There have been whispers that the very popular Miss Shirley's Cafe in Roland Park was planning to have a second location downtown, and now they're confirmed.
Sometime late this summer, the new Miss Shirley's will open adjacent to the lobby of the 750 E. Pratt St. office building. The target date is mid- to late August. There will be seating for 90 and a carryout window.
At first, Miss Shirley's will stick to what made the first location such a success, offering elaborate breakfast and lunch items (from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays). Signature dishes include such goodies as Benne Seed Chicken 'N Waffles, Crab & Fried Green Tomato Eggs and Born on the Bay-O Salad With Cornmeal-Encrusted Soft Shell Crab.
If all goes well, the new location will start staying open on weekends by next spring, and plans are in the works for outdoor seating and a liquor license. The owner is also working on getting a discount for parking at several nearby garages.
The owner, by the way, isn't Miss Shirley, but Edward "Eddie" Dopkin, who also owns Loco Hombre, Alonso's and S'ghetti Eddie's, all part of the Crazy Man Restaurant Group.
He named the original Miss Shirley's in memory of Shirley McDowell, a cook and longtime employee of the family catering business who inspired many of the dishes on the menu.
WHAT'S IN A NAME --In late summer or early fall (but we all know about opening dates, so don't hold your breath), a new 180-seat restaurant should open at 938-40 S. Conkling St. serving contemporary American cuisine.
"Coming up with the name is the hardest part," says Mel Carter, an operating partner and general manager. He doesn't like the phrase "polished casual" but feels it's probably appropriate for the restaurant, which will have two floors, balcony seating, a modern decor and a private chef's table.
"It will be a special-occasion restaurant where it doesn't have to be a special occasion to go to," Carter says.
The executive chef will be Brett Lockard, a fellow graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and Carter's best friend.
SANDWICH GENERATION --Just in time for al-fresco dining on the cutest deck in the harbor, My Panini (711 Eastern Ave., 410-528-8670) has opened in the Pier V Hotel where the Peacock Cafe last was. It's the second in an Atlanta-based chain of casual spots specializing in panini, salads and more. Two more are scheduled to open in the Washington area this year. Interestingly, My Panini was the first restaurant in Georgia to be certified by the national Green Restaurant Association (dinegreen.com) for its eco-initiatives.
My Panini is open 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6:30 a.m. to midnight Friday, 7 a.m. to midnight Saturday and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, with a buffet brunch.
HELLO/GOODBYE --Cobbers, the pub and cafe at 1218-22 N. Charles St., is gone, and now Aloha Tokyo, the Hawaiian-Japanese restaurant in Locust Point, is opening up a second location in the same spot in the next few weeks. The emphasis will be on sushi.
Birches in Canton is for sale; one of the owners wants to retire.
Send restaurant news, trends, questions of general interest or observations to me at email@example.com or fax me at 410-783-2519. Snail mail works, too: Elizabeth Large, The Sun, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore 21278.