PJ's of Ellicott City
Where: 8307 Main St., Ellicott City.
Hours: Restaurant hours 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays and Mondays, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays. The bar is generally open until 1 a.m.
Menu: Seafood, pasta, veal, chicken, burgers.
Credit cards: AE, DC, MC, V.
If every bar has to have a gimmick, then the playing cards stuck to the ceiling at PJ's of Ellicott City are a pretty good calling card for the restaurant-bar.
To find out how the cards got there, you'd have to go to PJ's on the first Thursday of every month from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., when magician Bill Gross performs. After somebody signs his name to a card, Mr. Gross shuffles that card into the deck, tosses the deck up to the ceiling, and voila! -- through magic and perhaps a touch of glue -- only the signed card remains stuck to the ceiling. Indeed, several of the cards have been stuck up there for a couple of years now.
For those minding their P's and J's, this establishment has a sister operation in Eldersburg, but it is no relation to PJ's Pub in Charles Village. Although this particular PJ's has a smallish bar in relation to the adjacent restaurant and outside deck (which opens with warmer weather come April), it's still a decent perch for sharing in restaurant-wide events like the card tossing.
Another regular lure here is open mike night on the third Thursday of every month, sponsored by the Howard County Folk Society. This is your chance to find out if you have what it takes to either garner applause or clear the room.
Also of special interest at PJ's is that every Saturday night starting at 9:30 p.m., the bar's compact disc jukebox is wheeled into the restaurant, tables are cleared away for a dance floor and big band selections bring Frank Sinatra and Tommy Dorsey to Ellicott City.
The bar itself is comfy if a tad too small. Happy-hour specials are worth a gander, though, and it has munchies such as shrimp scampi that reflect the restaurant menu's Italian leanings.
Night owls heading to PJ's should be cautioned that the place doesn't keep the latest of hours. Owner Pat Patterson observes, don't see as much late business as before." Whether you chalk it up to the new sobriety, middle-aging baby boomers, war and recession worries, or whatever, you may find yourself nursing a solitary drink here 'round midnight.