Busboys and Poets to open two-story restaurant in Columbia’s new Merriweather District

A mural hangs above the bar at a Busboys and Poets in Washington on May 16, 2018.

Busboys and Poets is coming to Howard County.

Owner Andy Shallal said in a statement that the new branch in downtown Columbia will be “our largest and most exciting location” and one he hopes will host events that draw neighbors from Baltimore and Washington as well as Howard County locals. The standalone restaurant, which will include a bookstore and event space, will be more than 10,000 square feet, with two stories and indoor and outdoor seating on both levels.


The venue will help anchor the Merriweather District, a mixed-use development currently being built by the Howard Hughes Corporation. The 35-acre Merriweather District, including the new Busboys and Poets, is set to open sometime in 2020.

It’s the first Busboys and Poets to land in the Baltimore area. The Washington-based chain named for Langston Hughes has seven total branches, including spots in Hyattsville and Shirlington, Virginia. The restaurant offers a breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner menu as well as extensive coffee and cocktail options. Dinner entrees range from $10 to $26.

Coloring book enthusiasts meet at Busboys and Poets in Washington.

In a statement, Greg Fitchitt of the Howard Hughes Corp. praised Busboys and Poets’ “civic-minded business model” and called it “a perfect fit” for the Columbia community. Howard County Executive Calvin Ball said in a statement that he was “thrilled” to welcome Busboys and Poets to the Merriweather District “where they will join some of the nation’s best entertainment amenities, innovative businesses, and natural beauty."

Speaking at an education conference Tuesday in Columbia, Shallal, who grew up in Iraq, said Howard County was an ideal place to build because the values there align with those of his company.

“I tend to choose places very judiciously,” Shallal said. “We are a place where racial and cultural connections are consciously uplifted. A place where art, culture and politics come together and intentionally collide. A place to take a deliberate pause and feed your mind, body and soul.”

Another Washington-based restaurant group, Clyde’s, opened a concert venue called The Soundry in downtown Columbia last year.

Baltimore Sun Media reporter Jess Nocera contributed to this article.