If you ask Brian Recher, the future is limitless when it comes to his three well-loved food and entertainment establishments in Towson.
Renowned chef Brigitte Bledsoe, a Towson native known for blending Southern cuisine with Chesapeake Bay fare in award-winning breakfast dishes at Miss Shirley’s Cafe, has taken over as executive chef and director of operations at the Towson Tavern, Rec Room and Torrent Nightclub, all owned and operated by Brian and his brother Scott.
Also, Torrent Nightclub, which has operated in downtown Towson since 2013, will be returning to its roots as the rebranded Recher 2.0. It will be a revival of the Recher Theatre that for 17 years hosted local and international bands like Sonic Youth, The White Stripes, Patti Smith and Aimee Mann before its conversion to the club frequented by nearby college students.
The building at 512 York Road originally opened as a movie theater owned by Recher’s parents before Brian, Scott and Steve, all brothers, converted it to a billiard hall in 1996. Through concert promoter Paul Manna, live music at the venue took off, and in 1999 it became known as The Recher.
“It’s something we did not want to get rid of or stop doing,” Recher said about the concerts that once filled the building to capacity with music lovers and sold upwards of 750 tickets.
Around 2011, Manna began turning his attention to organizing larger concerts like The Shindig in Carroll Park, and the Recher struggled to compete with larger venues and performances, Recher said.
Manna, who owns 24-7 Entertainment, recently returned to Brian and Scott, seeking a Recher Theatre comeback.
Although in its early stages, Recher said “not much needs to be done” to convert Torrent.
“It’s a beautiful room, we really just need to put a stage in,” he said.
Recher hopes to reopen Torrent as Recher 2.0 as early as October — depending on how the state rolls out its reopening plan amid the coronavirus pandemic — and wants to alternate live sets with the DJs who have played Torrent.
And with Bledsoe taking the helm directing dining operations at all three properties, “Everything is falling into place,” Recher said. “I can’t tell you how lucky my brother and I feel ... that all this is happening at one time, in such a crazy time for the country.”
Bledsoe was furloughed in late March from the popular Baltimore-based breakfast cafe Miss Shirley’s, where she had worked for 15 years, amid state-ordered restaurant closures in mid-March. She was offered her position back, but decided to go in a different direction.
"I had a great run at Miss Shirley’s,” Bledsoe said. “I just decided I need a change. I wanted to do something different, and got introduced to Brian and Scott and it was magical.”
“What Brigitte’s bringing to the table is exponentially above what we were doing” on the menu, Recher said. “We had a good team … we just needed the proper quarterback, so to speak.”
For now, Bledsoe, a self-taught chef who has been featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” and “Guy’s Grocery Games,” is focusing on creating items for Towson Tavern’s more limited al fresco menu, like crab cakes made from her family recipe, deviled eggs, grilled Atlantic salmon, and the Southern fried chicken sandwich.
Her specialty is fresh seafood with a Southern twist, she said.
Patrons of Miss Shirley’s may recognize some of Bledsoe’s classic items on the Tavern’s brunch menu rolling out Saturday: crab, shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles, and Kelly’s Breakfast, featuring smoked salmon, a hard boiled egg and scallion dill cream cheese.
As the Rec Room interior undergoes renovations, Recher said that its menu will be updated, too. Finalizing Towson Tavern’s entire menu will have to wait until restaurants are permitted to reopen for dining, Recher said.
Bledsoe said she’s “grateful for the opportunity” to return to her Towson roots. “We’re gonna change and we’re gonna shake it up,” she said.