Harborplace restaurant coins a new name

June 14, 1991|By Cindy Harper-Evans

Brother, can you spare a nickel? Restaurateur Jack Baum says he can.

Nickel City Grill, a new restaurant selling grilled seafood, steaks and pork chops, will open in Harborplace in mid-July, filling the space left vacant by the departure of Mariner's Pier One overlooking the water at the Pratt Street Pavilion.

Nickel City's owner, Mr. Baum, who first got into the restaurant business in Dallas 10 years ago and now owns three restaurants there and one in Phoenix, Ariz., said yesterday that he plans to make Baltimore his company headquarters once Nickel City has opened.

"I'm going to move my executive chef, purchasing people and distribution facility here," he said. "I want the area between

Northern Virginia and Philadelphia to be the growth corridor for my restaurants."

He also said that he, his wife, Janet, and their two children will move from Dallas to Federal Hill shortly.

Mr. Baum, 34, recently was named "Restaurateur of the Year" by the Texas Restaurant Association. The Dallas Times Herald has compared him to Norman Brinker, a highly regarded restaurateur who created Steak and Ale and owns the Chili's chain.

Mr. Baum said that he expects sales from his five restaurants to exceed $15 million in the fiscal year that ends in June 1992. "Nickel City is not my largest in square footage, but I expect it to do the most volume," he said.

Nickel City will occupy about 6,500 square feet, making it the third-largest restaurant in Harborplace, said Kate Delano, a spokeswoman for Harborplace.

The restaurant, which will have a turn-of-the-century motif, will employ roughly 150 full- and part-time workers and serve rTC moderately priced meals. Lunch entrees will range from $6.95 to $8.95; dinner entrees will cost $8.95 to $12.95.

Mr. Baum said that he chose the name Nickel City Grill for his Baltimore restaurant after doing research on the city. He found that when the nickel was introduced in 1913, the banks here handled more nickels than the banks in any other city.

"I wanted something that wasn't so obvious about Baltimore, like the 'Chesapeake Grill' would have been," he said. "I wanted a name that embraced the community, but that hadn't been used to the nth degree."

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