It was a grand start for Lewis museum's gala grand opening


The grand opening of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture got a grand start last Friday night. A sellout crowd filled Meyerhoff Symphony Hall for a concert by Johnny Mathis and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

At the post-concert reception, there seemed to be two hot topics of conversation. First, you had the buzz about all the activities planned at the museum as it opened to the public. Then, there were the raves for Mathis, whose clear pitch-perfect voice sounded exactly the same as it had decades ago, belying his 69 years.

"Wasn't he great?" More a comment than question from George Russell, museum board chair.

"Was anyone else mouthing the words?" Lisa Barnhill wondered, as she confessed to silently singing along to the old standards like "Chances Are," and "Gina." "I knew every word of every song he sang," said Helen Patterson, "I sang along with him. And my [adult] daughter Devy knew every word, too, because I used to sing them to her."

"Johnny was fabulous," agreed husband Doward Patterson.

Meanwhile, Lou Grasmick, museum capital campaign chair, was introducing people to the other hit of the evening, 29-year-old wunderkind pianist Terrence Wilson, who also performed with the symphony that night. Fabu all the way around!

Ale Mary's

One of Fells Point's newest pubs is aiming to kick off its restaurant side of the business this weekend. Ale Mary's, which opened on St. Patty's Day, is owned by brothers Tom and Bill Rivers. You may know Tom from his years as a bartender around town. Nacho Mama's, Mother's and Max's on Broadway are just a few of his old haunts. Bill has spent his career in construction.

So, when the two of them decided to open their own place, it shouldn't surprise that they did almost all the work themselves. Named after their wives - both Marys - Ale Mary's is very "oaky," according to Tom. Lots of wood. Tom says you'll see old school oak locker doors used as wainscoting on the walls. The hightop tables in the bar were handmade by Bill. Tom says he and Bill had a Catholic school upbringing and have brought that to the place as well. You'll see lots of photos of Baltimore Catholic schools on the wall. There's a painting of a nun on the ladies room door, and one of a cardinal on the men's.

The bar offers bottled Belgian beers and microbrews, including the house blend - Mary's Heavenly Ale.

Tom says the menu may be small, but everything on it will be fresh. And either grilled, sauteed or baked. Nothing fried.

"That's the worst thing," he notes, "when you walk into a restaurant and smell the [deep fat] fryer."

Appetizers include garlic shrimp, a Reuben dip ("one of my wife's specialties, it tastes like a Reuben sandwich," says Tom), and steamed mussels. There are several sandwiches, including Ostrowski's sausage and peppers, crab cake and portobello power wrap. There will be weekly entree specials - a steak, a pasta and a veggie dish - along with standards like grandma's meatloaf and mashed potatoes, baked chicken and slow-cooked pork carnitas. Prices will range between $4.95 and $13.95. And you'll be able to get brunch on the weekend. Another Fells Point fixture - former Surfing Bull owner-chef Homero Eraso - is manning the kitchen.

You will find Ale Mary's, 410-276-2044, at 1939 Fleet St. Its current hours are 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Monday through Thursday, 1 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday and 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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