There are signs of renewal around Hollins Market, the west-side neighborhood whose fortunes have flowed and ebbed over the past few decades.

The old Mencken's Cultured Pearl space on Hollins Street might be getting a new tenant soon. The Cultured Pearl flourished in the early 1990s, the neighborhood's heyday, and finally closed in 1998, after the demise of Gypsy's Cafe, the Market Cafe and the Tell Tale Hearth.

In 2008, a Hollins Market booster opened Baltimore Pho in the Cultured Pearl space, in an effort, he said, to bring activity and interest back to the neighborhood. Baltimore Pho did well, and after two years, Collins sold the business.

But the successor tenants flailed and floundered and 1114 Hollins ended up empty again.

Now, a new restaurateur is considering the property. David Thomas, the co-owner of Herb & Soul, a Parkville carryout specializing in natural foods, said he's hoping to expand his natural-foods concept to the Hollins Market. Update: Herb & Soul will not be moving into Holins Market.

Thomas said he presented his plans at a neighborhood association meeting. "They seemed genuinely excited about our coming."

The Herb & Soul menu ranges from chicken and fish boxes to shrimp and grits to buttermilk frog legs, all of which, Thomas said, he strives to prepare with wholesome, natural ingredients.

Another Hollins Market favorite may be returning, too ... but we will hold off on that until we talk with the principals involved.

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