The Prime Rib is coming to the Maryland Live Casino — Greenberg potato skins, leopard-skin carpeting, baby grand piano and all.
Established in Baltimore in 1965 by brothers Buzz and Nick Beler, the Prime Rib has is now a bona fide dining institution, with additional locations in Washington and Philadelphia. Attracting the Prime Rib to Maryland Live is a coup for the Baltimore-based Cordish Cos., which had originally announced that the casino's premier steak house would be Ruth's Chris.
"The Prime Rib kept coming up in internal conversations and on surveys," said Cordish managing partner Joe Weinberg, who is overseeing the casino's design, construction and operations.
The Prime Rib at the casino, Cordish and restaurant representatives, will be the one Baltimore diners have grown to love.
"From the design to the training to the recipes to the uniform, it's 100 percent the Prime Rib," Weinberg said.
The Prime Rib at Maryland Live will have a few amenities the Baltimore restaurant doesn't, though, including private dining rooms, an expansive bar area and a covered outdoor dining area with fire pits and lounge furniture.
Negotiations to bring the Prime Rib to Maryland Live began in late 2011, according to Buzz Beler, who praised the Cordish team for implementing his requests and advice.
"It looks like the Prime Rib and will be like the Prime Rib," Beler said. "I'm going to be involved in all aspects. ... Forty-six years we've been in Baltimore. I think I know how to run a Prime Rib."
The Prime Rib will join the previously announced Cheesecake Factory and Phillips Seafood, which will be part of a station-style buffet. Celebrity chef Bobby Flay will be represented at Maryland Live by his Bobby's Burger Palace brand.
The scheduled June opening of the $500 million casino is pending approval from the Maryland State Lottery Agency. The Prime Rib is scheduled to open in the fall.
Corkage again While diners in Washington and Virginia are free to bring their own bottles of wine into a licensed restaurant, the practice, known as "corkage," is prohibited in Maryland.
But changes could be on the way. Identical state Senate and House of Delegates bills have had their first hearings, and there are reasons for a rosier outlook than last year, when proposed corkage bills sank in committees.
Unlike in 2011, when corkage would have been introduced in only a handful of counties, the legislation is being considered this session on a statewide basis. And the Maryland Restaurant Association, which opposed the legislation last year, agreed to take no position this session once its concerns about the bill were addressed by corkage supporters.
At least 25 states now allow diners to bring their own wine into licensed establishments, and as more states allow the practice — Virginia passed its corkage law in 2011 — it puts pressure on neighboring states to loosen restrictions. In Maryland, corkage is currently allowed only in unlicensed, or BYOB, establishments.
House and Senate committees will also be sorting through legislation that would allow multiple restaurant licenses to be held by the same entity.
Brass tacks Faced with opposition from neighborhood groups, plans to reopen the Brass Elephant have stalled. The restaurant's owners asked the city's liquor board on Feb. 23 for time to regroup amid concerns that the fine-dining restaurant would be converted into a nightclub.
"We would like to have legal representation," said Stuart Teper, a representative of Charles Street Restaurant Inc., the Brass Elephant's holding company. The owners had been seeking to reactivate the Brass Elephant's liquor license but instead asked for a postponement, which the Board of Liquor License Commissioners granted.
"In a predominantly residential neighborhood, we don't need another lounge at this location," the Mount Vernon-Belvedere Association wrote in a letter to the liquor board. "Within one block today are six nightclub/lounges plus five restaurant-bars."
Plans for a revamped Brass Elephant space were introduced to the association on Feb. 21. The townhouse, they were told, would be leased by Walter Webb, who laid out his plans for a lounge and restaurant called Museum. Describing his background, Webb told the association he had been involved with Love Nightclub and Park at Fourteenth in Washington, D.C.
The morning after Webb's presentation, the neighborhood association sent an e-mail to its members pointing out what it said were Love's troubles with Washington authorities, including a link to a video showing a brawl outside the nightclub.
At the Feb. 23 liquor board hearing, Teper appeared to distance himself from Webb and his presentation.
"We are reopening," Teper said. "That man was just our manager."
Jason Curtis, the neighborhood association's president, said he would support the Brass Elephant's reopening if the owners presented the full membership with "their true plans" and agreed to operate as a restaurant, and not as a nightclub or lounge.
"We're not against liquor, and we're not against good, committed neighbors opening in Mount Vernon," he said.