Initially, the two intended to open in an existing building at 818 Frederick Road in Catonsville, but were able to purchase a liquor license, changing their plans.
“At that point, it made sense to build our business out to just a little bit more than a local grocery,” Baldwin said.
Flooding in May delayed the original plans, as the 818 Frederick Road building suffered water damage. The delay in construction coincided with the availability of a liquor license and the business partners’ idea to almost double the size of their business from its initial 9,000 square feet store. The plans entail demolishing the old building, which was constructed in 1935, and erecting a new structure on the site.
Demolition work on the old building, which has housed businesses including Agent Upcycle and consignment store JAMS Attic, will start soon, and the business partners expect to hold a groundbreaking ceremony on Feb. 12. The new building will house a 16,000-square-foot “food-lover’s paradise,” Baldwin said, including a butcher counter, grab-and-go food, fresh seafood, a deli, an in-house restaurant, catering services, coffee and food shopping featuring local and national brands.
“We’re a micro-Wegmans with a liquor license,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin and Zakai are working with OE Custom, an Arbutus woodworker, to salvage reusable wood and detail work from the existing building to be incorporated into stair runners, tables, display boxes and other features in the new, two-story building.
Already, the market has held pop-up sales at local events and begun selling merchandise online. Baldwin and Zakai said they expect to launch a line of coffee products and herbs and spices later this year.
Teal Cary, executive director of the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce, said she was “so happy” that Baldwin and Zakai are investing in Catonsville.
“It’s going to be a gorgeous building. It will draw more people to the Catonsville village, which is what we all want,” Cary said.
Rather than concern that 818 Market might draw business away from other local shops, eateries and stores, Cary said its presence will be a positive development that will make businesses re-evaluate their own operations.
“Competition is heathy,” Cary said.
The market’s exterior design and parking plan have been approved by Baltimore County. Parking will be available in the rear of the building, in an existing lot. Zakai also owns Frederick Road Veterinary Hospital next door; that business will share parking with 818 Market.
Baldwin said the total investment in the project for the pair will be in the “millions” of dollars, but declined going into specifics. They bought the property in 2017 for $1 million, according to online property records.
“We’re really excited about it and what it can mean to the community as a real, tent-pole business that can drive people to Catonsville,” Baldwin said, adding that he and others in the community have been likely to drive to Columbia or somewhere on Route 40 to do their grocery shopping rather than staying near the Frederick Road corridor.
The restaurant will be staffed by chef Matt Milani, who was named Maryland’s Restaurateur of the Year in 2012 when he ran The Rumor Mill in Ellicott City. The market also will offer a delivery service, for addresses within a 3- or 5-mile radius.
Baldwin and Zakai said they anticipate hiring a staff of 50 to 70 for the market. Hiring announcements would come later in the spring or summer on the market’s Facebook page.
The business partners said they don’t want to open parts of the market at different times.
“We want to be able to offer everything that we’re going to offer from day one,” Zakai said.