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Mexican restaurant La Tolteca opens in Cockeysville

Travelling the York Road corridor through Cockeysville, you could sit down for some Thai or Indian food, savor all-American ribs, sample Peruvian chicken, or grab a slice of pizza. But you’re hard pressed to find a full-service Mexican restaurant.

The owners of La Tolteca Mexican Restaurant on Baltimore Pike in Bel Air changed that Jan. 10 by opening thier second location at 10010 York Road.

The spot is in the former location of Seasons Pizza. Seasons moved a couple of hundred yards away from its original location, to 20 Church Lane.

The 140-seat restaurant employs about 15. The new La Tolteca features the same menu as the original restaurant, showcasing fajitas, burritos and the Gordo’s burrito stuffed with chicken and chorizo and covered with cheese dip. Martinez says the Bel Air location is known for its margaritas.

Seasons moved into its new digs in August. Assistant Manager John Metzbower says the new Seasons seats about 80, about the same as the former location. The renovations of what used to be the old Grapevine Restaurant took about eight months. Seasons, a BYOB joint, employs 10.

Seasons is a regional chain, with about 25 locations in New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
  
Writer: Amy Landsman
Sources: Alfonso Martinez, co-owner La Tolteca; John Metzbower, assistant manager, Season’s Pizza.

Juice bar and yoga studio coming to Hampden

A juice bar and yoga studio are coming to Hampden in March, setting up shop next to the newly opened Belgian brasserie De Kleine Duivel.
 
Jukai Juice Co. and SOULshine Wellness Studio share an entrance, and once inside customers can go from one to the other without leaving the building. The 750-square-foot space is about equally divided between Jukai and SOULshine.

Jukai Juice Co.
Owner Kerri Namvary expects to open her all-natural juice store at 3602 Hickory Ave. in about seven weeks in the former Redman Lodge social club. SOULshine Wellness Studio Owner Sarah Hatton is eying a similar timetable for the yoga studio.

Namvary estimates she’ll invest $40,000 for a kitchen and small seating area. Eventually, she hopes to offer vegetarian and vegan options along with her all-natural juices. The storefront will allow her to consolidate her juicing operations in one place. Currently, the juice is produced in two separate commercial kitchens in Baltimore County and York County, Pa.
 
Jukai is named in honor of Namvary’s two kids, Julie and Kyle. Currently, she’s a one-woman business, though she may take on a part-timer. She started the business three years ago with stalls at local farmers’ markets and fridge space at the Green Onion in Hamilton. With the planned move to Hampden she plans to cut back on most of the markets, however, she plans to continue selling at Highlandtown and Fells Point. Jukai’s bestseller is the ‘Hulk,’ a blend of kale, pineapple, green apple, lemon, and ginger.

“My bigger picture is to offer nutrition on the go to everybody. I just feel like we would live in a better world if everybody was nourished,” she says.
 
Hatton estimates she’ll spend a bit less than $15,000 to open her yoga studio. The 2000 Towson University graduate moved back to the area from Dallas about a year ago and says she has found a niche in Hampden.
 
“You have some people who maybe are not from the city, like myself with a vision about bringing community together, whether it’s through art or yoga,” Hatton says.
 
Art studio Gallery 788 is another tenant in the building. It will be joined by a photography studio.
 
Reporter: Amy Landsman
Source: Kerri Namvary, owner Jukai Juice; Sarah Hatton, owner SOULshine Wellness.

Fazzini's opening in former Piv's Restaurant space in Cockeysville

Fazzini’s Italian Kitchen is moving to a bigger spot in Cockeysville that will give the BYOB restaurant a liquor license and more than five times the seating capacity.
 
The Italian restaurant will open within three months in the shuttered Piv’s Restaurant space at 9811 York Road, Owner Ari Brownstein says.
 
The new spot will give them 225 seats, including a patio, versus 40 in the current location. Fazzini’s will take over Piv’s liquor license.
 
The new location is about a block north of Padonia Road, where Ryleigh’s Oyster House of Federal Hill opened a Timonium outpost in November, and a couple blocks south of Cranbrook Road, where La Tolteca Mexican Restaurant of Belair opened a second location.
 
“The possibilities of that space are limitless,” Brownstein says, saying they’ll do some minor renovations, including moving tables and rearranging some booths. He declined to discuss the cost of the renovation.
 
Brownstein says they will hire 25 additional workers to their existing 15-person staff.  The restaurant will retain much of its menu.
 
“We’ll continue to make all our pastas, breads, meatballs from scratch as we’ve been doing for the past 20 years.”
 
Although currently in a cramped, strip mall location, Fazzini’s draws customers from beyond the immediate neighborhood.
 
 
Reporter: Amy Landsman
Source: Ari Brownstein, Fazzini’s owner 

Myth & Moonshine owners eyeing second location in Fells

The owners of Canton’s Myth & Moonshine are expanding, with plans to open a second bar in Fells Point and an upstairs dive bar at its current location.
 
Owners Shanna Cooper and fiancé Jake Millisock are negotiating their lease in Fells and expect it to open by May, Cooper says. Called Myth II Moonshine, Cooper describes the new business as a “corner satellite dive bar.”
 
The year-old Canton bar specializes in Cajun food and, of course, various types of moonshine. Cooper couldn’t divulge the Fells location yet as the owners are still in negotiations.
 
“We think it’s going to be great for people who want some late food that’s not pizza.”
 
The Fells Point bar will serve many of the same appetizers, sandwiches and desserts as the existing restaurant. It will also serve loaded baked potatoes and hotdogs, similar to what it has in store for Canton.
 
By Valentine’s Day, the second floor of Myth and Moonshine will house a dive bar featuring a hot dog and baked potato station with 30 toppings. It will offer the usual condiments, plus more unusual ones like gumbo or ham and cheese. Toppings will cost 50 cents each and a loaded hot dog or baked potato will run between $4 and $8. Cooper says she hopes the hot dog and baked potato bar will help it attract a lunch crowd.
 
Cooper describes the upstairs as a “rustic moonshine shack,” with industrial piping and four fireplaces. “It’s almost like hanging out in a basement of a house.”
 
The restaurant carries 75 types of moonshine and will up that number to about 100 by the end of February. Its menu items include shrimp and grits, jambalaya, ribs and deviled eggs. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Shanna Cooper

Farmstead Grill owners target May opening in Canton Crossing

Canton Crossing’s new farm-to-table restaurant Farmstead Grill and its companion kiosk Farmstead Shack will likely open in May, Executive Chef and Chief Operating Officer Galen Sampson says.
 
Selling takeaway items, Farmstead Shack will open later than the 200-seat restaurant. Sampson says it will be sometime after Mother's Day.
 
The venture is led by Charles Nasbit, the owner of the two-year-old Waterfront Kitchen in Fells Point. The restaurant and shack will rely on local farms for its meat and produce and aims to serve “creative, chef-driven cuisines” at a lower price point, says Sampson, the former chef and owner of the Dogwood in Hampden.
 
Entrees will cost between $16 and $25. Diners wanting to spend less can get small plates, salads and appetizers for under $16, Sampson says.
 
Architect Brown Craig Turner Inc. has designed the casual fine dining restaurant like a barn with exposed wooden beams lots of light and an all-glass front. It looks out over a park, across from Farmstead Shack.
 
The restaurant and kiosk will join Target, Michael’s, Mission BBQ, Samos and a slew of other shops and restaurants at the Canton development. A Harris Teeter will join Canton Crossing later this year. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Galen Sampson

Former Gunther Brewery converted to 165 apartments

The $120 million redevelopment of the former Gunther and National breweries in Brewers Hill is nearing completion.

The Gunther, a 165-unit apartment building at 1211 South Conkling St., opened its first units to tenants last month and the final units will be ready for leasing by March. The apartment building is the last step in the multi-year redevelopment of the two historic breweries located east of Canton.

The Gunther consists of studios, one- and two-bedrooms. Rents range from $1,390 to $2,766, says David Knipp, of Obrecht Commercial Real Estate, the project’s developer.
 
The Gunther has a restaurant space and a couple of prospective tenants have expressed interest, Knipp says. None have signed so far although he hopes to be able to make an announcement by spring.
 
Knipp says the Gunther is actually composed of four adjacent buildings, some connected to each other, that were built over time, from the mid-19th to the mid-20th centuries. The buildings take up almost an entire city block.
 
The Gunther Brewery and the National Brewery, home of Natty Boh, make up the total 30-acre, two million-square foot project. The project required state and local historic commission approval and received state historic tax credits. It features an office, residential and complex on Toone, Dean and O’Donnell streets, whose buildings have names like Natty Boh, Grain, Malt, Lager and Ale. It also includes the Shops at Brewers Hill, on Boston Street.
 
The renovation of the four buildings into the 250,000 square foot, five-story Gunther began in 2011.  “It was a long process that required demolition of floors and interior walls,” Knipp says. One of the four buildings was turned into a parking garage.
 
Knipp says a five-acre lot still remains in the development complex but no decision has been made what to do with it.
 
“It’s been a wild ride these last seven, eight years,” he says. “We want to catch our breath.”
 
Source: David Knipp, Obrecht Commercial Real Estate
Writer: Barbara Pash, bpash@comcast.net
 
 

Patisserie Poupon owner opening second Baltimore location downtown

Well you can forget your New Year’s diet resolutions if you live or work in downtown Baltimore.

The owner of Jonestown’s Patisserie Poupon is opening a new café about a mile away from his original location at the end of this month. The original Patisserie, specializing in French cakes and pastries, is retail only, with no seating. The new Café Poupon at 225 N. Charles St. will feature a full menu.

Owner Joseph Poupon says the café will feature breakfast pastries, a variety of coffees, and classic French salads and dishes such as quiche.

The 1,300-square-foot space is street level and adjacent to the  Grand Historic Venue property. Poupon has a ten-year lease from the Embassy Suites Baltimore – Inner Harbor, which runs the Grand Historic Venue. In 2006, the 45,000-square-foot event space, a former Masonic Lodge, underwent a $27 million renovation.

Poupon is only making minor upgrades to the kitchen. The space, previously the Grand Café, already features high ceilings, marble floors, and French lithographs on the walls. There is terrace seating in the summer. “I want to have a nice pastry shop. It’s a beautiful space,” he says.

Poupon is in the process of hiring a chef, baristas, and other employees, about a dozen people in all.

Poupon has bakeries in Washington, D.C., and in Baltimore at 820 E. Baltimore St, near the Shot Tower. The Baltimore location opened in 1986.

Poupon says he has no further expansion plans.


Reporter: Amy Landsman
Source: Joseph Poupon, owner, Café Poupon.

Federal Hill's Charm City Yoga is moving to a bigger studio

For those whose New Year’s resolution is to be more active, Charm City Yoga’s Federal Hill location will soon be offering that chance to more area residents when it moves to a larger space mid-February.
 
The studio, one of the growing company’s seven in the greater Baltimore area, will occupy 4,000 square feet at 1024 Light St. It will also house a boutique that will sell apparel by Under Armour, the official outfitter of Charm City Yoga. 

The new spot will include two studios, one of which will be heated for hot yoga. It will also include larger bathrooms areas, a changing room and lockers, and showers, which the current facility lacks. 
 
Charm City Yoga Director of Operations Allison Korycki says it was time for a bigger space as its current location at 37 E. Cross St., was less visible from the street and could barely fit 25 people in its studio. With the larger space, Charm City Yoga hopes to cater to Baltimore residents who have never done yoga before, as well as those who are looking for more space in which to practice.
 
Through its expansion, Korycki says that Charm City Yoga’s goal is to bring nationally known yoga teachers to Baltimore to host workshops.
 
But Korycki says that the yoga studio’s biggest goal is to continue to grow.
 
“We hope to attract lots of new customers,” Korycki says. “This [studio] is in a prominent location on Light Street so we’re hoping that people just walking by or driving by are going to see it more easily.”
 
Korycki says Charm City Yoga is excited it is able to stay in Federal Hill.
 
“We love that there’s a young, vibrant people down there and it’s a very happening place and it’s a very active community,” she says.
 
The studio will offer an expanded class schedule with classes that start as early as 6:30 a.m. and as late as 8:30 p.m.

Writer: Daryl Hale
Source: Allison Korycki, Charm City Yoga

Vivo Trattoria & Wine Bar opens near Arundel Mills

A new Italian restaurant and wine bar opened last month at the $150 million Arundel Preserve complex near Arundel Mills mall.

The 165-seat Vivo Trattoria Wine Bar serves homemade pasta, artisanal pizza made in a wood-fired oven and 100 to 150 bottles of wine, says General Manager Matthew Santeramo. The restaurant, designed as a Tuscan-style trattoria and enoteca, seats about 60 on the patio and serves 25 wines by the glass. This month, Vivo started offering lunch Monday through Friday. 

Vivo is located inside the Hotel at Arundel Preserve, just on the opposite side of the hotel as the two-year-old Grillfire Arundel restaurant. George Martin owns both restaurants.

“The owner felt there wasn’t enough Italian in the area. There wasn’t much to choose from,” Santeramo says.

Menu items include a crab imperial pizza; brick-oven fired chicken and pasta bolognese. Appetizers and salads start at $8; pizzas, pastas and entrees will start between $12-$17. 
 
Vivo will be slightly smaller than Grillfire and sport the look of cozy, rustic farmhouse. The restaurant will employ 40 to 50.

Arundel Preserve is an office, residential and retail complex a stone’s throw from Arundel Mills. Maryland Live Casino, which features table games and slots, debuted at the mall last year. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Matthew Santeramo, Grillfire Arundel

Belgian brasserie De Kleine Duivel opens in Hampden

A Belgian brasserie opened Friday in a former social club of the Improved Order of Red Men Lodge at 3602 Hickory Ave. in Hampden.

De Kleine Duivel, which means “little devil” in Flemish, is just serving beer, wine, spirits, and small plates, such as paté, charcuterie, and cheese from the Green Onion Market in Hamilton. But the space has a full kitchen, which Owner Paul Kopchinski says he expects to open by late January. He will also offer live music in the coming months.

The 1,500-square-foot room seats about 15 at the bar and close to 50 at tables. The showpiece of the Art Nouveau-style space is the custom 40-foot-long bar made by a cabinetmaker and childhood friend of Kopchinski’s. 

Right now it’s just Kopchinski and one other employee manning the bar. He says he expects to hire about five servers when the kitchen opens.

Kopchinski plans to apply for an entertainment license so bands can play on the restaurant’s stage a few nights a month. “Nothing loud. Eclectic, acoustic music that would fit in with the theme and the atmosphere."

Kopchinski has been planning on opening his Belgian-themed brasserie since 2010. Two previous locations didn’t work out, and he ended up at the former lodge.

Kopchinski’s mom’s side of the family is Flemish and he still has family in Belgium, and he travels there often. De Kleine Duivel, “little devil,” is what his grandmother used to call him when he was a kid.
 
Reporter: Amy Landsman
Source: Paul Kopchinski, owner De Kleine Duivel

Red Emma's to serve dinner next month in new Station North spot

Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse plans to serve a full dinner menu next month at its new Station North location.

The store opened Nov. 20 at its new location at 30 W. North Ave., where it roasts its own coffee beans from Thread Coffee on site. It initially offered baked goods and expanded its cafe menu Dec. 5 to include sandwiches, soups and salads. The nine-year-old radical bookstore and coffeehouse announced its move from Mount Vernon late last year. 
 
Previously occupied by Cyclops Books, the new space is 4,600 square feet, nearly six times the size of its 800-square-foot spot on Saint Paul Street.
 
“In the old space, one of the problems that we had was that all the space we had was what you saw,” Khatib says.
 
Now the coffeehouse has designated space for storage, a kitchen, an office and bathrooms. 
 
The vegetarian menu will be expanded to include kale, potato wedges and vegan mac and cheese. It will continue to serve soups and sandwiches during the day. 
 
Red Emma’s is a co-op and will add more collective-owners to its staff. While the business does not hire new workers, it does bring people into the project as worker-owners, people who are interested in investing in the project long-term.
 
“The members that we have right now are not enough to fill all of the shifts that we’re going to need so we will be looking to add new folks to the co-op,” Khatib says.


Writer: Daryl Hale
Source: Kate Khatib, Red Emma's 

French restaurant opens at the Lord Baltimore Hotel

The Lord Baltimore Hotel is hoping to appeal to lovers of fine art and fine French cuisine with its new restaurant that opened Dec. 3.

The owners of the downtown Baltimore hotel have renovated the hotel's former Versailles Room into the 100-seat French Kitchen

Miami-based Rubell Hotels purchased the Lord Baltimore at 20 W. Baltimore St. for $10 million in March and dropped the Radisson flag. It is currently renovating the entire 440-room hotel and expects to wrap up the work in April. The hotel will remain open during the multimillion-dollar renovation. 

Menu items at the French Kitchen include french onion soup, cured salmon, steak frites and beef tartar. 

The owners had wanted to name it Matisse Kitchen & Tavern, but a conflict came up with the name, Co-owner Mera Rubell says. The original name celebrated the Cone Collection at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Wealthy Baltimore socialites Claribel and Etta Cone assembled a massive art collection during the Gilded Age, including 500 works by Henri Matisse. In 1949, the collection was bequeathed to the BMA.

“We really want to celebrate the local,” Rubell says.  “Our design was very much inspired by Matisse, his sense of color, his sense of food. He is a major, important figure because of his extraordinary paintings.”

Constructed in 1928, the Lord Baltimore was once one of the city’s grand hotels, and the scene of countless weddings and other social events.

The Lord Baltimore has a grand ballroom, meeting space, two terraces, and penthouse accommodations.

Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: Mera Rubell, co-owner, The Lord Baltimore

Nonprofit rehabbing rowhomes near Penn Station for affordable housing

Empire Homes of Maryland has bought six rowhouses in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District that it will renovate and turn into affordable, one-bedroom apartments for the disabled.

The $3.3 million project in the 1600, 1700 and 1800 blocks of North Calvert Street will result in 18 apartments when its completed this summer. Construction will begin in January.

The Baltimore City Housing Authority owned the vacant rowhouses that are spread throughout the project site. Empire Homes, a non-profit developer and property manager of affordable housing headquartered on North Charles Street, bought the rowhouses at a cost of about $10,000 each, according to president and CEO T.F. Burden.
 
“Because they are public housing properties, they can only be used for that purpose," Buden says. "They can’t be rehabbed and sold for market rate or turned into single-family housing.”
 
The rowhouses are located near Amtrak’s Pennsylvania Station and Baltimore School of Design, a public high school.
 
Each of the six rowhouses will contain three units. Rent will cost about $650 per month, with the tenant paying a maximum of 30 percent of his or her income. The city and Innovative Housing Institute, a downtown nonprofit, will choose tenants from the city’s housing choice voucher wait list.
 
Empire Homes obtained funding from several sources for the project, including $1.8 million from the state, $700,000 from the city, $300,000 from the Federal Home Loan Bank and $300,000 from bank financing.
 
Last July, Empire Homes opened another affordable rental project in Station North. The Lillian Jones Apartments, at 1303 Greenmount Ave., were constructed on a vacant lot. The four-story, 74-unit building has one- , two- and three-bedroom apartments. Empire Homes and city real estate developer the French Development Company partnered on the $16.1 million project.
 
Source: T.F. Burden, Empire Homes of Maryland
Writer: Barbara Pash at bpash@comcast.net
 

National Aquarium in Baltimore hires architect as it plots real estate moves

Leaders at the National Aquarium in Baltimore are weighing upgrades to its Inner Harbor building, moving its Fells Point animal rescue facility and changes to its dolphin exhibit that will enhance its conservation mission.

The aquarium has hired Studio Gangs Architects and Impacts Research & Development LLC to prepare a report by the spring that will lay out its strategic planning initiative, says Eric Schwaab, the aquarium’s chief conservation officer. 

“A big part of the effort will involve significant outreach to other partners and stakeholders in the community,” Schwaab says. 

In addition to its tourist attraction at the Inner Harbor, the aquarium operates an 11-acre property and former brownfields site located along the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River. It was set to become a $50 million development with classroom space and a new animal care facility, known as the Center for Aquatic Life and Conservation. Those plans stalled during the economic downturn as fundraising became a challenge. The report will help aquarium staff determine what is the best use of the site going forward.

The aquarium is considering moving its animal rescue facility in Fells Point to a more visible spot near its main Inner Harbor attraction. 

“From a business perspective and logistically, we would love to move it closer" to the main building, Schwaab says. That would make it easier to move animals from the main building to the animal care facility. 

Alternatively, it could move its animal care facility to its South Baltimore property, something it has considered in the past, Schwaab says. 

The aquarium is also evaluating whether to enhance its Dolphin Discovery experience and upgrade the building that houses it. The current exhibit allows visitors to interact with dolphin trainers. “We’ve moved away from shows that are pure entertainment” to ones that focus on research and education, Schwaab says.
 
In August, the aquarium debuted its $12.5 million Blacktip Reef exhibit. It recently closed its D.C. location, but says it is still committed to having a presence again someday in the nation’s capital. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Eric Schwaab, National Aquarium

New Mount Vernon cafe to sell espresso, yoga mats and vinyl records

A new coffee shop is coming soon to the Mount Vernon neighborhood and plans to serve more than coffee and pastries.
 
NuBohemia, which bills itself as a modern bohemian cafe, will sell jewelry, yoga gear and vinyl records when it opens at 42 W. Biddle St. in about a month.
 
Owner John Johnson says the coffee shop will serve espresso and espresso-based drinks, drip coffee, hot and iced tea, and smoothies.

“We want to be a destination for folks, a place people will want to come and enjoy each other’s company,” Johnson says.
 
The shop has partnered with a local Maryland record store to sell vinyl in the shop. NuBohemia hopes to appeal to the young artists and college students who live in the area.
 
The 1000-square-foot space is located just a block and a half from the 1200 block of Charles Street, an area that Johnson says believes is the “hottest area of the city.” The block is home to a growing cluster of shops and restaurants, including Potbelly Sandwich Shop, Starbucks, Tutti Frutti, TriBeCa Coffee Roasters, Oooh So Sweet bakery and Pet Valu. The area has attracted more businesses as its student population has grown with the expansion of the University of Baltimore
 
“We wanted to open as close to this block as possible,” Johnson says.
 
Johnson came across this location while working in the events promotion field.
 
“We started doing events for 10 years and actually got away from wanting to open the coffee shop,” he says. “But now that things have settled down, we’re back to wanting to open the brick and mortar of the coffee shop.”
 
Johnson says the shop will be open Thursday through Sunday for the first year, and will then expand its hours to seven days a week thereafter.

Writer: Daryl Hale
Source: John Johnson
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