Punk's Backyard Grill has closed at the Westfield Annapolis Mall. The restaurant, which opened in 2009, evoked an American backyard gathering. The kitchen was enclosed behind a structure that suggested the back of a suburban home, the dining room was filled with picnic tables and the ceiling was painted to resemble the open sky.

The closing announcement was posted on the restaurant's Facebook page: "We are sad to announce that today, Sunday [Jan. 6], is Punk's final day of business. We are tremendously grateful to all of our loyal customers and to the Annapolis community. Thank you all for making our four years of business so fun, exciting and delicious."


The restaurant was the brainchild of David McCabe, Sheila Laderberg and Jeffrey Sloan, who met at the highly regarded Cornell School of Hotel Administration, where their Punk's concept won the school's annual restaurant-concept contest.

Many Facebook comments expressed sadness that Westfield Annapolis Mall was losing not only a healthy alternative for family dining but one of the mall's few locally owned restaurants. Westfield's other restaurant tenants include California Pizza Kitchen, Cheesecake Factory, Five Guys and Red Robin Gourmet Burgers. The 4 Seasons Grille, part of the Annapolis-based Monte Restaurant Group, opened in the mall last year.

"We got a nice response," McCabe said. "It just goes to show what a great customer base exists in Annapolis." But support wasn't enough in the long run, McCabe said. "The big issue was we signed our lease when the economy was great. By the time we opened, it wasn't."

McCabe said that he and his partners had long been working to renegotiate their lease with Westfield, whose U.S. offices are in Los Angeles. "There are some people at [Annapolis] Westfield who tried to help us, but they're not the ones making the decision at the end of the day, it seems. We were told around Thanksgiving that we were close to a deal," McCabe said. Instead, word came that the deal was off and Punk's was being evicted.

Punk's last day of tenancy was to be Jan. 15, but McCabe said they closed earlier to shut down the business properly. "One of the things we feel really good about is the concept. It has a lot of potential. The response in Annapolis has been great."

Suds in January Beer dinners aren't just for Baltimore Beer Week. Baltimore-area restaurants are scheduling beer dinners and tastings year-round.

Victoria Gastro Pub (8201 Snowden River Parkway, Columbia, 410-750-1880, victoriagastropub.com) has released its 2013 schedule of monthly tasting dinners. First up, on Jan. 30, a dinner featuring the beers of Frederick's Flying Dog Brewery. The cost for the five-course dinner is $85. The tasting dinners tend to book solid. Call the pub to make reservations.

Clementine (5402 Harford Road, 410-444-1497, bmoreclementine.com) has started a new year of its Biweekly Brew Bash events. The Wednesday-night gatherings usually include a brewery representative on hand to answer questions. The event also includes $5 paired snacks and small plates in the bar area and half off all beers. Next up, on Jan. 23, DuClaw Brewing Co. will be featuring some of their seasonal beers.

Also on Jan. 23, Heavy Seas Alehouse (1300 Bank St., 410-522-0850, heavyseasalehouse.com) is saying goodbye to the Mutiny Fleet line of beer with a five-course pairing dinner. There is limited seating for this special event, which will include an appearance by Heavy Seas founder Hugh Sisson. This will be your last chance to try the Mutiny Fleet beers, some of which may reappear in the soon-to-be introduced Uncharted Waters line. The cost is $75.

And Kooper's Tavern (1702 Thames St., 410-563-5423, koopers.com) is teaming with Salisbury's Evolution Brewing Co. for a five-course beer-pairing dinner on Jan. 30. Five of Evolution's brews will be featured. The cost is $39.