers.
Big Fish is located at 7600 Energy Parkway in the Brandon Woods Business Park.
Source: Melissa Van Hise, owner and CEO of Big Fish Inc.

Charles Village Brewpub in the Works, But None for Former Haussner's Site

The president of Baltimore-Washington Beer Works is moving ahead with his plans to start a Charles Village brewpub and hopes to start brewing his first barrels in May. Stephen Demczuk says he is also developing a new Edgar Allen Poe series of beers with names such as Pendulum Pilsner, Tell Tale Hearty Ale, and the Cask of Amontillado.

The planned Charm City Brewery will be located in a 50,000-square-foot former bottling company at 401 E. 30th St. in Baltimore's Charles Village neighborhood. The terms of the lease have been agreed upon and lawyers are handling the final details, Charm City Brewery CEO J. Hollis B. Albert III says.

But Demczuk says he has abandoned plans to open a brewpub in the former legendary Haussner's restaurant in Highlandtown because the project would have been too expensive and the building was in poor condition.

Demczuk was working with a local developer to turn the vacant building at Eastern Avenue and Clinton Street into a brewpub for the company known for its "Raven" lager.

For now, Demczuk is focusing on Charm City Brewery, which will be a cooperative of several brewers including Oliver Breweries and a brewer relocating from Chicago called LPB LLC.

While the participating brewers will contribute to the cost of the facility and ingredients, Charm City Brewery will brew beer for the individual brewers using their formulas. This will allow the brewers to focus on marking their products and developing new brands, Demczuk says.

Zoning limits the ability for the brewery to include a restaurant. Instead, the brewery will offer tours and tastings. Additionally, the brewery is considering offering workshops for the public on how to brew, says Albert.

Albert declined to state how much has been invested in the property.

Writer: Alexandra Wilding
Sources: Baltimore-Washington Beer Works president, Stephen Demczuk; J. Hollis B. Albert III,  chief executive officer of Charm City Brewery.

Milk and Honey to Open in Station North

The owners of Milk & Honey Market will open their second cafe in the former Chesapeake restaurant, furthering their plans to breathe life into a cornerstone neighborhood building that has been empty for decades.

Ernst Valery says Milk & Honey Cafe will open by the fall at 1701 N. Charles St., which is in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District.

Valery says the new restaurant will not sell groceries like the Mount Vernon store and will only function as a coffee shop. The sleekly designed Milk & Honey Market in Mount Vernon sells cheeses, bread, eggs and imported food items. It opened late 2010.

Developing the former Chesapeake restaurant is key to Station North’s ambitions to become a thriving arts and entertainment destination. The neighborhood has gotten several new cafes, bars, theaters, artists’ studios and housing in recent years. But it still houses many vacant buildings and will lose anchor tenant Everyman Theatre when it moves to the west side in the fall.

Valery says the building will house two restaurants. Valery and his Milk and Honey team will open one restaurant while another unnamed Baltimore operator will spearhead the other. Philadelphia restaurant owners Mauro Daigle and Annie Baum-Stein are joining Valery and his wife Dana to open the restaurant.

Valery declined to say any more about either restaurant as details are still being finalized.

All total, the two restaurants and Milk and Honey Café will employ 50.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Ernst Valery, Milk and Honey

Woodberry Kitchen Owners to Open Cafe in Hampden

Woodberry Kitchen’s Spike and Amy Gjerde will open a coffee shop at Hampden’s Union Mill this spring.

The 1,500-square-foot café will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Allie Caran, the lead barista at Woodberry Kitchen will manage the store, Spike Gjerde says.

Also still in the works is Half Acre, a fast-casual eatery that the Gjerdes will open at 3801 Falls Rd. in the middle of this year. The 75-seat restaurant will serve lunch and dinner and employ 30, Gjerde says. The restaurant is also opening an office at Union Mill for about half a dozen employees at the cafe and restaurants.

The café will be under construction next month and open in March or April, says Michael Morris, the real estate manager for the Gjerdes’ restaurant ownership group behind Woodberry Kitchen, Artifact and Half Acre.

One of the area’s first farm-to-table restaurants, Woodberry Kitchen is one of the Baltimore area’s most popular restaurants. It earned the accolade of Bon Appetit magazine, which named it one of the Top 10 Best New Restaurants in America in its September 2009 issue.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Spike Gjerde, Woodberry Kitchen; Michael Morris, real estate manager

New Event Center and Restaurant Planned for Cherry Hill

A two-story restaurant and event center offering live music, dinner theatre, and comedy shows is slated to open in late February in Baltimore's Cherry Hill neighborhood.

Angels Event Center aims to provide a place for local talent to be showcased in a community that doesn't have many dining and entertainment options, Owner Julie Mosteller says.

"If you provide something, people will come,” Mosteller says. “Everyone has an opportunity to change. I want to be part of that positive change.”

The downstairs of the building will be a restaurant – whose menu is still being developed -- and the upstairs will hold entertainment. Mosteller says two jazz groups are lined up to perform and that she plans to provide an intimate and authentic dinner theatre experience.

Mosteller, a Baltimore native, graduated from Western High School and spent five years working as a Baltimore police officer. She also served in the military and is using some of her veteran’s benefits to start the business. Mosteller declined to disclose the amount she's invested in the event center, but the project is her first restaurant. 

Additionally, Mosteller hopes to empower people in the community by offering events at the center such as financial literacy workshops.

Angels Event Center is located at 1810 Cherry Hill Rd. in Baltimore.

Writer: Alexandra Wilding
Source: Julie Mosteller

Developer Turning Vacant Station North Building Into Restaurants, Studios

A nonprofit developer has purchased a vacant building on North Avenue that it hopes to transform into restaurants, galleries, artists studios and theater space within three years.

Jubilee Baltimore is talking to Joe Squared’s Joe Edwardsen about the possibility of his opening a Mexican restaurant at the 10 E. North Ave. property, Edwardsen and Jubilee President Charlie Duff say. The developer is also in talks with Single Carrot Theatre, which has been scouting for a space with more seating capacity.

Jubilee Baltimore Inc. bought 10 E. North Ave. from Greater Grace Church at a public city auction this month for $93,000.  The state estimates the land and 67,000-square-foot building is worth more than $2 million, public records show.

The eventual transformation of the three-story building will require a major rehab, Duff says. He doesn’t yet have a cost estimate as to what the renovation will cost.

“North Avenue needs cool things happening,” Duff says. “There isn’t enough space in Station North – that’s why we bought this building. We want to make it one of the key arts and entertainment building in Baltimore.”

Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Charlie Duff, Jubilee Baltimore; Joe Edwardsen, Joe Squared

New Deli to Open Near Columbia's Greene Turtle

Garden Deli, specializing in healthy sandwiches and salads, will open in the Columbia Corporate Park in early February.

The 1,709-square-foot restaurant will hold seven tables, says Owner Sang Yoo, who will run the deli with his wife, Yoon.

Columbia Corporate Park is located near the intersection of Snowden River Parkway and Route 175 in Columbia near the University of Phoenix complex. Other nearby restaurants include the Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille, Royal Taj and Cheeburger Cheeburger.

Yoo is currently developing the menu, but expects to sell sandwiches from $5 to $6.29.

The Yoos live in Columbia and decided to open the deli because they love the area. The Garden Deli is the couple’s only business.

Writer: Alexandra Wilding
Source: Sang Yoo, Garden Deli

Maryland Biotech Development Center Awarding $200K in Grants

The Maryland Biotechnology Development Center is accepting applications at their website for grant awards of up to $200,000 through Feb. 15th. These awards are available in two categories, biotechnology commercialization and translational research.

Biotechnology commercialization is focused on supporting projects that are in late-stage development and are poised to enter the market and begin generating revenue within three years. The translational research category is designed to help start ups that are bridging the gap between research institutions and private companies in Maryland, with the goal of taking promising research down a commercial path.

This is the third year for these awards, which have provided nearly $3.1 million in funding to 13 life sciences companies and three university research projects in Maryland.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Maryland Biotechnology Development Center

Federal Hill Gets Boutique, Brewpub

Beer lovers and fashionistas may start spending more time in Federal Hill.

Brightside Boutique and Art Studio and the Brewer’s Cask bar and restaurant both opened this month.

They are the latest businesses to debut in Federal Hill as neighborhood promoters work to fill vacancies. Cheese Galore and More and Republic Noodle opened in the fall.

After several years in New York working for Diane von Furstenberg and Nanette Lepore, Towson University graduate Christie Griffiths wanted to return to Baltimore. Located at 1136 S. Charles St., Brightside sells floral tops, vintage clothing, jewelry, handbags and shoes.

Mindful of the economy, Griffiths says she is selling pieces that cost less than $100.

“I love the neighborhood,” Griffiths says. “There’s tons of bars but not a lot of shopping.”

And speaking of bars, the Brewer’s Cask pours 20 draft beers on tap and houses 50 bottles.

Jason Stevens and partner Ajay Singh are keeping their day jobs in IT, and taking turns working nights at the 100-seat brewpub, Stevens says.

The 2,500-square-foot pub was formerly Muggsy’s and opened Jan. 5, just hours after the business received its liquor license, Stevens says.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Christie Griffiths, Brightside; Jason Stevens, Brewer's Cask

Restaurant Owner Looking for Catering Space in Fells

The owners of Waterfront Kitchen in Fells Point hope to expand their “mission-driven” business with a new catering operation next year.

Waterfront Co-owner Charles Nabit says that in January he will begin hunting for a space for the new venture. He is looking for a spot that is approximately 1,500 square feet.

The catering firm may rely on ingredients from the Living Classrooms Foundation’s Baltimore Urban Gardening with Students (BUGS) program, which serves inner-city kids. The 175-seat Waterfront Kitchen sources its ingredients from BUGS. It also hired several employees from Living Classrooms’ Project Serve, which provides job training to at-risk men and women.

Nabit says he is not sure how many the catering operation will employ because it is still in the planning stages. He and partner Michael Klein spent $1.5 million to open Waterfront Kitchen in the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park. Patrick Sutton Interior Design outfitted the space.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Charles Nabit

Clipper Mill Inn to Bring Back Karaoke

Friday and Saturday night karaoke at Hampden’s Clipper Mill Inn will return in February after being shut down by the city in May for lack of an entertainment license.

Employees say they anticipate its return as the singing had boosted the bar business by nearly 70 percent. The karaoke night drew a young crowd of college students as well as locals, featuring songs from the 1960s to current popular music, and had been a neighborhood fixture for more than 10 years.

The bar received preliminary approval for a live entertainment license Dec. 8 from Baltimore City’s liquor board. The license is conditional upon inspections by various city agencies including the city’s health and fire departments.

The license also contains conditions that were agreed upon between the bar owners and local groups, including the Hampden Community Council. Those conditions include limiting the live entertainment to karaoke, and hosting karaoke only on Friday and Saturday nights and setting a decibel limit, says Hampden Community Council President Adam Feuerstein.

Voted Baltimore’s best karaoke night by the City Paper two years ago, the bar received several noise complaints from neighbors in May. In November, bar staff met with the Hampden Community Council to win community support for the karaoke nights, Feuerstein says.

Bar owner Robert Markarovich could not be reached for comment.

Writer: Alexandra Wilding
Sources: Clipper Mill Inn employees Randy Cullison and Donna Tingler; Adam Feuerstein, Hampden Community Council

Bottle Tax Debate Heats Up

Baltimore City’s proposal to increase the tax on soda, water, beer and juice to pay for school construction has some business owners concerned that it will eat into their profits.

“Everyone cares about schools, but this is not the way to go about it, which is on the backs of businesses,” says Rob Santoni Jr., chief financial officer of Santoni’s Supermarket.

The city introduced a 2-cent beverage tax last year and is now proposing to increase it to 5 cents. The tax, combined with revenue from slots and the city’s contribution to teachers’ healthcare benefits, would increase the Baltimore City school’s capital budget by $23 million.

“If we want to grow the city with more families and create tomorrow's workforce and new jobs, we can't afford crumbling school buildings,” says Ryan O’Doherty, spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

But Santoni, chairman of the Maryland Food Dealers Council, fears more of his customers will shop in the county instead of the city. He estimates that he has lost $500,000 in income due to fewer customer visits since the beverage tax was first introduced.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Rob Santoni Jr., Santoni's Supermarket; Ryan O'Doherty, Baltimore City

Wellness Center Opens in Columbia

A teacher at Tai Sophia Institute has opened her own wellness center in Columbia.

Jade Connelly-Duggan this month opened WisdomWell LLC, which offers acupuncture, massage, herbal treatments, yoga and nutrition counseling at 8955 Guilford Rd., just south of Broken Land Parkway.

The daughter of Tai Sophia founders Bob Duggan and Dianne Connelly, the business owner spent $30,000 to open the 4,700 square foot office. The space includes nine treatment rooms and a yoga studio.

Owned by Liberty Property Trust, the building faces a koi pond and extensive landscaping. Close to Routes 29 and 32, it’s also easy to get to, Connelly-Duggan says. The site is also near the Mall in Columbia and King’s Contrivance Village Center.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Jade Connelly-Duggan

Federal Hill Welcomes Several New Businesses

The economic downturn had left several vacancies along Federal Hill's normally busy shopping corridor. The vacant storefronts and vacant stalls in Cross Street Market were definitely detracting from the neighborhood's appeal. The shopping outlook in Federal Hill is a little brighter now thanks to several new businesses that have opened recently in the neighborhood.
Cheese Galore and More has opened in a stall in the historic Cross Street Market to fulfill Federal Hill's appetite for all things dairy and and the things that enhance your cheese plate. The new market stand features many varieties of gourmet cheese, including some that is locally produced. Cheese Galore and More also offers crackers, breads, olives, butter, spreads and meats to complete your cheesy feast.
Federal Hill is the home of a new restaurant as well. Republic Noodle at 1121 Light Street offers modern décor and an emphasis on hormone free, all natural meats and eco friendly locally sourced accompaniments. It's BYOB. In addition to noodles and pho, Republic Noodle also features pan Asian cuisine and classic desserts with a modern flair.
A new gift shop, Bobabooi's Treasure Chest has opened at 1129 Light Street. This family run combination consignment store and gift shop offers new purses, jewelry, accessories as well as a selection of consignment items. The shop offers 10% discounts on Fridays.
Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Federal Hill Main Street

Owings Mills Document Management Firm Plans to Acquire More Companies

Centric Business Systems, a document management company in Owings Mills, plans to snatch up two firms in the next three or four months, CEO Rick Bastinelli says.

“We are aggressively pursuing and evaluating acquisitions,” Bastinelli says.

The company moved into a new 39,000-square-foot LEED Gold building this month. Double the size of its former headquarters, the office houses 120 workers. Another 20 work in Salisbury, Hagerstown and Rockville.

And Bastinelli says he plans to hire another 30 Centric plans it hopes to add another in sales, marketing and administration. 

Its customers’ migration from black-and-white printers, scanners and copiers to color is fueling Centric's product sales, the CEO says.

Acquisitions are also key to its growth strategy. Last year, the company bought the copier division of Office Suppliers Inc. in Hagerstown.

Bastinelli couldn’t give any details on the companies Centric plans to acquire due to confidentiality agreements except that the two firms are in Maryland.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Rick Bastinelli, Centric
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