The family behind the new One Eleven Main restaurant under construction on Bel Air's Main Street received a liquor license Wednesday, even though their project did not reach the minimum capital investment required to get a license for so-called fine dining restaurants that serve only dinner.
The Harford County liquor control board agreed Wednesday to make an exception to its rule that a fine-dining restaurant must invest at least $500,000 to qualify for a liquor license.
Board member Thomas Fidler said the building's small space, the potential benefit to the community and the family's background and personal commitment made it worthwhile to offer an exception.
He said it did not seem logical to require someone to invest $500,000 in a 1,500-square-foot space and expect a return on their investment in the restaurant business.
"This is a very unique circumstance. This is a small building," Fidler said. "I think we are poised with a very unique opportunity to help our community."
He also said the restaurant is "much-needed."
Jarrettsville's Richard Anderson and his children, Elizabeth Smith and David Anderson, are billing One Eleven Main as an "intimate," dinner-only restaurant with seasonal, local food.
They are renting the building, which is owned by James LaCalle, a former president of Harford Community College. The space has been vacant since last fall when the former tenant, Little N.Y. Deli, closed.
The new restaurant will bring an unusually upscale selection of food to the Main Street area, Joseph Snee, the Anderson's lawyer, told Liquor Board members.
A summer menu provided by Snee showed entrees in the $25 range and included dishes such as chili-rubbed prawns with dwarf kale and popcorn grits, smoked pork loin with jalapeno spoon bread and a starter of grilled octopus.
The Andersons have invested about $347,500 in the business, according to a summary given by Snee.
Snee said One Eleven Main expects to hire 15 to 20 employees.
The restaurant is expected to open around the end of August, with hours from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays and from 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sundays.
"As you can see, it's going to be an upscale restaurant, with an extensive wine list and a very good beer list as well," Snee said, adding he believes the Bel Air community will be "well served."
The five board members unanimously agreed to amend its rule to allow the restaurant to get a license with a minimum investment of just $350,000, "based solely on this application," Fidler noted.
"I believe it's a good opportunity for this board," he said.
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David Anderson said the building dates to the 1860s and "is one of the oldest buildings in Bel Air."