Nearly a year after the Charles Village Pub burned down, the rebuilt edition of the Towson mainstay is inching closer to reopening its doors.
Rick Bielski, who owns the bar on West Pennsylvania Avenue with partners Eric and Melanie Wagner, said Wednesday that the rebuilding process is "moving along," and that an opening date in mid-February, or March 1 at the latest, is being targeted.
"We're very excited," Bielski said. "We're going to have a lot of the old pub, and a lot of new."
The new bar will feature a rooftop deck above the patio area, and larger televisions and bathrooms—"bigger and better everything," Bielski said.
After breaking ground in July, the original reopening date was set for January, although construction delays have pushed the date back at least a month.
Heavy rains in late August and early September came when workers were trying to excavate the new building's foundation. Every time they made progress, rain would wash their progress away, Bielski said.
"But since then, my contractor has been working until dark every day," Bielski said. "He even worked out here Thanksgiving day to get caught up,"
To this point, the only delays have been on the construction side, not from administrative delays that have been know to stall projects.
Bielski said that Baltimore County has "worked really well" with the owners and their contractors to quickly sort out required construction permits.
"We want to start replenishing the county coffers with our tax dollars as soon as we can," Bielski joked. "I know everybody must be excited, including (county officials), to get us open,"
That sentiment extends to the local business community.
Nancy Hafford, director of the Towson Chamber of Commerce, said area businesses are anticipating the return of popular watering hole.
"We're looking forward to the Beilskis being back in town, because they're one of the cornerstone restaurants and bars," she said.
She added that Charles Village Pub brought plenty of foot traffic to other restaurants, especially from Towson University students.
Towson senior Bryan Sartory said that after Charles Village pub closed, he and his friends "had to re-learn how to go uptown in Towson."
"This year without the CVP has undoubtedly been different for all of us," he said. "It's not like we hadn't frequented other establishments — we absolutely had — but CVP was our home. The bartenders weren't just there to serve you drinks; they were your friends. The crowd was always welcoming and the atmosphere always one of jubilation. Losing all that was, simply put, a devastating blow."
Bielski, who is active in the Towson alumni community, said he is asked about the bar's progress frequently at events, most recently at the school's football playoff game.
"People were telling me they can't wait," he said. "We only lost that class of seniors (from last year.) The other people, the juniors or five-year seniors, are still around."
The opening schedule may include several private soft openings, one of which will serve as a final tribute to the Baltimore County police and fire departments, which, Bielski said, "did an excellent job" in responding to the Jan. 29, 2011 blaze.
The official grand opening for the public has yet to be determined.