After two days of "sneak previews" in which 3,600 people received free meals, the fourth outlet of the Tres Bon bakery and cafe chain officially opens for business today inside the renovated Hansa Haus at Charles and Redwood streets.
Project coordinator Darlene Dunn said the owners decided to give away food to introduce their menu while providing a training experience for their 22 employees, and they were overwhelmed by the response.
"The lines were out the door," she said. "People were really taken aback by the fact that it was free. They were expecting a catch, but there was no catch."
Ms. Dunn said customers could order anything they wanted from the menu, which features breads, pastries, soups, salads and sandwiches. Many of the patrons said they were trying items they normally wouldn't have tried because they were free, she added.
Mark Singer, director of operations, said he believed it was the first time that a downtown restaurant has given food away for two days.
"We averaged 1,800 meals a day," he said. "It was very successful."
The cafe had to close yesterday at 2 p.m. because it ran out of food, but it was a valuable training experience for the employees, Ms. Dunn added. "If they're going to cut it under that kind of pressure, they're going to make it," she said.
Tres Bon signed a 10-year lease last fall for the 5,421-square-foot space formerly occupied by the W. Bell & Co. catalog store. Attman Properties owns the German-style building, which was constructed in 1911 to house the North German Lloyd Steamship Co. Its Germanic shields and other exterior details make it one of the most distinctive buildings downtown.
An auction of the 20-unit Greystone condominium complex in Ellicott City, originally scheduled for Monday, was postponed until March 2. The auction, by Atlantic Auctions, is a foreclosure sale on behalf of Second National Federal Savings Bank.
Also, a previously scheduled auction of 298 town houses lots off Old Eastern Avenue in Baltimore County was canceled yesterday because the owner, Eastern Avenue Limited Partnership, filed for protection from creditors under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The auction was a foreclosure sale on behalf of NationsBank.
The Motel 6 chain has taken control of and reopened a 133-room motel at 1654 Whitehead Court, near Security Boulevard and the Baltimore Beltway. The company acquired the property, formerly a Knights Inn motel, for $1.55 million at an auction held on behalf of the Federal Deposit Insurance Co. It is the chain's second operation in the Baltimore area and its fifth in Maryland.
Around the region:
Harkins Builders Inc. has been awarded a $17.9 million contract to design and build a 141,000-square-foot Student and Faculty Service Building and 840-car garage at the University of Maryland's College Park campus. Its design team includes Walton, Madden & Cooper, architects; George Evans & Associates, structural engineers; Burdette, Kohler & Murphy, mechanical and electrical engineers; and STV Lyons, site engineer. Construction is to begin March 1.
* The Cordish Co. of Baltimore has taken over management of the 300,000-square-foot Rehoboth Mall in Rehoboth, Del. as part of its planned purchase of the property. Anchors include Rose's Department Store, Peebles Department Store, Thrift Drug and A & P Super Fresh supermarket.
* The Woodlawn Volunteer Fire Co. is launching a $1.5 million fund-raising campaign to help finance construction of a new firehouse in the 6400 block of Windsor Mill Road. John A. Harrison Jr. of Catonsville is the architect. The company hopes to begin construction this fall.
* Gould Architects is the architect for Maryland Lifelines, a local non-profit group that has proposed to convert the former North Charles General Hospital at Charles and 28th streets to a $6 million residence and multiservice center for people with AIDS.
* Four members have joined the board of Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, the management organization that works to promote cleanliness, security and business activity downtown. They are Connie Caplan, president of the Time Group; Jody Clark, group leasing and operations manager for the Rouse Co.; Joel Lee, deputy secretary of the state's Department of Economic and Employment Development, and Mark Pollak, a partner in the law firm of Piper & Marbury.