Pabu is shutting down this weekend, but a new Japanese restaurant will be taking its place, according to operators. The small-plate format will be gone, replaced by a more traditional fine-dining concept.
"Our number one priority is taking care of our locals," said Alex Smith, whose Atlas Restaurant Group is taking over the spaces currently operating as Pabu and Lamill in The Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore. "[Pabu] never did a great job of attracting the local crowd," he said.
Smith, who owns Ouzo Bay, an upscale Greek restaurant in Harbor East, said that several Ouzo Bay customers who had seen news coverage of the Pabu closing told him they had never heard of Pabu.
The Lamill coffee shop, which is located near the hotel's front entrance, will shut down on Saturday and then reopen the following Monday with an expanded cafe menu of made-to-order sandwiches and salads as well as expanded seating.
The Pabu space will reopen later this summer, following what Smith said will be a $500,000 renovation, as a fine-dining Japanese restaurant inspired by prominent restaurants like Nobu, Morimoto and Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill.
The closings of Pabu and Lamill, both of which were developed for the Four Seasons by the San Francisco-based Mina Group, were announced last week. Wit & Wisdom, the hotel's anchor restaurant, will continue to be operated by the Mina Group.
Baltimore-based designer Patrick Sutton has been hired for the renovations of Lamill -- which mainly involve the reconfiguration of seating areas -- and for Pabu, where more extensive renovations are to include a redesign to the entrance on Aliceanna Street, which is around the corner from the hotel's main entrance.
The obscure entrance was one the barriers that may have kept Pabu from catching on with the public, Smith said, adding that its food concept was another.
Smith said that he is pursuing two highly regarded chefs -- one for the kitchen and one for sushi only -- for the restaurant. Neither, Smith said, is from Baltimore.
Smith is the grandson of developer John S. Paterakis, who owns the hotel through Harbor East Development Group, a subsidiary of H&S; Properties Development Corp. Operated by the Toronto-based Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, the Harbor East property opened in November 2011.