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Bike bar HandleBar Cafe aims for March opening in Fells Point

HandleBar Cafe is opening at 511 S. Caroline St.
HandleBar Cafe is opening at 511 S. Caroline St. (Courtesty of HandleBar Cafe)

HandleBar Cafe, the restaurant-bike shop combo coming to Fells Point, is on track for a March opening after construction delays prevented it from opening before the end of 2015.

World champion mountain biker Marla Streb and her husband, Mark Fitzgerald, are opening the cafe at 511 S. Caroline St. The space will be split into four areas — a main cafe, bar, pizza counter and retail shop.

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The owners were originally targeting a holiday opening, but disagreements with their previous contractor set construction back a few months, Streb said. They brought on a new contractor last week and are now aiming to open in early March.

When HandleBar Cafe opens, it will serve coffee, pizzas, burritos and beer for dine-in and delivery (by bike, of course). Chef Chris Marquis, currently executive chef of Slainte Irish Pub and Woody's Rum Bar and Island Grill, will serve as the HandleBar Cafe's executive chef.

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The cafe will have a full-service bike shop inside, with "parking" for 64 bikes. Kelly Barrett will serve as the shop's mechanic. Barrett previously worked with Streb, and he comes to Baltimore from Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Above the shop, Streb and Fitzgerald have leased space to the nonprofit Bike Maryland. And a Barre exercise studio will take over the second retail space, which is nearly complete aside from cosmetic finishes such as hanging mirrors on the wall.

Downstairs in HandleBar Cafe, there are still a few major infrastructure pieces that need to be completed. Workers are repairing an elevator in the building, and the plumbing and electrical systems still need to be installed. Streb said she expects the bulk of the construction to take another four weeks, after which they'll put the finishing touches on the space.

Outside, HandleBar Cafe will have a "parklet" — a mini-park with green space and seating for the public — in addition to outdoor cafe seating.

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"We moved here from California so we're just bringing a lot of that culture with us," Streb said.

She added that she hopes HandleBar Cafe's presence adds to the street's life and improves the block.

"We're not going to see as many broken windshields on that street," she said.

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