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Rye Street Tavern closes to ‘reimagine’ role amid Port Covington redevelopment

Port Covington’s Rye Street Tavern will remain closed through the summer, as the business uses the opportunity to “reimagine” its role amid the South Baltimore neighborhood’s redevelopment, the restaurant announced.

“We have decided to take time to pause and reimagine Rye Street Tavern as a more integral part of the Sagamore Spirit experience and the exciting redevelopment in Port Covington,” the restaurant, part of the NoHo Hospitality Group, said in a statement Thursday.

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The NoHo group did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the closure.

However, the tavern had already been closed since December 2020 because of COVID-19 challenges, said Brian Treacy, president of Sagamore Spirit, who said he discussed the decision with Rye Street, came up with a joint plan to keep the “campus” they share going in the interim and that the reimagined setup would be a collaborative effort with Sagamore.

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Treacy said the tavern’s decision was forward looking, one aimed at capitalizing on the waterfront location in light of lessons learned from the coronavirus pandemic, like the importance and popularity of outdoor dining areas. The tavern will be back, he assured.

“It just kind of gave [them] a chance to give it a little thought, is there a way to enhance the experience even more so?” Treacy said.

Rye Street Tavern opened in September 2017 adjacent the Sagamore Spirit distillery and on the campus of then-Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank’s mixed-use development. Overlooking the Patapsco River, it was touted as a dining destination.

However, news of its closure comes as the sports apparel company announced a scaled-back plan for its headquarters, raising questions about the overall redevelopment of Port Covington.

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Treacy said Under Armour’s plans didn’t influence the tavern’s closure, nor has it impacted Sagamore’s vision. He said he was encouraged by progress on the redevelopment, describing cranes in the sky as a sign of prosperity and investment in the city.

“What we have between the distillery and Rye Street has always been very much about the greater city of Baltimore and the communities and tying everything together — just providing just another great experience for the city and another reason for people to visit this great city,” Treacy said.

The American restaurant, which describes itself as a “tribute to the neighborhood taverns of Charm City’s industrial era” is a two-level space detailed with wood, leather suede and steel. It features a 70-seat main dining room and a bar with a buffalo head hanging over a fireplace.

It was at the time the new endeavor of James Beard Award-winning Chef Andrew Carmellini and his NoHo partners Luke Ostrom and Josh Pickard.

It’s unclear when the restaurant will reopen or in what form. In it’s statement, the NoHo group, which operates restaurants in New York and Miami Beach, told patrons that its other location in Baltimore, the Rec Pier Chop House in Fells Point, was still open, as well as the “beautiful” Sagamore Pendry in the same neighborhood and the Sagamore distillery in Port Covington.

“We look forward to sharing the new concept with our patrons when complete,” the statement read.

Sentiments poured into the comment section underneath Rye Street Tavern’s announcement on its Instagram page, with some patrons raving about their experiences and expressing an eagerness to see the reimagined concept.

“Miss you terribly but excited to see what’s next!” one person exclaimed.

Others hoped the restaurant would keep some of its staples, which Carmellini, the award-winning chef, once described as “soul food updated.”

“Please bring the fried chicken back,” another person commented.

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