Baltimore is so small and interconnected we call it “Smaltimore.”
The city’s restaurant world is even smaller.
This week, we have four different food enterprises all linked together by one business.
But first, we have two new restaurant owners breathing life into two old neighborhood haunts, one in Remington and another in Hamilton.
Kay’s Place is ‘happy’ new space
Stepping beneath the vintage red awning at the intersection of North Howard and 25th Street, you’d be forgiven for thinking the restaurant has been like this since the 1950s. In fact, Kay’s Place opened last week.
You may remember the owner, Cia Carter, from her famous customer: Lamar Jackson. The Ravens quarterback regularly orders from her eatery Miss Carter’s Kitchen in West Baltimore. (The restaurant also has a branch in Mt. Vernon.)
At the suggestion of her fiance, Carter scooped up the former Wyman Park Restaurant location after it shut down last fall. Now at her third restaurant in the city, she has kept the original decor — and much of the same staff — making it feel very much the old-fashioned corner diner.
She decided not to host a big launch for the eatery, “we just opened the door.” Even without a social media announcement, word traveled quickly. Already, everyone from politicians to pastors has come by. One customer pulled a U-turn after driving past.
“This place is really special,” Carter said sitting inside the Remington restaurant. “Being here for this short time has made me happy.”
For now, the restaurant is offering a limited menu of all-day breakfast, plus Carter’s signature shrimp and grits.
Bramble Baking Co. opens
Across town, Allie Smith recently opened her Bramble Baking Co. storefront at 5414 Harford Road, formerly Batch Bakeshop and Hamilton Bakery before that. Smith said she was drawn to the idea of reinvigorating a space that had long been a community destination for baked goods. But it made practical sense, too: the shop already had a 60-quart mixer on premises.
Smith’s eye-catching cakes — adorned with real flowers — have won scores of Instagram followers since she started baking and selling them four years ago. The new shop marks her first brick-and-mortar space after years of selling at pop ups and farmer’s markets.
The top-seller opening weekend? Croissants and breakfast sandwiches. “We learned very quickly that we cannot make enough breakfast sandwiches,” Smith said. Also on the menu: ice cream sandwiches made with pumpkin ice cream.
New owner at Fire and Rice
Just down the street, Lauraville’s Fire & Rice will reopen in mid November under new ownership. Alex Champagne, a former manager at the restaurant, says he decided to take over the business after the original owners jumped ship. “I’m doing this on my own,” he said. “I think having partners is a bad idea right now.”
The restaurant, which originally opened in October 2020 in a new mixed-used development at 4801 Harford Road, relocated into a smaller space within the same building. Champagne says the relocation required him to reapply for permits and a new liquor license.
After struggling to raise the needed startup capital, Champagne started a GoFundMe account that has now garnered over $6,000. Those who contribute get gift cards, tote bags and other perks like sake tastings. Once reopened, Fire and Rice will serve a more streamlined menu of Japanese pub fare as well as sushi and rice bowls.
Champagne, who currently works at NiHao, has spent 15 years in the restaurant industry, including at Fadensonnen and True Chesapeake Oyster Co.
‘Reverently irreverent’ Church
Chelsea Gregoire is planning to open a bar called Church in the city’s Old Goucher neighborhood, according to documents from the Baltimore City liquor board. The Facebook page for the new business, which will be located at 2219 Maryland Ave., says it will be “reverently irreverent.” Gregoire is also formerly of True Chesapeake, where they were named “beverage director of the year” by Esquire Magazine.
Future bites taking shape
Meanwhile, True Chesapeake’s owners shared that they have made progress on a new location for their fast-casual restaurant The Local Oyster in Locust Point. Owner Patrick Hudson says after some construction delays they’re looking to open by Feb. 1. A restaurant planned for Remington’s Huntingdon Ave. is still on hold.
If you haven’t stopped by yet, True Chesapeake reopened earlier this year in Hampden’s Whitehall Mill. The building is owned by David Tufaro of Terra Nova Ventures.
Now, Tufaro is looking for a restaurateur to help anchor a new development near Ellicott City. The restaurant will include 150 seats inside and 40 outside overlooking the Patapsco River on the site of an 18th century flour mill in Oella.
“We think it would be a destination restaurant complementing what’s in Ellicott City and in Catonsville,” said Tufaro, who also developed Mill No. 1 in Baltimore, home to Cosima.
But don’t rush to book reservations. Though Tufaro is already working on getting a Baltimore County liquor license, the new restaurant won’t open until sometime in 2023.
To clarify: Last week, I wrote that Werner’s restaurant shut down in 2011. What I later learned is that the place reopened after 2011 and shut down yet again in spring of 2021, according to a spokesman for the restaurant.
I also reported on the seemingly sudden closure of the H&S Bakery outlet store in the Fells Point/ Harbor East area. A spokeswoman for Harbor East Development passed on the following statement: “H&S is focusing their efforts on the upcoming Kneads Bakeshop & Cafe, which will be located just a few blocks from the outlet at Central Avenue and Fleet Street.”
No word on whether the new shop will still sell 50 cent loaves of bread.
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