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Dooby's Coffee opens in Mount Vernon

After months of anticipation from Mount Vernon residents, Dooby’s Coffee opened Saturday in the building that once housed popular coffee shop Donna's.

Owner Phil Han says the coffee house features his four favorite things.  If “we can excel in coffee, in-house pastries, sandwiches, and craft beers, then we’re perfectly happy."

The cafe serves 12 draft beers and assortment of wines. Dooby's is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Reviewers on Yelp praise the cafe's avocado toast and butter-brown chocolate chip cookies. 

A pop-up version of the coffeehouse had been operating over the last few months in the Hatch, Han's incubator that is located around the corner from Dooby's. Home accessories retailer zestt is moving into the pop-up space. Founded by Jessica Diehl and Benita Goldblattt, zestt sells contemporary textiles, art and accessories. 

Extensive renovation at 800 North Charles St. took place following a five-alarm fire in 2010. The fire forced local favorite restaurants Indigma, Donna’s and My Thai to close. Indigma has since opened across the street at 801 N. Charles St. and My Thai opened next to Heavy Seas Alehouse in the Tack Factory in Little Italy. Donna's is not reopening in the building. It has locations in the Village of Cross Keys and Charles Village. Its Columbia location closed in May.

The 2,500-square-foot location will have seating for 75 inside and an additional 22 seats outside once it gets its permit for outdoor seating. It will feature clean lines and natural colors.

Han says it took more than a year to settle on the perfect name for the coffeehouse. “Dooby” is Han’s childhood nickname and comes from a Korean word. 

Han says many Korean-Americans like himself are in the food service business, but he says a Korean-American owned coffeehouse was an unfilled niche. So, as a gift to the Korean-American community, he decided to jump in.

He first searched for a space in Howard County, home to many Korean-owned businesses. When he couldn’t find what he was looking for, he turned to the city’s Mount Vernon neighborhood.

“It was like a no-brainer spot for me. This is such an awesome place, with colleges, young professionals. The amount of art and creativity that surrounds us is just amazing.”

Han says he believes the neighborhood is looking forward to having a new coffee house in the now-renovated block. Many area residents have taken pictures and asked him when he is opening.
Source: Phil Han, owner, Dooby’s Coffee
Writer: Amy Landsman [email protected] 

Ahoy Mateys! Entrepreneurs franchising pirate-themed bar and restaurant

The owners of the Mutiny Pirate Bar & Island Grille are setting sail for Howard County and have their sights set on franchising the concept nationwide.
The owners are scouting Howard County for a 3,000- to 4,000- square-foot spot, with seating for up to 150 customers, outdoor dining and good visibility. Brothers Rob Wecker and Steve Wecker spent about $200,000 to open the original bar and restaurant in Glen Burnie two years ago. 
Steve Wecker says the Howard County location should open within a year. That's also when they expect to have more details ready on their franchise plans, including how much it will cost. Howard County is where the others operate another restaurant, the popular Iron Bridge Wine Co. 

The Glen Burnie restaurant features 145 types of rum and Caribbean-influenced food. The signature dish is the Shipwreck Burger: a half-pound burger with a grilled cheese and bacon sandwich bun, spiced rum barbecue sauce, tempura onion rings, a fried egg, lettuce and tomato.
 “What we tried to do was create something that had a hook, that had a unique marketing program,” Wecker says. “We’re always looking for ways to make the package better, but it is at its core a classic bar and restaurant food with a Caribbean flair.”
As for franchising, Wecker says the pirate concept is a great hook that can easily be replicated in cities across the nation.
Wecker says the owners will get financing from banks and private investors. 
Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: Steve Wecker, co-owner Mutiny Pirate Bar & Island Grille

New $1.75M go-kart speedway racing into Howard County

A new indoor go-kart racetrack is pulling into Howard County May 3.  Autobahn Indoor Speedway LLC is building two Grand Prix-style tracks and Formula One-inspired Italian-style electric cars that can go as fast as 50 miles per hour.

General Manager Bill Harris says the company is spending $1.75 million to lease and renovate the Jessup building, buy the go-karts and mechanical equipment and install technology. Autobahn leased the 60,000-square-foot building in January and will complete its renovations this month.

Harris says it chose the site because of its proximity to Columbia, Washington, D.C, and Greater Baltimore. Research shows that customers will come as far as 25 miles to come to a go-kart racetrack. 
The speedway is the first facility of the corporate Autobahn Indoor Speedway, based in Tampa, Florida. There is an indoor go-kart facility in White Marsh, Baltimore County, that is not affiliated with Autobahn Indoor Speedway. Grand Prix is a style of racing that customers will recognize. Harris says that two of the partners in the corporation were from this area and suggested it as a site.
The facility has a 50,000-square foot racetrack area, with the remaining space divided among spectator areas, a meeting room that seats 40 and a party room that seats 20.  While individuals can purchase race tickets, the marketing effort is geared toward birthday parties and corporate events. The speedway is also setting up a racing league with cash prizes. 
“One of the reasons we selected this area is because there are so many corporate businesses and regional offices in the private sector, government agencies and military installations like Fort Meade,” says Harris, who says that the speedway has already booked a number of corporate events for May and June.
The speedway has 50 go-karts, of which 10 are “junior karts,” for children. Outdoor go-kart racing is a popular sport but indoor racing has been limited by the fact that go-karts are gas-powered.
“That doesn't lend itself to an indoor sport but recently a way was found to convert the go-karts to electric,” says Harris. 
Autobahn Indoor Speedway has a staff of 20 at its Jessup location. Harris says the goal is to generate $2 million per year in sales during its first 12 months of operation.
Writer: Barbara Pash
Source: Bill Harris, Autobahn Indoor Speedway LLC

Italian deli opening on Ellicott City's historic Main Street

Ellicott City Main Street’s refurbished home goods and specialty foods store will soon offer a new tasty takeout option.

Randy & Steve's The New General Store will open its Italian-style deli at the end of April. Owners Randy Neely and Steve Archuleta’s menu will include sandwiches made with cured meats and international cheeses, soups, salads, desserts and teas. They will also carry organic milk, butter and farm fresh eggs from northern Maryland farms.

Neely and Archuleta will hold a Grand Opening April 27 with music, free massages and wine tastings from Pure Wine Cafe. A Vanns Spices’ rep will discuss the company’s products and a chef of Bittersweet Herb Farm will present cooking demos.

The New General Store currently sells soup and pesto mixes, truffle and olive oils, sodas, spices, honey and herbs stored in a 1904 meat cooler.  It also carries gifts and home spa items such as diffusers, lotions, soaps and candles.

Neely and Archuleta formerly owned The Good Life Market, an Ellicott City garden gift shop. They returned from a sabbatical in Portugal once they heard that Yate’s Market, a 127 year-old staple at 8249 Main St., was going out of business last June. Neely and Archuleta opened the New General Store in late September, promising former owner Betty Yates to preserve the vibe of Yate’s Market but incorporate elements of a boutique. Neely and Archuleta renovated the 2,380-square-foot space and are securing a food license and modern equipment.

Neely and Archuleta will use the basement for a garden room and other retail items and carry perennials, annuals and garden statues outside.
Writer: Jolene Carr
Source: Steve Archuleta, co-owner of Randy & Steve’s The New General Store

Harris Teeter on target to open Ellicott City and Canton stores

Harris Teeter is opening its Ellicott City store April 3, according to a company spokeswoman, even as the North Carolina grocer considers a sale to two private equity firms.

It does not yet have an opening date for its Canton Crossing shop to open in a shopping center along with Target, Michael's, Five Below and local Greek restaurant Samos. The company says in a statement that it will "continue its strategic, new store growth plan." 

The grocery store will anchor a $22 million open-air shopping center called Town Square at Turf Valley. The site will also feature three or four restaurants and 10 to 15 shops totaling 100,000 square feet, says Tom Fitzpatrick, president of Owings Mills developer Greenberg Gibbons Commercial Corp.

The 48,000-square-foot Ellicott City Harris Teeter will be the grocer's eighth Maryland store. It opened a store in Baltimore City late last year, anchoring Locust Point’s McHenry Row. The Turf Valley store will employ 115, Jones says.

Located at the Turf Valley Resort and Conference Center, the new shopping center will have many of the same features as Greenberg’s Hunt Valley Towne Centre and Annapolis Towne Centre at Parole, including an outdoor gathering space with fireplace and water fountains. It will feature all-brick landscaping and exterior.

Fitzpatrick says he hopes the 100,000-square-foot center will draw from Clarksville, Glenelg and other affluent communities in western Howard County.

Restaurants will be of the upscale casual variety, rather than fine dining, Fitzpatrick says. He declined to name the restaurants and shops slated to open until a formal announcement is made later this year.

The Turf Valley site will also include a separate office complex, 160,000 square feet of office space, 150 townhomes and 192 condominiums built by the Keelty Co. of Stevenson. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Tom Fitzpatrick, Greenberg Gibbons; Danna Jones, Harris Teeter

Mexican restaurant Xitomate takes over former Donna's spot in Columbia

A Howard County restaurant owner has taken over the former Donna’s space in Columbia with his second Mexican eatery in the county.

Xitomate Mexican Restaurant opened this month at 5850 Waterloo Road, at the intersection of Route 108 and Snowden River Parkway. The 100-seat restaurant had a soft opening Jan. 16 with a limited menu of about 40 items, General Manager Octavio Moreno says. By early next month, it will offer about 100 menu items.

Moreno estimates that owner Julio Soto, who also owns Azul 17, spent about $500,000 to open Xitomate. Moreno says the new restaurant is similar to Azul 17, except “more fun, more colorful.”

Xitomate serves fresh-made guacamole, tacos, enchiladas, fajitas and ceviche. The word Xitomate means tomato in Aztec and reflects the restaurant’s commitment to fresh tomatoes and other fresh produce on the menu.

Margaritas are made from premium blue agave tequila. Moreno says the daring should try Margarita La Diable, made with tequila infused with Serrano peppers and mango.

“We are authentic Mexican cuisine,” Moreno says.  

All the decorations were brought from Mexico, and include Day of the Dead motifs and a display of 25 Mexican wrestling masks.

“We decided to do something more family oriented.”

Xitomate employs 28 and will hire four more to work in the patio when it opens in the spring. Patio seating will let it accommodate another 40 diners, Moreno says. 

Writer: Amy Landsman
Source: Octavio Moreno, Xitomate 

Japanese Tea House to Open in Ellicott City

A new gift shop and café called Matcha Time is making its home in downtown Ellicott City.

Owner Hatsumi Watanabe-Smith grew up outside Tokyo, and later traveled the world. Now she and her family are settled in Ellicott City, where she’s decided to open shop, named for the Japanese green tea known as matcha. The gift shop opened this month at the 1,000-square-foot space at 8381 Merryman St. The café will open in the coming months once it gets county approval.

Though Ellicott City is home to a tea room, Tea on the Tiber, Matcha Time will offer sushi, Japanese baked goods and, hopefully, a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.

Watanabe-Smith and her husband Derek Smith invested about $70,000 in the store, whose entrance faces a parking lot. The space was previously home to the Hackers Inc. Mancave, which moved last spring to a larger location in Ellicott City. Smith says the search for a suitable space took months, as good locations in Ellicott City tend to get snapped up fast.

The space is divided between a retail section, and the teashop and café. The retail side features Japanese crafts, origami, and handbags and clutches fashioned from vintage kimonos.
Writer: Amy Landsman  [email protected]
Sources: Hatsumi Watanabe-Smith, Derek Smith, owners, Matcha Time

$1.3M Sports Bar Opening in Ellicott City

A new sports bar is hoping to hit a home run in Ellicott City. Construction will begin this summer on a Glory Days Grill at Forest Green, a LEED Silver retail and residential apartment complex under construction on Route 40.

The 16-year-old Gaithersburg company is spending $1.3 million on the 300-seat eatery, Glory Days Co-founder Jeff Newman says. The company will hire about 100 employees to staff the 6,000-square-foot restaurant, expected to open fall of next year.Glory Days operates 22 locations in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, including restaurants in Eldersburg, Glen Burnie and Towson.

The Ellicott City location appealed to Glory Days executives because there aren’t a lot of full-service restaurants in the area.

“We’re lacking a lot of direct competition,” Newman says. “Nobody is playing in our sandbox.”

The new restaurant will feature a glass-covered atrium at the entrance, high ceilings and a patio with heaters and awning for year-round alfresco dining. The patio will seat about 50. And of course, there will be plenty of sports memorabilia and flat-screen TVs to watch the game.

The restaurant will incorporate more energy efficient, LED lighting in keeping with the center’s green theme. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Jeff Newman, Glory Days 

New Ellicott City Shop Caters to Yoga Lovers

Yoga enthusiasts and fans of yoga-inspired apparel have a new shopping destination in Ellicott City's historic downtown.
Gogo Guru will open Nov. 17 in the Reedy Electrical building at 8289 Main St. in Ellicott City, next to Tersiguel’s restaurant.
The shop will sell yoga equipment such as mats, yoga clothes, yoga-themed gifts, as well as yoga-inspired fashion apparel.
Owner Hilary Brich has put an emphasis on getting clothes from independent designers that are made either in the US or from a fair trade partner that adheres to fair labor practices.
"We vet the sources of our clothing to make sure it's not made in a factory in China. Our stuff costs a little more but you're supporting independent designers, there's more quality, design, style, and more interesting fabrics," Brich says.
An avid yoga practitioner who became a certified yoga instructor, Brich wanted to combine her extensive business background--working in varying capacities from IT to marketing-- with her love for yoga. Thus, the idea for Gogo Guru was born.
Brich spent the past two years scouring for a retail location for her shop, including Baltimore City neighborhoods like Mount Vernon and Fells Point, to locations in Columbia.
She ultimately selected a location in Ellicott's City's historic downtown because of her ability to work with the building owner to customize the space to her needs within her budget.
The 480-square-foot space is still undergoing the final touches of construction after a renovation that knocked down a wall and opened a big window that had been covered for years in the historic building. The process required approval from the county's historic preservation board.
Brich says she was drawn to the area by the eclectic mix of shoppers and visitors from 20-somethings to an older generation of motorcycle riders that come downtown to have a good time.
Additionally, the yoga scene in Ellicott City is incredibly vibrant with yoga studios and spaces at community centers within every square mile of the city, Brich says.
A quick search on Yelp indicates more than 15 yoga studios in the vicinity of Ellicott City.
Source: Hilary Brich, owner, Gogo Guru
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]

Barbecue Joint to Expand and Add Live Music

A Howard County barbecue joint is cooking up expansion plans.  Smokin' Hot Bar and Grille, which offers pulled pork, pit beef and chicken, plans to enlarge its space and add live music by January.
The Glenwood restaurant received approval from the county to expand the restaurant from 2,740 square-feet to 4,100 square-feet. In its expansion, the restaurant will expand to the location next door in the Inwood Village Center. Owner Brett Arnold says he could invest as much as $50,000 in the expansion.
In its current configuration, the restaurant's dining space becomes too crowded during the nights that the restaurant offers live music, Arnold says.
The space will be used to accommodate the bands that play as well as providing a retail space for the restaurant selling a variety of barbecue sauces and t-shirts, says owner Brett Arnold.
Smokin' Hot's sauces have names like Texas Red and Alabama White, and range from the mild Brown Sugar Baby to smoking hot Black Jack.
Menu items include Texas braised beef and chilies, pulled pork BBQ, beef stew, corned beef and cabbage, and vegetarian BBQ. While the restaurant is known for its barbecue, Smokin Hot also sells appetizers, seafood such as shrimp scampi, salads, a variety of side dishes and desserts.
The restaurant currently employs 30 people and plans to add additional staff after the expansion.
The restaurant opened nearly three years ago and Arnold says he's considering expanding the restaurant to other locations including Sykesville, Baltimore, and Washington.
"We're always looking, but it has to be the right thing," Arnold says.
Source: Brett Arnold, owner
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]

Ellicott City Getting $14M Rec Center This Spring

Ellicott City residents will have a new place to climb, swim and shoot some hoops this spring.
That’s when the Roger Carter Community Center at 3000 Milltowne Dr. is set to open. Construction on the nearly $14 million project started a year ago and is next to the Burgess Mill Station apartments. State and county bonds are funding the construction.
The recreation center is two-thirds complete with the steel structure, gym and parking lots finished, says Raul Delerme, chief of the Howard County Bureau of Capital Projects, Planning and Construction.
The 46,000-square-foot recreation center will replace the current one, which is less than one-fourth the size and was last renovated 20 years ago. The current recreation center is the only public facility in the county with a pool, Senior Development Officer of Howard County Housing Marcus Ervin says.
The two-story center will include outdoor basketball courts, preschool room, multi-purpose room, a five-lane swimming pool with beach entry, diving well and a retractable roof for the warmer seasons. It will also house a 24-foot climbing wall, an aerobics room and a 6,000-square-foot exercise room.
The Center will be Silver LEED-certified with a solar lighting that reduces utility costs by $63,000 per year.
Irvin says he expects the center to get 419 visitors per day with a total of 31 full-time employees and lifeguards.

Writer: Jolene Carr
Sources: Raul Delerme and Marcus Ervin, Howard County

Developer Plots 180 Single-Family Homes in Howard County

A Montgomery County developer has submitted plans this month to the Howard County Planning Board to build up to 180 single-family homes in Ellicott City.

The upscale custom homes at the Estates at Patapsco Park would be located just next to Route 29 and Old Frederick Road. Homes would range between 2,500 and 6,000 square feet.

Simon Rosenberg, a partner with Silver Spring developer Patapsco Park Associates, says he expects that it will take at least a year to 18 months to go through the county approval process. He says he doesn’t have a timeframe for when construction would begin if and when the county approves the plan.

The new homes are an extension of the developer’s first venture in the Mount Hebron neighborhood, Patapsco Park Estates. Properties in the existing 144-home community cost between $500,000 and $1 million.

Rosenberg says he doesn’t yet know how much the new homes would cost. It depends on what the market demands.

“The baby hasn’t been born and everyone has a lot of questions,” Rosenberg says.

Residents who attended a recent Mount Hebron/Orchards Community Association meeting expressed concerns that additional homes would exacerbate traffic woes along Old Frederick Road. Rosenberg says his firm is now undertaking a traffic study to determine the homes' impact.

Though the housing market is currently in the doldrums, Rosenberg says he believes there will be a demand for new homes in the future.

“Housing is not going to stop. It’s just a mater of how fast you can sell.”

Writer: Julekha Dash; [email protected]
Source: Simon Rosenberg, Patapsco Park Associates 

Gluten-Free Gourmet Coming to Ellicott City

An entrepreneur will bring gluten-free Shepherd’s pie, pizza, mac and cheese and other foods to Ellicott City next month, investing $150,000 to open restaurant One Dish Cuisine.
One Dish Cuisine is moving from a 1,200 square-foot wholesale facility at 300 East Gittings St. in Federal Hill to a 3,000 square-foot kitchen and eatery in Ellicott City’s Taylor Village Center at 8001 Hillsborough Road.
All menu items are gluten, soy and casein free, while most are also peanut, nut, egg, dairy, corn and fish free and incorporate organic ingredients. Dishes include comfort food staples that normally aren’t available to people with food allergies, including Reuben melts on mock rye and pumpernickel, steak, wings and soups. The café will primarily serve lunch and dinner but offer muffins and coffee in the morning, and eventually weekend brunches. Chef and owner Maureen Burke encourages customer requests and plans on hosting themed nights like Italian, Thai and Chinese.
Burke began experimenting with gluten-free cooking and baking when she was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in the 80s. “I started making recipes for breads and pizza crusts, and nobody knew that they were gluten-free,” Burke says. She continued experimenting when her nephew was diagnosed with autism two and a half years ago, requiring him to also follow a gluten-free diet. Burke says there are 900,000 people with food allergies in the area’s 60-mile radius alone.
One Dish Cuisine started as wholesale facility in June 2010 where Burke would make, freeze and ship products to retailers and hospitals like Crofton’s the Irish Channel Restaurant, Severna Park’s Freedom Bakery and Washington, D.C.’s Children’s National Medical Center.
Burke wanted to relocate from Federal Hill for more space and parking opportunities. She will continue to ship her foods and also offer a freezer for customers at the café. There are currently six employees but Burke plans to hire four more.

Writer: Jolene Carr
Source: Maureen Burke, One Dish Cuisine

Autism Care Provider to Construct New School

Linwood Center Inc., an Ellicott City school and adult services provider for people with autism, will use $500,000 in state bond funding to plan, design and construct a new school building.
The approximately 36,000-square-foot building will have a capacity for 70 students when the building has its scheduled opening the fall of 2013, Linwood Center Executive Director Bill Moss says. The expansion of the student population will likely mean that the school could add as many as 40 new instructional staff by the time the school opens, Moss says.
Funding for the $6.5 million project came from Linwood Center through fundraising, private donors and state and local governments.
The new school will be a "state of the art" learning center for kids with autism, Moss says.
The current school building serves 24 students in a historic mansion that was converted into a school. In recent years the school turned away students because space doesn't exist, Moss says.
The lack of space to accommodate kids with autism comes as the demand for autism care is at an all-time high. Over the past 10 years, the incidence of autism in children has dramatically increased and the demand for services is great, Moss says.
"One in 80 children have autism in the state of Maryland. In Howard County, it’s one in 73 kids," Moss says.
The new school will have a large gym and multipurpose room, a full kitchen, a library and computer lab, rooms for various therapie and a fully functioning teaching apartment to train youth in living skills. The school currently serves youth ages 9 to 21, but the new school will accept younger children.
Construction on the site started in June with the removal of a building on the property. Usable parts of the building were donated to Habitat for Humanity.
Source: Bill Moss, executive director, Linwood Center Inc. 
Writer: Alexandra Wilding, [email protected]

Park Surrounding Merriweather Post Pavilion Could Get $2.25M Upgrade

Columbia officials have drafted a plan to enhance the 16-acre park surrounding Merriweather Post Pavilion to make it a year-round destination for more festivals, art shows and community gatherings and not just primarily a place to see outdoor concerts.

The Columbia Association has approved more than $2 million in spending on walkways, a plaza, additional parking and a central gathering area that will eventually include an interactive fountain and space for performances at Symphony Woods. The nonprofit, which manages the planned community in Howard County, plans to use two state grants totaling $250,000 to pay for the redevelopment.

Construction would begin after the annual Wine in the Woods 2013 in May , says Columbia Association Project Manager Jan Clark. The association has presented its plan to the county planning board, which will deliberate on it July 19. The first phase would be completed by spring 2014.

Right now, Symphony Woods’ star attraction is Merriweather Post Pavilion, whose upcoming concerts include My Morning Jacket, Bon Iver and Gotye. Columbia officials hope to offer more recreational uses once the redevelopment is complete.

“We want to make this one of the leading cultural facilities in the mid-Atlantic,” says Mark Thompson, director of downtown redevelopment for Howard County. “That’s our ambition. I’m very confident we can accomplish this.”

New pathways in the wooded area will make Symphony Woods more pedestrian and bike friendly and connect it with adjacent neighborhoods. The Symphony Woods makeover is one of many long-term projects that Columbia officials are plotting to make it look more like the open-air town center in Reston, Va.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Mark Thompson, Howard County; Jan Clark, Columbia Association 
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