Helen Burton (left) and her husband, the Rev. Albert Burton,… (Baltimore Sun photo by Jerry…)
It won’t be Haussner’s, so forget that giant ball of string. But if brewer Stephen Demczuk’s plans go through, the old Haussner’s location could be a German-style “guest house,” with a microbrewery. On his Beer in Baltimore blog, Alexander D. Mitchell IV has a mouth-watering post about plans for the old Haussner's location in Highland town. “Gypsy brewer” Stephen Demczuk wants Haussner's to be the home for his Raven Special Lager, says Mitchell.
“Everything is in hand except for the money,” Demczuk says. He is working on the project with Joseph Schultz, who has a contract to buy the building for around $500,000, according to the Baltimore Business Journal. “When the price dropped to a half-million,” he jumped on it, Demczuk said.
Schultz, whose real estate office is directly across from the old Haussner's, wouldn't confirm that figure with me. “I always like to make sure the deal is done. I'm 99.9, let's say that.”
“Things are moving really quickly,” Demczuk told me. “This is something the community in Highlandtown really wants.” Demczuk says that he has support for the project from the Southeast Development Corp. and from the Southeast Community Development Corp. and the Highlandtown Community Association.
Kevin L. Bernhard, president of Highlandtown Community Association confirmed his support. “It's a great plan. Stephen came to our community association in May. ... Everyone was in support. I think it can be a great asset to the community.” Demczuk told the organization that the site will be able to accommodate a community meeting space on the second floor.
Demczuk would use the site primarily as a microbrewery but modeled after a German “guest house,” which he describes as a “neighborhood brewery,” the kind of a place that might have built-in delicatessen: ”If you don't like what's on the menu, you just walk over to the deli.”
“We'd love to get a brewery back in Highland town,” said Hillary Chester of the Southeast CDC. The Star brewery, which incluced a restaurant and park, operated on Fait Avenue and Clinton Street around the turn of the last century, and the Fort Marshall Brewery was an even earlier neighborhood fixture.
Demczuk is quick to point out that this will not be the return of Haussner's. But it also won't be a corner pub. “There will be no TVs,” Demczuk said. “And no chicken wings on the menu."
Haussner's, a Baltimore dining institution, served its last strawberry cake on October 6, 1999. Since closing, the building has operated, briefly, as a steak house, and as the headquarters for Moveable Feast. In August 2009, a re-creation of Haussner’s baroque interior was the setting for the second-season opener of Mad Men.