Michael’s No Longer Pursuing Federal Hill Restaurant

| October 16, 2013 | 12 Comments

photoFor the second time in the last five years, a planned restaurant for the vacant properties at 1100-1106 S. Charles St. has fallen through. Several years ago, the restaurant group behind Ryleigh’s failed to reach a lease agreement with the property owner for the proposed Federales restaurant. The same group is currently pursuing Crossbar at the former Turners/Billabong location with the same liquor license that was to be used for Federales.

The ownership group behind Michael’s Cafe announced yesterday that they are no longer pursuing a new restaurant at the property. This comes after failing to reach a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the surrounding neighborhoods and canceling last Thursday’s Liquor Board hearing to transfer the former liquor license from Rowhouse Grille to the property (Rowhouse now uses Corks old license). Michael’s was proposing a 300-person restaurant with 4,000 square feet of dining space to be constructed on the Federal Hill property with developer and property owner Jake Ruppert.

In a statement from Michael’s:

“After several meetings with local community associations who want us to change our  request for a 300 person occupancy level to a 150 person occupancy level; change our ratio of liquor to food sales (not allowing us to offer as many mixed drink options); and increase parking spaces from the seven we proposed to 50 in a lot where only seven can physically fit, we have decided that we can not alter the brand and image of Michael’s Cafe.

We are a restaurant not just a bar. We are a restaurant offering an excellent contemporary American menu. We are a restaurant whose sustainability is based on welcoming large events, including wedding parties and receptions.  We are a restaurant where we want to create an experience for our clients who become life-long friends.  We have a reputation to uphold, and without the support of the community associations to allow us to operate in a way for us to grow with and for the community, it is impossible for us to move forward with the addition of a Federal Hill location with our restaurant brand.”

The property lies within the South Baltimore Neighborhood Association and they told SouthBMore.com, “Jake Ruppert (property owner/developer) was very understanding in withdrawing from the Liquor Board. We are very excited to see the new proposal.”

About the Author:

Creator of SouthBmore.com and resident of SoBo. Graduate of Towson University and owner of Incept Multimedia, a full service video production company. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover and "bar food" foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
  • cougheemonster

    I am starting to think the FHNA no longer speaks on behalf of the majority of Fed Hill residents. It is a case of correlation vs. causation in terms of the issues that neighborhood drunks create, and rejecting any restaurant / bar proposal for Fed Hill does not seem like the solution to me. Very disappointing!

    • atct86

      As a resident, and owner of multiple properties in Federal Hill, I fully agree the FHNA does not speak for the majority.

    • SMB

      My question is if they reject every bar/restaurant proposal then what type of business would be acceptable? Currently, its an empty building and lot. If they continue to reject ideas at least provide a reasonable alternative or suggestion of what type of business would be “allowable.” Obviously they would never allow some fast food chain to move in there, bars have been blocked, so what do you want to occupy the space some sort of fine dining space? If this stance continues then no one will want to do business in that space and what good does that do?

    • Neil Saval

      @cougheemonster:disqus , @SMB:disqus, @atct86:disqus – I feel the same way as you all, so much so, that I called the FHNA president, and attended the monthly meeting on Tuesday. Not to my surprise, I was the youngest person at the meeting by 20 years. The median age of Federal Hill is 34, yet the median age of the people that make decisions on behalf of the community is 65. See the problem? I want to make a difference, it is truly embarrassing that we have had prime commercially zoned real estate in the heart of Federal Hill vacant for over a decade. So on Tuesday, I joined the liquor committee to see if the younger generation can make a difference… I would love some more support from others so please feel free to contact me on twitter @neilsav

      • cougheemonster

        I have added myself to the FHNA e-mail notifications and plan to attend future meetings – between this and Crossbar being denied, I think new voices need to be heard.

        • Neil Saval

          Excellent, see you next month.

          • Fedhill2011

            Do you have to be an owner of a property in fed hill or can you be a renter and still voice your opinion?

          • Neil Saval

            Just a resident….so yes as a renter you can attend.

  • Al

    FHNA speaks for the existing bar owners whose goal is to keep their marketshare. They can easily inflame the other residents with the specter of increased drunkeness so they stay on top. Thier plans for that lot? Leave it empty and their bars full.

    • Pete D

      “FHNA speaks for the existing bar owners whose goal is to keep their marketshare.” If that’s true, then why did FHNA destroy existing bar owner’s (McComas/Rylieghs) plans when they tried to open CrossBar?

      FHNA needs to understand that Federal Hill isn’t becoming, it in fact IS, a place where a lot of people come to eat/drink.

  • Jeff

    There is a process in place, and that process relies on the input of the neighborhood groups. Not everything can be put to referendum to the masses, its just not possible. I know that each of these neighborhood groups has monthly meetings open to the public and what I found is that the issues that matter most, bring out the biggest crowds. The issues that don’t, do not get the attendtion of the masess and as such the decision about whether the neighborhood will or won’t support an issue is put in the hands of the few. So until the massess care about something, we will find that decisions about developments will be made by the few. But until then, this will be a vacant block and a develoment gap in our neighborhood waiting for that right use and that right owner who is willing to propose a vision and sell that vision to the public. I hope that owner comes forth becuase that lot is at the epicenter of our commercial district and needs to be put to better use than the parking lot it is today.

  • Daktari100

    Disappointing, to say the least.