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Bits & Bites: Szechuan House restaurant returns in Timonium, Foraged moves to Station North and a dream comes true for Ekiben’s founders

Bits & Bites highlights news and notes from the Baltimore area’s restaurant and dining scene.

Since the pandemic, people have been packing up and moving like never before. Some are searching for bigger lawns, cheaper mortgage payments or just a plain old change of scenery.

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That’s also true for restaurants. Baltimore-area entrepreneurs are shutting down and opening up in new spots across town. Two longtime Baltimore County businesses that closed during the pandemic and are now reopening in new locations. A Hampden eatery is relocating to the former Orto space. And even Ekiben is about to hit the road.

Robert Wang, owner of Szechuan House in Lutherville. Wang is closing the restaurant at the end of January 2021 because of a dispute with his landlord.
Robert Wang, owner of Szechuan House in Lutherville. Wang is closing the restaurant at the end of January 2021 because of a dispute with his landlord. (Christina Tkacik)

A comeback for Szechuan House

Months after he shut down his Lutherville restaurant, owner Robert Wang continued to answer the phone. “Szechuan House,” he said to customers who called, even though the restaurant wasn’t operating.

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Wang announced last December that he was closing amid a dispute with his landlord. The restaurant had a loyal fanbase after nearly 28 years in Lutherville.

Now, Szechuan House is reopening.

Wang says he signed a lease last week on the former Jason’s Deli storefront at 2159-F York Road, across the street from the Maryland State Fairgrounds and around two miles north of its previous location at 1427 York Road. At 5,500 square feet, the space is about 50% larger than the previous spot. Depending on the permitting process and the length of the buildout, he hopes to have the business open by next February.

Meanwhile, a new eatery, Kung Fu 12 Szechuan, has opened in the former Szechuan House location. Wang has no affiliation with that restaurant.

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Customers at the relocated Szechuan House can expect to see staples of steamed fish, Peking duck and “Happy Family” — a meat, seafood and vegetable dish.

Wang hopes to hire back a few staff members from the old location, and says the service will be similar. Carryout and dine-in service will both be available. He also plans to offer a fast-casual option for customers who don’t want to be waited on but want to eat inside the restaurant.

Kirchmayr Chocolatier gets a new owner

Founded more than three decades ago by German-born Albert Kirchmayr, the Timonium-based chocolatier has a new “trail mix bar” that includes Inca berries from Peru, barberries from Iran, black currant from Poland and mulberries from Turkey, artfully positioned in delicious dark or milk chocolate.
Founded more than three decades ago by German-born Albert Kirchmayr, the Timonium-based chocolatier has a new “trail mix bar” that includes Inca berries from Peru, barberries from Iran, black currant from Poland and mulberries from Turkey, artfully positioned in delicious dark or milk chocolate. (/ Baltimore Sun)

In other Lutherville comeback news, Kirchmayr Chocolatier is reopening, just in time for the winter holidays. Longtime employee turned owner Miyoko Russell says they are targeting an opening date before Thanksgiving. Russell, formerly a pastry chef in Japan, purchased the business from founder Albert Kirchmayr after he shut down last year, citing the uncertainty around the coronavirus.

The new location is at 1811 York Road, Suite E — just behind Aldi. Offerings will be similar to the old Kirchmayr, with an emphasis on European-style chocolate. Hot chocolate bombs? “We are thinking about it.”

Hampden’s Foraged moves to former Orto space

Braised lamb neck at Foraged, a hyper-seasonal eatery in Hampden.
Braised lamb neck at Foraged, a hyper-seasonal eatery in Hampden. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

At the start of the pandemic, Chris Amendola worried he would have to shut down Foraged, his Hampden restaurant for good. “I thought that was it for us,” he said. A year and a half later, the restaurant is thriving. “Thankfully I had a great time… and a lot of really great regulars.”

This month the restaurant will say goodbye to the Hampden rowhouse it’s called home for four years, and hello to the former Orto space in Station North. (Orto, you’ll recall, shut down in September, and owner Elan Kotz emailed a statement saying business had been sold to another restaurateur.)

Amendola called the new location “the perfect space for us” as the company looks to expand and grow after four years in Hampden. Foraged should open the week of Thanksgiving but the date “is not set in stone.”

This year Amendola also began renting a farm in Freeland. In addition to raising chickens and growing produce, “We’re kind of looking at setting up an edible forest” to provide food for the restaurant. Right now, they’re inoculating trees with mushrooms. Cool, huh?

‘Dream come true’ for Ekiben founders

Ekiben’s founders couldn’t afford a food truck when they launched their business seven years ago. Instead, they settled for a hot dog cart. Today, the beloved fusion sandwich shop has two brick and mortar locations in Baltimore and just recently added a food truck which allows the company to expand its catering services. “It’s a dream come true,” said co-owner Ephrem Abebe.

One Eleven Main brings back lunch

One of Harford County’s favorite restaurants is bringing back lunch. Like so many in the area, One Eleven Main had stopped serving midday meals during the pandemic. But with the nearby courthouse reopening and other workers coming back to the area, the timing felt right to bring it back at the eatery on Bel Air’s Main Street, says manager Kristen Oktavec.

Have a local restaurant or dining tip? Email ctkacik@baltsun.com

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