After years of delays, restaurateurs and vegan pioneers Greg Brown and Naijha Wright-Brown are preparing to open a second The Land of Kush in East Baltimore. “It’s been a long journey,” Greg Brown said. “You keep running into obstacles. You think, ‘I don’t know if it’s ever going to happen.’”

And now it’s happening.

When it opens around late June or early July, the larger, 70-seat restaurant will include a bar and more expansive menu than The Land of Kush’s Eutaw Street location, which serves up customer favorites like plant-based BBQ ribs, mac and cheese and collard greens.

”We have surprises coming for the public,” Brown said. But don’t worry: Their soy-based crab cakes, recognized by PETA as one of the country’s top 10 best vegan dishes, aren’t going anywhere.

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The new restaurant was first announced several years ago, but progress came to a halt during the pandemic. “The significant delay was COVID. That shut things down,” said developer Chukes Okoro of Okoro Development. “When things opened up again, the cost of construction went through the roof.”

Getting the project back on track required “lots of creativity and hard work,” said Okoro, who became the general contractor for the build-out in a bid to save money.

The address at 801 N. Chester St. is close to Johns Hopkins hospital in an East Baltimore neighborhood that Okoro said is “crying out for some more quality places to eat.” And he thinks The Land of Kush, whose founders are active in promoting plant-based eating, will foster a sense of community in the area.

The build-out of The Land of Kush’s second location in East Baltimore was delayed by the pandemic. (Christina Tkacik)

The building was formerly home to a Chinese restaurant with a residential property next door. “There was a tree growing out of it,” Brown said. While the restaurateur considered rehabbing instead of tearing it down, “Everyone I talked to was like, ‘No, go brand new. It’ll be cheaper and it’ll last you a lot longer.”

The property is owned by Harbor Banks Community Development, but Brown said that he and Wright-Brown are entering a “lease-to-own” agreement with their landlords.

Brown said The Land of Kush will continue to keep its Eutaw Street location open, but he’s prepared to run them both smoothly. “My head will be on a swivel,” he joked.

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