Putting Hampden tavern, restaurant up for sale Auction: The owner of Frazier's Restaurant & Taproom in the 800 block of W. 33rd St. has decided to sell his business.

October 14, 1997|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

A new placard -- one for a public auction -- is tacked up beside the familiar "Crab cakes and fluffs" sign outside one of the Hampden's most popular basement taverns and seafood restaurants.

The owner of Frazier's Restaurant & Taproom, in the 800 block of W. 33rd St., has decided to sell his business known for its friendly atmosphere and 1940s feel -- a place where beers and crab cakes are as well known as its low ceilings and nightly roster of regular customers.

"This is a neighborhood bar with a citywide following," said Norman Greenspun, 60, who has owned the business with his wife, Barbara, for the past nine years. The auction is scheduled at 10 a.m. Oct. 23 at the site.

Greenspun said the place had been for sale for several months, but he was unable to come to terms with a buyer because of the unusual configuration of its real estate.

While the barroom, tables and kitchen are in the basement of a house on West 33rd Street, the walk-in refrigerator and food supply pantry are about 50 feet south -- and across a public alley -- in the basement of a West 32nd Street house.

"People have wanted to buy one place or the other, but not both. And that's the way I want to sell them," said Greenspun.

Over the years, Frazier's has established a loyal following, much of it from outside the Hampden neighborhood, who gather there for the supper specials and casual, small-town atmosphere.

"We tried to find a quiet, homey place and we found it here," said Howard Millard, an attorney and accountant with First National Bank. "At the downtown bars, you can't hear yourself think."

Greenspun prides himself on the level of decorum here. "It's a place where a single woman can come and she won't ever be hassled. I've never had one police call in here in the years I've owned the place," he said.

If he does get a complaint, it's about the location, which is in the midst of a residential neighborhood where the streets dead end at the edge of the Jones Falls Valley.

When his friends said they wanted to eat his celebrated food, but had trouble finding the corner of 33rd and Elm, he explained -- patiently: "You have to go there to eat there."

Excluded from the auction are the owner's framed collection of Baltimore memorabilia -- his pictures of Dave McNally and Brooks Robinson in the 1966 World Series; the Maryland Theatre on Franklin Street when the marquee read "Life with Father"; the facade of Hampden's Ideal Theatre; Pimlico in the 1890s; and a portrait of jazz vocalist Ethel Ennis.

"It's pretty much the way it was when my mother first brought me in here as a child," said Juanita Anderson, 73, who lives in the Wyman Park apartments and drives her Lincoln Continental to the restaurant daily.

Yesterday evening, she had a lamb chop platter, followed by an iced tea and Chesterfield cigarette.

Greenspun said he will not retire from restaurant work. He will be assisting his stepson, Brian Watts, with Frazier's on the Avenue, a restaurant on Hampden's 36th Street formerly known as the Ye Eat Shoppe.

"I guess I have a high tolerance for work," Greenspun said.

Pub Date: 10/14/97

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