Robbin Haas, the restaurateur behind the successful Birroteca, will open the Nickel Taphouse in Mount Washington in the Kelly Avenue space that was most recently Blue Sage and, before that, The Falls. Haas said he hopes to have Nickel Taphouse open by October.
The concept, he said, is based on the taverns in Buffalo, N.Y., where he grew up.
"Every bar in Buffalo had a dining room in the back," Haas said. "They were places for working-class people."
The offerings will include a few items that are popular in the Buffalo area but that are seldom seen in Baltimore. Among them are a smoked whitefish dip with Saltines -- something his wife, Tanya, insisted on, Haas said.
"It will be easy to come and do a nosh or nibble," he said about the menu he envisions for Nickel Taphouse.
Haas said that Nickel Taphouse will serve roast beef on kummelweck, a distinctive caraway roll that is found almost exclusively in the Buffalo area. Haas said that the sandwich, known to Western New York natives as "beef on weck," is as popular in Buffalo as the city's famous wings.
And as is the case in his beloved Buffalo taverns, it will be the bartenders who prepare the beef on weck for customers.
Haas said that Nickel Taphouse, in spite of its casual attitude, will take its sourcing and recipes as seriously as the team at Birroteca does. But customers can just come in and have a good time.
"Restaurants don't need to be a learning experience," Haas said. "We're not here to school our customers. That's not our first and foremost responsibility. We should never be so precious. We're taking money out of [customers'] pockets. We should be giving them a good time."