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Bits & Bites: Atwater’s closes restaurant near Hopkins, Taharka Brothers & Ovenbird Bakery coming to new Lexington Market

When the weather is this brutally cold I could live on an all-soup diet. Bring on pho from Mekong Delta, mulligatawny from Himalayan House, chicken soup at Mi Comalito or make your own tteokguk, a Korean rice cake soup that’s ideal for ringing in the new year. I often wish I lived closer to Soup’s On, the Midtown-Belvedere lunch spot that has eight different soups on the menu. Heaven.

Or try the soup of the day at Atwater’s, the local chain known for its soups, breads and sandwiches. But don’t try going to Atwater’s in Hopkins. More on that below, plus details on Baltimore’s restaurant week and two new vendors announced for Lexington Market that should ring some bells for readers of this column.

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Atwater's, which has some of Baltimore's best soups, is closing its location near Johns Hopkins in East Baltimore. Other locations in Belvedere Square (shown), Catonsville, Towson and Canton remain open.
Atwater's, which has some of Baltimore's best soups, is closing its location near Johns Hopkins in East Baltimore. Other locations in Belvedere Square (shown), Catonsville, Towson and Canton remain open. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

Atwater’s shuts its Hopkins location for good

Fast-casual farm-to-table chain Atwater’s has closed its location near Johns Hopkins in East Baltimore after seven years, founder Ned Atwater said Wednesday. The location had suffered from a drop in foot traffic during the pandemic and shuttered on a temporary basis last fall. Atwater said he decided to close for good after the restaurant’s lease was up.

The branch’s challenges predated the coronavirus. The restaurant, one of five for the company, had lost money for five of its seven years in operation. Atwater said he kept it open because he felt it was important to operate in the community, particularly near a health care center. While he was grateful for the staff and landlords Hopkins and Lillibridge, “We just couldn’t do it forever,” he said.

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Customers hungry for Atwater’s trademark soups, salads and baked goods can head to the company’s branches in Canton, Catonsville, Towson and Belvedere Square.

Taharka Brothers Ice Cream will join the newly renovated Lexington Market when it opens this spring.
Taharka Brothers Ice Cream will join the newly renovated Lexington Market when it opens this spring. (Nicole Munchel / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

New arrivals for Lexington Market

The countdown begins to the launch of the new Lexington Market. Developers have announced two more vendors: Taharka Brothers and Ovenbird Bakery.

“We are a Baltimore company committed to keeping deep roots in this community, and nothing says Baltimore to us quite like Lexington Market,” said Kowfi Dorman El of the worker-owned Taharka Brothers Ice Cream, according to a release from Lexington Market developers. In 2020, The Sun reported on Taharka’s switch to an employee-owned company model, an increasingly popular choice for local businesses

The stand will be the ice cream company’s fourth brick and mortar location, adding to scoop shops at Broadway Market, Cross Street Market and R. House.

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Keiller Kyle, owner of Ovenbird Bakery, called it an “honor” to be bringing bread to the historic market, which was founded in 1782. Kyle opened his first location in Little Italy in 2020 and is also renovating a 9,000-square-foot production and retail space in Highlandtown to open this year.

Baltimore Restaurant Week

For those who aren’t hunkering down at home with carryout and an electric blanket, Downtown Partnership and Visit Baltimore are kicking off another winter restaurant week on Jan. 28. Look for fixed-price menus ranging from $25 to $45, with wine or beer pairings an additional cost. First-time participants include new restaurants Allora, The Manor, The Chicken or the Egg, Sakoon Indian Fusion and Lisa’s on Preston. The promotional event wraps up Feb. 6.

The virtual program "Chesapeake Farm & Bay to Table" is hosted by Chef John Shields of Gertrude's.
The virtual program "Chesapeake Farm & Bay to Table" is hosted by Chef John Shields of Gertrude's. (Barbara Haddock Taylor)

Time for kraut

The Harford County Public Library has kicked off another season of a monthly virtual program called “Chesapeake Farm & Bay to Table” hosted by chef John Shields, aka “the culinary ambassador of the Chesapeake Bay” and owner-slash-crab-cake-maker-in-chief at Gertrude’s. The web-based show promotes all things local food and features a roster of guests including artist Joyce J. Scott and Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. Look out Jan. 26 for the next episode, “It’s a Kraut Fest,” with chef Doug Wetzel from Gertrude’s and Sonya Binkert from Binkert’s German Meat Products.

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