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Sascha's 527 cafe to close next week

Sascha’s 527 cafe will serve its last chopped salad next week.

The Mount Vernon restaurant at 527 N. Charles St. is closing after service Aug. 4 as new owners take over the building.

Owner Sascha Wolhandler put the building on the market in January*, and sold her catering business to Mallory Staley, a partner in the nearby Elephant, in March. Sascha’s Catering also operated out of the same building.

“It kind of was just a seamless transition,” Wolhandler said.

Her decision to sell the building and close the cafe happened quickly in the last year, she said. The building is under contract, but she declined to name the buyer.

No matter what’s next for the space, the shift will mark a noticeable change for the block just south of the Washington Monument, where Wolhandler has worked for more than 30 years.

She started catering out of the building in 1986, then added her first daily cafe in the back of the building in the early 1990s.

She and her husband, Steve Suser, purchased the 9,500-square-foot property in 1997 and expanded the cafe in 2000. The cafe previously served both lunch and dinner but scaled back to only lunch service in 2015.

In addition to the first-floor restaurant, the building also includes two apartments, a commercial kitchen in the basement and parking. The building has a storied history, and has previously housed tenants including the Baltimore Opera Company and Andre’s Empire Salon.

Sascha’s is known for its chopped salads, and Wolhandler’s catering business, still under her name, became known for its high-end lunchboxes, Sascha’s Silver Sacs.

“I always felt like Sascha’s was on the innovative edge,” she said.

Wolhandler said it’s bittersweet to leave the cafe behind. She recounted the many events she’s catered and hosted during the last three decades, from weddings to bar mitzvahs to memorial services.

“You see all of life pass through a restaurant,” she said.

She’ll miss the people most, she said, both longtime customers and employees, some of whom have worked with her as long as 20 years.

“It becomes family,” she said.

She said Sascha’s was a place that offered people second chances, and many of those employees stayed with her for years.

“I have employed your tired, your sick, your deplorables, your implorables … your high-brow, your low-brow, your unibrow,” she said. “It was just a safe haven for so many lost souls.”

Wolhandler said she’s not retiring, but she’s not sure what’s next for her beyond spending time traveling.

“I see trekking from the south of France to Nepal in my future, and then we’ll figure it out,” she said. “A huge amount of my food inspiration came from traveling.”

She plans to host a party from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 6 to celebrate the cafe’s legacy and reunite former employees. The cost of admission? A Sascha’s story.

“I want all the stories,” she said. “Especially the X-rated ones.”

*Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the month Wolhandler put her building on the market. She listed the building in January. The Sun regrets the error.

smeehan@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sarahvmeehan

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