For years the Walters Art Gallery resisted opening a restaurant. But with this Sunday's debut of Hackerman House comes the public opening of a 150-seat museum cafe entered from the 600 block of Washington Place, the official name of Charles Street as it passes Mount Vernon Place. The cafe opens for business at 11 a.m. Sunday.
A black wrought iron railing and bronze lamp mark the outside entrance to the lunch-only restaurant, which was dug out and created beneath a former backyard between Hackerman House's south wall and its carriage house. The cafe area is new to the Walters' complex of buildings.
The Pavilion at the Walters is a skylighted space with high walls and columns designed to mimic some of the 19th century architectural features of Mount Vernon Place. A centerpiece of the room is a fountain topped by a 1917 bronze titled "Joy and Panther Cub" by sculptor Malvina Hoffman. A broad staircase, reminiscent of old hotel or department store, leads to a balcony walkway which runs around one side of the room.
The menu includes a $9 crab cake, $5.50 ham and cheese sandwich, $6.50 Waldorf salad, $11.25 grilled salmon and $3.75 ice cream serving. The restaurant is open to the public from Tuesday through Sunday from 11 to 4:30 p.m., closed on Monday. It is not necessary to pay a museum entrance fee to enter the cafe. Entry to the restaurant does not include free admission to the Walters galleries. The food operation is run by Classic Catering People.
"We now have the opportunity to offer hospitality to museum visitors who want to spend more than an hour here. We can now accommodate people with a gracious experience," said Robert P. Bergman, the Walters' director.