Grand Cru reopens, with new owner and a touch of Woodberry

The new owner of Grand Cru, J.C. Unitas, stands behind the bar of the Belvedere Square wine bar.
The new owner of Grand Cru, J.C. Unitas, stands behind the bar of the Belvedere Square wine bar. (Baltimore Sun/Richard Gorelick)

Grand Cru, which had been closed for three weeks of renovations, has reopened in Belvedere Square with a new owner, a dramatically transformed interior and a new management team.

Founded by the late Nelson Carey, the wine bar was sold by Carey's widow, Christina Carey, in early March to John C. (J.C.) Unitas III, the grandson of Baltimore Colts legend Johnny Unitas.


Unitas, 26, whose professional background is in the apparel industry, has enlisted a few big-time names to help him manage his first project: Spike Gjerde and Corey Polyoka, the co-owner and director of operations, respectively, of Foodshed, the Hampden-headquartered restaurant group that includes Woodberry KitchenParts & Labor, Artifact Coffee and Shoo-Fly, a family diner that is also located in Belvedere Square.

"I am partnering with Corey and Spike, because their approach aligns with my vision," Unitas said. "Foodshed always remains true in its approach to food. They have a track record."

Nelson Carey, who died in July, was an original partner with Gjerde in Woodberry Kitchen, the flagship restaurant of the Foodshed restaurant group. But Carey left to focus his attention on Grand Cru, a wine bar that became a popular North Baltimore destination with a devoted cadre of regulars.

If those regulars are startled by the newly sleek, even stark, interior, with its brushed aluminum bar and precisely arranged shelf of boutique spirits, they will find some familiar faces behind the Grand Cru bar.

A handful of Grand Cru employees are now working under the new regime, according to Unitas.

"We wouldn't have been able to open [Grand Cru] back up [without them]," Polyoka said, acknowledging the contributions of the staff.

The printed menu at the new Grand Cru lists eight drafts, 15 wines by the glass and 10 classic cocktails. A small food listing include flatbreads, soft pretzels, a spicy pimiento cheese dip and plates of farmstead cheeses and meats cured at Parts & Labor, Foodshed's combination restaurant and retail butcher shop in Remington.

The wine bar is open Mondays through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. Grand Cru is at 527 E. Belvedere Ave. For more information call 410-464-1944 or go to