Banditos Bar & Kitchen in Federal Hill is looking to expand into the space next door on Charles Street where Forever Yogurt is located.
The Banditos owners are proposing to add "craft deli" — a separate concept from Banditos serving deli items, including house-cured meats, burgers, craft beer and wine.
"It’s something we feel the neighborhood lacks," said Andrew Dunlap, a partner in Banditos. "It’s something where we leave the neighborhood to get this kind of food."
The Federal Hill location of Chicago-based Forever Yogurt opened in April 2014, and the owners put it on the market last year after a partnership dispute.
The 2,000-square-foot space at 1118 S. Charles St., adjacent to Banditos, would seat about 60 guests, including outdoor seating. The yet-to-be-named concept would be open during the same hours as Banditos: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, with the kitchen closing at 11 p.m. daily.
An expansion of Banditos' liquor license to cover the adjacent property was approved Thursday by the Baltimore liquor board.
The liquor board voted 2-1 to approve the expansion of the license, with Chairman Albert Matricciani and Aaron Greenfield in support of the transfer and Dana Moore dissenting.
Moore's vote against the expansion was based on testimony from a handful of Federal Hill residents who attended the hearing to oppose the concept.
"That’s the struggle," Moore said to the licensees. "How do we balance your desire, your innovation … versus the community impact?"
The restaurateurs formed a memorandum of understanding, laying out the ground rules for their operation, with the South Baltimore Neighborhood Association, but failed to come to an agreement with the Federal Hill Neighborhood Association prior to the hearing.
Several members of the Federal Hill Neighborhood Association attended the Thursday hearing to voice their opposition, namely concerns about building another drinking outlet in a neighborhood already saturated with bars.
"Our opposition is based on the fact that there is no need for this, they’re not presenting anything that is new or unique, that there’s an overwhelming amount of mega-bars, which this will become," said Ivo Jamrosz, a Federal Hill resident.
He and others worry the eatery will start small and continue to expand.
"The neighborhood has voted time and time again that there was no reason for expansion of these type of licenses," Jamrosz said. "If he was opening a regular restaurant, we’d have no problem with it."
The board encouraged Bandito's operators to sit down with Federal Hill residents again to allay their concerns.