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Fleming’s closes, third Harbor East restaurant to shutter in recent weeks of the pandemic

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, one of the first restaurants to open in the early years of Harbor East, closed on Dec. 10.
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, one of the first restaurants to open in the early years of Harbor East, closed on Dec. 10. (Baltimore Sun staff)

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, one of the first restaurants to open on the east end of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor after the early phase of its redevelopment, has closed, the third Harbor East establishment to go out of business during the recent weeks of the pandemic.

Roys, the Hawaiian fusion chain restaurant that, like Fleming’s, opened in Harbor East in 2001, closed in September. The James Joyce Irish Pub and Restaurant, which opened its doors at 616 President St. in 2002, closed for good this month.

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The shuttering of Fleming’s on Thursday came just a day after Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott ordered all city restaurants to stop serving food indoors or outdoors in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus during a surge of infections.

Fleming’s, located on Aliceanna Street near the Marriott Waterfront Hotel, was the ninth location in a chain of steakhouses owned and operated by a California-based company. The Baltimore Fleming’s is no longer listed on the company’s website. Attempts to reach the operator of the restaurant were not successful.

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“Fleming’s lease in Harbor East was set to expire in April of 2021 and as such, we had already commenced efforts and outreach to backfill the space and replace the restaurant with a fresh, new concept,” said Megan McCloskey, director of marketing for Harbor East.

“With Mayor Scott’s order to close restaurants for on-site dining in Baltimore City, we can only imagine it no longer made sense for Fleming’s to remain open in the interim. We very much enjoyed having Fleming’s as a part of Harbor East for nearly 20 years and we look forward to introducing a new tenant in the near future.”

Founded in 1998, Fleming’s was part of a wave of restaurants serving gourmet beef entrees. The Baltimore location said it offered more than 100 wines by the glass. Popular with business class clients, it was frequently listed in The Baltimore Sun and other publications among best destinations for a Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Valentine’s Day dinner.

“Fleming’s dining room is comfortable, masculine and clubby, with lots of red leather, a bar with an Orioles game on the TV and an open kitchen,” wrote former Sun critic Elizabeth Large in her first review of the restaurant. “It’s also noisy. This is a place for real men to eat lots of beef, especially those on expense accounts. (Not that there weren’t a fair share of ladies tucking into 16-ounce rib-eye steaks.)”

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At least two other Fleming’s locations, in Boston and Indianapolis, closed this year. Elizabeth Watts, the company’s director of media relations, said all three closures were due to lease expirations and not related to the pandemic. The company still lists 69 locations in 25 states.

Analysts have predicted that a significant number of U.S. restaurants will be forced to permanently close during the pandemic.

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