Steeltown's theme bars harken back to a different time Steeltown offers departure from traditional fare

Commercial real estate

June 03, 1991|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Eveningk Sun Staff

Steeltown, a new cavernous dance-sports-breakfast bar in the 2400 block of North Point Blvd., is about as dramatic a departure from the typical eastern Baltimore County watering hole as may be possible.

In place of the old Whitehouse Tavern, where go-go dancers entertained a blue-collar crowd for lunch in the rundown North Point Plaza shopping center, stands a brand new

building within a building, with more features than can be described in one sentence.

And no go-go girls.

The concept behind Steeltown, which can accommodate 1,500 people, is similar to the Fish Market complex that closed two years ago near the Inner Harbor: distinctly themed bars and restaurants inside a larger building.

Steeltown has one tavern called the Blast Furnace, which depicts a steel factory like the Sparrows Point works nearby. The Bomber Cafe plays on a World War II warplane motif, conjuring images of another area landmark, the former Glenn L. Martin aircraft plant now occupied by the Martin Marietta Corp. There's also a sports bar featuring pool tables, dart boards, mannequins dressed as skiers and basketball players, along with a sports clothing shop, a ticket agency and a row of antique barber chairs under the pay phones called "Bookmaker's Corner."

What used to be an 8,000-square foot neighborhood strip-tease bar that was frequently in trouble with the county liquor board has been expanded to a 32,000-square-foot facility with brand-new everything, right down to the dual cinder block walls at the rear installed for fire safety.

Lawrence A. Milburn is the day-to-day manager of Steeltown. He was the licensee for the now-closed Memories bar, a bit farther south on North Point Boulevard. That establishment, Milburn said, is likely to re-open under new ownership.

Steeltown is owned by the Hickory Investment Corp. William J. Peterson, Jr., 48, of Forest Hill, is president and licensee of Steeltown, along with Manfred Juergensen of Bel Air and John J. Seisman Jr. of Dundalk.

Milburn said that he hopes to draw patrons for Steeltown from far beyond eastern Baltimore County, from Baltimore city, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.

The club, which is within a much larger warehouse style building in sight of Beltway Exit 40, recently opened, but workmen are still applying finishing touches. A 60-day shakedown period is under way, Milburn said.

He expects to start business each day by hosting buses leaving for Atlantic City at 8 a.m. and serving breakfast to their customers.

Lunch trade starts at 10:30 a.m. for shift workers, and Milburn is hoping to get his share of that in the Bomber Cafe.

A happy-hour buffet is intended to attract the after-work crowd from 4 to 8 p.m. daily, and live entertainment is planned nightly, from comedians to Top 40 rock bands.

Milburn said Peterson spent about $1.6 million rebuilding the inside of the old building and expanding the former tavern.

Steeltown has a full-time staff of 50, he said, and another 125 part-timers.

Because Steeltown's overhead is so much lower than the failed similar Inner Harbor attraction, financial success should be easier to achieve, Milburn said.

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