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Bel Air's DuClaw Brewing closes, set to reopen in March serving locally sourced food, craft beer

The former DuClaw restaurant in Bel Air South is being renovated inside by its new owners to become a new restaurant serving locally sourced foods. DuClaw closed Sunday following a New Year's Eve party. It had been at the Bel Air South location 20 years.
The former DuClaw restaurant in Bel Air South is being renovated inside by its new owners to become a new restaurant serving locally sourced foods. DuClaw closed Sunday following a New Year's Eve party. It had been at the Bel Air South location 20 years. (DAVID ANDERSON | AEGIS STAFF / Baltimore Sun)

The DuClaw Brewing Co. restaurant in Bel Air South closed Sunday after 20 years in business, but will open later this winter as a new restaurant with the name "Humagalas," serving locally sourced food.

Restaurant staffers were dismantling the interior of the restaurant Monday as the new owners, Robert and Bill Frankis of the Bel Air-based Frankis Restaurant Group, prepare to open a new restaurant serving "locally-sourced healthy gourmet burgers and artisan pizzas," as well as craft beer, Robert Frankis said.

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He said the new restaurant, which is designed "to serve the community around the basis of locally sourced healthy food," should be ready to open in March.

The Frankis Restaurant Group also owns and operates five Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille restaurants, one of which is in the Harford Mall in Bel Air, and the other is in Aberdeen. The remaining three are in southern Delaware.

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Robert Frankis, right, the current co-owner of the former DuClaw Brewing Co. restaurant in Bel Air, oversees renovation work Monday as staffers prepare to convert to a new establishment serving locally sourced food, to be called “Humagalas.&#8221
Robert Frankis, right, the current co-owner of the former DuClaw Brewing Co. restaurant in Bel Air, oversees renovation work Monday as staffers prepare to convert to a new establishment serving locally sourced food, to be called “Humagalas.” (DAVID ANDERSON | AEGIS STAFF / Baltimore Sun)

"I just wanted to develop a brand that connected with our community," Robert Frankis said of the humagalas concept.

He said the new restaurant will provide "a social environment" and "really healthy fresh food at a reasonable price."

Frankis said the name humagalas "doesn't mean anything," just something he and his colleagues came up with it as they were developing their concept for the new eatery.

Humagalas will be part of a growing trend of Harford County restaurants that offer locally sourced food, such as Laurrapin Grille in Havre de Grace, and Pairings Bistro, One Eleven Main and Birroteca in Bel Air.

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David Benfield, a Harford County native and the president and founder of DuClaw, transferred a 10 percent ownership stake of the Bel Air establishment, as well as a sister restaurant in Bowie, to the Frankis Restaurant Group in April. It was part of plan by Benfield to concentrate on brewing his company's signature craft beers, he said at the time.

After more than 30 years in business on the southern end of Main Street in Bel Air, Friendly's restaurant is closing its doors Wednesday.

The Bel Air restaurant, founded in 1996, was the first of four brewpubs in Maryland operating under the DuClaw name and selling the company's line of craft beers.

The other two DuClaw restaurants at the Arundel Mills shopping center and BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport are operated by franchise owners, not the DuClaw Brewing Co.

The Bel Air DuClaw operated under its now former name until Sunday when the restaurant closed following a final New Year's Eve bash.

Frankis said about 280 people attended Saturday night.

"New Year's Eve was our final day [as DuClaw]," he said.

The owner of five Greene Turtle restaurants, including one in Bel Air and one in Aberdeen, has purchased a 10 percent ownership stake in two of DuClaw Brewing Co.'s restaurants in Bel Air and Bowie.

Frankis said the former DuClaw in Bowie also is being renovated inside and will reopen as a new restaurant in September.

Frankis said the majority of the former Bel Air DuClaw staffers will be on hand for the new restaurant, and the workforce will expand from about 35 to about 85 people. There will be additional servers, bartenders and managers, plus pizza makers at a fresh pizza bar.

The restaurant is in a shopping center at the intersection of Bel Air South Parkway and Route 24 in the vicinity of the 198-unit Avanti Luxury Apartments, which is slated to be completed by this spring.

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