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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

Living Classrooms, Corks' Jerry Pellegrino to Open Waterfront Restaurant

A restaurant with a waterfront view and seasonal menu will open by September at the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park. Designed by Patrick Sutton, the 75-seat Vu at Living Classrooms will feature a menu crafted by Corks' Jerry Pellegrino and cost more than $900,000 to build.

Foundation staff are calling the Vu a "seed-to-plate" restaurant, because it will serve produce grown at Living Classrooms Foundation's after-school gardening program, says Richard Slingluff, the nonprofit's facilities manager. That program is known as Baltimore Urban Gardening With Students, or BUGS.

"We're excited to work with our students to get as much student-grown produce to be served at a high-end restaurant one block away," Slingluff says.

The first-floor restaurant will feature floor-to-ceiling windows facing the Domino Sugar factory and Fort McHenry, Living Classrooms CEO James Piper Bond says.

The restaurant will hopefully bring in revenue to support the maritime park, Bond says.

On Mondays, restaurant employees will provide hospitality and culinary training to Living Classrooms' students. The nonprofit oversees after-school and job training programs for at-risk youth.

"It's a beautiful space on the water," Pellegrino says. "How can you beat that?"

Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: James Piper Bond, Richard Slingluff, Living Classrooms; Jerry Pellegrino, Corks

Restaurant Operators Brew Up Plans for Former DuClaw Space in Fells

Suds and grub will return to the Fells Point spot that formerly held DuClaw Brewing Co. before it closed in late 2009.

Three restaurant operators will open a 200-seat establishment that serves craft beers and upscale pub food.

Michael Mastellone, John Durkin, and Derek Blazer don't have a name yet for the new restaurant, to open in September. Bond Street Social is the name on the liquor license application, but that name is not set in stone, Mastellone says.

Durkin and Mastellone own Ladder 15, a Philadelphia bar and restaurant located in a former firehouse. Durkin is also owner of Federal Hill's Mad River Bar & Grill.

The partners will spend more than $1 million to revamp the interior of the former DuClaw space, Mastellone says. He's hiring T+Associates Architects, the same designer as Ladder 15, to outfit the new space, and imagines the new space will sport an industrial look, with steel and wood.

The owners hope to draw people in the summer months with the nearly 2,000-square-foot outdoor waterfront dining area. The restaurant's half a dozen fireplaces will hopefully draw diners in the winter months as well, Mastellone says.

The menu will be similar to that of Ladder 15, except with a heavier emphasis on seafood, Mastellone says. Korean tacos, made with pork belly and short rib, oxtail cheesesteak, and truffle fries are some of the menu items at the Philly eatery.

Prices will run about the same as well, with appetizers under $10, sandwiches and burgers $9-$11 and entrees running between $12 and $25.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Michael Mastellone, Ladder 15

Dave Holmes' $50M retail and residential project in Fells to break ground in January

After nearly six years of planning, developer Dave Holmes' $50 million retail and residential development in Fells Point will break ground in January.

The retail portion of the project consists of about half fashion boutiques that target women, along the lines of yoga wear company Lululemon Athletica that recently opened a showroom in Fells Point.

"We are in the final stages of wrapping up a lot of requirements before we put a shovel in the ground," Holmes says.

Holmes is looking forward to finally getting the project underway after "dozens" of start dates.

"Which each passing start date we get better at closing in on a timeframe," Homes says.

The approximately 30,000-square-foot of retail will also include children's clothing shops and boutiques selling shoes, purses and other fashion accessories. Holmes and partner Daniel Winner also expect a shop selling lotions and makeup along the lines of the Body Shop. (But no, they're not talking to the Body Shop, Holmes says).
The site will also contain 160 residences, mostly one-bedroom apartments for rent designed to appeal to young professionals who want to live in a bustling part of the city and be close to Interstates 95 and 83.

Holmes says rental rates for the apartments have not yet been set. But since the project is a couple of blocks from the water, the rental rates won't be quite as high as tony waterfront apartments like the Eden in Harbor East, where a 900-square-foot one-bedroom with water views can cost around $2,000 per month.

The Marketplace at Fells Point includes a renovation of the Broadway Market food stalls, totaling around 20,000 square feet.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Dave Holmes, Marketplace at Fells Point

Former Fletcher's owner reopens venue as nightclub the Get Down

What does the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing have in common with a new lounge in Fells Point called the Get Down? Both relied on Baltimore lighting designer Scott Chmielewski for illumination.

Bryan Burkert opened the Get Down at 701 S. Bond St. this month in the spot that once held Fletcher's. Burkert, who also owns Fells Point music shop the Sound Garden, gutted out the former space to open the 6,000-square-foot nightclub.

The LED lighting is a key component of the Get Down's design, Burkert says. "Everything glows and illuminates everything all of the time," he says. "I wanted a funky, cool place."

Burkert will rely on DJs from Washington, D.C., to play funk and soul music. But the biggest challenge will be to reach the right audience for the club. "Our fear is that we'd be pegged as the hottest new club which is not what we are trying to be," he says.

Wait, he doesn't want to be called the hottest new club?

His fear is that with a moniker like that, party-goers will assume that the Get Down plays all pop or all hip hop, as is the case at other nightclubs. Burkert wants to reach a more diverse, wider spectrum of the city.

Burkert sold Fletcher's two years ago, then bought it back. But he didn't feel like opening it as Fletcher's. So he remade the space into a venue where he can hold parties, feature live music or DJs.

The business owner says he likes the area for its mix of eclectic, independent restaurants and retail shops.

The club is open seven nights a week, from 7 p.m. until 2 a.m.

Source: Bryan Burkert, the Get Down
Writer: Julekha Dash

New Fells Point eatery has customers singing "That's Amore"

The smell of fresh tomatoes and mozzarella will soon be wafting in the building that once held popular neighborhood Eastern Avenue bar Kelly's.

Richard Pugh and business partners Steve Ball will open Johnny Rad's Pizzeria Tavern at 2108 Eastern Ave. within the next month. And at the request of community members, Pugh promises that the Upper Fells Point restaurant will feature karaoke just as Kelly's did.

The 2,000-square-foot restaurant will serve Neapolitan-style pizza with fresh, crushed tomatoes and herbs. Pugh has put his own twist to the Neapolitan crust — pizza with a thin center but with thick edges.

In addition to vegetarian options, pizza toppings will include cured meats such as prosciutto, sopressata, and, hopefully, Italian sausage from Di Pasquale's Italian Marketplace in Highlandtown.

The business partners spent more than $60,000 to renovate the 60-seat restaurant.

How did they come up with the name? Johnny Rad's is the name of a lounge singer in the 1987 movie "The Search for Animal Chin." As you might have guessed, the owners are big skateboarding fans and their love for the recreation will be reflected in the décor, with skateboarding murals.

In addition to pizza, the restaurant will serve entrée salads, burgers and unusual bar bites, including edamame with sea salt, hush puppies and black bean hummus.

Pizzas will cost between $8 and $20, depending on the toppings.

Pugh says he chose the neighborhood because it has been lacking a pizza joint and the location is in between the two bustling neighborhoods of Fells Point and Canton.

Victor Corbin, president of the Fells Prospect Community Association, agrees that the area could use a pizza place.

"We're looking forward to him opening up," Corbin says. "It's added activity in that section of the community."

For more information on Fells Point, click here.
Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Richard Pugh, Johnny Rad's

The Point restaurant opens in Miss Irene's former spot in Fells

Erica Russo is no stranger to the restaurant business.

Her parents have worked in the industry and currently own Edie's Deli & Grill in downtown Baltimore. Russo herself has managed several restaurants, including the Greene Turtle and Carrabba's Italian Grill. She also spent two years working in the finance department of a marketing firm.

But now Russo finally thinks it's time to strike out on her own -- just not from an office. She and her parents, Eva and Jimmy Chin, opened the Point in Fells May 28  (where Miss Irene's was once located) at 1738 Thames Street with a staff of 30. "It's more rewarding when it's your place," Russo says.

Serving both small and large plates, the Point is a gastro pub and bistro that has a bar with TV screens downstairs for sports fans and a white tablecloth restaurant upstairs. The eclectic menu includes tuna ceviche, a mushroom salad with udon noodles, duck breast and arctic char. Large plates cost between $18 and $24 while small plates cost between $10 and $14.

Russo relies on local purveyors including Martin Seafood Co., Fells Point Wholesale Meat and Fig Leaf Farm to supply the 200-seat restaurant. Russo says she is not concerned that the previous restaurant closed in less than a year.

"That was a different restaurant with different ownership. You just have to have the right concepts and the right people to do it," Russo says.

She is getting help in the areas of customer service and payroll from her mom and dad. The restaurateur hopes she can attract a mix of tourists and businessmen and women to the waterfront locale. "I just fell in love with the spot. It overlooks the water and gets lot of foot traffic," Russo says. 

Source: Erica Russo, the Point in Fells Point
Writer: Julekha Dash

Kooper's Tavern partners take over Fells Point B&B

You're an out-of-towner who finds himself stumbling into a bar called Kooper's Tavern in Baltimore's historic Fells Point neighborhood. A few too many pints of Guinness later and now you're just looking for the nearest place to crash with a comfy bed.

Kooper's Owner Patrick Russell and his partner Bill Irvin have the answer for the itinerant, inebriated guest. The pair took over Celie's Waterfront Bed & Breakfast last month, hoping to expand their hospitality enterprise to include an inn. The partners paid $1.3 million to purchase the 5,800-square-foot building and business from Kevin and Nancy Kupec.
The seven-room B&B also includes two apartments for extended-stay travelers who are, say, in town on business or getting treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The partners spruced up the apartments and patio with new furniture. Russell says the partners are also counting on wedding business, tourists and weekday business travelers to book rooms.

Operating a B&B also enables Russell to generate more revenue for his Fells Point restaurants, which include Kooper's,Slainte and burger wagon Kooper's Chowhound. Combined, the businesses employee 140 people.

"I feel like we can generate more business from the restaurants by providing food for the guests," Russell says. He plans to offer a "real" breakfast to guests and serve food from the restaurants at cocktail parties and wedding receptions.

And women who need a place to get their hair done before getting married can turn to Russell as well. His wife and sister-in-law operate K Co. Design Salon and Day Spa in Mount Washington. Russell offers a car service from Celie's to the salon. 

Russell  and Irvin say they're keeping their eye out for more business to acquire. "We're very interested in expanding to become a very big company," but without spreading himself and his staff too thin.
So far, the inn has surpassed their expectations. It sold out during Memorial Day weekend, and bookings are more than 20 percent ahead of last year. Rooms cost between $149 and $400.

"Running an inn is very much like running your household. You get up and make breakfast but you make it for a few other folks," Russell says.

Wondering what else is happening in Fells Point? Find it here!

Source: Patrick Russell, Celie's
Writer: Julekha Dash

Collage artist breaks out on her own with new Fells Point emporium

After working for other retailers for more than 20 years, collage artist Luana Kaufmann decided it was time to strike out on her own. The Baltimore native opened Emporium Collagia, a 300 square foot store in Fells Point.

The shop features a variety of home decor items including, custom framed collage giclees, collage designs, jewelry and a host of eclectic home goods, including soaps, Italian stationary and pencils made of twig.  Kaufmann also sells wine bottles that are sandblasted with words like knowledge, understanding, patience, and joy. Shoppers will also find candles for each of the 12 zodiac signs. When the candle has finished burning, the candleholder is now a shot glass and with a drink recipe.

After retail stints as a buyer for furniture stores Bluehouse and Tomlinson Craft Collection as well as with the sales department at Nordstrom, opening her own store allows Kaufmann to blend her retail experience with her artistic skills.

"It feels like an exciting integration of all the stuff that I've done," Kaufman says. "It's a neat integration of retail and display and merchandising that I adore. I love being a buyer."

Kaufmann says she felt Fells Point was the ideal neighborhood for the store. "It's one of the most charming neighborhoods in the city. There's lots of great buzz and vitality in the area."

The store is next to the Cat's Eye Pub and Ann Street Pier — a location Kaufmann enjoys. "I have an extraordinary view of the water," she says. 

What else is happening in Fells Point? Read more here!

Source: Luana Kaufmann, Emporium Collagia
Writer: Julekha Dash

Sticky Rice clings to Fells Point with Asian and American fare

Fells Point residents hungry for sushi and soba noodles will get a new dining option.

Sticky Rice will open in June at 1634 Aliceanna, formerly Friends bar. The Asian restaurant has two other locations, in Richmond, Va., and Washington D.C.

The 1,700 square foot restaurant will seat 90. In addition to Asian cuisine, the restaurant will sell hamburgers, hot wings and tater tots. Noodles and sushi will cost anywhere from $8 to $11.

Sticky Rice Partner Ronnie Pasztor says the partners chose Fells Point because the neighborhood has been gaining a number of new businesses, including Tapas Adela and fellow Asian restaurant Sam's Kid.
"Fells Point is on the upswing," Pasztor said. He also likes the historic feel of the neighborhood.

The restaurant, which Pasztor describes as "edgy," will employ about 50.

Though the economy has not been kind to some restaurants, Pasztor is confident Sticky Rice will win over diners since sales at the Washington, D.C. restaurant were up nearly 12 percent in January and February of this year compared with last year.

Pasztor declined to say how much the partners are spending to open the new restaurant.

Sticky Rice Partner Ronnie Pasztor recently moved from Santa Barbara to Baltimore after his wife got a job in Charm City. And the former accountant wound up entering the restaurant business by chance, thanks to his brother-in-law Joey Belcher. He is an owner at two Washington, D.C., restaurants: French bistro 1905 and Dangerously Delicious Pies, the Baltimore favorite pie place that recently opened in the nation's capitol.
The other partners include Phil Rodriguez and Jason Martin. Rodriguez, Martin, and Belcher are all partners in the Sticky Rice in Washington, D.C., which opened in 2008. The original spot in Richmond, Va., opened 11 year ago under the direction of John Yamashita and Jason Henry, who provided staff training and branding for the Baltimore location.

New Fells Point boutique appeals to the Kingpin in us all

Fells Point has got a new boss in town. Clothing boutique Kingpin Baltimore opened this month at 1924 Fleet St.

Co-owner Jennifer Wiseman thought the store name Kingpin — which means a group leader — was appropriate for the fashion-forward street wear clothes the store sells.

The 1,700-square-foot store also features a personal training studio operated by Charles Wiseman, co-owner and Jennifer's husband.

The store sells trendy activewear brands including Margarita, a brand from Israel and Psycho Bunny, a menswear brand from British designer Robert Godley who is engaged to "30 Rock's" Jane Krakowski.

Having worked in the fitness industry, the pair wanted to come up with fun fitness-related concepts. "I wanted something for people to feel better about themselves," Wiseman says.

After months of searching for the right space, the Wisemans found a "wonderful" landlord who would finally rent out a space to the first-time business owners, Wiseman says.

Wiseman declined to say how much the couple spent to open and design the store. The store is outfitted in black-and-white checkered gold-and-green walls and will feature a live DJs on the weekends.

The couple chose Fells Point it gets a lot of foot traffic and is easy to reach from downtown and other areas of the city.

"The location is perfect because everyone can get to it," Wiseman says.

Source: Jennifer Wiseman, Kingpin
Writer:Julekha Dash

City signs deal on Fells Point Rec Pier rehab

Baltimore City officials closed a deal on March 10, with Recreation Pier Developers, LLC, for the sale of the Fells Point Recreation Pier. The deal marks a significant step in the Fells Point Recreation Pier redevelopment project. The transaction will require pier restoration, which is expected to be an $8.8 million dollar expense. 

When complete, the site will house a 132-room Aloft-brand hotel with a second floor restaurant. The entire project will be valued in excess of $35 million and will ultimately increase the tax base of the City through sales tax, room tax, and real and personal tax revenue. The project will also create a new job base for the City.

"The closing of the sales transaction marks the beginning of the Fells Point Recreation Pier redevelopment project," says Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. "The restoration of this historic pier will stimulate the development of new businesses that will greatly enrich the community."

The next step is for Moran Towing Corporation, the sole remaining pier tenant, to relocate to its new facility on S. Clinton Street in Canton. The move is expected to occur by May 2010, allowing Recreational Pier Developers, LLC, to begin restoration of the site.

Built in 1914, the Fells Point Recreation Pier was once used for social and educational gatherings. A ballroom on the second floor of the Head House was used for weddings and dances, as well as for basketball and soccer games. More recently, the site has been used as a
filming location for the television series "Homicide: Life on the Streets" and two movies, including "Step Up." As part of the pier restoration, the developers will replace many of the piles that are sinking into the water. The project will receive federal and state historic tax credits from the U.S. National Park Service and the Maryland Historical Trust.

"Baltimore Housing recognizes the unique character of Recreation Pier and its historic significance to Fells Point, Baltimore City and the State of Maryland," says Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano. "We have been working for years to identify a viable and appropriate reuse for this legendary landmark. With the recent closing of the sales transaction with the developers, I am pleased that we can now move forward with the project."

Source: Housing Authority of Baltimore City
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Fells Point Recreation Pier added to state's 2010 most endangered places list

The Fells Point Recreation Pier is one of the state's most endangered sites. At least so says Preservation Maryland, the oldest historic-preservation organization in Maryland, and partner MarylandLife magazine, the team behind the annual list of Maryland's 11 most endangered sites, artifacts and groups of people.

The pier, famous for its place in the city's history as the "Ellis Island ofBaltimore" became well-know once again in 1992 as the location for the hit TV show Homicide: Life on the Streets. The show's run ended in 1999 and now the distinctive brick building with the 500-footpier sits neglected, its decrepit structure falling into the waterfront. Saving the slowly disintegrating pier became a rallying point for members of Fells Point Main Street, whose mission is to promote, strengthen, and revitalize Fells Point's commercial and historic districts. The group nominated the site because it has been sitting vacant for a decade. The building and pilings are rapidly deteriorating, and the area is in need of extensive repair.

"We are excited and gratified that Fell's Point Main Street was successful in its nomination of the Recreation Pier to be named as one of the state's most endangered places by Preservation Maryland. We have always thought that the Recreation Pier is an important part of Fell's Point's history and promises to be an important part of its future.Several years ago,Baltimore City officials decided (with the community's approval) that Baltimore developers J. Joseph Clarke and H&S Properties Development Corporation should relocate Moran Towing Corporation, a tugboat company, from the pier and develop a hotel and restaurant," says Jannette Barth, Fells Point Main Street board president.

"The epicenter of Baltimore's renaissance is the harbor, and the architectural jewel in the crown is the Recreation Pier;' says Lori Guess, a longtime Fells Point resident, attorney, and former chair of the Fells Point Task Force Recreation Pier committee, tells MarylandLife. "This beautiful building-one of very few publicly owned waterfront properties-desperately needs preservation to continue the positive momentum of Baltimore development:' Once the second-leading port of entry (after Ellis Island) on the East Coast, Fells Point's pier was declared a public recreation center in 1914. The head house even has a grand ballroom and served as one of the first municipal dance halls in the country."

While work has yet to begin to restore the pier, Baltimore Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano recently indicated that work should begin shortly on the new 132-room hotel that wil be the piers new occupant, according to the announcement. 

Source: Jannette Barth, Fells Point Main Street
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Sausage joint Stuggy's to open in Fells Point

Ryan Perlberg and his father Stuart have traveled throughout the Mid-Atlantic with a single goal in mind: find the best sausages and hot dogs.

Now they are turning the knowledge they picked up during their travels to open a sausage business.  Stuggy's will open at 809 S. Broadway this month. Replete with a soda fountain selling root beer floats the atmosphere will be reminiscent of the 1940s, Ryan Perlberg says.

Perlberg says opening a sausage and hot dog shop has been a dream of his and his father's for a while. They picked Fells Point because that's where they have lived for the last nine years.

"I fell in love with the place," Perlberg says. He likes the cobblestone streets and historic buildings in the waterfront neighborhood.
"There's always a story to be told. It's a well-kept secret," Perlberg says of Fells Point.

He hopes he can get the late night Fells Point bar crowd by keeping Stuggy's open late on weekends. Perlberg declined to say how much he is spending to open the 1,000-square-foot store.

Perlberg will rely on local purveyors to supply Stuggie's stock. He's getting the meat for his bison sausage and bison chili from Gunpowder Bison and Trading, a farm in Monkton. The Italian and Polish sausages will come from Ostrowski's just down the street in Fells Point. While Stuggy's Chesapeake sausage will add a dash of Old Bay seasoning in the mix. Other familiar Baltimore brands at the shop will include Berger cookies and goodies from Jeppi Nut & Candy Co.

"Everything is old school," Perlberg says.

What's for dessert? Try Fried Oreos, a familiar favorite for anyone who has been to the Maryland State Fair.

Source: Ryan Perlberg, Stuggy's
Writer: Julekha Dash

Woody's Rum Bar and Island Grill to open year round

With a new heating system to keep its patrons toasty warm despite the cold weather, Woody's Rum Bar and Island Grill, a summertime favorite in Fells Point, is now open all year long.

According to Bill Irvin, owner, it was a simple matter of economics and a view that was wasted for several months out of the year. "The real reason we reopened was that we have that space up there and not utilizing it is obviously an opportunity that's passed on. We have what are probably the best views in Baltimore and probably the only rooftop view accessible to the public in Fells Point," he says.

Regularly booked with parties of 200 or more people for Woody's downstairs neighbor, Slainte's Irish Pub, that take up the entire two-floor restaurant, using the second and third floors would mean the first floor could remain open to the general public.

Open Thurs., Fri, Sat., and Sun., Irvin says they are still working out the kinks on the Tiki-esque cocktails and food menu comprised of small bites. Sat. and Sun. the restaurant will also serve brunch.

Located at 821 S. Broadway at Thames, Woody's will be available for parties and will be open New Year's Eve. "It's one of the best spots for fireworks, especially on New Year's. We're going to be open and trying to come up with ideas now. I think we're going to make it costumed-themed and a limited number of people, around 40, with an all-inclusive cocktails."

But, even without a special occasion, party or even much advertising, according to Irvin the word has spread about Woody's new hours and even though it was snowing on Saturday, the rooftop bar was "packed." The rooftop bar is open to Slainte's customers as well, who can just walk on up to there, Irvin says.

Source: Bill Irvin, co-owner
Writer: Walaika Haskins
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