Charles Village deli to reopen New owners plan full-scale restaurant

community elated

March 19, 1996|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

Deli mavens Henry and Jeff are bringing the corned beef back to the defunct Homewood Deli.

Four months after the deli went out of business leaving a culinary void in the heart of Charles Village new owners Henry Pertman and Jeff Pressman have announced that they will reopen the restaurant.

Last week, investor Carl Verstandig purchased the building in the 3100 block of St. Paul St. And with Mr. Pertman and Mr. Pressman as his partners, they plan to open as a full-scale restaurant after a four-month renovation.

Their investment including purchase price and a $250,000 renovation will total more than $1 million, Mr. Verstandig said.

Many worried that the closing of the deli a community meeting place for more than two decades near the Johns Hopkins University's Homewood campus signaled a deterioration of Charles Village.

But the news of its reopening brought optimism to the North Baltimore neighborhood of students and professionals.

"The community has been literally starving for some kind of full-scale restaurant, particularly with the student population a block away," said Tracy Durkin, executive director of the Charles Village Community Benefits District.

Andrea Van Arsdale, president of the Charles Village Civic Association, said she was delighted to hear the news.

"We're facing a struggle to survive. We need to capitalize on what makes urban living unique and give people a reason to stay here," she said.

"What we wanted to do is have a gathering place. What we were missing is a really nice restaurant," she said.

Even before the deli closed, Mr. Pressman and Mr. Pertman tried to buy it twice but could never come to terms with the previous owner, they said.

So it was easy for them to say "yes" when Mr. Verstandig invited them into the deal after the restaurant closed.

"The Homewood deli was the center of activity a landmark," Mr. Pressman said.

"The Homewood could re-establish its identity as a real focus in the neighborhood," he added.

After renovations, they plan to open a restaurant that will seat more than 100 people, serve three meals a day and offer a large menu that will include deli sandwiches, Mexican and vegetarian food, and full dinners.

They plan to offer outdoor seating in nice weather and are looking for a beer and liquor license to transfer to the Homewood.

But they have yet to name the place. "We want to keep Homewood in the name," Mr. Pertman said.

For legal reasons, they are limited in how they can use their own names. They no longer are associated with Henry and Jeff's, a deli in the 1200 block of N. Charles St., even though it bears their name.

They left that location after a falling out with a previous partner and are not allowed to open a new restaurant with the same name.

The partners now are running the New Pikesville Deli and Catering in the 6700 block of Reisterstown Road, which Mr. Verstandig purchased recently. It formerly was Miller's, a deli that was popular for many years.

They also are managing a deli at 413 E. Baltimore St. and have plans to open a restaurant in Owings Mills next year.

For their future location in Charles Village, their new neighbors look forward to new life on the block.

"I hope it works, because my success is tied to the traffic on this block," said Jerry Gordon, who owns Eddie's Supermarket a few doors away. He also plans a major renovation of his grocery store this summer.

"I'll be glad to have a place for people to come back to the neighborhood," he added.

Pub Date: 3/19/96

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