When the Corner Stable opens its doors in Kings Contrivance next week, former Michael's Pub patrons will recognize one remnant of the previous tenant's former glory: the Baltimore Ravens wall, where past and present players and coaches have left their signatures above diners' heads.
But the rest of the space is unrecognizable, said Chip Reed, co-owner of the Corner Stable's Cockeysville location. And with baseball, football, and horse memorabilia from Reed's personal collection, the space has taken on a distinct "Corner Stable" feel.
The restaurant's opening date is Monday, Oct. 24, said Bryan Hiller, the location's general manager and Reed's nephew, and with the opening, one local establishment is replacing another.
Michael's operated out of the village center in Kings Contrivance for 25 years. But the Corner Stable has been in Cockeysville since 1972, making a name for itself thanks to its award-winning crab cakes and baby back ribs which, Reed said, are imported from Denmark and cooked for three days before being served.
"You will be happy when you eat here," Reed said. "It's good, good food."
The Reed family, owners of the Cockeysville location for 11 years, first started looking to expand about four years ago, Reed said, and the space left vacant by Michael's Pub in March was a perfect spot.
The family has strong ties to Howard County: Reed's wife and co-owner, Randy, has a sister who lives in Columbia and the Reeds' nieces and nephews attended county high schools. Hiller is a graduate of Hammond High School.
Work at the Kings Contrivance location began Sept. 1 and was completed in seven weeks – a quick pace in the restaurant business, Reed said.
"We felt comfortable coming here," Reed said. "We know this area, and this was a good move for us."
'Good for the village'
It's a welcome move, too. Fred Niziol, a member of the Kings Contrivance village board, said the board and entire village was excited for the Corner Stable to open.
"It's a local, Maryland company and their food is good — their ribs are outstanding — and they're bringing jobs to the area," Niziol said. "It's fantastic. They're going to be a very good fit for Kings Contrivance.
"It's been lonesome on that corner" since Michael's closed, he added. "This will be a place where families will come for dinner and if they come here to eat, they'll also visit the other stores and that's good for business. It's good for the village."
Hiller said feedback from neighbors and community members has been good, which Reed said isn't always the case when a new restaurant is opened.
"When you come into a close, tight-knit community like Columbia, you might have resistance, but there's been nothing but positive response," Reed said. "They're delighted to have a nice, clean, beautiful place in their backyard."
The new restaurant will be able to seat 197 people and will employ about 95 people, Reed said. It will also fill a gap in the county, Hiller said, for a family-friendly restaurant with a separate bar space for the happy-hour crowd.
Reed said Howard County is "restaurant poor" and has "a scarcity of locally owned and operated restaurants.
"It's important that someone comes in that's from the area, a kind of mom-and-pop restaurant, even if we're an upscale mom-and-pop restaurant."