There are so many new places opening lately I’m having a hard time keeping track.
To name a few: The Royal Blue (love the smash burger), Marta (nice date night vibes), Little Donna’s, (the chef is a big deal). And there are more coming soon, including a few I’ll introduce you to in this week’s column.
Of course, the restaurant industry is a tough business — not everyone survives. This week, I’ll also update you on one Hampden spot that shut down after just a few months in operation, as well as three restaurants shut down by Baltimore’s health department.
Also, here’s a quick plug for our foodie newsletter. It includes restaurant openings, tasty farmers market recommendations and all the information you need to eat better in Baltimore. Sign up at www.thebaltimorebanner.com/newsletters/.
Drive-thru Shake Shack comes to Canton
Christmas is coming early for Shake Shack fans.
A new, drive-thru Shake Shack opens at The Shops at Canton Crossing on Dec. 14. The location at 3902 Boston St. joins area Shake Shacks in the Inner Harbor, Towson and Columbia.
It also marks the Shack’s first drive-thru location in Maryland. The two-lane operation includes touch-screen ordering and a separate pickup window. Customers can also dine inside, or at the restaurant’s outdoor patio.
Look out for all your Shack favorites, including the ShackBurger, crinkle-cut fries and milkshakes. The chain is also touting a limited-timed collaboration with Hot Ones hot sauce, including spicy chicken, cheese fries and more.
Like free stuff? The first 100 guests will get Baltimore “swag bags,” according to a release. And for every sandwich sold on opening day, the company will donate a dollar to Baltimore nonprofit Good Harvest Community Kitchen.
Miss Lady’s Bakery Cafe heads to Randallstown
When Colin’s Seafood and Grill shut down its location at 3653 Offutt Road, it left the Randallstown area short a popular place to grab a bite and a cocktail.
Now, Baltimore County residents Shirl and Julian Taylor are filling the void with a business of their own called Miss Lady’s Bakery Cafe. Set to open later this month, the restaurant will feature baked goods by Shirl as well as a full-service restaurant and cocktails.
Shirl Taylor, a registered nurse, said she has long enjoyed baking as a stress reliever from her career in health care, which she spent mostly at the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland. Julian Taylor was previously a basketball coach at Owings Mills High School and Howard Community College.
At a hearing before Baltimore County’s liquor board this week, Julian told county officials that as a Black businessman, he hopes to serve as a positive example in the community.
While the Taylor’s attorney says the project has the support of House Speaker Adrienne Jones and others in the community, resident Mildred Owens came to the hearing to voice her concerns about a bakery having a liquor license. “Our children are going to hell in a handbasket,” Owens told the commissioners. “And you know why? Because of liquor.”
A replacement for Wine Works
You won’t be able to drink at Woodrow’s BBQ anymore. But you can soon buy wine in Mount Washington.
Let me explain. Steven “Jake” Groenke, previously a manager at Hampden’s beloved Wine Source, is taking over Wine Works, which shut down this summer.
The liquor license had expired for the shop, next to Whole Foods and Starbucks at 1340 Smith Ave. So Groenke had to purchase an existing license: from Woodrow’s BBQ on Sulgrave Avenue. Baltimore’s Board of Liquor License Commissioners approved the transfer at a hearing last Thursday.
Groenke, who grew up in nearby Roland Park, will run the business with his fiance, Mallory Sprinkle, and his mom, Kris Groenke, who will be helping out on the register. They’re working hard to launch by sometime next week, in time for the holidays.
“Once ‘Dry January’ comes around, it’s not going to be as fun of an opening,” Groenke said.
The name for the new business: Mt. Washington Wine & Spirits.
After four years at the Wine Source, Groenke said he’s passionate about highlighting small, family-owned wine producers and helping people understand that “you don’t have to buy the same bottle of wine every time.”
The Anonymous comes to old Red Emma’s
Out: Red Emma’s.
In: The Anonymous.
At least, that’s the case at 1225 Cathedral St., a building in Midtown-Belvedere that was previously home to bookstore and coffee shop Red Emma’s before that business moved to its new home in Waverly.
Business owner Raissa Nynkeu Batchankwe told Baltimore’s liquor board at a hearing Thursday that her new restaurant, The Anonymous, will feature Afro-fusion cuisine with some Western dishes and brunch. She hopes to be in business within a week.
Bar Fusion shut down
Lots of readers were interested in my column about the drama about two Hampden restaurants — both linked to the same liquor license, and both controversial with neighbors.
The saga continues.
Bar Fusion, had opened this fall in the former 13.5% Wine Bar on Hampden’s Avenue. It was still using the liquor license from the earlier establishment.
Last Thursday, Wayne Laing, who owns the liquor license associated with 13.5% Wine Bar, got approval to transfer that license to his new, unnamed restaurant on Falls Road, behind Red Fish Liquors. And that same day, he took back the license from Bar Fusion, leaving the second establishment without a license.
Stephan W. Fogleman, an attorney for Laing, said his client “was backed into a corner,” after hearing about alleged liquor board violations at Bar Fusion. Because his name was on the license, Laing was still accountable for anything that happened there.
I haven’t been able to reach Laing, who travels quite frequently, but according to the liquor board, he requested inspectors come with him to make sure it all went smoothly.
As I wrote two weeks ago, both concepts — Bar Fusion, as well as Laing’s new restaurant planned for Falls Road — have been controversial with community members for various reasons.
First, neighbors have complained that Bar Fusion has drawn loud music and big crowds. Its owner, Chil Chong, owes another restaurateur more than six figures, according to online court records.
As for Laing’s Falls Road business — which was originally planned to be a karaoke bar behind Red Fish Liquors — neighbors are worried about parking and noise. They’ve protested the project before Baltimore’s zoning board, which has twice denied Laing’s request to use the space as a restaurant with outdoor dining and live entertainment.
But at the hearing last Thursday, Laing said the concept will now be a high-end wine bar with tableside cooking service, not a karaoke bar. Commissioners for the liquor board voted 2-1 to let Laing move his liquor license to the new business.
Democratic City Councilwoman Odette Ramos showed up to the hearing to oppose the project. Ramos told The Banner she has filed a motion asking the board to reconsider the decision to approve the transfer. Ramos and neighbors say a previously signed memorandum of understanding between residents and Laing has been rescinded.
Regardless of what the liquor board says, I wouldn’t count on Laing’s new restaurant opening any time soon. The current space is a run-down garage and will need major renovations before it’s ready for guests. According to online property records, the building belongs to an LLC linked to Jeremiah Landsman.
Now, Bar Fusion does have an application for a new liquor license pending, but a hearing hasn’t been scheduled yet.
Amanda Mack at True Chesapeake Oyster Co.
Fans of baker Amanda Mack can’t wait for her new Crust by Mack shop to open in Midtown-Belvedere. But delays have pushed the opening of that location until March.
In the meantime, get a taste for Mack’s sweets on the menu at True Chesapeake Oyster Co., where she will be guest pastry chef through February. Helmed by chef Zack Mills, the Hampden restaurant is located in the same development, Whitehall Mill, where Crust by Mack was previously.
On the menu: Cheddar apple pie a la mode, caramelized pear and almond cake and a decadent chocolate cake that Mack said is inspired by the movie “Matilda.” “We’re thinking through some fun stuff,” Mack said.
Mack, who shut down her Whitehall location a few months ago, said time off has allowed her to recommit to her priorities. Next spring, staff with Crust by Mack will collaborate with organizations that combat food inequity in Baltimore.
“I’m really a boots on the ground kinda girl,” she said. “I’m just really trying to show up and be more involved.”
The Corner Bakery Cafe at 500 East Pratt St. was shut down by the Baltimore Health Department Nov. 30 for a rodent infestation and reopened Dec. 6.
Bull’s Eye, located inside Northeast Market, was closed Friday for operating without a license.
Jano Ethiopian Restaurant and Lounge LLC, at 34 South Eutaw St., was shut down by the health department Saturday for general unsanitary conditions.
STEM Farm + Kitchen will close its R. House location in six months, per Instagram.