Table Talk: Manor Tavern taken over by team of partners

Manor Tavern has changed hands. It will remain open during renovations, which are expected to last through the end of the year.
Manor Tavern has changed hands. It will remain open during renovations, which are expected to last through the end of the year. (Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun)

As of July 9, the Manor Tavern is in new hands. The Monkton property was purchased by William and John Mitcherling, the owners of Towson's An Poitin Stil, and the team of Patrick Russell and Bill Irvin, who operate businesses in Fells Point including Kooper's Tavern, Slainte and the Chowhound Burger Wagon.

"We're tickled to death," Irvin said. He said that he and Russell had been pursuing the landmark restaurant for the past year. The Mitcherlings were pursuing it, too. "We all decided, 'Why don't we just do this as a team?'" And so they did. Local businessman Jim Franzoni is a fifth partner.

Irvin and Russell will be running the day-to-day operations of the 250-year-old property, which had served time as a dirt-floor tavern before becoming a full-service restaurant in 1986. Their partnership with another pair of restaurant owners gives the new ownership group more buying power, Irvin said. "A restaurant business works on tiny margins. Every penny you can save makes a huge difference."

The 200-year property is in a verdant neck of Baltimore County, where horses have more interesting diets than people. Irvin said he and Russell are still in the "observing and watching phase."

Full completion of the Manor Tavern's renovations (including decor enhancement, creation of gardens on property and new locally sourced menus) is scheduled for the end of 2011. The Manor Tavern will remain open full time during renovations, opening daily for lunch and dinner.

The Manor Tavern is at 15819 Old York Road. Call 410-771-8155 or go to themanortavern.com

Welcome, Hawkeyes BangBang Mongolian Grill, which is based in West Des Moines, Iowa, has formally announced its expansion into the Baltimore area. The first two of what the local management group hopes will be six locations in this area will open this fall in Canton and in Bowie, according to a spokesman for the company.

The idea of bringing the BangBang concept to Baltimore is credited to Dr. Shawn Dhillon, a Baltimore native who practices internal medicine at Union Memorial Hospital. Dhillon says he was attracted to BangBang because of its philosophy of healthful eating.

"I wanted to bring a unique and healthy dining experience to the community that is appealing to a variety of palates and age groups," Dhillon said. "Because this concept enables the customer to decide on the quantities and portions of beef, pork, poultry, seafood, vegetables and starches, … there is a greater sense of one's control to limit carbohydrates, sugars and calories to the desired amounts that fit and suit individual lifestyles and behaviors."

Dhillon's partners are John Stautzenbach and Bob Bernotas. The Canton location will be in the Can Company space that formerly housed the Austin Grill. The Bowie location is planned for the Hilltop Plaza Annapolis Road.

Sad but true Soup's On has ended its seven-year-run in Hampden. Its last day was Friday. Word spread about the closing when an online discount site sent an email to its customers holding a Soup's On coupon.

The closing is "bittersweet," owner Cynthia Shea said. "The main reason I've been open for so long is that I have such great customers and such a loyal, hardworking staff."

Shea also has a 3-year-old and an 18-month-old.

"I'm very proud of the business," Shea said, "but it's time for the next chapter."

Shea didn't blame the "economy," but when asked about it, she acknowledged that it hadn't been easy running her business with skyrocketing costs for just about everything.

Bonjour A new Sofi's Crepes opened Thursday in the Valley Village Shopping Center in Owings Mills.

Ann Costlow's original Sofi's Crepes opened next to the Everyman Theatre around the turn of this century. Costlow also owns the location on the lower level of the Woman's Industrial Exchange.

The Sofi's in Annapolis, which is owned by Stephanie Hans, and the Owings Mills store are franchise operations. The owner of the new Sofi's is Nina Knocke.

Knocke doesn't have a restaurant background. She spent her adult work life in the financial services industry. Then she got cancer. It went away, and then it came back. Then Knocke was laid off last June. She got better again but didn't go back to her old career.

Knocke is a fan of Everyman Theatre, which is how she became a fan of Sofi's, which is how she came to see Costlow's notice about Sofi's franchise opportunities.

"If I was going to work like a dog, I didn't want to make the world's richest 3 percent plan their retirement. I wanted to do something good for the community."

Sofi's Crepes is at 9123 Reisterstown Road. Call 410-356-4191 or go to sofiscrepes.com.


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