The food and beverage team at Maryland Live has been in place for months, preparing for the casino's first guests. The casino's executive chef is Rudy Volpe, most recently of Carmine's in Washington, and the director of food and beverage for the casino is Greg Van Stone, most recently the director of restaurants for the Waldorf Astoria in Orlando, Fla.
Volpe and Van Stone will be responsible for the casino's food operations, including the Live Market Buffet, an Asian noodle bar and a Phillips Seafood outlet. The casino's re-creation of the legendary steakhouse The Prime Rib also falls under their jurisdiction. The steakhouse will open later this fall.
Volpe and Van Stone have extensive experience in the gaming industry, which is its own special thing in the hospitality business, with its own challenges.
"A lot of time there's the perception that casinos are glitzy," said Van Stone, a Houston native who has held executive level positions at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Miss., and MGM Grand Detroit Casino. "But employees find out quickly that while it's very rewarding, it's very busy. They experience volume they're not ready for."
For Volpe, serving casino guests is a pleasure. "I've always found that gaming guests are really well traveled and have a very diverse background," Volpe said. "They're a happy lot. They enjoy the finer things in life."
Volpe is also working with the Prime Rib's management and its owner Buzz Beler to implement the steakhouse's menu and methods at Arundel Mills.
"It's very straightforward," Volpe said about the Prime Rib's food. The quality of ingredients speak for themselves."
Although he's originally from Philadelphia, Volpe has spent most of his culinary career in California and New Mexico. "I like to say that the East Coast is a hardy lot of people that enjoy good food," said Volpe.
"You don't get to fake it in Baltimore, Washington and New York. You have to have a good product and bring it in the right fashion."
A Cheesecake Factory and Bobby's Burger Palace, from celebrity chef Bobby Flay, will also operate out of the casino.
Maryland Live is slated to open June 6 at 7002 Arundel Mills Circle, Hanover. Call 443-842-7000 or go to marylandlivecasino.com.
Openings Townhouse Kitchen & Bar is scheduled to open this week in Fells Point, next door to RA Sushi.
This is the fourth Townhouse, which is operated by the Glenview, Ill.-based Restaurants America. The menu, which specializes in contemporary American fare with Latin influences, will offer a variety of shared plates, salads, fire-grilled skewers, tacos and more. Bryan Perdue has been hired as executive chef.
Townhouse will feature more than 40 local beers on tap, as well as a "table tap" system located at four individual tables for diners. The restaurant is open is open daily for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Townhouse Kitchen & Bar is at 1350 Lancaster St. For information call 443-268-0323 or go to townhousebaltimore.com.
Clementine at the Creative Alliance is scheduled to have its official opening this week, too. The restaurant will serve dinner Thursday through Sunday evenings and Sunday brunch. Jeremy Price is the executive chef.
But wait, there's more. The Green Onion Market, the long-awaited side project from Clementine's owner Winston Blick, opened last week. The Green Onion sells locally purveyed meats, cheeses, eggs and dairy products, along with baked goods, pastas, coffee and homemade stocks from the restaurant.
Clementine at the Creative Alliance is at 3134 Eastern Ave. Call the Creative Alliance at 410-276-1651 or go to creativealliance.org. The Green Onion is at 5500 Harford Road. Call 410-444-1718 or go to greenonionmarket.com
The original Clementine, up on Harford Road in Clementine, remains open, with "Top Chef" alumna Jill Snyder in as the restaurant's new executive chef.
Closings Tae Strain, the executive chef at Crush, is leaving the Belvedere Square restaurant. Saturday is Strain's last day at Crush, which will remain open. But Demi, his separate small-plate project on the lower level of Crush, will close after this Saturday's dinner service.
"It has been amazing, and I leave with no regrets at all," said Strain, who has other projects in the works.
The Donna's on Snowden River Parkway in Columbia closed Sunday after a 10-year run. "It's been tough," onwer Alan Hirsch said about the closing. ""It was a great experience. Our customers became our friends. We had a decent buisness there but just not enough for us to commit to another 10-year lease."
Hirsch said that business continues to be excellent at the Donna's locations in Charles Village and Cross Keys. One factor in the Columbia closing, Hirsch said, was so he and co-owner Donna Crivello could devote their energies to a return to Mount Vernon.
Smooth sailing The Star-Spangled Sailabration is on its way. The mid-June maritime festival is the national kickoff to the War of 1812 Bicentennial.
There will be a cooking component to the festival, too. Galley Works, according to the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, will give visiting and local chefs, food aficionados and food industry members opportunities to inform, promote and provide samples of their products during the Star-Spangled Sailabration.
Three open cooking competitions — for cold crab dips, cupcakes and crab cakes. Finalists in each category, as determined by select committees, will be chosen to prepare their creations as part of the Galley Works festivities.
For more information about Galley Works and the cooking competitions, go to promotionandthearts.org.