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Baltimore’s Five & Dime and Pratt Street Ale House to reopen after yearlong COVID shutdown

Two Baltimore ale houses are set to resume operations after a shutdown of more than a year each.

The Five & Dime Ale House, located on Hampden’s Avenue, and the Pratt Street Ale House, located near the Inner Harbor, are both set to reopen in early spring.

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Last March, “We made a decision to shutter both business until we felt like we could operate at our best,” said Greg Keating, managing partner of 206 Restaurant Group, which owns both restaurants and the buildings where they operate. He runs the restaurant group with partners Donald Kelly and Justin Dvorkin.

The Pratt Street Ale House, across the street from the Baltimore Convention Center, is set to resume operations April 1. Keating said the ale house, just a stone’s throw from Camden Yards, plans to have its patio open in time for the Orioles’ home opener on April 8.

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“We are happy to be back,” Keating said. “We hope to be better than we were and to keep growing.”

Five & Dime will reopen in early spring, said general manager Bryant Fouch. The two-level restaurant on West 36th Street previously had seating for more than 300 people, according to a 2016 review in The Sun. The space has once been a G.C. Murphy five-and-dime store.

The time hadn’t felt quite right to reopen during the past year, as both locations faced a loss of foot traffic from students, downtown business workers and tourists, coupled with the city’s stricter policies on restaurant capacity, said Fouch. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan recently permitted restaurants to resume operations at full capacity, so long as social distancing measures are in place. Baltimore City limits indoor dining to 25% of capacity.

Pratt Street, in particular, depends on conventions, concerts and sporting events, said Keating. “All those things being dark ... made it very difficult [to reopen.]” Camden Yards is set to welcome 11,000 fans at the Orioles home opener next month, the first time visitors will have been allowed in the park since 2019. The city’s convention center, which served as a field hospital last year, has begun operating a mass vaccination site.

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A year after the initial shutdown, Keating said, “We feel good about these decisions to reopen, we feel like things are moving in a much more positive direction.”

Hiring for both locations has been a challenge after such a long shutdown, said Keating, as many staff have left the industry or moved on since the pandemic. He hoped that the gradual return to business and events Downtown would give staff time to adjust to operating in the COVID-19 environment.

The return of the Five & Dime Ale House marks the latest comeback for the restaurant-dense neighborhood of Northwest Baltimore. De Kleine Duivel, a Belgian beer hall off the Avenue, and Birroteca, located along the Jones Falls, both recently reopened after being shuttered for nearly the entire pandemic.

In addition to the two ale houses in Baltimore, the Severna Park-headquartered 206 Restaurant Group also runs Oliver Brewing Company in the city’s Claremont-Freedom neighborhood. That business has performed well during the pandemic, Keating said, as homebound customers increased beer purchased for home consumption.

206 Restaurant Group also owns the Ale House Columbia and Donnelly’s Dockside in Arnold. JB’s, a sports bar, is set to open in the former Bill Bateman’s on Ritchie Highway, in Severna Park.

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