"It looked like the place that was going to be the most vital, the quickest," Northouse said. "It's taken off faster than any one of us thought it would."

At 519 N. Charles St., G. Alan Moyers recently opened Renewing Touch, a shop that features aroma and massage therapy and includes retail space for incense, pottery, Persian rugs, sweetgrass, sandalwood and a variety of spiritual items.

'More holistic'

The Charles Street location afforded them a walk-in clientele from nearby residents and businesses alike, he said. That renovation project cost less than $10,000, Moyers said.

"It facilitates what we're interested in doing, which is bringing a little more holistic atmosphere to the community," said Moyers, co-owner. "The revitalization was promising to us."

Phillip Quick opened XS, a coffee, sushi and cocktail bar, in mid-January, next door to two other restaurants he owns - Jay's and Viccino's.

The new restaurant takes up all four levels of the brownstone at 1307 N. Charles St.

"We've been successful at this location," he said. "I've seen an incredible renaissance of Charles Street. It just gets better and better all the time. This year in particular, I've seen more foot traffic in this block than in any other year."

Up the street, Sofi's Crepes recently opened at 1723 N. Charles St. - the brainchild of a disillusioned Baltimore stockbroker.

After 16 years in the financial industry, Ann Costlow, formerly with UBS Paine Webber, decided it was time to make a radical change. She took a leave for a summer, became a cook on the Pride of Baltimore II and loved it.

Her experience prompted her to spend about $45,000 to renovate 150 square feet of space - once the coffee kitchen and part of a stairwell at the Everyman Theater, and another $25,000 on kitchen equipment.

'The perfect food'

"We sort of hit the ground running," said Costlow, who estimates she's sold about 5,000 crepes since opening March 18. "The film festival put us on the map. That was the perfect food for that event. Theater people are the people who understand and love crepes. The whole block is getting that European flair."

Already, she is contemplating an expansion that could double her space by fall.

Costlow's original idea was to locate her crepe shop near Belvedere Square, but those plans fell through. She decided on Charles while driving down the street one day.

"It was the best thing that ever happened to me that I ended up here," she said.