In world of dining, rumors are flying: Are Kaplans buying?


The buzz in restaurant circles these days is that Lenny an Gail Kaplan have bought -- or are going to buy -- the Harvey House, the Charles Street institution that closed its doors two weeks ago.

Barry Baumel, one of the owners, says the restaurant has been bought by a local group but can't divulge its identity because of the terms of the sales contract. Based on the number of workmen there lately, the restaurant looks as if it will be given a new look. Settlement isn't until July 1, says Mr. Baumel, so we'll have to wait and see.

For his part, Mr. Kaplan says, "We have not bought it . . . It's ## premature to even discuss it."

But the cagey -- and successful -- restaurateur won't say he's not interested.

And it is a tantalizing idea. The Kaplans are major players on the catering-restaurant scene, with the swank Polo Grill and the Pavilion at the Walters, as well as Classic Catering People, the business they run with the Dopkin family.

In the last year alone, they've added to their fortunes -- taking over the Great Room at Savage Mill and landing two prestigious catering jobs: the Preakness and the All-Star Game.

Now everyone is wondering: Have they eyed their next target?

SUSHI'S SECOND COMING: This one, we have to admit, has us stumped. Bizillions of years after sushi became fashionable in America, it's hitting Baltimore in a big way. Two weeks ago, the Dragon Palace, 500 W. University Parkway, opened a sushi cafe. Two months ago, Ko Ryeo, a Korean and Japanese restaurant at 321 York Road, opened, serving among other things . . . sushi. And now we hear there's another spot in town -- Joung Kak Restaurant, 18 W. 20th St. -- that introduced sushi to its Korean and Chinese menu in recent weeks.

GOING FOR THE PAYOFF PITCH: Restaurants continue to see big business around the ballpark, with the most recent newcomer being the Upper Deck Bar & Grill, 34 S. Eutaw St. The two-bar, two-dining room pub, which opened appropriately enough on Opening Day, features overstuffed sandwiches, appetizers and a few desserts.

Shane Moore, one of the owners, says the restaurant will have a full menu in the next few months. A baseball lover himself, he admits to having even more of an interest in seeing the home team win these days.

"You can definitely see a difference in spending and the crowd," he says.

The kind of night that spells disaster for him is an extra-inning game that the Orioles lose.

"Then," he says, "everything's a washout."

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