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Darker Than Blue soul food restaurant expected to reopen near Morgan State University next year

Darker Than Blue, a soul food concept restaurant, will reopen next year in the Northwood Plaza Shopping Center near Morgan State University.

Its owner, chef Casey Jenkins, said the 180-seat restaurant will occupy a 2,200-square-foot space and will mimic the same white-tablecloth concept as the original Darker Than Blue on Greenmount Avenue, which closed in 2013.

Expect the same shrimp and grits, blackened tilapia with Louisiana-style cream sauce, and chicken and waffles. Dish prices will be around $22, according to Jenkins.

“It is going to be hip and it is going to be chic,” he said.

The Northwood Plaza Shopping Center will be a good location for the restaurant because of its proximity to the Towson area, which is where the majority of Jenkins’ customers came from, he said.

“We are smack dab in the middle of our customer base,” he said.

Jenkins expects demolition at the site to begin this summer. He anticipates that the restaurant will open in the third or fourth quarter of 2019.

Originally, Jenkins wanted to move to a mixed-use development in Charles Village at 33rd and St. Paul streets. But a delay with that project resulted in Jenkins focusing his attention on his other concept, Birdland Sports Bar & Grill on Belair Road. He now plans to sell that business and focus on Darker Than Blue, he said.

Jenkins has made it a mission to help support businesses — particularly black-owned restaurants — in Baltimore.

“It’s a travesty that we have to hunt for African-American restaurants” he said.

He is one of the organizers of Baltimore’s Black Restaurant Challenge, an effort to encourage the public to visit eight black-owned restaurants during February, Black History Month.

Jenkins moved to Baltimore in 1998 with the hopes of opening up a restaurant.

“I did some research. I knew I couldn’t open a restaurant in New York. It was just too expensive. There was an actual boom in tourism in Baltimore. … I fell in love with the damn city and never left,” Jenkins said with a laugh. “It’s such an awesome city.”

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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