Annapolis aldermen will consider tonight plans to dress up the Harbour House, a City Dock restaurant long ignored by late-night crowds that is changing owners for the first time in 35 years.
"We want to clean it up and dress it up," said Sam Brown, an attorney for Raymond Lubrano, a local restaurateur who is buying Harbour House from George Phillips.
The council will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. on the application to renovate and expand the restaurant.
Mr. Lubrano hopes to capitalize on the restaurant's prime waterfront location by renovating it to allow better views of the harbor and historic downtown and enlarging it to allow a bigger kitchen, Mr. Brown said. Changes in the design would emphasize the building's outdoor orientation, with its large patio and waterfront windows, he said.
The council is expected to approve the application in September, and when it does, a debate over late-night licensing is likely to arise.
The city's Planning and Zoning Department ruled recently that the Harbour House would be sold with its 2 a.m. license intact. A majority of the council members support a bill providing that two more downtown restaurants, Buddy's Crabs & Ribs and Maria's Sicilian Ristorante, are covered by the same law that protects Harbour House's 2 a.m. license.
"Frankly, Harbour House is going to be the basis for arguing for the other" 2 a.m. license, said Ward 5 Alderman Carl O. Snowden.
Meanwhile, an even more sweeping bill sponsored by Alderman Ellen O. Moyer will come up for debate. It would grant late-night hours to all establishments that are downtown.
Tonight's public hearing will focus on Harbour House.
The new Harbour House plan would bring more seats from the back of the restaurant toward window seats by the water and would connect a patio to the main dining room. The renovated restaurant would offer casual dining downstairs and a more upscale dining room on the upper level.
The plan would extend the 430-seat restaurant by at least 21,000 square feet into what is now Hyde Park Annapolis Haber--ery, a men's clothing store next door. That change would allow access for the handicapped and a bigger kitchen, not more seats, Mr. Brown said.
The restaurant, one of the largest in the historic district, could get a new look on the outside as well.
"The restaurant has been around for a lot of years and modified a lot over the years, and we're interested in developing a new and fresh look," said architect Chuck Goodman, who is redesigning Harbour House. "But I don't think we're necessarily thinking of changing the outside significantly."
Mr. Lubrano, who owns Cantina D'Italia and Mama Lucia in suburban shopping centers, will complete the Harbour House purchase when city approves the expansion. Mr. Lubrano hopes to take over the restaurant in October, renovate it and open for business in February.
In other matters, the council is scheduled to take up a bill to allow sidewalk cafes in downtown Annapolis. The Planning Commission did not take action on the bill last week, as it had intended, and council members were considering postponing further debate.