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Haute Blow Dry opens in Harbor East

A new salon specializing in professional blow dries opened its second location in Harbor East Nov. 22 and is eyeing Howard County for its third.

The Haute Blow Dry Bar doesn’t do haircuts. Instead, clients come in for a 45-minute wash, scalp massage, and professional blow out. Owner Abi Frederick, a California native, says the concept is big on the West Coast and is now reaching Baltimore.

The 650-square-foot blow dry bar at 644 S. Exeter St., across from Whole Foods, has  seven styling chairs, blue walls, and white marble countertops. Frederick is investing about $115,000 in the renovation with money from a private investor group. Haute Harbor East employs seven.

Frederick opened her first Haute at 720 Dulaney Valley Road in the Dulaney Valley Plaza in Towson in July. Frederick hopes to expand to Columbia by summer 2014.

Frederick says Harbor East has the cachet she was looking for in a location. The tony area is home to the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore and J. Crew, Anthropologie, Lululemon and other shops.

“I think that with the development of Harbor East and the new retail stores going in, I just think it’s a concept that will do really well here. Harbor East, with all the professional women and all the restaurants right there, and the hotels, I think that there’s a real need.”

Clients come in for a professional styling, for special events, or a girls’ night out. Haute offers clients a glass of wine, champagne or a soft drink to enjoy with their blow out.

“I’ve already had women coming to weddings in Baltimore and asking us if we’re open.” 

Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: Abi Frederick, Haute Blow Dry Bar

By Degrees Cafe opens in Little Italy

A Baltimore chef who has worked for the Wine Market and Fleet Street Kitchen opened a casual contemporary restaurant in an industrial building on the edge of Little Italy Oct. 15.

The 1,350-square-foot By Degrees Cafe serves soups, salads and sandwiches for lunch and half a dozen entrees for dinner. By Degrees serves lunch at the counter and relies on wait staff for dinner.

Located in the redeveloped Fallsway Spring building at 415 S. Central Ave., the restaurant will hopefully appeal to young professionals in the neighborhood and adjacent Harbor East, Owner Omar Semidey says. 

Semidey says he wants to offer a small, intimate dining experience for diners who want an alternative to the massive, swanky eateries in tony Harbor East. By Degrees will seat 50 in the dining room and another six at the bar. 

He describes By Degrees as a “third-day” restaurant. When you have a friend in town, you take him somewhere nice the first day. The second day you cook dinner at home. And the third day you’re ready to eat out again, but somewhere that offers "solid food that doesn’t break the bank.” Most entrees at By Degrees cost less than $17 and soups around $5 and sandwiches under $10.

“The goal is not to revolutionize the culinary landscape, but shift it by degrees,” Semidey says.

Semidey is working with a silent business partner, whom he declined to name. He also declined to say how much he and his business partner will spend on the restaurant, financed with cash. 

The building’s developer Larry Silverstein is responsible for refurbishing several other properties in East Baltimore, including the Union Box Co. and the Holland Tack Factory, home of Heavy Seas Ale House and My Thai

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Omar Semidey, By Degrees Cafe

Federal Hill bakery launches cupcake food truck and plots second store

The world is looking sweet for Midnite Confection’s Cupcakery, which launched a food truck last month. The venture isn't just icing on the cake for the Federal Hill bakery. The owners hope the the food truck will spread the word about its confections and help them find a good home for a planned second store.

“We want to explore other areas beyond where we are,” says Sandra McNeil, co-owner with her son, Aaron McNeil, of the bakery, at 1051 South Charles St. “We’re looking for possible expansion in storefront operations.”
At a cost of under $100,000, the food truck venture is so new that McNeil hasn't established a set routine. During the weekday, the truck spends two days in Washington, D.C., and two days in Baltimore City. 
The truck is usually in Baltimore on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. but, depending on parking availability, not always in the same place each of those days. Sometimes it can be found on Monument Street by the University of Maryland downtown campus, at Harbor East or at the Johns Hopkins University campus -- all neighborhoods under consideration for a second store.
“We’re trying out what places work best and adjust to customer demand,” says McNeil, referring to the food offering. “We’re newbies.”
For now, the truck only sells cupcakes for now, but may also offer cookies and bars later this summer. While the bakery has more than 40 flavors of cupcakes, the truck carries six flavors, chosen for their likely popularity, including vanilla bean, black velvet and lemon/lime. The cost is $3 per cupcake, $16 per half-dozen and $30 per dozen.
Even though no cooking is done in the food truck, the venture required getting a license from every jurisdiction and from the health department within the jurisdiction to operate. McNeil declined to discuss cost of equipping the food truck or sales so far.
“We’ve had some sell-out days and some days where it brings back items,” she says, pointing to factors like the weather and location.
McNeil opened Midnite Confection’s Cupcakery in 2010 at the Federal Hill store. Besides retail sales, the bakery caters weddings and corporate events. She says sales have grown 35 percent since opening.
Source: Sandra McNeil, Midnite Confection’s Cupcakery
Writer: Barbara Pash

New Hotel and Retail Building Slated For Harbor East

Hoping to capitalize on increasing growth east of the Inner Harbor, plans are in the works to build a new 205-room hotel with ground-level stores in Harbor East next year. 

Englewood LLC and Chesapeake Real Estate Group have reached an agreement to construct the property and 15,000 square-feet of retail space at a former warehouse building at 511 S. Central Ave. As the primary developer, Englewood will own and operate the hotel.

Chesapeake Real Estate Group will operate the retail space, says Ken Finkelstein, president of Bethesda's Englewood LLC. Construction would take about 18 months to complete if the project gets approvals from the city's zoning and design panels.

The planned hotel will be an upper mid-market brand, which means slightly more upscale than the neighboring Hilton Garden Inn and Courtyard by Marriott, Finkelstein says. He declined to say how much the project would cost or the hotel brand. 

The developers purchased the property at 511 S. Central Ave. in December for $3.2 million, according to state property records. The building is in the preliminary stages of the development process so it's too early to say what kind of shops  will fill the new construction, says Neil Tucker, principal at Chesapeake Real Estate Group.

"This is a pretty dynamic area where lots of growth has occurred and more will occur as Harbor East and Harbor Point expand," says Finkelstein, who launched the development firm within the last year. Finkelstein is a former partner at the JBG Cos. of Chevy Chase, which has developed numerous hotels in the Washington area. 

Finkelstein's new Baltimore hotel will face competition from the 256-room Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore, which opened last year in Harbor East, and several other newer properties. But Finkelstein says he believes there is opportunity and room for another hotel in that neighborhood given the area's continued growth. 

Baltimore City officials approved a 3 million-square-foot master plan for Harbor Point, an area between Harbor East and Fells Point. The massive 500,000-square-foot regional headquarters for Chicago energy company Exelon Corp. will open there in 2014. Harbor East has seen an influx of national retailers with the recent openings of J. Crew, Anthropologie and MAC Cosmetics and new restaurants. Gordon Biersch is spending $3 million to open a 329-seat eatery in October while Fleet Street Kitchen will open next month. 
Chesapeake Real Estate Group developed the Babgy Building, which houses Fleet Street, Ten Ten restaurant and several offices.  

"We want to build upon the success of Harbor East with the Babgy Building project," Tucker says.

Source: Ken Finkelstein, president of Englewood LLC; Neil Tucker, principal at Chesapeake Real Estate Group 
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]

Gordon Biersch Brewery On Tap For Harbor East

Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant is spending $3 million to open a 329-seat eatery in Harbor East, becoming the latest new establishment to call the growing nightlife and shopping destination home. It's also one of the many breweries and beer-themed restaurants enjoying brisk sales

Known for its German lagers, Gordon Biersch will open its third Maryland store at 1000 Lancaster St. Oct. 22. The restaurant will employ around 80 and have at least six beers on tap, says Kelly Wilson, Gordon Biersch’s director of marketing. The building houses Charleston and Harbor Bank of Maryland.

“Harbor East is an attractive urban location that is home to numerous business headquarters as well as hotels to accommodate the business traveler,” the company’s Vice President of Real Estate John Tugman wrote in an email. “Harbor East has potential for growth.”

J. Crew, Anthropologie and MAC Cosmetics recently moved to the area. Last year, the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore opened last, along with celebrity-chef led restaurant Wit & Wisdom. It added outdoor seating for its Wit & Wisdom bar and welcomed Japanese restaurant PABU this year. The hotel also features artisan coffeehouse Lamill Coffee.

Gordon Biersch executives say they will continue to focus on the Baltimore area after having had success in other mid-Atlantic areas. Beer-themed eateries were the fastest-growing restaurant segment last year, according to Chicago food consulting firm Technomic Inc.

Gordon Biersch' sales grew 22 percent last year. The Chattanooga, Tenn., company operates about 30 restaurants in 20 states. Its two Maryland sites are in Annapolis and Rockville. 

Two years ago, private equity firm Centerbridge Capital Partners acquired the chain, now a subsidiary of CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Kelly Wilson and John Tugman, Gordon Biersch 

New Greek Restaurant Opening in Harbor East

Opa! Baltimore's tony Harbor East neighborhood is getting another new restaurant this summer. 

Greek restaurant Ouzo Bay is opening at 1006 Lancaster St., the same building that houses Charleston. The 4,000-square-foot restaurant seat 140 inside and 70 outside, according to a liquor license application Alexander Smith filed in Baltimore City.

The owners will invest at least $500,000 to open the Ouzo Bay, according to the liquor license application. The restaurant will serve modern Greek specialties, with an emphasis on fresh seafood.

Harbor East is home to Cinghiale, Arhaus Furniture, White House|Black Market and the Four Seasons Hotel in Baltimore. The area is getting a slew of new retailers this summer, including Anthropologie, J. Crew, Lululemon and MAC Cosmetics. The area and surrounding neighborhood of Fells Point have attracted a number of new eateries within the last year, including Waterfront Kitchen, Wit and Wisdom Tavern, the Inn at the Black Olive and Bond Street Social.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Baltimore City liquor board

Candy Shop Moving From Harbor East to Downtown

Shoppers in the Inner Harbor will soon be able to satisfy their sweet tooth with treats like old school candy and chocolate shaped like crabs.
The Best of Luck Candy & Gifts, a specialty nostalgia candy and gift shop, will relocate May 1 from Harbor East to a larger location at 601 E. Pratt St. in the Power Plant entertainment complex, says owner Alexis "Lucky" Thompson.
In the new, approximately 900-square-foot location, the business will have double the space and plans to add a coffee bar in addition to new candies, gifts, custom gift baskets, and additional room for events such as birthday parties. Thompson also plans to offer more Baltimore-themed candy and gifts.
Thompson expects the new location will receive great visibility from both foot and car traffic.
Raised in Baltimore, Thompson says she always dreamed of owning a candy shop. She recently moved back to Baltimore with her husband after working in marketing in New York. The store opened at its previous location on 612 S. Exeter St. last October.
The store underwent a month of remodeling as part of a relaunching of the store's brand.
While the company has no plans for further expansion in the near future, they do plan to do more events such as bachelorette parties and showers. The company also recently added four new employees for the new shop, Thompson says.
Source: Alexis "Lucky" Thompson, owner of The Best of Luck Candy & Gifts
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]

New Downtown Baltimore Starbucks to Open this Month

Satisfying your caffeine craving in Baltimore's downtown is about to get a little easier.
While an exact date has not been announced, a company spokesperson says that Starbucks plans to open a location at 100 E. Pratt St. location sometime later this month. The address is also the corporate headquarters of T. Rowe Price Group Inc. and Italian restaurant Brio Tuscan Grille, which opened this month.

It will be the second standalone Starbucks in downtown. There's another Starbucks on the west side at 1 E. Eutaw St. On the other side of the city, there's a Starbucks in Harbor East next to Landmark Theatres and one in Canton's Can Company. 

Starbucks' Ellicott City location on Baltimore National Pike, has just been remodeled and given an expanded cafe menu, says a spokesperson. The renovations include new chairs, floors and coffee counter. 
The expansion is a marked shift for the Seattle coffee giant, which closed 600 stores around the country several years ago during the recession, including two downtown locations on Charles Street and at Harborplace. It also closed a store in Belvedere Square. 
In all, Starbucks currently has more than 50 stores in the Baltimore area including stores in Charles Village and Mount Washington.

Source: Starbucks spokesperson
Writer: Alexandra Wilding

Anthropologie Boutique to Open in Four Seasons

Women’s apparel shop Anthropologie will open a boutique at the newly opened Four Seasons Hotel in Baltimore’s Harbor East neighborhood.

Baltimore City’s Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel is slated to review plans for the store’s design Dec. 8. The store would join clothing shops White House Black Market, South Moon Under and Urban Chic.

A unit of Urban Outfitters Inc., Anthropologie’s other area stores are located in Towson and Annapolis. There’s also an Urban Outfitters in Harborplace.

Baltimore City architect Robert Quilter says the store’s architect David A.Levy & Associates Inc. of Akron, Ohio wants to do something “different” with the storefront, which is why it needs the city’s design panel to review its plans. He deferred additional design questions to David A. Levy architects, who could not be reached for comment.

Urban Outfitters officials could not be reached for comment.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Urban Design and Review Panel

Circulator Launches New Green Line Route

The Charm City Circulator, Baltimore's free bus service, launched a new route on November 1, 2011. The new Green Route will allow Circulator riders greater access to popular points downtown. The new route includes stops at City Hall, the Maritime Park connection to the Water Taxi and the Johns Hopkins Medical Campus.
The Green Route also increases access to the Fell's Point area including Harbor East. Popular attractions for both tourists and locals, including the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Broadway Market, are features of  the new route. The new Green Line interconnects with the orange Line at Harbor East, but does not have a connection to the Purple Line. It  also allows riders to connect with Metro trains at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and Shot Tower/Market Place stations.
The launch of the Green Route also coincides with the addition of a new bus type to the Charm City Circulator fleet. The Orion VII BRT Hybrid bus will go into service as part of the Circulator fleet. The new model of  hybrid bus will be used throughout the Circulator's routes.
Financed by Baltimore's parking tax revenue, The Charm City Circulator has carried approximately 3 million riders since its initial launch. The Circulator is slated to expand service to include a new line running from the Inner Harbor area to Fort McHenry in the spring of 2012.
Writer: Amy McNeal
Sources: Downtown Partnership, Charm City Circulator

Candy Store Opens in Former Amaryllis Spot in Harbor East

Baltimore’s Harbor East neighborhood just got a little sweeter.

Candy shop the Best of Luck, opened this month at 612 S. Exeter St. in the former Amaryllis jewelry store space. The shop sells nostalgic candies – think pop rocks and Charleston Chews — gift baskets, chocolate-covered pretzels, gummy bears and saltwater taffy. It also features sugar-free concoctions.

After a career in the sports and entertainment industries, store owner Alexis Thompson wanted to start her own business.

“I always had a sweet tooth and a love for different kinds of candies,” Thompson says.

It’s a bit of a career change for the Baltimore-born Thompson, who represented Serena Williams, Boston Celtics’ Kevin Garnett, and pro golfer Michelle Wie as a junior agent at the William Morris Agency.

“I want to be my own boss,” she says.

She spent about $20,000 to open the store next to Whole Foods and hopes that the location next to Fells Point, Canton and downtown will help it get good foot traffic.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Alexis Thompson, Best of Luck

New Four Seasons Hotel to Include Pool Bar, Outdoor Seating, and Sushi

Baltimore City’s liquor board has granted Baltimore’s long-awaited five star Four Seasons Hotel a liquor license for its two restaurants, room service, and a rooftop pool bar.

The 256-room hotel is expected to open next month at 701 Aliceanna St. in Baltimore’s swanky Harbor East neighborhood. The restaurants will include outdoor seating and live entertainment, according to the license application.

Wit and Wisdom, a Tavern by Michael Mina, will be its signature eatery, serving comfort food and featuring a live-fire grill and rotisseries. The 156-seat eatery will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The 136-seat Japanese restaurant Pabu will open February 2012. Pabu will feature sushi, small plates, 100 types of sake, bamboo ceilings, and solid wood tabletops.

The pool bar will seat 45 on a terrace overlooking the Inner Harbor. The Four Seasons will also feature a coffee shop called Lamill Coffee.

The hotel applied for what is known as a “Class B” hotel license for properties with at least 100 rooms and a $500,000 investment.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Four Seasons

Contemporary, "Sexy" Restaurant to Open in Harbor East

An Illinois restaurant company will be dishing out contemporary American cuisine in Harbor East next year.

Townhouse Kitchen and Wine Bar will open at the Eden apartment building at 777 S. Eden St. during the first quarter of 2012, says Margaret Meginniss, a principal at retail brokerage firm Sierra Mid-Atlantic. The area is home to a bevy of high-end condos and swanky restaurants and, soon, a Four Seasons hotel.

Based in Glenview, Ill., Restaurants-America Consulting Group Inc. operates Townhouse and six other restaurant concepts. The 8,000-square-foot Baltimore restaurant will be Restaurants-America’s fourth Townhouse. The others are located in Deerfield and Chicago, Ill., and Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Menu items at the Chicago restaurant include jerk red snapper ($16), halibut piccata ($22), and penne diablo ($13). Ahi tacos ($11), jalapeno bacon-wrapped shrimp ($12) and surf & turf sliders ($12) are listed under its small plates.

“It’s a contemporary concept that’s very sexy,” Meginniss says.

And it’s possible that the restaurant firm, which operates about 15 eateries to date, will open another in the Greater Baltimore area. Sierra represents Restaurants-America nationally.

Midtown, Bluepoint, Red Star Tavern, One North, the Grillroom, and Primebar are Restaurants-America’s other concepts.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Margaret Meginniss, Sierra

MAC Puts Weight Behind Renovation

The Maryland Athletic Club is pumping up its Timonium facility this month with new workout machines and a makeover for its exercise studios and basketball court.

The focus of the renovation will be to allot more space for free-motion equipment, General Manager Michael Meehan says. That includes stability balls, medicine balls, and kettle balls that allow members to challenge their balance. It will also include resistance machines that rely on cables that let the user move around freely, rather than the restricted movements that are typical of traditional weight machines.

The Timonium MAC, which celebrates its 15-year anniversary in November, will shut down for a week in August during the renovation.

The gym is also sprucing up the floors in its yoga and pilates room, basketball court and swimming pool.

New elliptical trainers, computerized bikes and cycles that work out the upper body will go into the gym when it reopens Aug. 29.

The MAC has two other locations, in Harbor East and Hunt Valley.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Michael Meehan, MAC

Two New Restaurants Slated for Harbor East

Two new restaurants spearheaded by the folks behind Bagby Pizza Co. will open next to the Harbor East eatery.

Ten Ten, billed as a contemporary American bistro, will open late August in the former Dutch Connection flower shop space. Fleet Street Kitchen, which will feature artisanal and local foods, will open in the winter, says Bagby Restaurant Group Director of Marketing Carmel Gambacorta.

The Wine Market's Christopher Becker and Mark Davis, formerly of the Baltimore Country Club, will be overseeing the kitchen of both restaurants along with Bagby Pizza Co.

Ten Ten -- named for the address on Fleet Street -- is kind of an extension of the pizza eatery, Gambacorta says. You can order from the pizza restaurant in Ten Ten. In February, Bmore reported that Bagby Pizza Co.'s owners will expand into the former flower shop that was next door.

Ten Ten will feature an "eclectic" design, with a lot of wood and exposed brick, Gambacorta says.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Carmel Gambacorta, Bagby Restaurant Group

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