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Ryleigh’s Oyster to shut Federal Hill location after 20 years, latest in string of restaurant closings

Ryleigh’s Oyster in Federal Hill is closing after 20 years.
Ryleigh’s Oyster in Federal Hill is closing after 20 years. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Sun)

Nearly two months after Gov. Larry Hogan closed Maryland restaurants to dine-in service, owner Brian McComas announced he is permanently closing the Ryleigh’s Oyster location in Federal Hill after 20 years in business.

It’s the latest domino to fall in a string of permanent closures that’s included Mt. Vernon’s City Cafe and downtown’s Alexander Brown Restaurant.

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In a text message, McComas cited Baltimore’s crime and inadequate leadership as laying the groundwork for his decision, topped off with the uncertainty of limited reopenings amid the coronavirus pandemic. “Baltimore is in a death spiral,” he wrote.

McComas previously came under fire for comments critical of the city’s Ceasefire movement.

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The Ryleigh’s Oyster location in Timonium, currently offering carry out, will remain open, McComas said. Another location in Mt. Vernon closed in 2017.

Hours earlier, the business had tweeted what sounded like a farewell to customers: “It’s been real Federal Hill. THANK YOU to all of our friends for the memories and your loyal support for 20 bold years!”

Experts predict up to half of restaurants will close permanently in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, with business owners in many cases struggling to pay rent and cover other basic expenses while making reduced or no income.

Many small business owners have struggled to access federal funding offered through the $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program. Other business owners report feeling conflicted about whether to even apply for such loans, which are meant to re-hire laid off staff, when they are unable to reopen fully.

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