Two years ago, rumors circulated that fine-dining stalwarts the Prime Rib and Tio Pepe would be relocating to the Village of Cross Keys. That didn’t happen, but now developers have announced that the mixed-use shopping center in North Baltimore will welcome a brand-new restaurant next year.

Cece’s Roland Park is set to open in spring 2024, with chef John Suley bringing “coastal cuisine with many Mediterranean influenced dishes,” according to a press release. An online profile says the James Beard Foundation named Suley a “Rising Star Chef of American Cuisine” in 2007 and nominated him for “Rising Star Chef” in 2010.

Located in the east courtyard of Cross Keys, the restaurant will include a wood-burning pizza oven and outdoor patio with fire pits, a bar and stage for live entertainment.

It’ll be the second restaurant for Cross Keys, where brunch cafe Easy Like Sunday opened last year. Prior to that, the James Rouse-designed center had been home to longtime eateries Village Square Cafe, which shut down in 2021, and Donna’s, which shut down in 2018.

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The project will be managed by Cordish Cos., which also operates the Prime Rib steakhouse at Live! Casino & Hotel. Cordish also owns Power Plant and Pier IV, where The Baltimore Banner’s offices are located. Cross Keys is owned by Caves Valley Partners.

“We are being very strategic about the types of tenants we are bringing to Cross Keys,” Caves Valley partner Arsh Mirmiran said in a statement.

Mirmiran said the partnership with Cordish came about through a friendship with Reed Cordish, principal of the Cordish Cos.. Both men live in Roland Park and have long pondered the shortage of dining options in the area, in contrast to restaurant-heavy neighborhoods like Locust Point.

“We’ve got Petit Louis and Johnny’s,” Mirmiran said, but aside from those Foreman Wolf eateries and a scattering of restaurants on Cold Spring Lane, the offerings are limited. “It took someone who lives in the area to say, ‘Hey, wait a minute, why is no one doing this?’ I think it’s going to be amazing. I think there are going to be a lot of people who think ‘Why didn’t we do this?’”

And Mirmiran isn’t stopping with Cece’s. Moving forward, he said, Cross Keys is hoping to welcome two more sit-down restaurants, including a family-friendly Mexican eatery, as well as a gourmet Italian market, an ice cream shop and a coffee shop.

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