McCormick & Schmick to open restaurant in Pratt St. Pavilion

Grill to fill space vacated by Planet Hollywood

March 25, 2003|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,SUN STAFF

The operators of McCormick & Schmick's seafood restaurant plan to open a new restaurant featuring steaks, fish and "comfort food" this fall in the vacant Planet Hollywood space at the Inner Harbor, the company said yesterday.

McCormick & Schmick Restaurant Group will open the first M&S Grill in Maryland in Harborplace's Pratt Street Pavilion in early September, said Doug Schmick, president of the Portland, Ore.-based restaurant chain.

M&S Grill will move into nearly 7,000 square feet on the pavilion's first level, taking about half the space formerly occupied by Planet Hollywood. The movie-themed restaurant had occupied two stories of the pavilion for more than three years and closed in September 2001.

The McCormick restaurant group runs 42 restaurants in 21 markets, including the McCormick & Schmick seafood restaurant at Pier Five in downtown Baltimore. That location, which is to be expanded by 90 seats in the next few months, is one of the chain's top performers and part of the reason the company believes it will succeed with its new venture at Harborplace, Schmick said. The site is visible from the busy intersection of Light and Pratt streets.

The restaurant owner plans to invest up to $3 million to demolish the interior space and transform it into M&S Grill. The new restaurant will seat about 210 people inside and another 50 outside on an expanded patio.

"We feel it's one of the most visible, great corners of real estate in downtown Baltimore," Schmick said. "It's one of those locations that has the ability to be not only a gateway into a major retail and tourist destination in Baltimore, but it's got great proximity to downtown businesses and local markets as well."

M&S Grill will be the seafood chain's third grill-style restaurant. The chain also runs an M&S Grill in Washington and a similar restaurant, under the name Jake's Grill, in Portland, Ore.

The grill concepts feature classic American cuisine - steaks, prime rib and seafood - along with comfort foods such as shepherd's pie, pot roast and meatloaf. Entrees range from $9 to $29.

The lease with McCormick & Schmick will bring occupancy at Harborplace to about 90 percent, not including vacancies in the Light Street Pavilion's food court because of a remodeling that is under way, said Nancy Tucker, a spokeswoman for Harborplace's Columbia-based developer, The Rouse Co.

Rouse is seeking prospective tenants for the second-story vacancy above M&S Grill, Tucker said.

Rouse has started the first phase of a project to redevelop the Light Street Pavilion's food court, which will include a mix of new and existing food stalls, said Adair Sutton, a spokeswoman for Harborplace.

Festival marketplaces such as Harborplace have turned out to be better venues for restaurants than almost any other type of retail or entertainment use, said David Fick, managing director of Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc., which follows the Rouse Co.

"Restaurateurs have had more success with less turnover at Harborplace than virtually any other type of business in there," and diners line up to get into water-view restaurants at Harborplace and in the area, he said. "Long term, a larger percentage of restaurant use in these projects is both completely logical and expected.

"The American consumer seems to have a bottomless capacity for dining out," he said.

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