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New Mount Vernon cafe to sell espresso, yoga mats and vinyl records

A new coffee shop is coming soon to the Mount Vernon neighborhood and plans to serve more than coffee and pastries.
 
NuBohemia, which bills itself as a modern bohemian cafe, will sell jewelry, yoga gear and vinyl records when it opens at 42 W. Biddle St. in about a month.
 
Owner John Johnson says the coffee shop will serve espresso and espresso-based drinks, drip coffee, hot and iced tea, and smoothies.

“We want to be a destination for folks, a place people will want to come and enjoy each other’s company,” Johnson says.
 
The shop has partnered with a local Maryland record store to sell vinyl in the shop. NuBohemia hopes to appeal to the young artists and college students who live in the area.
 
The 1000-square-foot space is located just a block and a half from the 1200 block of Charles Street, an area that Johnson says believes is the “hottest area of the city.” The block is home to a growing cluster of shops and restaurants, including Potbelly Sandwich Shop, Starbucks, Tutti Frutti, TriBeCa Coffee Roasters, Oooh So Sweet bakery and Pet Valu. The area has attracted more businesses as its student population has grown with the expansion of the University of Baltimore
 
“We wanted to open as close to this block as possible,” Johnson says.
 
Johnson came across this location while working in the events promotion field.
 
“We started doing events for 10 years and actually got away from wanting to open the coffee shop,” he says. “But now that things have settled down, we’re back to wanting to open the brick and mortar of the coffee shop.”
 
Johnson says the shop will be open Thursday through Sunday for the first year, and will then expand its hours to seven days a week thereafter.

Writer: Daryl Hale
Source: John Johnson

Hard Rock Cafe sets the stage for live music and new menu after renovation

Baltimore’s Hard Rock Café is ramping up for more live music and a new menu following a multimillion-dollar renovation.

Located in a converted power plant building, the 16-year-old restaurant features a 65-foot-high lighted guitar that has become an iconic symbol of the Inner Harbor’s transformation from an industrial waterfront to an entertainment destination. But as longstanding Baltimore restaurants faced more competition, many have refreshed their properties and reinvented their brands. Morton’s the Steakhouse, the 13th Floor  and Mt. Washington's Pepe Pizza are among some of the restaurants that have been renovated in the past year.

The 200-seat Hard Rock received a spruced up patio, new terrazzo and wood floors, rock memorabilia and sound system as part of its makeover.

“It has more of a sleek, contemporary look to it with a lot of lights hanging down at different levels,” says David Miller, director of operations for Hard Rock International. “It’s got a lot of life to it with a lot of vibrant colors that pop and make a great statement.”

The remodeled stage is also now the focal point of the café, featuring a red wall lined with speakers and the Hard Rock Cafe logo in the middle.

“The intent is to have ongoing live music,” both inside the restaurant and on the pier, Miller says.

The Hard Rock Café celebrated its new look Oct. 1 with a private concert featuring Las Vegas indie rock band Imagine Dragons. The band smashed 16 guitars, representing each year that the Hard Rock has been open.

Kitchen managers and corporate chefs at the Orlando, Fla., chain's headquarters are in the process of tweaking its menu and will unveil its new offerings in February.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: David Miller, Hard Rock 

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

Former Bourbon Street spot in downtown Baltimore could get a new owner

Two employees of a music promotion firm want to revive the space that held Bourbon Street and Hammerjacks nightclubs for a new live entertainment venue in downtown Baltimore.

Evan Weinstein and Elliot Lidard have applied for an arena liquor license under the name Area 316 LLC at 316-318 Guilford Ave. The application says Area 316 plans to offer live performances, alcohol and food though one of the applicants, Evan Weinstein, says there are no plans to serve food. The deadline for public comment on the application is May 30. The Baltimore City liquor board says the hearing will be scheduled sometime after then.

The liquor license application names Weinstein as Area 316’s president and Elliot Lidard as its secretary. Weinstein is in charge of marketing and promotions and Lidard of production for Steez Promo, which promotes music acts and shows in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Boston. Steez Promo is promoting the Moonrise Festival, which will be held June 8-9 at Port Covington. 

Weinstein says Area 316 will own and operate the business. He declined to comment further until the details are worked out. Lidard could not be reached for comment. 

Bourbon Street opened in 2008. One of its rooms held 1,300 people and 500 fit into another, according to reverbnation.com. Bands and DJs played rap, rock and dance music. A man was stabbed to death there April 2, 2011, the Baltimore Sun reported. It closed six months later.

In 2000, the two-story building became the new home of Hammerjacks, whose original space was demolished for Ravens stadium parking. The club closed in 2006. Competition had increased two years earlier with the start of Rams Head Live several blocks away in Power Plant Live. 

Writer: Wayne Countryman
Sources: Baltimore City liquor board, Evan Weinstein. 

Vegas-style nightclub Paparazzi to open in former Sonar spot

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

Writer: Jolene Carr
Source: Anil Prashar, Paparazzi

Brazilian Dance Studio Coming to Charles Street

Baltimore residents looking who want to get fit will soon get to incorporate South American-style martial arts into their workout routine.
 
The Baltimore Chapter of the International Capoeira Angola Foundation will move into a 1,000 square-foot headquarters at 1 North Charles St. by January. Capoeira is an African and Brazilian form of martial arts that incorporates dance, music and song. 
 
ICAF-Baltimore's leader Skher Brown has been planning the move for close to two years after becoming a recipient of a Downtown Partnership of Baltimore Inc.'s Operation Storefront grant. Operation Storefront grants were designed to stimulate business and activity in downtown’s abandoned buildings and were awarded to 10 applicants, including EMP Collective, D Center and Jody Davis Designs. Recipients got, on average, $10,000 each.
 
ICAF-Baltimore was established in 2004 and previously held classes at the Harlem Park Recreation Center and the Sankofa Dance Theater. Recently, Brown has offered classes at Goucher College. Brown says looks forward to having a downtown location and believes it will bring something new to the area.
 
“Capoeira is a great opportunity for physical assertiveness, it’s a form of self expressions,” Brown says. “Everybody can go the gym and knows about Pilates and yoga, but people will want to try something different.”
 
Participants range in age from children to seniors, while the average class size is 12. Classes are $15 but there will eventually be group rates, Brown says. Brown plans on possibly hiring as many as four instructors for the new space. He may also rent out the studio to other types of fitness teachers.  

Writer: Jolene Carr
Source: Skher Brown, Baltimore Chapter of the International Capoeira Angola Foundation 

Pike's Diner Reopens as Crab House and Retail Store

Big changes are in store for Pike's Diner on Reisterstown Road in Pikesville.
 
The restaurant is now known as Pike's Crab House and Grill and is less of a diner and will have a greater emphasis on seafood. The restaurant still serves prime rib, ribs and fried chicken.

Pike's Crab House and Grill opened after $50,000 in renovations that includes two new bars: one indoors and one outside with an 80-foot awning.

Owner Wil Reich says he has also added a wall dividing the restaurant and bar from a 3,000-square-foot area that will hold a store selling wine, beer and liquor. The 7,000 square-foot restaurant is now 4,000 square feet to make room for the retail operation.

Rich says he hopes that excitement about a new concept and demand for a liquor store will draw more customers. Because of the proximity of many other restaurants on the block, Reich says he believes there is a great demand for customers to purchase beer, wine, and liquor after getting carryout. 

Located at 921 Reisterstown Road, the restaurant is on the same block as Jilly'sMari Luna, and Vernisage Restaurant, among others. Reich also owns Jilly's. 
 
Dinner entrees such as the crab cake platter top off at $25. The breakfast menu will still be available as well during specific hours.
 
Reich has owned the movie-themed diner for six years. The business features life-like statues of various movie stars to pay homage to the building's previous life as a single-screen movie theater. It will continue to feature live music on Saturday nights. The restaurant expects to add an additional 10 employees to the restaurant's current total of 20 employees.
 
Source: Wil Reich, owner Pike's Crab House and Grill
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]
 

Live Jazz and Barbeque Comes to Mount Vernon

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

Cultural Arts Center Slated for Downtown

A pair of local entrepreneurs hopes a planned cultural arts center will bring new economic vitality to the Howard Street corridor.
 
Renwick Bass and his business partner, Dr. Larry Gaston, plan to open a 13,500-square-foot cultural center and banquet hall in a former bank building at the intersection of Howard and W. Mulberry Streets near downtown Baltimore. And three more could open in other parts of the city. 
 
The pair plans to invest around $750,000 to turn the former Liberty Savings and Loan into a youth development and cultural arts center offering classes in the performing and fine arts. The pair also hope to partner with local theater groups, musicians, and dancers to host performances at the space. Shows will be accompanied by gourmet food catered by local businesses as well as the culinary arts program at Stratford University, the former Baltimore International College. Art classes for seniors are also in the works, Bass says. 

The pair plan to finance the center without outside funds, but are planning to fundraise and possibly partner with businesses to cover operating costs until the centers become profitable, Bass says. 

The Downtown Cultural Arts Center is one of four cultural centers planned for Baltimore. Other center locations will be based on interest and need in the local community and locations have not yet been established, but Bass hopes to open additional centers in  West, East, and Southeast Baltimore.  
 
Renovations on the property are currently underway with a planned completion date in the next two weeks, but the property still needs approval from the city's zoning appeals board before opening.
 
Some of the renovations to the building include general cosmetic and electrical work, adding a dance floor and a stage, and installing a music production studio. Hiring for the center is currently underway, as Bass plays to hire 15 instructors to teach creative and performing arts classes.
 
A Baltimore native, Bass has honed his skills mentoring youth over the past 25 years. In 2006, Bass, along with two partners, founded a mentoring program, Blueprints for Youth, Inc. that has operated within the Baltimore City Public Schools.
 
While not an artist himself, Bass encouraged his daughter to participate in the arts and saw an increased sense of focus. He became convinced that youth have a better chance of being successful if they participate in the arts.
 
Additionally, Bass observed a disparity in communities where families don't have the resources to send their children to expensive arts programs. One of the goals of the center is to make classes affordable for parents to send their children to get arts enrichment, Bass says.
 
Bass hopes that The Downtown Arts and Cultural Center is just the first part of major renovations and an influx of new businesses to Howard Street and in a section of the city that struggles with vacancy.
 
Bass and Gaston also own and operate The Shops at Charles and North a retail location at 23 E. North Ave.
 
Bass believes that their business made a positive contribution to businesses along North Avenue, helping to attract additional business and contribute to the area’s revitalization. He hopes that now he can be part of a transformation of North Howard Street.
 
“The history of the arts and dance is in downtown Baltimore, and soon the whole of Howard Street will be revitalized,” Bass says.
 
The zoning appeal for the property will be held April 3. Bass hopes to open the center immediately following the hearing, if approved. 

Source: Renwick Bass
Writer: Alexandra Wilding

North Avenue Market to Get $1M Facelift and New Tenant

The building that houses the WindUp Space and Cyclops among others in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District will soon be ready for its close up.
 
The façade of the entire North Avenue Market building will undergo a $1 million renovation starting in April, says Carolyn E. Frenkil, co-owner of the space.

Used bookstore Cyclops will renovate to make way for a coffee shop. The market is also poised to add a new tenant within the next two months in a vacant gallery space. Frenkil expects the yet unnamed tenant to plan various events, shows, and exhibits to bring additional visibility to the market.
 
The North Avenue Market building, built in 1928, also houses Liam Flynn's Ale House and Baltimore Print Studios.
 
"You can't tell a book by its cover, but if it doesn't have an interesting cover, who's going to open it?" Frenkil says.
 
Some of the planned renovations include a new paint job, additional lighting for the building, and opening up long-covered exterior windows.

Cyclops' renovations are expected to begin when the façade renovations commence, Frenkil says.
 
The Reinvestment Fund, a Philadelphia-based developer, is working with the owners of the North Avenue Market to finance the renovations.
 
Frenkil hopes the facelift will help to generate business for all of the establishments in the Station North Arts District as part of the resurgence in development of an area has long been affected by crime, vacancies, and urban decay. 
 
"When people drive up Charles and hit North Avenue the lights will be on and people will say 'Something is happening on North Ave'," Frenkil says.
 
Frenkil wants North Avenue to develop organically into a unique destination arts district where customers will find the products of the creative energy of Baltimore's residents.
 
"Why mimic someone when you have an opportunity to create something?  We want to create a destination, not a drive-by. If we do what others do, what makes us different? Why come to North Ave.?" Frenkil says. 

Writer: Allie Wilding
Source: Carolyn Frenkil, North Avenue Market

Single Carrot, Software Firm, Seeking New Stage

Single Carrot Theatre has teamed up with a sound design software company to hunt for real estate in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District to accommodate the growing theater troupe.

Teaming up with Figure 53 LLC will enable the two entities to share resources -- from a copy machine to graphic artists, Single Carrot Executive Director Elliott Rauh says.

Single Carrot will make the move as early as July 2012, when its lease at 122 W. North Ave. is up. Figure 53, which would provide the capital to buy a 10,000-square-foot building, could move sooner if it finds the right space, Figure 53's Christopher Ashworth says.

The Baltimore software firm wants a space that holds a lab where it can test new products. One product in development is Tixato, an online ticket sale application for smaller theater troupes like Single Carrot.

Rauh says he is looking for a space that can seat between 75 and 99. Its current space seats 50 and is at 85 percent capacity.

"We're stuck in a glass ceiling if we can't get more earned income," Rauh says.

Single Carrot's long-term vision is to grow its budget from $211,00 to $500,000 and to do so it will need to receive more earned income. And it doesn't want to raise ticket prices, Rauh says.

The upstart theater company was founded by friends from the University of Colorado who chose Baltimore as a home after scouring 50 cities. It currently has five employees, four of whom work part-time.

Figure 53 employs six. "Billy Elliott," "South Pacific," and other Broadway shows have used its software.


Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Elliott Rauh, Christopher Ashworth

New Music School Finds its Voice in Columbia

Howard County now has its own Jack Black.

Columbia residents Tim and Cassie France-Kelly have started a new music instruction school that will hopefully inspire kids to form their own rock bands and keep playing their instruments longer.

The Kellys spent $100,000 to open Let There Be Rock School at 9051 Red Branch Rd. in Columbia. Half a dozen music instructors offer
lessons in bass, guitar, keyboards, drums, audio recording, and being a DJ. The weekly lessons include teaching kids how to play with a group.

The couple learned that playing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," wouldn't keep their son Mason, 10, interested in his guitar lessons, Tim France-Kelly says. Rather, the only way Mason would stick with it is if he found other students he could play with and if the music was more along the lines of, say, Green Day.  

So the couple took Mason to a sister Let There Be Rock School in Frederick and found that performing in a band made him eager to practice because he didn't want to disappoint his bandmates, France-Kelly says. A third school is located in Folsom, Pa. The Central Howard County location will hopefully be a draw for parents, France-Kelly says.

"There are talented kids who get bored with music lessons," France-Kelly says. We want to give them a fun place to play music."

With 10 students so far, the owners hope to sign up 60 by summer's end and 150 by the end of the year.


Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Tim and Cassie France-Kelly

Pigtown art gallery trades work for wall space

Wanna see a photo of two dragonflies mating?

Wait don't answer that. Just head over to Gallery 788, a new artists' space at 788 Washington Boulevard in Pigtown, where provocative works from a dozen Baltimore artists whose mediums range from photography, painting, and sculpture, to illustration, filmmaking, singing and songwriting, poetry, performance art and various other media.

The new gallery, which hosted a "soft launch" for about 250 people on July 30, gives artists the opportunity to show their work and gain visibility without the expense and networking hurdles of breaking into the private gallery scene. According to photographer Terry Smith, who snapped the dragonfly dalliance and other nature-themed photographs currently on display, the building has been opened up to artists by owners Mark and Patrice Smith (no relation), who run Baltimore-based Magnum Construction. Artists who pass an informal jury pay just $50 to display their work for a month and help operate the gallery four days a week. In exchange, they receive full price for their pieces; the gallery does not charge a commission.

The first exhibit will run two months, and subsequent exhibits will rotate monthly. Smith, a supervisor for Magnum Construction, calls the two-story space with nine-foot high ceilings "clean, crisp, brand new and wide open," which, coupled with the great foot traffic at the corner of Washington and Scott Streets, make it the ideal space for displaying art.

"I think it's a good fit with the plans Mark has for Washington Boulevard," Smith says, alluding to  work being done in the area by Magnum. "He's making it a destination point and this gallery would add to that. As restaurants and businesses come in, people will visit the gallery."

Gallery 788 is open Thur. 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.; Fri. noon 8 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m. 8 p.m.; and
Sun. noon 6 p.m. For more information, contact Eduardo Rodriguez at [email protected]

Source: Terry Smith, Magnum Construction
Writer: Lucy Ament

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