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Retro Baltimore: The restaurants that left us, and their mark on the city

The pandemic has shown us how volatile the life span of a restaurant is. As much as we may savor a certain dish and anticipate a favorite dessert, there is no guarantee it will be around for another year.

Here’s a look at some of the most memorable of times gone by.

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Haussner’s

Mrs. Frances Haussner in her restaurant, May 7, 1976.
Mrs. Frances Haussner in her restaurant, May 7, 1976. (Weyman Swagger)

The news that the venerable Haussner’s would close in 1999 was a game changer in local restaurant history. For a dining establishment, it had a long existence. It opened in 1926 on Eastern Avenue in Highlandtown and throughout the 1960s expanded with additional seating. Still, there was a waiting line on Saturday nights.

Haussner’s had its own bakery and displayed a ruby red glazed strawberry pie. The bread tray, in the era when the old Stone’s Bakery on East Lombard Street made the salt rolls, was a standout.

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Patrons of Haussner’s returned for one last serving of crab imperial or Wiener schnitzel supper in the restaurant’s final days, then it closed and its renowned art collection was auctioned. While some made fun of the paintings and marble busts of Roman emperors, the artwork brought more than $11.3 million at a New York City sale.

The Yellow Bowl

Archives: The Yellow Bowl Restaurant offers the ultimate in down home cooking, November 16, 1994.
Archives: The Yellow Bowl Restaurant offers the ultimate in down home cooking, November 16, 1994. (Andre Lambertson)

The Yellow Bowl served patrons on Greenmount Avenue. The eatery took its name from the nearby Yellow Cab Company.

“The Bowl” as it was known, was known for its scrapple sandwiches, chicken, spicy rice, pigs’ feet and greens.

News stories said it dated to 1921 and changed to a Black-owned business when Youman Fullard Sr., the son of a South Carolina sharecropper, and his wife, Eva Virginia Knight, acquired the business in 1968. There was a second branch on Park Heights Avenue. The owners retired in 2005.

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Horn & Horn

The interior of Horn & Horn restaurant.
The interior of Horn & Horn restaurant. (MORTIMER/Check with Baltimore Sun Photo)

Downtown Baltimore and its Monday-to-Friday business workers were a hungry crew. Until it closed in 1976 with little notice, Horn & Horn on Baltimore Street near Guilford Avenue was mobbed at the noon hour. Fans liked its fried eggplant, chicken biscuit sandwich and homemade ice cream.

The restaurant was in the heart of Baltimore’s downtown legal and legislative district (City Hall was a block away) and there was many a political secret exchanged on its bentwood chairs.

Woman’s Industrial Exchange

333 N Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21201
333 N Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21201 (HUTCHINS /)

Charles Street regulars swore by the Woman’s Industrial Exchange, which appears headed for yet another reopening as a nonprofit. For decades the place was synonymous with yeasty homemade rolls, chicken salad and tomato aspic.

Marconi’s

Marconi's
Marconi's (HUTCHINS/Check with Baltimore Sun Photo)

Dessert? Yes, please — lemon meringue pie. The meringue pie left in 2005, the same year the chocolate sundaes ended at Marconi’s on Saratoga Street. Its passing marked the end of lobster Cardinale, sweetbreads Sarah Bernhardt (ham and chicken added) and four different potato varieties — au gratin, julienne, hash brown and Lyonnaise.

Schellhase’s

Customers at Schellhase’s on Howard Street debated which was better, the sour beef or the dumplings. Food arrived at the table accompanied by dense pumpernickel bread. Long after Maryland rye had lost its popularity, proprietor, Otto Schellhase had a supply on hand.

Winterling’s

Baltimore was filled with small restaurants in corner rowhouses. Winterling’s in Southeast Baltimore made delicious platters and light-as-air homemade pies.

DeNitti’s

The lasagna at DeNitti’s in Little Italy was pretty special. The layers contained sliced hard-cooked eggs. The neighborhood has lost Velleggia’s, Caesar’s Den, Roma and Maria’s.

Read’s

Baltimore remained strictly segregated in places of public accommodation until change arrived in the 1960s. The racial barrier first fell at the old Read’s drugstore lunch counter at Howard and Lexington streets. Read’s soda fountains and counters closed after its 1977 purchase by Rite Aid.

Hooper’s Restaurant

Not all restaurant owners were willing to desegregate. Civil rights protesters picketed Hooper’s Restaurant, a popular meeting place at Fayette and Charles streets, because its management refused to serve Black patrons.

Black students from Dunbar High School refused to leave Hooper’s in 1960 and were arrested for trespassing. Attorneys for the students took the case through the courts as a test case. The students and their lawyers persevered and the conviction was overturned.

One of the student protesters was Robert M. Bell, who went on to graduate from Harvard Law School. He was later named to the Baltimore Circuit Court, then the Court of Special Appeals and, in 1991, the Court of Appeals and served as its chief judge.

The restaurant closed shortly thereafter and was demolished for the Charles Center.

Hutzler’s

By 1960, Black customers began being served at Hutzler’s department stores. The stores’ tea rooms opened their doors to all patrons. Decades later, the stores closed for economic reasons unrelated to race relations.

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