Table Talk: Kloby's owners remain calm during expansion

Maybe they were desperate for Carolina-style pulled pork or St. Louis-style ribs. Or maybe they had heard about the 32 taps and the new bourbon bar inside Kloby's Smokehouse in Laurel. But at the exact moment Kloby's owners Michele and Steve Klobosits got the last of their approvals and were allowed to open their doors, a group of 40 people was waiting outside — one group of 40 people.

The Klobositses were ready for them.

It takes a lot to ruffle Michele Klobosits, who sounded serene and calm about opening her family's expanded barbecue restaurant on the Fourth of July weekend. She sounded so calm that I asked her about it. "I was a paramedic, and my husband was a paramedic firefighter," she said. "You learn calm under pressure."

Emergency work might sound like all the training anyone would need for restaurant ownership, but that's not all the training the Klobositses have. Steve Klobosits left firefighting to enroll in culinary school, and Michele went to work for Micros Systems, a Columbia-based provider of restaurant point-of-sale systems.

Kloby's Smokehouse has grown rapidly since its April 2008 opening, when it moved into the location of another barbecue carryout. "It's been very controlled growth," Michele Klobosits said. The summer after its opening, Kloby's added fast-casual service, and the following year it became a full-service restaurant. This most recent expansion puts Kloby's at 5,500 square feet with seating for 160, a tripling of its most recent capacity.

The expansion gives Kloby's a performance area for "unplugged" country, blues and jazz. And if Kloby's now sounds like it's a destination for more than just its widely admired barbecue and homemade sides, Michele Klobosits says her family's philosophy is simple: "Food. First and foremost"

Kloby's Smokehouse is at 7500 Montpelier Road in Laurel. Call 301-362-1510 or go to

The other Rainier Northwest cherries started arriving in June and should remain plentiful into early August. Northwest Cherries, an outgrowth of the Washington State Fruit Commission, is promoting the pits of out them. The sweet, yellow-skinned Rainier, developed at the University of Washington in 1952, is honored with its own day. July 11 is National Rainier Cherry Day.

National Cherries picked one restaurant in each state to create a "unique Rainier cherry menu item" for national campaign called Tree to Table. Representing Maryland is Gertrude's, where pastry chef Doug Wetzel has come up with a Rainier cherry-almond tart with sour-cherry ice cream. Because National Rainier Cherry Day falls on a Monday, when Gertrude's is closed, the promoters are letting Gertrude's get an early start Thursday through the weekend).

The promoters, who are supplying cherries to the selected restaurants, were looking for "iconic" restaurants. That's a tough one. Iconic doesn't always pair up with creativity. But Gertrude's, with John Shields' focus on the Chesapeake, is a smart choice, and that tart sounds delicious.

Gertrude's is in the Baltimore Museum of Art at 10 Art Museum Drive. Call 410-889-3399 or go to

Sharpen those golf pencils Luckie's Tavern at Power Plant Live debuted its new menu July 5, and it represents a serious streamlining. Burgers are the focus now, and Luckie's is introducing a new basic burger, which is actually a stacking of two quarter-pound burgers. The menu lists seven chef's variations of this burger, like the Southwest, with pepper jack, bacon and an oversize onion ring. All of them are priced at $9. There is also a build-a-burger option, where diners choose add-ons from a checklist, and that's where the golf pencils come in. The first few toppings are free; after that, they're 50 cents each. And nothing too fancy — your basic cheese, bacon, chili and fried egg. For the record, lettuce, tomato, red onions, sliced jalapeno and dill pickles are all free.

Luckie's will officially relaunch its Wednesday burger promotion July 13 — all burgers, and draft beers, are 50 percent off — but general manager Ben Brengle says that the promotion, and the new menu, are ready for customers this Wednesday.

Luckie's Tavern is at 10 Market Place. Call 410-223-1105 or go to

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