Grilled Veggie Flatbread at Kona Grill has grilled asparagus,… (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun )
The Kona Grill was slated to open officially on Tuesday in the building formally known as 1 East Pratt Street but more commonly as the Verizon Building.
Based in Scottsdale, Ariz., the Kona Grill has opened about 25 restaurants in 15 states — this is the first one in Maryland. The accessibly snazzy menu combines steaks, sushi and New American cuisine — the signature dish is a macadamia-nut chicken entree with white cheddar mashed potatoes and "wok-tossed" vegetables. There is consideration on the menu for children and diners with intolerance for gluten.
An apparent key element to the Kona Grill success story is its lavish, take-notice, twice-daily happy hour, one for the after-work crowd and a later "reverse happy hour" for folks who are making an evening of it. Another Kona Grill signature, according to Rachel Phillips Luther, the company's vice president of marketing and brand innovation, is the appeal of each restaurant's patio space, which typically become favorites in their markets.
For Baltimore, the Kona Grill represents an important early step in the renovations of Pratt Street, which have in their early stages targeted the corner of Pratt and Light streets. The re-removal of the small grassy "berms" along the north and south sides of Pratt Street have been the most noticeable result of the attempt at making Pratt Street more inviting to pedestrians.
Michael Evitts, the communications director for the Downtown Partnership, which is guiding the design and implementation process along Pratt Street, praised the owners of 1 East Pratt, Griffiths Properties, and the Kona Grill for how well the new restaurant fits into the long-range plans. The property owner "is activating that space in exactly the way we hoped. They embraced the design concept and used it to attract tenants like Kona Grill."
Mark Buehler, the CEO of Kona Grill, says that the company spent an additional half-million dollars in its efforts to cooperate with the concerns of local planners, some of which came in the form of requests from the city's Urban Design & Architecture Review Panel.
The Kona Grill is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Call 410-244-8994 or go to konagrill.com.
Grill on Here's a big one. The Grille at Peerce's opened on Monday in the old Peerce's Plantation location in Phoenix. The old favorite closed in 2006 and has been operating, under the name Peerce's Landing, as an event facility for Signature Catering, owned by Joe Bivona. Now Bivona has brought on Mark Hofmann (Tark's Grill, Linwood's Due, the Polo Grill, and his own Henry's Grill) who has created an American grill menu for the 150-seat dining room.
The Grille at Peerce's is open for dinner seven days a week and for brunch on Sunday. It's at 12460 Dulaney Valley Road. Call 410-252-7111. A website is in the works. I'll have more on this online at baltimoresun.com/diningatlarge.
Sticky situation Sticky Rice Baltimore opened Sept. 29 in the old Friends space in Fells Point. The restaurant, which is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, serves an American and Pan-Asian mix of sandwiches, salads, noodles and specialty rolls with names like G.I. Jane and Godzirra.
The restaurant is at 1634 Aliceanna St. Call 443-682-8243. There's more information on the witty website at bmoresticky.com.