With the help of two new investors, the Edgar Allan Poe-themed restaurant Annabel Lee Tavern will reopen, said owner Kurt Bragunier, who had announced the Canton corner bar’s closure last month due to declining sales.
While Annabel Lee Tavern (601 S. Clinton St.) is currently closed, Bragunier hopes it will open in two to three weeks.
“The concept is staying the same,” Bragunier said. “We’re still going to be the Annabel Lee Tavern that everyone was used to.”
After word traveled of the planned closing, fans of Annabel Lee’s took to social media to express sympathy and gratitude for the restaurant’s 10 years of service.
Two locals decided to take it a significant step further, and reached out to Bragunier about becoming silent investors. He declined to give their names or the amount they’re investing “because that’s still in the works,” Bragunier said.
“They’re two guys who have been coming here with their wives for years, and just love the place,” said Bragunier, who named the place after Poe’s final poem. “They want to help me keep it going.”
Last month, Bragunier — a former general manager at the Brewer’s Art — blamed the decision to close largely on revenue loss due to increased competition in the neighborhood. He said he lost $200,000 from 2015 to 2016.
While the menu will largely stay the same, Annabel Lee’s approach to driving customers will not, the owner said. Bragunier said neighborhood residents told him they often assumed his dimly lit spot was crowded, which was not the case. Going forward, he plans to increase exposure for the restaurant through platforms he previously ignored, including the delivery service OrderUp, Baltimore Restaurant Week and possibly Groupon.
“Both of these guys are a lot more savvy in promotion and stuff than I am,” he said. “I’m going to be a lot more active in getting the name out there.”
Self-promotion comes unnaturally to Bragunier, who said one of his favorite parts of running the restaurant is when customers mistake him for a busboy. But the immediate response to news of the closing — including three packed nights on what was believed to be the restaurant’s final weekend late last month — has Bragunier encouraged for this second chance.
“All of these people coming forward, it was so heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. It was completely overwhelming,” Bragunier said. “I just hope people will receive us well when we reopen.”
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