David Morgan said he fell apart when his wife died of ovarian cancer last year, leaving him at a personal crossroads — and leaving in doubt the future of two establishments that border The Avenue in Hampden like bookends.
Morgan soon shuttered David's Restaurant and Deli, at 3626 Falls Road (the old High's Dairy), a low-key, corner eatery with a mainstream menu, which he and his wife, Joann, had run since 2006. It was best known for its two-of-everything breakfast called the David's Special.
And rumors surfaced — all true, he admits — that he was negotiating to sell the Hampden Republican Club at 3535 Chestnut Ave.
"It was all about my wife," he said.
But now, Morgan, 71, is back in action.
He has taken the club building off the market for the time being, is reopening David's Restaurant and Deli in the next four to six weeks, and is expanding the restaurant into the vacant former Train and Toy World store next door.
"I like to work," said the retired printer, who lives in Hampden. "I feel good, other than my knees."
He is also applying for a beer and wine license in his name (the old one was in his wife's name) and is not expected to face Hampden community opposition, in a nonresidential area, said Benn Ray, president of the Hampden Village Merchants Association.
A hearing before the Baltimore City liquor board will be set for May, said board spokesman Douglas Paige. He said he sees no problems with the application.
Morgan said he hopes to open the expanded space in six months. The restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, including the hearty David's Special.
"If you can eat it," he said. "I can't."
Morgan, a member of the Grand Old Party, said he might yet sell the iconic Republican club building, built in 1936, once home to the Hampden Democratic Club and an Acme food store before he bought it in 1995.
"It's a grand old building," he said, but "a big waste of time" as a Republican club in Baltimore, where registered Democrats far outnumber Republicans.
Morgan said he was negotiating with investors earlier this year about opening a Jewish-style deli there, but he hasn't heard from them in awhile, and assumes the deal fell through.
He said he took the building off the market but is still listening to offers.
"Everything has a price," he said.
But a report in the May issue of Baltimore Magazine, headlined, "A curious piece of Baltimore's political history fades away," may be premature.
Morgan is talking about catering at the club by using the kitchen at David's.
He sounds like a man sitting on prime property.