Will the Homewood Deli become Henry & Jeff's II?
We hear the two restaurants are talking. Although neither side is saying much, the word is that Henry Pertman and Jeffrey Pressman, who run the Mount Vernon deli-restaurant-sidewalk cafe, are negotiating to buy the Homewood Deli in Charles Village.
If the deal pans out, Henry and Jeff are expected to duplicate their winning formula in the northern part of the city. Since opening 3 1/2 years ago, they've earned a loyal clientele by offering reasonable prices, a casual atmosphere and an encyclopedic menu featuring 50-plus sandwiches, Mexican dishes and ultra-rich desserts.
But a spokesman for the Homewood Deli who declined to give his name said the restaurant isn't for sale. "That's news to me," he said. "I don't know anything about Henry & Jeff's."
* FUNK IN FELLS POINT. The chairs hanging upside down in the window told us we had arrived at Funk's Democratic Coffee Spot, 1818 Eastern Ave. We had heard this new hangout had to be seen, so on a recent Friday we dropped by for cappuccino and a pecan bar.
What a scene. The decor was charmingly quirky -- cotton-candy pink lamps, hand-painted furniture and an aqua-splashed patio. So was the menu. Where else in Baltimore can you get empanadas, spanakopita and cherry pie?
Since opening five months ago, Funk's has clearly become a favorite for locals, so first-timers may feel a bit out of place. But before long you'll probably be playing Trivial Pursuit or Scrabble with the gang upstairs. (We hear the jazz jam session on Thursdays is a real event.)
The name pays homage to the building's previous tenants -- Funk's Confectionary and the Polish-American Democratic Club, says painter and co-owner Janet Pfeiffer.
She and interior designer Julia McClellan, both 36, decided to open the place for one reason.
"Mid-life," Ms. Pfeiffer says with a sigh. "We were tired of working for other people. We wanted our own business."
* BOHEMIAN BARBECUE? That's what Jake Shelton has in mind for his next project. Although he's just opened Bohemian, a funky thrift shop in Fells Point, he's now looking along Eastern Avenue for the right home for Bohemian Barbecue, a restaurant serving Southern barbecue pork sandwiches, cole slaw, ribs and corn bread.
Mr. Shelton, who's an artist, says he's going to build and paint the furniture in time for a late July opening.
"It's going to be a pretty artsy barbecue place for sure," he says. "We may have some tripped-out pig as a mascot."
* MEXICAN HEATS UP. Lovers of the taco and burrito have reason to celebrate. Or at least they will this summer, when two new places come to town. Lista's, a New Mexican restaurant at 1637 Thames St., is opening next month. Ruben Evangelista decided to open his second restaurant in Baltimore (his first is in Virginia Beach, Va.) because his wife, Kathy, is a native.
Some dishes from their first restaurant are likely to show up in Fells Point, including enchiladas, blackened red snapper and steak relleno, a New York strip stuffed with chorizo sausage, onion and peppers.
His recipes have proven to be so popular that Mr. Evangelista recently came out with "EvangeLista's New Mexican Cookbook."
And more than a dozen years after Harborplace opened, the Pratt Street Pavilion is finally getting a sit-down Mexican restaurant. (It's about time, we say.) By midsummer, Lone Star Grill is scheduled to open in the second-floor spot left vacant by Tandoor. The restaurant boasts of "Texas-sized" portions for everything from mesquite-grilled steaks to margaritas.
* IN THE WORKS. The ever-expanding Donna's Coffee Bar will open an outpost at 22 W. Allegheny Ave. in Towson later this summer. Located where Tres Bon used to be, the cafe will have the same menu as the Mount Vernon Donna's. But look for an expanded carryout area as well as breads, pastries and coffee beans to be sold there.
The opening in mid- to late June is expected to coincide with the debut of Donna's Restaurant. This spinoff, located at 802 N. Charles St. (where BOP used to be), will serve more substantial fare than the cafe.
If all goes well at a zoning hearing next month, Sam's Bagels & More, 500 W. Coldspring Lane, will expand into the vacant space next door, doubling its size and adding cappuccino and espresso to its menu. (The name changed from Sam & Noah's Bagels several months ago, when Julie Cahan, whose son is Noah, left the business. Carol Gallant, the mother of Sam, has now teamed up with her sister-in law Ann to run the show.)
* PUTTING THE CART BEFORE THE RESTAURANT. That's exactly what Vassos Yiannouris and his wife, Maria Kaimakis, have done. After several years of selling their popular falafel from a cart, most recently at Light and Redwood streets, the couple have decided to take the plunge with their own restaurant at 105 E. Baltimore St.