Restaurateur Wayne Brokke

The Baltimore Sun

Wayne Brokke, retired restaurateur, self-described micro-manager, cookbook author and now budding actor, no longer dreams of purveyors or errant wait staff.

"I used to wake up shaking at midnight, wondering if I had ordered the next day's chicken or if one of my waiters would call in sick, but no longer," said Brokke, 58.

He first started dishing up soup in 1978 at the The Soup Kitchen Ltd., his Federal Hill restaurant, and became one of Harborplace's original tenants when he relocated there in 1980.

He later switched from soup to barbecue when he opened Wayne's Barbecue in the Pratt Street pavilion. That restaurant closed in 2002.

He was the last of the original merchants to leave Harborplace.

"Basically, I've had two jobs during my life. I sold shoes 40 years ago at the Hess shoe store at the Reisterstown Road Plaza, and I had the restaurant," he said.

Brokke who never had time to finish college, now finds himself a half-semester away from finally getting his bachelor's degree in philosophy from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

He also became a cookbook author with the publication of I Can Cook, You Can Cook in 2003.

"These were recipes from the cooking segment I did on WBAL-TV for 10 years during the 1990s," he said.

The Guilford resident has also been studying drama at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City and has made several commercials.

In Baltimore, he keeps busy helping a surrogate son finish high school and managing nearly a dozen rental properties he owns. He has happily turned down requests from "several folks with deep pockets," he said, to go back into the restaurant business.

"It's not a business I'd encourage anyone to go into unless you have lots of passion."

FREDERICK N. RASMUSSEN

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, Brokke will be signing copies of his cookbook at Le Petit Cochon, 1028 S. Charles St., in Federal Hill.

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