S. Baltimore waterfront restaurants open doors Neighbors give wary OK to new establishments

March 17, 1997|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

Two new waterfront restaurants, each a converted warehouse reaching for a "retro" look, recently opened for business on the same block of Key Highway in South Baltimore with the wary approval of the local neighborhood group.

The neighboring restaurants, Globe Brewing Co. and Little Havana in the 1300 block of Key Highway, were started by young entrepreneurs who found their formula in 1950s flourishes. They say business is swell.

The owners say they will not beat each other out of business because Little Havana cultivates customers ages 28 to 50, while Globe caters to a post-college, under-35 crowd.

Globe Brewing Co., which opened last month in a former Bethlehem Steel Corp. shipyard warehouse, was begun by three 29-year-old men who took "four years to go from concept to reality," said one partner, Charles Bowman.

With a cement floor, red metal picnic tables and pool tables as decor, Globe customers can watch beer-making, because silver-colored tanks and kegs are in view.

By reviving such old Baltimore names as Mobtown for one of the brews, Bowman said he and his partners tried to create "a true sense of Baltimore, seafood and beer by the water."

Little Havana, which opened March 5, is operated by Paula and Tim Whisted, both 32. They came back to their hometown after two years in Key Largo, Fla., determined to open the first Cuban theme restaurant here.

After initial conflict with the local Riverside Action Group over whether Little Havana would turn out to be a "megabar," as the group's president, Jack Williams, put it, the couple reached an understanding with the group that its main purpose is to serve food, not liquor, said Williams.

With peach paint, a blue-neon light outside and an indoor mural of a postcard on an exposed brick wall, the restaurant recalls the pre-Castro era, when Havana was a popular vacation and honeymoon destination.

To "speed it up to the '90s," said Tim Whisted, the menu features such nouvelle cuisine as grilled swordfish with mango and blueberries. Fried plantains are served as a side dish.

Williams, a lifelong resident of South Baltimore, said he and others "keep a close eye" on neighborhood businesses for such problems as serving liquor to minors.

Pub Date: 3/17/97

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