Gourmet hot dogs must be doing huge business in Baltimore. A year after Ryan Perlberg, co-owner of Stuggy's, opened Rye, a cocktail bar, he's launching Willow.
The new bar/restaurant will focus on infusions by Rye mixologist Doug Atwell and revisionist Mexican by Stuggy's chef Benjamin Polson; it's expected to open in late June, Perlberg said.
With Rye and Stuggy's beside it, Willow gives Perlberg control over a small fiefdom in Fells. And Perlberg is working on re-organizing ownership of the venues under one partnership tentatively called RP Restaurant Group; he co-owns Rye and Stuggy's under different partnerships.
The group name has not been registered yet with the state, records show; Perlberg says paperwork was filed this week. Stuggy's also recently launched a pop-up restaurant at Camden Yards.
Willow replaces Sam's Kid, a pan-Asian restaurant that closed in February. Perlberg jumped on the chance to lease the spot less than a month ago.
"It was too good an opportunity to not take advantage of," he said. "We thought it was the next chapter of what we're trying to establish with Rye and Stuggy's."
The new two-story venue - "modern, light and airy!" Perlberg boasts - will have a tear-drop bar on the first floor and a lounge on the second. Renovations started two weeks ago, Perlberg said, and are expected to be over in June, with a planned opening some time in the last two weeks of the month.
The dining menu at Willow is what Perlberg calls a "modernist" take on Mexican food, which to him mean deconstructed tacos, for instance, in the vein of Oyamel in Washington D.C. The three venues will share resources but not a kitchen, Perlberg clarified.
Atwell will create a cocktail menu of infusions that will be in single servings or as shared drinks.
Atwell said the menu is in its early stages, but two stand-outs have been a ginger-infused rum and a pear tequila.
"Our aim is to have guests enjoy these and other infused spirits on their own, as well as incorporated into seasonal cocktails," Atwell said.