Winter's worst can't put freeze on local Aegean

THE REAL DISH

February 20, 1994|By Mary Corey | Mary Corey,Sun Staff Writer

As if opening a restaurant weren't tough enough, try getting one off the ground during one of the worst winters on record.

That's exactly what Konstantinos Fokianos and his brother-in-law Athanasios Markides have done -- opening the Aegean in Highlandtown between the ice and snow of recent weeks.

"It's been a hard beginning," says Mr. Fokianos, who has had to close early, shovel out parking spots and cope with deliveries that never arrived.

The adversity hasn't kept them from creating a Mediterranean restaurant that our spies tell us is a real find. We've heard good things about the reasonable prices, sweet service and fine food, especially the rockfish stuffed with crab and veal with sun-dried tomatoes. But it's desserts like the fallen chocolate mousse cake that are to-die-for, we've been told.

Mr. Fokianos' brother Pericles is also in the business, managing the restaurant located at 4901 Eastern Ave. The two siblings have plenty of experience, having worked at restaurants throughout the city for the last 20 years.

Hours are from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM: Sam's Bagels, the Roland Park shop, is expanding into Federal Hill. Partners Ann and Carol Gallant, who have taken over the short-lived Julie's Cafe at 915 Light St., are planning to reopen as Sam's Two on March 1. Cafe owner Julie Cahan, meanwhile, is returning to her first career -- real estate.

This isn't the first time the women's paths have crossed. In fact, Ms. Cahan and Carol Gallant began Sam's Bagels (then called Sam & Noah's Bagels) together. Ms. Cahan sold her interest last year and decided to do her own thing in Federal Hill.

Sam's menu of sandwiches, croissants, coffee and 23 kinds of bagels will be the same, although the seating will be more limited here: The Federal Hill locale seats roughly 24 people.

We're likely to hear more from these ambitious bagelmakers. By spring, they plan to open in Charles Village, at the corner of St. Paul and 32nd streets (in the strip of shops with Eddie's and Homewood Deli). They're also looking at locations in Towson, Annapolis and Catonsville.

FEELING NEEDY? So many people have been praising a coffee shop/bakery called Needful Things that we had to get the dish on this new place in Canton. Opened last fall, the quaint cafe at 2921 O'Donnell St. has become a hangout for Cantonites, both old and new.

The business is a change of pace for the two partners, Debbie Brooks and Dorothy Addington. Ms. Addington currently works in employee and labor relations at The Sun, while Ms. Brooks, who runs things on a daily basis, was a paralegal for 18 years.

Although they make their own breads, muffins and bagels, they import a lot of other sweets -- chocolate mousse from Patisserie Poupon in East Baltimore, jelly doughnuts from Katharine's Scratch Bakery in Overlea and apple strudel from Rudy's Patisserie in Southwest Baltimore.

Several weeks ago, they introduced a light-fare menu. Most dishes -- including the focaccia with sun-dried tomatoes, ham and cheese in puff pastry and turkey pot pie -- are supplied by caterers Martha and Betsy Royall.

Although the partners have named their business after a novel by horror writer Stephen King, the decor inside is decidedly cozy -- with a gas fireplace, white lace curtains and hunter-green bookshelves. If you wander in at the right time, you just may find a patron banging out a show tune at the piano.

Breaking into the restaurant business has been stressful at times for these novices, although Ms. Brooks believes she's slowly getting the knack of things.

"It used to take me 10 Tums to get out of bed in the morning," she says. "Now it's better. I only need five."

Hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

PLUS CA CHANGE . . . The menu, the decor, even the name's the same. What's different, though, at Foster's Oyster Bar, Market and Restaurant is the owner. Mark Foster, who opened the Fells Point restaurant three years ago, has just sold the business to entrepreneurs John and Vickie Wysokinski.

Although the couple hope to add a wine bar, they plan to leave much of the restaurant the same. There'll still be eight kinds of fresh fish, pastas and those famous fried oysters. Rumor has it that the Wysokinskis are bringing in an acclaimed chef from Pennsylvania. No word yet on who the culinary mystery man is.

While the couple officially take over March 3, Mr. Foster will still be a presence around the restaurant, staying on as a consultant. He also still owns Logo's, a casual restaurant, and the Strand nightclub in Fallston.

We hear he's looking in Timonium for his next venture: a mid-scale Italian bistro.

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