A lot has changed in South Baltimore since celebrity chef Andrew Carmellini’s restaurant group launched the Rye Street Tavern in 2017. For one thing, developers have rebranded the surrounding multiblock development from Port Covington to Baltimore Peninsula.
Plans for the area, conceived as a glittering global headquarters for Under Armour, have been scaled back significantly as the sports apparel company’s own star has fallen.
And the coronavirus pandemic has forever changed the hospitality industry, leading many restaurants, including Rye Street Tavern, to shut down. The eatery was reutilized as an event space in 2020 before operators announced plans the following year to “pause and reimagine” its future.
On Monday, developers announced the tavern will reopen as a branch of the Clyde’s Restaurant Group, which has signed a long-term lease on the waterfront property. The name of the restaurant, however, won’t change.
It’s the first Charm City location for the Clyde’s group, which now has 12 properties in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. Their portfolio also includes D.C.’s venerable Old Ebbitt Grill and The Tombs. A Clyde’s on Columbia’s lakefront shut down during the pandemic and just reopened under new ownership as Offshore. (Carmellini’s restaurant group, NoHo Hospitality, will continue to run Rec Pier Chop House, an Italian steakhouse at Fells Point’s Sagamore Pendry hotel.)
The new direction for Rye Street Tavern is in line with a pivot toward more casual and outdoor dining that many restaurants have undertaken during the pandemic.
According to a release from MAG Partners with MacFarlane Partners and Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Clyde’s “will make significant improvements” to the 12,000-square-foot, two-story restaurant building while adding a large outdoor dining area with views of the Patapso River. Renovations will include an oyster bar and 75-seat “island bar” for outdoor dining. On the menu: Sagamore Spirit Rye, which is produced in the neighboring facility. The eatery should create 150 jobs, according to a release, and an opening is planned for early next year.
In a statement, Kevin Plank, principal and CEO of Sagamore Ventures, said Clyde’s is “an ideal partner” and he envisions the revamped restaurant becoming “the heart of the neighborhood.” Victor MacFarlane, MacFarlane Partners Chairman and CEO, called the company “an institution in the DMV” and a “welcome asset to Baltimore Peninsula.”
Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott said in a statement that he is “excited about the partnership with Clyde’s to bring its first location to our city and the shared vision for building diverse and thriving communities.”
Jeff Owens, Clyde’s chief financial officer, called the new eatery an extension of the restaurant group’s partnership with Sagamore, which he said is “the top-selling rye in our restaurants.”