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Food & Drink

Bits & Bites: Hopkins students have a burrito fix; 818 Market, on its ‘last legs,’ requests liquor license change; and State Fare gets loud in Catonsville

I trust that the next generation is ready and able to address the many challenges their forebears have left them with. Climate change. Sea level rise.

Overstuffed burritos.

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A team of students at Johns Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering has invented Tastee Tape, an “edible adhesive” that ensures a wrap sandwich stays put, according to an article in the Hub.

The students, engineering seniors Tyler Guarino, Marie Eric, Rachel Nie and Erin Walsh, spent months studying adhesives and looking for edible alternatives. They tested a wide variety of ingredients before landing on their final recipe. The prototypes are rectangular strips that come affixed to sheets of wax paper and are activated by water.

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What’s in it? The students are applying for a patent and declined to say.

“What I can say is that all its ingredients are safe to consume, are food grade, and are common food and dietary additives,” said Guarino.

818 Market hasn’t been sold yet

The 818 Market saga took another turn this week, with co-owner Dan Zakai telling Baltimore County’s liquor board the business is on its “last legs.”

You’d be forgiven for being confused.

818 Market’s owners announced earlier this year that they were changing ownership. A Baltimore County official told me at the time that the owners of another nearby eatery, State Fare, were going to take over operations.

But that deal didn’t pan out, according to attorney David Mister, who represented 818 Market at a hearing before the Baltimore County liquor board Monday, where Zakai and partner Pat Baldwin appeared to request a hardship change in their liquor license.

Mister portrayed the change as a last-ditch attempt to save 818 Market, a combination restaurant and gourmet grocery store, which is currently closed. “Sadly, even with this change, there’s no guarantee that it’s going to be successful,” Mister told the commissioners.

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The business is deep in debt. Last month, two separate judgments were issued against 818 Market and Zakai and Baldwin for nonpayment of state loans. They owe over $5 million to the state of Maryland.

A spokeswoman for Maryland’s Department of Housing and Community Development confirmed that the restaurant had participated in its business lending program, Neighborhood BusinessWorks.

She added: “the Department has a fiduciary responsibility to protect the assets of the state of Maryland and is currently undergoing the loss mitigation process in reference to these loans.”

The restaurant also received nearly $900,000 through the federal program, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

Zakai said they had invested around $10 million in the restaurant, including a pricey rehab of the property itself. According to online property records, the restaurant’s building at 818 Frederick Road is valued at around $2.3 million.

Mister told the commissioners that the “next step is foreclosure.”

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Before Zakai and Baldwin opened in 2020, Mister said, “The concept seemed really great.” But it never took off the way they had hoped.

Under their new “class D” tavern license, 818 Market won’t be obligated to have food make up the bulk of the business’ sales. The concept would also function with a leaner staff, which owners said has been an issue during a time of widespread labor shortage in the hospitality industry. Zakai said they plan to reopen with a slightly smaller workforce of about 15 to serve up a limited menu of burgers and hot dogs.

Baltimore County’s liquor board granted Zakai and Baldwin the new liquor license. I tried to speak with the owners after the hearing in Towson on Monday, but they walked away without answering my questions.

State Fare turns it up

Meanwhile, it sounds like the music at State Fare, just down the street from 818 Market, is ruffling some feathers among Catonsville residents.

Cameron Coblentz told the liquor board that the live music coming from State Fare is a real problem – he can hear bands playing from his home half a mile away. Over the course of the past year, he’s called the police 10 times about the issue. Another neighbor, Josh Jackson, said that he’d felt intimidated by supporters of the restaurant after speaking up about the loud music.

In response to their complaints, restaurant co-owner Keith Holsey, who does not own 818 Market, and his attorney Tom Coale, presented around 175 letters in support of the business, and added that the restaurant had put in acoustic tiles to dim the noise and began conducting decibel readings to gauge sound levels. They noted that Catonsville has been named an arts & entertainment district, so some loud music would seemingly come with the territory.

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The liquor board ultimately dismissed the complaint, allowing State Fare to keep its liquor license. But chairwoman Susan Green encouraged Coblentz and Jackson to circulate a petition among their neighbors if the problems persisted.

“We’re not trying to shut it down,” Coblentz said later. “I don’t want to hear [music] in my house while watching TV and trying to go to sleep.”

No alcohol delivery from Penny’s

You can no longer order liquor delivery from Penny’s Carryout in Dundalk. The business had its delivery privileges revoked after delivering booze to a minor.

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The old Baltimore City/ Baltimore County divide was on my mind this week.

Baltimore City business owners often complain about challenges of getting people from the county to come downtown, whether it’s because of the perception of crime or lack of parking or whatever.

Baltimore Countians appear to be having the opposite problem.

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During a hearing before the Baltimore County liquor board Monday, a Catonsville resident, whose name I didn’t catch, complained to the board’s commissioners about an influx of people from Baltimore City who fled to the burbs during the pandemic, drawn by the relatively loose restrictions on masking and on-premise dining.

The board’s chairwoman, Susan Green, conceded that the past two years have seen an influx of customers from surrounding jurisdictions to Baltimore County restaurants, which were under more relaxed restrictions during much of the pandemic. As mask mandates lift and other pandemic-related restrictions go away, Green said, “It’s our hope that people will go back to enjoying their local establishments.”

These conversations have heavy undertones of race and class. Oftentimes, the phrase “people from the county” is code for “white folks in the suburbs with money.” Conversely, “people from the city” is code for “Black.” Such stereotypes gloss over the fact that the suburbs have been becoming more diverse for years.

Still, as the pandemic eases, it’s interesting to think about how our patterns of dining out have changed, some just for the short-term, and some possibly forever.


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