Hampden, which has wine bars, dive-y pubs, pasta bars and pizza palaces, is getting a barbecue restaurant. Blue Pit is on its way.
"I was walking to have dinner at the Food Market about a year ago, and I wanted barbecue," said David Newman, who will own Blue Pit with his wife, Cara Bruce. "I thought, 'There's no barbecue. I have to travel out of my neighborhood for it.'"
Bruce and Newman plan to have Blue Pit open by next spring at 1601 Union Ave., which has been home over the past few years to Ashberry Pub, Grey Goose Inn and Flips, all of which were leasing the building. Bruce and Newman are in the process of purchasing the 3,408 square-foot property, which sits across Union Avenue from the Union Mill complex, home to Artifact Coffee.
Newman, who was the executive chef at Brewer's Art, said he had been thinking of opening his own restaurant for a long time. "But I put it on hold," Newman said. "I really liked working at Brewer's."
"I’m lucky because food is my hobby as well as my profession," Newman said. "On my time off, I would either be baking bread, making pizza or making barbecue."
Newman said he had been seriously considering opening a Neapolitan pizza restaurant. "At the time, there was a hole in the market,” Newman said, "but it's since been filled."
Blue Pit will have a full bar — an application for a liquor license transfer was approved on Oct. 10 — and will operate as a fast-casual restaurant, Newman said. Customers will order at a counter, and the food will be delivered to them. "I want to use metal trays," Newman said. "Texas-style."
But Blue Pit won't specialize in Texas-style barbecue. "I would call my barbecue Hampden barbecue. Wherever there's good barbecue," Newman said, "I’m going to replicate it."
Newman said the restaurant's name, Blue Pit, refers both to a barbecue pit and to their blue pit bull, Naples. He said the back patio at Blue Pit will be a welcoming spot for the neighborhood's many dog owners, and bicyclists, too.
"People can bring their dogs," Newman said. "We will be pet-friendly and bike friendly."
Bruce and Newman both grew up in Reston, Va, and re-connected with each other in San Francisco. They moved back to Baltimore, in part, Bruce said, because they wouldn't be able to afford owning a home and a restaurant in the Bay Area.
"San Francisco is so expensive. It's really hard to do things like this," said Bruce, who is a writer and editor — the San Francisco Examiner called her the city's "hippest young erotica writer."
"We were lucky to find a place in Hampden," Bruce said. "We love our neighborhood and our neighbors."
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