Despite two years of unforeseen disruptions — a historic 100-year flood in 2018, now a pandemic — Catonsville’s long-awaited 818 Market is set to open Nov. 16.
The 18,000-square-foot gourmet grocery store at 818-820 Frederick Road, co-owned by longtime residents of the southwestern Baltimore County suburbs Patrick Baldwin and Dan Zakai, will open its doors at 6 a.m. on that Monday. An early morning grand opening ceremony is being planned with consideration to public health concerns, Baldwin said.
The store includes a butcher counter, grab-and-go food, fresh seafood, a deli, an in-house restaurant and bar, catering services, coffee and food shopping featuring local and national brands.
When doors open, customers will get a chance to experience Catonsville’s own “foodie paradise,” as Baldwin called it.
The market will have national food brands and locally farmed produce as well as refrigerated and frozen items on the first floor.
Also on the first floor, shoppers can pick up prepared meals from the deli or locally raised meats at the butcher counter; they can order coffee from the cafe and goods from the bakery, or fish from the seafood and sushi counters.
The second floor features a wine and cheese shop, staffed by a veteran cheesemonger from Bronxville, New York, and the restaurant where customers can order small and large plates from a rotating menu made with ingredients from the grocer.
The market will offer delivery service for groceries and meals from the restaurant to addresses initially within a 5-mile radius, and items can be picked up at the market’s takeout window.
Delivery and pickup services will be available through the 818 Market website. Breakfast, lunch and dinner items will be offered, along with catering services and venue space for private parties.
The restaurant will be staffed by chef Matt Milani, Maryland’s Restaurateur of the Year in 2012 and most recently Gov. Larry Hogan’s personal chef in the Governor’s Mansion for more than two years. Milani was the chef of the Ellicott City restaurant he owned with his wife, The Rumor Mill Fusion Bar and Restaurant, which was destroyed by the 2016 floods.
The restaurant’s bar and chef’s table will likely not be open for patrons come Nov. 16 due to safety concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic, Milani said, but menu items and dine-in service will be available.
Milani said it won’t be unusual for customers to see him or his staff running downstairs to grab ingredients for restaurant fare.
And many of those ingredients will be sourced from local farms.
“We’re looking to be hyperlocal in a lot of our products," said Baldwin, adding that he, Zakai and the Market’s sous-chef have traveled to numerous local farms.
Shoppers will recognize those local products, Baldwin said, “but instead of having [them available at farmers markets] four or five months of the year on Sundays,” they’ll be available year-round at 818.
The market also will be stocked by food from wholesale grocery distributor UNFI.
“There is just a ton of momentum that is happening in spite of COVID,” County Councilman Tom Quirk said, referring to the recent opening of El Salvadoran restaurant El Guapo and early plans for a new restaurant on Frederick Road to take the place of the Black Kettle, which folded early in the pandemic.
“Honestly, it’s mostly because people — many people — that live in this town are investing in this town,” Quirk said.
Both Catonsville residents of more than 15 years, Baldwin said he and Zakai both “found ourselves to be the kind of grocery shoppers who were often driving to Wegmans in Columbia or Trader Joe’s," or Belvedere Square or R. House in Baltimore City.
Baldwin said the market received around 500 job applicants, and 81 people have been hired.
“We really want to bring all of those concepts together under one roof … that can be a destination for foodies around the whole area; that’s the niche we’re looking to fill,” Baldwin said.
The project cost around $9 million, and was partially funded through a $1.7 million Neighborhood BusinessWorks loan from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.
The loan program gives funding to small businesses and nonprofits designated as sustainable communities. As a state-designated sustainable community, Catonsville gets priority funding for some revitalization programs.
Baldwin and Zakai, a veterinarian who owns the Frederick Road Veterinary Hospital next door to 818 Market, bought the property in 2017 for $1 million with plans to repurpose the 83-year-old building before its first floor was flooded with 4 feet of water during a catastrophic flood in 2018 that damaged Ellicott City severely and also did major damage in Catonsville.
The project was designed by Ellicott City’s KGRW & Associates and was built out by Plano Coudon Construction.
The grocer has a small parking lot behind its Frederick Road entrance and will share 30 parking spots with the Frederick Road Veterinary Hospital, accessible from Egges Lane.
Insufficient public parking has long been an issue in the Catonsville business corridor. Quirk approved rezoning of two parcels — one northeast of Melrose Avenue and east of Egges Lane, the other northwest of Ingleside Avenue and north of Melrose Avenue — through the county’s Comprehensive Zoning Map Process that would allow public parking to be built there.
There are no development plans currently going through the county’s approval process for more parking on those lots, Quirk said.
Baltimore Sun Media reporter Craig Clary contributed to this report.