Restaurateur plans to lease Havilah Inn

March 14, 1995|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Sun Staff Writer

A Baltimore restaurant owner plans to reopen Havilah Inn, the 20-year-old Taneytown restaurant that has been closed for more than a year because of financial problems.

Qayum Karzai, owner of The Helmand restaurant in Baltimore, says he hopes to be in the restaurant business in Carroll County by the end of April.

"My wife and I fell in love with the character of the building when we saw it," Mr. Karzai said of Havilah Inn. "It's a piece of art."

Mr. Karzai has an agreement to lease the Havilah Inn building from its new owner, Garnet Bean, who bought the property March 1 from Taneytown Bank and Trust.

The bank bought the property last March for $340,000 at an auction it held to sell the restaurant and about 5 acres of land in the 5500 block of Taneytown Pike.

Taneytown Bank and Trust began foreclosure proceedings against the restaurant's owner, R. Leon Rebert, after he failed to make mortgage payments for four months. He owed the bank nearly $331,000 plus interest. The restaurant has been closed since January 1994.

Mr. Rebert bought Havilah Inn in 1991 from Bonnie and Joe Fitzgerald, who had owned the restaurant for 15 years. Mrs. Fitzgerald said she'll be glad to see the restaurant reopen, but still regrets that she and her late husband had to sell it because of his health problems.

Mr. Bean, a real estate developer with projects in Carroll and Howard counties, said he paid $375,000 for the Havilah Inn property. The purchase also included equipment, appliances and furniture inside the building, which were not part of the auction sale.

"I've always liked the building, and I used to go there years ago," Mr. Bean said. "I thought it was an interesting place and hated to see it go downhill."

Mr. Bean said a real estate agent put him in touch with Mr. Karzai, who was interested in opening a restaurant in Carroll or Howard counties. In addition to his Baltimore restaurant, Mr. Karzai owns one in Chicago, also called The Helmand.

After seeing the Havilah Inn building for the first time six weeks ago, Mr. Karzai and his wife, Pat, decided they had found the spot for their new restaurant.

"We were impressed," Mr. Karzai said. "As soon as we went in, we said, 'Wow, what a place.' "

Although Mr. Karzai serves Afghan cuisine in his Baltimore restaurant on Charles Street, he plans to offer "American grill" fare at his Taneytown establishment. "I don't think you can do a good job combining two cuisines," he said. "One always suffers, and it's not fair to either."

Menu items at his new restaurant, which will retain the Havilah Inn name, will include steaks, lamb and pork chops, and seafood dishes.

Mr. Karzai plans few changes to the interior, although he hopes to install a wood-burning oven to bake homemade bread.

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