Bar and Performance Space ‘Buzz’ Opens Above Spoon Cafe in Federal Hill

| April 18, 2018 | 0 Comments

When Bernard Kayes bought 24 E. Cross St. in 1995 he was hoping to turn the former chicken slaughterhouse into a live music venue. Zoning laws prevented his vision from becoming a reality so, instead, he opened Spoons Cafe with business partner Deborah Cogan. Now, 23 years later, Kayes is finally seeing his vision become a reality thanks to some recent changes in zoning laws that allow more live entertainment in Federal Hill.

Kayes renovated the second floor of Spoons in 2009 and has used it as space for private events and more recently for overflow dining during busy weekend brunches. Now, the second floor has been rebranded as Buzz. It will be a bar with a focus on music, spoken word, and comedy performances that will be streamed live on the web.

Spoons closes each day at 2pm, but Buzz will be open Thursday and Friday from 4pm until about midnight. On Saturdays and Sundays it will open at 10am and will serve as extra space for customers waiting to get into weekend brunch or for brunch diners looking for a different vibe, as it will feature music such as jazz. Buzz will then stay open on Saturdays and Sundays after Spoons closes. The kitchen will be open until 10pm on Thursday through Sunday.

Buzz has two pool tables, a bar, high-top tables, the coffee roaster from Spoons, and a space for performances. It features high ceilings that are original to its roots as a slaughterhouse. The space also has pieces of art and furniture Kayes has collected over the years including light fixtures that were in the movie Scarface.

Buzz is managed by Ben Watson, a longtime friend of Kayes from their early days in the Baltimore music scene. Watson spent many years working in the film and concert industry, including working as a boom operator on The Wire. Watson recently moved back to his hometown of Baltimore from Las Vegas, and that’s when Kayes decided it was time to bring in his friend to help fulfill his vision for the space.

Watson is setting up a performance area in Buzz that will be used as a recording studio and for video webcasts. Buzz is hoping to lure up-and-coming bands, along with big-name and mid-level acts that are looking for a more intimate setting to put on a performance, record, and/or put on a live show over the internet.

Kayes and Watson noted that Federal Hill’s location right along I-95 makes it a place that many are passing through during tours. They are also hoping bands playing at the new Hammerjacks, which will start construction soon, might want to stop by for a performance.

Certain performances will be invite-only as Buzz has a capacity of 75, but anyone can watch on Buzz’s live stream. Performances will also be stored online for download.

Buzz is going for unplugged-style performances and jazz sets for the space as opposed to loud, drum-heavy shows. Buzz will also feature DJs and has a couple record players.

Watson and Kayes are also hoping the space can be used to host live podcasts, discussions, spoken word, and comedy shows.

When a show is not underway, the team is hoping Buzz is a laid-back place with mellow music where people can go to enjoy conversation.

Buzz will serve the lunch menu from Spoons which features quesadillas, salads, appetizers, and sandwiches.

Buzz, which currently has a beer and wine license, will focus on local beers and champagne cocktails. Buzz is working on a menu of champagne cocktails with ingredients such as sorbet. Kayes says he wants the prices to be affordable.

“We have lots of sports bars here in Federal Hill,” said Kayes.  “We are just looking to add some culture.”

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