Milton Inn operator goes urban Lease dispute spurs move to Fells Point inn by four-star staff

Restaurant

September 09, 1997|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,SUN STAFF

The operator of the Milton Inn restaurant, which is set to close next week amid a dispute over the lease on the Baltimore County landmark, said yesterday that he will open a restaurant in another historic building -- this one in Fells Point.

Lynn Patrick, who has operated the restaurant at the Milton Inn for three years, said he will shift to the Admiral Fell Inn in late fall. He and key staff members from the Milton Inn will take over the space now occupied by Savannah, a restaurant that has earned raves for its Southern-inspired cuisine.

Savannah, in turn, will move to larger quarters closer to the Inner Harbor.

Meanwhile, the owners of the 18th-century Milton Inn are seeking a new tenant who can move in within the next few months.

At the Admiral Fell Inn, Patrick and his team will serve their high-end American cuisine in rooms with exposed brick and wood ceiling beams -- much like the atmosphere at the Milton Inn.

"This building has a setting, too," said Dominik Eckenstein, managing partner of the Admiral Fell Inn. "The team is going from one inn to another inn, from a country inn to an urban inn."

The Admiral Fell Inn, a complex of eight adjoining buildings at the foot of Broadway, is a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Historic Hotels of America. A hotel opened there in 1985 in buildings dating to the 1850s. This year, the inn completed a $6.5 million expansion and renovation to become an 80-room "boutique hotel" with three restaurants.

Several months ago, the operators of Savannah set their sights on a larger venue in the emerging Inner Harbor East area. Tony Foreman, who operates Savannah with his wife, chef Cindy Wolf, said they will open this fall in the Sylvan Learning Center office building on Lancaster Street.

"It's a bigger spot and it's right on the water," Foreman said yesterday. "That development is going to be extremely exciting in the next several years, and we want to be a cornerstone."

Patrick's negotiations for a new 10-year lease at the Milton Inn broke down this year. He complained that the rent -- about $14,000 a month -- and the cost of maintaining the aged building in Sparks were a financial drain on the restaurant.

He began to look for a new location -- one with enough history to "transfer the concept" that drew acclaim at the Milton Inn and with enough room to increase revenue by expanding his banquet business.

Eckenstein, looking for a restaurateur to take over Savannah's spot, heard about Patrick's unhappiness with his landlord at the Milton Inn. He and restaurant consultant Diane Neas drove to northern Baltimore County on a scouting mission about a month ago.

They were impressed by the service and the food at the Milton Inn. They found themselves trading bites of Maryland rockfish and Pekin duck. Neas became a matchmaker, and Eckenstein and Patrick began a business courtship that led to yesterday's announcement.

Pub Date: 9/09/97

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