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Belgian brewpub taps into Hampden

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Baltimore's Hampden neighborhood will soon be home to a brewpub that takes its inspiration from the Northern European country known for waffles and chocolates.

Paul Kopchinski, a Maryland Native who currently residents in New York City, will open De Kleine Duivel by July. Kopchinski will spend about $100,000 renovating the former Nutty Pub at 3520 Chestnut Ave.

With a Flemish mother whose family lives in Antwerp, Kopchinski says he knows a thing or two about Belgian food and drink. The menu will consist of classic Flemish and French dishes, includes mussels and French fries, or moules frites. Other items will include Flemish beef stew, fish stew and homemade chocolates and, of course, Belgian waffles.

Kopchinski, who attended the French Culinary Institute, will design the menu but will hire someone in to cook the food. He anticipates having five entrees and a couple of appetizers. As far as beer goes, De Kleine Duivel will only sell Belgian beers, about a dozen on draft and 30 bottles. Kopchinski will concentrate on smaller boutique brewers rather than the larger brands.
"It's a country that takes it beer very seriously," Kopchinski says of Belgium.

Kopchinski has hired woodwork artist Tim Ely to create Art Nouveau style lighting, furniture and paneling in the 1,000-square-foot space.
Why Art Nouveau? One of the originators of that style was a Belgian architect named Victor Horta.

Kopchinski moved out of Maryland 12 years ago after graduating college but was eager to return once he found the Hampden spot.
"It's sort of a homecoming for me," he says. "I looked at a lot of locations and the only place I would consider doing this in Hampden. It's almost like a small town that is right in the middle of a major city. There's a sense of community among business owners that appeals to me a lot."

The business ownerconsidered opening the brewpub in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens, New York , but commercial real estate prices were too steep. Kopchinski also considered Frederick, Asheville, N.C., and Roanoke, Va. before settling on the spot that used to be the Nutty Pub.

Though the economy has not been kind to many restaurants, Kopchinski is confident that his Belgian brews will soak in the crowds.
"People like to drink in Baltimore. Drinking is recession proof. "

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Paul Kopchinski, De Kleine Duivel

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