Since Charles Village Pub & Patio in downtown Towson was devastated by a two-alarm fire last January, customers, Towson students, and neighbors have been asking owner Rick Bielski when the popular hangout would re-open.
This week, he finally had an answer: "We'll be up and running mid-to-late March," he said.
That's what he's shooting for anyway. Bielski had said before the bar, which was heavily damaged after an afternoon fire January 29, would re-open March 1 at the latest.
But after reconstruction started in the summer, it was delayed by six weeks by construction and weather complications, Bielski said.
Bielski said CVP needed a complete overhaul; the fire was catastrophic, attracting some 100 firefighters and some 25 trucks to 19 W. Pennsylvania Ave. News of CVP's re-opening was first reported by Towson Patch.
"We basically rebuilt everything from scratch," Bielski said. "They leveled the whole building. Every piece of wood, brick and equipment is brand-new." Mt. Washington Tavern, another venerable bar and restaurant that was totalled by a fire last year, is also working towards reconstruction.
The new Charles Village Pub, which Bielski co-owns with Melanie and Eric Wagner, will now be entirely under one roof.
The popular patio has been enclosed, heated and air-conditioned, so that it'll now be available for use year-round.
CVP's front bar has also been expanded and a rooftop deck has been added to its second floor for use during the summer as well. Bielski said the reconstruction project has been covered by the bar's insurance.
Bielski said the owners are now in the middle of installing plumbing and electricity. Two weeks from now, they should have windows and doors up and will enter the final stage, installing kitchen equipment, televisions, and other fixtures.
The reconstruction has given Bielski and its partners an opportunity to update the bar's long-standing menu, which was particularly known for its lunch-time burgers.
Now, it'll offer "trendier items," in Bielski's words - like paninis and flatbrads - and, for the first time, entrees, including some seafood and chicken dishes.
Bielski said they intend to continue catering to the lunch, happy hour and student crowds of downtown Towson. The specials they used to have for Towson students won't change, he said.
After the fire, Bielski and his partners tried to find temporary employment for some of the bar's staff. Some have moved on, but others are planning on coming back, he said, so that even the staff at the new bar might be recognizable to regulars.
"It's gonna be different because everything is new," Bielski said. "But it's the same old pub."