Phillips cracks open plans for renovations; Seafood restaurant to get 'fresh look' at Harborplace site; Inner Harbor


Phillips restaurant, an original tenant of Harborplace in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, is planning its first major renovation since opening nearly 19 years ago.

The popular, family-run restaurant, known for its crab cakes, piano bar and hanging Tiffany lamps, will be redesigned -- but in a way that continues to reflect its Eastern Shore roots, Honey Konicoff, Phillips corporate director of marketing, said yesterday.

The local chain, which started in Ocean City and has locations in White Marsh, Washington and Tysons Corner, Va., hasn't settled on a new theme for the renovations, which will be completed over the next couple of years, she said.

"It's our plan to renovate, but we don't have details," Konicoff said, adding that "anything we do will be about Maryland and the tradition of the Eastern Shore."

The first step will be to enclose the outer "greenhouse" seating area with glass, replacing the vinyl partitions, as other waterfront restaurants in the Light Street pavilion have done. Those plans were presented yesterday to the city Planning Department's Design Advisory Panel by the restaurant's landlord, the Rouse Co.

"This will be a substantial renovation of the restaurant," Richard Altman, whose company, RSA Associates, is design manager for Harborplace, told the panel members. "Phillips is committing to a major investment in the city and Harborplace."

Altman, who said the construction on the glass enclosures would begin in the fall, said the 600-seat restaurant, among the dozen top grossing restaurants in the nation, plans to install a new kitchen and completely reconfigure its space.

"This is very good for Baltimore," said Michael A. Gaines, vice president and Harborplace manager. "It's an important institution."

Phillips did not disclose the renovation costs.

"We'll have a new, fresh look," said John Knorr, the restaurant's general manager. "It's time. We're one of the busiest restaurants in the U.S., and it's been well used."

The Phillips renovation will be the latest makeover in the food and shopping pavilions, which are credited with sparking Baltimore's downtown renaissance.

The Rouse Co. renovated the first floor of the Light Street pavilions in 1997, then gutted the second-floor shops, which reopened last year as the Light Street Shops with a new look and new merchants. Over the past few years, restaurants have moved in, including Planet Hollywood and the Cheesecake Factory, while others have expanded or renovated.

Pub Date: 1/29/99

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