Not much cooking: Harvey House sale was just cold talk


August 08, 1993|By Mary Corey | Mary Corey,Staff Writer

Anybody wanna buy a restaurant?

Despite rumors to the contrary, the Harvey House is still for sale. The word is that negotiations broke down recently between restaurateur Lenny Kaplan and Barry Baumel, whose family owns the 41-year-old restaurant.

Mr. Baumel declined to comment on past or future suitors for the legendary North Charles Street dining room, which closed several months ago.

But Mr. Kaplan says, "The rumor that I bought it was unfounded. We are not talking any longer. That's true. [But] I'm still looking in that part of the world."

And so, it seems, the colorful Baltimore institution known for its coconut cake and rabbit sign is still up for grabs.

In the meantime, Barry and his father, Lou Baumel, are dabbling in other restaurants nearby. Barry is the general manager of Henry & Jeff's, while his father recently became a part-time host at Central Station.

Do the two feel they're in competition these days?

"Not at all," says Barry. "The restaurants attract completely different markets."

And there are advantages to having your father work half a block away: Barry says it's easy to drop by and see Lou during his breaks now.

COFFEEHOUSE SINGS THE BLUES: There's less coffee in town these days. Java Blues, the Mount Vernon coffeehouse, closed last Saturday. Owners Ed and Vini Meyers blame the slumping economy and location for their troubles.

Is this a hint that the coffee craze is cooling off?

Mr. Meyers, who opened Java Blues less than a year ago, says no.

"That was a minor factor," he says. "The restaurant business in Baltimore is off by about 15 percent."

The couple will continue to prepare favorites from their cafe in their catering business -- including pasta salad with pesto and sun-dried tomatoes, tarragon chicken salad and wild-rice pudding.

RESTAURANT'S RISING SON: When Java Blues went belly-up, the Meyers' son Zach didn't have trouble finding work. He's signed on at Julie's Cafe, 915 Light St. The as-yet-unopened restaurant across from Regi's looks to be another neighborhood spot in Federal Hill.

Owner Julie Cahan is well-known to bagel lovers around town. A former partner in Sam & Noah's Bagels (now Sam's Bagels & More), Ms. Cahan left the shop in November but couldn't get rid of the restaurant bug.

Her concept here is to create a casual spot with light fare -- including sandwiches, salads and day-long breakfast. Since bread makes the sandwich these days, Ms. Cahan is debating whether to use crusty loaves from Stone Mill Bakery or the Marvelous Market bakery. The working menu features turkey breast tortilla sandwiches, fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil salads and Italian cold-cut sandwiches -- all priced at $6 or less, she says.

In the beverage department, she is banking on old-fashioned milkshakes and six kinds of coffee (as well as espresso, cappuccino and latte) to draw crowds. Look for it to open early next month.

CLOSED FOR LUNCH: Just six months after opening, Citronelle, the Latham Hotel's much-ballyhooed rooftop restaurant, has cut back its hours, closing for lunch and brunch during the summer. There's some question whether the restaurant will reopen during the day come fall.

"There's just not enough traffic during the summertime up here," explains John Komosa, the maitre d' at Citronelle.

The change has caused some diners to fret that Baltimore is once again failing to support the finer establishments in town.

Michel Richard, the renowned chef who oversees Citronelle, is currently working on revamping the menu at Peabody's, the hotel's more moderate restaurant. By the end of this month, we should be seeing -- and tasting -- his handiwork.

SLICE IT UP: Bertucci's, the successful brick-oven pizza chain, makes its Maryland debut August 23 when it opens a pizzeria in Owings Mills Town Center. Diners can choose from 17 specialty pizzas ($5.75 to $12.95) or 22 different toppings. There will also be pastas, soups, salads and sandwiches shaped like animals for children.

ENDNOTE: Donna's Coffee Bar, the popular Mount Vernon cafe, has opened an outpost in Towson at 22 W. Allegheny Ave.; Harborplace has its first sit-down Mexican restaurant -- Lone Star Grill; and the World Cafexbar at 2 E. Lombard St., Gregg Mason's foray into the food world, is serving lunch, dinner and Saturday brunch.

Have news about local restaurants, chefs or clubs? Call (410) 332-6156 or write the Real Dish, Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, 21278.

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