City seeks reopening of Baltimore GrandCity officials are...

CONSUMER MARKETPLACE

August 10, 1993|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,Staff Writer

City seeks reopening of Baltimore Grand

City officials are trying to find a way to reopen the Baltimore Grand, the downtown party palace at 401 W. Fayette St., after the owner of the historic former bank buildings pulled the plug on catering operations there last month.

Blake Goldsmith, owner of the catering company that managed the facility, said yesterday that Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke was involved in negotiations that could lead to a city takeover of the Baltimore Grand. But Honora Freeman, president of Baltimore Development Corp., minimized the city's involvement, saying the city had "no formal role" in discussions regarding the future of the banquet center.

Mr. Goldsmith, owner of Fiske Caterers in Baltimore, said business was "better than ever" before the landlord, Gaslamp Square Limited Partnership, locked the building up tight. He emphasized that Fiske is still doing business out of its York Road headquarters, and said the Baltimore Grand had been heavily booked with August events.

The Baltimore Grand opened in 1989 after an extensive renovation of the former Western National Bank and Eutaw Savings Bank buildings, which were combined into a single structure. At the time, it was hailed as a centerpiece of the city's efforts to redevelop the downtown Market Center area.

The Baltimore Grand, a 30,000-square-foot facility with two ballrooms and two smaller meeting rooms, was a project of Baltimore developer Sam Gorn. Mr. Gorn could not be reached for comment last night.

Diamond Comics gets OK to acquire Titan

Baltimore's Diamond Comic Distributors Inc., already the largest distributor of comic books in the United States, has extended its dominance to the British Isles with final approval last month of its acquisition of the distribution business of Titan Distributors Ltd.

Under the deal, Diamond will combine its existing British operation with Titan's distribution arm to form Titan Distributors: A Diamond International Company. Titan, the largest distributor of comic books in the United Kingdom, will retain its retail and publishing businesses.

Inflatable-boat maker renames its product

Intercoastal Inc., an Annapolis-based maker of inflatable boats, has renamed its product line AB Inflatables after The TC Cousteau Society sank its plans to market the boats under the name Calypso.

Intercoastal owners Roger and Georges Dherlin said they did not appeal the decision of the U.S. Trademark Office because they can't afford the legal expenses.

Intercoastal, founded by the French immigrant brothers in 1985, has been using the name Calypso since 1989. The Cousteau Society, which has operated a ship named Calypso, claimed the use of the name for an inflatable boat was too close for comfort.

Intercoastal, a small company with $800,000 to $900,000 in annual sales, sells its boats for prices ranging from $1,000 to $11,000, said Roger Dherlin. The boats, which are made in Venezuela for the Maryland company, have been named "best buy" in Practical Sailor and Powerboat Reports magazines, Mr. Dherlin said.

He added that Intercoastal has expanded its advertising to promote the name change.

Brand names going strong, survey finds

Private labels might be making inroads, but reports of the demise of brand-name products have been greatly exaggerated, according to Financial World's annual survey of brand value.

Leading the pack again this year is Philip Morris' Marlboro cigarettes, which gained in value from $31 billion to $39.5 billion, the magazine said. Coca-Cola held on to its No. 2 spot with a 37 percent increase.

The biggest gain was recorded by No. 3 Intel Corp., whose microchips soared 106.7 percent to land in the top 10 for the first time. FW valued its brand strength at $17.8 billion.

Among the gainers in the survey were Kellogg's cereals, which moved from No. 6 to No. 4, and Gillette shaving products, which entered the top 10 at No. 8. Big losers included Budweiser, which dropped from No. 3 to No. 6 on an 8.1 percent decline; Pepsi-Cola, which fell from fourth to seventh as its value fell 2.7 percent; and Winston cigarettes, which dropped 32.6 percent to land in 11th.

The complete list:

1. Marlboro $39.5 billion

2. Coca-Cola $33.4 billion

3. Intel $17.8 billion

4. Kellogg $9.7 billion

5. Nescafe $9.2 billion

6. Budweiser $8.2 billion

7. Pepsi-Cola $7.5 billion

8. Gillette $7.1 billion

9. Pampers $5.9 billion

10. Bacardi $5.5 billion

Nevins to expand White Flint service

Nevins & Associates, an Owings Mills-based marketing company, has been chosen to operate the concierge center at White Flint Mall in Rockville.

Nevins, one of the leading promoters of the mall concierge service concept, will expand White Flint's customer service offerings to include an information hot line, gift-wrapping, strollers and wheelchairs, and a fax and copy center.

The company, which will provide training and supervision of concierge desk personnel, operates centers at Georgetown Park in Washington and Tysons Corner Center in Virginia.

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