Diablita follows exit strategy of Lemongrass and Tsunami

Mexican cantina becomes third restaurant to fold in Little Italy warehouse location

  • Diablita Cantina executive Chef Russell Braitsch stands in the dining room.
Diablita Cantina executive Chef Russell Braitsch stands in…
November 30, 2010|By Richard Gorelick, The Baltimore Sun

Diablita Cantina has closed; the Mexican restaurant's last night was Saturday. The news was posted on the restaurant's Facebook page: "Last night for La Diablita. All daily drink specials from open to close ... while supplies last." This is the third restaurant to close in the old Holland Manufacturing Building since late 2007, when the Annapolis imports Lemongrass and Tsunami started their truncated runs.

The Diablita closing suggests that this location, in what is technically Little Italy, is still not on many people's dining maps. The surrounding streetscape here supplies neither the glamorous energy of nearby Harbor East, the intimacy of real Little Italy or the gritty raucousness of Fells Point. Diabilita did have have free customer parking, just a half a block away, but that may not have been enough compensation for diners wary about what is still a transitional neighborhood.

Tsunami, which arrived with its speakers at full blast, was an obvious miscalculation, and its early demise, after just about a year, surprised no one. The more easygoing Lemongrass felt like a better fit for the area, but it seemed to run out of steam. It closed back in May.

It was the Tsunami spot that Diablita moved into, following a round of extensive renovations. The owners of the Red Star in Fells Point were running things now, and well-regarded chef Russell Braitsch created the restaurant's opening "upscale burrito joint" menu. Neither Braitsch nor that original menu lasted very long, but Diablita appeared to find its own comfort level, somewhat down the scale, as a college-town-style cantina.

In an e-mailed message, a Diablita employee confirmed the closing but had no information about future plans for the space, part of the mixed-use complex purchased in September 2009 by the Pikesville-based Hollins Development Group. News of Diablita's closing came the day after another group of developers were granted zoning approval for a boutique hotel just one block south on the Central Avenue corridor.

Hello, Hampden Roland Park's loss is Hampden's gain, apparently. Anita Ward's Roland Park Bakery and Deli will relocate from its home of 27 years to a new location on Chestnut Street in Hampden in early 2011. The eatery's move, which has broken a few hearts in Roland Park, was prompted by changes at the historic shopping center, including the planned arrival of a new, yet-to-be disclosed full-service restaurant. Hampden, meanwhile, will be able to dry those tears they've been shedding since the New System Bakery closed last year.

Sweet switches Sweet, a Bakery & Cafe will close down its Main Street Ellicott City shop and relocate its operations to Baltimore's Mount Vernon neighborhood, in the spot vacated this year by Zachi Cafe.

Chris Sikora, the owner of both Sweet and the new Six Mile Coffee, says that when Sweet moves from Ellicott City to Baltimore, it won't be bringing its cafe operation with it. Instead, Sweet will focus on its specialty cake operations. The move puts the bakery closer to most of the wedding venues used by their clients, who will now be able to skip over to Sweet from their planning meetings at nearby hotels.

Six Mile Coffee opened on Frederick Road in Catonsville Oct. 30, filling the independent cafe niche created when Junction Station Cafe closed this year. The new place, which features a drive-up window, is off to a good start, Sikora told me. The big cafe hit, so far — the bread pizzas made from ciabatta Six Mile brings in every day from the new Atwater's Naturally Leavened Bread just down the street.

richard.gorelick@baltsun.com


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