Downtown bustle makes Waverly look low-key


April 07, 1992|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,Staff Writer

At the top of the ninth inning, Waverly's Stadium Lounge was as packed as any 1970s or '80s Opening Day.

"Even though they're not over there," said barmaid Patricia Bortner, gesturing toward Memorial Stadium, "they're still our Orioles."

Nobody seemed out of sorts at the popular tavern on the 3300 block of Greenmount Avenue. For decades, the bar overflowed with Colts and Orioles trade. Monday's crowd of Waverly locals was no different.

Opening Days in Waverly generated a rush of traffic on 33rd Street and extra business for neighborhood restaurants and bars. But that activity seemed low-key in comparison with the press of crowds and general urban bustle around Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

The west side of downtown was a high-energy spectacle. The crowds in Pratt Street's bars took possession of sunny sidewalks. South Baltimore's Hamburg Street Bridge, closed to vehicular traffic, became an informal pedestrian promenade. Anybody with a rooftop deck near Oriole Park found he had friends he'd never counted.

"Eutaw Street looked like the March of Dimes walk. It was a solid column of people," said Sam Sudano, an owner of Kirby's lunchroom in the 400 block of West Redwood Street, north of Oriole Park.

A number of South Baltimore-Cross Street merchants banded together to promote their area to hungry and thirsty Orioles fans.

Drinkers converged early on Sisson's bar and restaurant in the unit block of East Cross Street, in Federal Hill. By noon, the bar was filled to overflowing.

"Every time I turn my head, more people are walking through the door," said Trish Sruchterman, a Sisson's employee.

Owner-brewmaster Hugh J. Sisson said he figured on selling 80 gallons of beer yesterday made in his micro brewery.

"We're introducing an Oriole porter for the occasion," he said.

"About the only objection I have is that the Hamburg Street Bridge is closed during the game. Otherwise, it's great," said Butch Lanasa, an owner of a Cross Street produce firm with piles of fresh strawberries, grapes and Golden Delicious apples stacked on the sidewalk.

"We had a lot of sightseers in here, but they won't affect us," said longtime Cross Street Market butcher John Edward Nunnally.

Said B.J. Foust, an owner of Bandaloops Restaurant in the 1000 block of South Charles Street: "The stadium is a double-edged sword. It brings the people, but can they find a place to park? Already, I've had a lunch reservation canceled because of parking. . . . But we've also had some huge private parties we wouldn't have otherwise had."

Other South Baltimore residents festooned their rooftop decks with black and orange decorations and toasted the Orioles with champagne.

Lexington Market merchants had hoped the downtown ball park would boost their midday business.

"It was just a normal Monday. The game didn't do anything for us," said Adam Koutelis, owner of Barron's delicatessen.

Fresh-roasted Lexington Market peanuts are a Baltimore Opening Day tradition. Last year, when the Orioles were on 33rd Street, the Konstant stall sold about 1,250 pounds at its Eutaw Street location.

"We topped that this year and sold about 1,500 or 1,600 pounds, said Paul Rosenberger. "It wasn't bad."

Said Nancy Devine, an owner of the Faidley's Seafood stalls in Lexington Market: "About four times as many lump-meat crab cakes moved out of here as would on a normal Monday."

Devine said she could tell she had new customers. "They didn't know our rules about busing your own trays. They left their trash and empty plates and papers on the tables," she said of her stand-up eating operation.

"It was more crowded here than a usual Monday. I expect the stadium business to grow as people get used to the place. I think there were too many pre-game activities that kept people away from the market. They'll come here."

"The people are tired and hungry now," said bartender Keith Gracey last night at Regi's in the 1000 block of Light Street. "It's been an exceptional day. We've had a big influx of suits from uptown."

The joy of the day wasn't contained downtown. The spirit made it to the suburbs. A group of Riderwood residents made wood "Go Orioles" signs and staked them in the ground along the Central Light Rail Line right-of-way.

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