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Food & Drink

Bits & Bites: Ocean City deli catches a second wind, Harbor East coffee shop moves north, Pigtown restaurant gets ready to reopen

Aveley Farms Coffee Roasters opened a new cafe in Towson on Oct. 22. The roastery was forced to close in Harbor East in late 2021 to make way for a redevelopment project.

Sometimes goodbye isn’t goodbye after all. This week’s column takes a look at eateries that are staying in business despite existential challenges like leasing issues, redevelopment plans — and, of course, the pandemic.

In Ocean City, a popular deli has a new lease on life — for another two years at least — after announcing it would be forced to close this fall. In Pigtown, a restaurant that’s been closed since the beginning of the year has hired a new general manager as it prepares to reopen. And a Harbor East coffee company just opened its doors in Towson after redevelopment forced the roastery to shut down in Baltimore.

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Deli delays its exit

It seemed like the end was near for Rosenfeld’s Jewish Delicatessen in Ocean City. The deli’s owner, Warren Rosenfeld, announced last month that Oct. 24 would be the final day in business for the eatery’s Maryland location, which opened a decade ago on Coastal Highway. (Rosenfeld’s has three other stores in Delaware.)

But the deli’s prospects took a dramatic, last-minute turn as closing day drew closer. On Oct. 23, Rosenfeld’s shared the news that it won’t be shutting down in Ocean City, after all.

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Thanks to a deal with landlord Steve Carullo, the full-service, traditional Jewish deli — known for its bagels, Reuben sandwiches and kosher hot dogs — will stay put through at least Labor Day 2024.

Rosenfeld said Carullo was so touched by well wishes from the eatery’s customers that the landlord reached out to see if there were any way to keep the business in Ocean City. The two came to an agreement that staves off demolition of the deli’s red-roofed building for at least another two years and invests money into some needed repairs.

Rosenfeld’s celebrated the good news by giving away chicken noodle soup to every customer who bought a sandwich on Oct. 24, what was once supposed to be the deli’s last day in OC. And — to make sure no one misses out on the news — the deli updated its billboard on Coastal Highway.

“Never mind,” the sign now reads. “We are staying open.”

A Harbor East coffee shop heads north

A redevelopment project couldn’t stop Corey Voelkel from roasting coffee.

Voelkel’s Harbor East coffee shop, Aveley Farms Coffee Roasters, shut down late last year to clear the way for a mixed-use apartment project in the works at 1400 Aliceanna St. But Voelkel moved Aveley Farms’ roasting operations to Owings Mills in early 2022 to keep production going. And last weekend, he debuted a new retail space for customers to come and drink his roasts.

Aveley Farms’ new cafe, at 42 W. Chesapeake Ave. in Towson, is much like the old one in Harbor East, with white walls, tall windows, wood fixtures and burlap sacks, once filled with coffee beans, used as décor. “We tried to stay true to our original vision,” Voelkel said.

The idea for the Towson store was already in the works when he learned that Aveley Farms would have to leave its original location, which opened in Harbor East in 2019.

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“This was originally supposed to be an expansion, a second location,” Voelkel said. “And then, obviously, we were forced to shut downtown.”

Voelkel said he’s “actively looking” for retail space in the city so Aveley Farms can make its return to Baltimore. In the meantime, you can find the roaster’s coffee at Kneads, the soon-to-open bake shop and cafe from H&S Bakery.

Groundwork Kitchen mounts a comeback

Groundwork Kitchen, the Pigtown restaurant run by nonprofit Paul’s Place, is gearing up for a reopening.

Paul’s Place recently hired Baltimore chef and business owner Melanie Molinaro as the new general manager for the restaurant, which has been closed since January 2022 due to the pandemic.

Molinaro, whose resume includes work at Baltimore restaurants including Nickel Taphouse, Encantada and Birroteca, will be tasked with hiring a new executive chef and staff for Groundwork Kitchen, developing new menus and planning a long-term vision for the restaurant.

She’ll also be in charge of integrating the Paul’s Place Culinary Training Program into the restaurant’s operations. The free, 12-week training program has graduated 41 culinary students since it launched a year ago, and Groundwork Kitchen was envisioned as a space for them to get on-the-job experience.

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Molinaro — who also launched some of her own culinary businesses, including R. House’s Stall 11, the small-batch, vegan Little Fig Bake Shop, and the wholesale vegan fried chicken company Plantry Goods — says she’s “particularly excited about how the culinary training staff and the restaurant staff will work together on the goal to reshape what it means to work in a kitchen: To expect better, be treated better, to learn better.”

Stay tuned for an opening date.

Brew news

The area’s newest buzzworthy beer brand started as a merchandise company before snowballing into something more.

Ty Kreis and Josh Simmons started dreaming about launching their own business two-and-a-half years ago. The friends met through the local craft brewing industry: Kreis was the director of sales at Columbia’s Hysteria Brewing Co. and Simmons managed sales for Mully’s Brewery in Southern Maryland.

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Earlier this year, Kreis and Simmons joined forces to start the Bash Bros Collective, a company selling T-shirts and hats with designs inspired by their childhood in the 1980s. Soon they also decided to sell “Rad Sauce,” their own brand of Buffalo wing sauce. And this month, they added beer to the Bash Bros product lineup with the release of RIPA, a hazy India pale ale with a tropical aroma.

“We realized we could do much more than merch,” Kreis said. “We thought: what if we turned this into an outdoor party brand?”

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Starting a brewery from the ground up is a prospect costing millions of dollars, so Bash Bros went the contract brewing route, instead, wherein Kreis and Simmons pay another brewery to use its equipment. A second beer, an American lager called Get Rad, is coming soon.

The Bash Bros concept has been taking off thanks to attention from social media influencers and YouTube accounts like Chuds BBQ, a YouTube channel with more than 200,000 subscribers that showcased Bash Bros.’ Rad Sauce in a recent episode. The buffalo sauce is now sold in 35 states.

“We went from 150 bottles made at a time to pallets being made at a time,” Kreis said.

Still, he and Simmons aren’t aiming to one-up their former employers, or any of Maryland’s other craft breweries.

“There’s a lot of breweries in Maryland, and we’re not trying to compete with those at all,” he said. “We’re not trying to take people out of taprooms. We just want them to think of us.”


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