Barfly Installs New Historic-Themed Facade

| January 4, 2019 | 0 Comments

Riverside bar and pizza restaurant Barfly’s has been working on a facade renovation in recent months at 620 E. Fort Ave. The Barfly’s team removed the formstone and constructed an all-wood storefront on the first-floor business.

“We want it to look like it’s been here for 100 years,” said Barfly’s co-owner Michael Leeds, who was inspired by Baltimore architecture as well as the look of classic pubs in England and Ireland. Doug Campbell is also a partner of Barfly’s.

The forest green and black storefront design features five new black wood-trimmed windows that open and give Barfly’s a lot more natural light; recessed lighting; custom trim work that includes “the Baltimore bullnose” above the windows; a new wood door; and a custom cornice that will eventually include a painted Barfly’s sign. An identical cornice will also be installed on the top of the building. The original brick facade on the second floor has been exposed and repointed. Flag poles will also be added.

The former facade was red and blue formstone with two windows that did not open, one of which that was made of Plexiglass. “I have been hoping to do a facade improvement since day one, but didn’t want to spend the money on it until I owned the building,” said Leeds, who opened Barfly’s in 2011 and purchased the building three years ago.

The renovation began in October and was partially funded with a Facade Improvement Grant from the Baltimore Development Corporation.

The team at Barfly’s is thrilled with the new facade and believes its more inviting design has already led to new business.

In addition to renovating 620 E. Fort Ave., Leeds also recently purchased the adjacent 618 E. Fort Ave. and is completing a renovation on the recently-gutted property.

Leeds thought about expanding Barfly’s into the property but realized zoning approval would be a challenge. Leeds is instead using the opportunity to build himself a large new home adjacent to the bar.

Leeds has spent the past six years living in an apartment on the second floor of Barfly’s and is looking forward to moving into a much bigger space. He plans to renovate his soon-to-be former apartment and rent it out. This renovation will include knocking out a stairwell to the second-floor apartment that cuts into Barfly’s, which will open up space for new booths in the restaurant.

Leeds said business has been really good in recent years despite issues going on in Baltimore City. He credited support from the neighborhood. Barfly’s also added an expansive whiskey program in recent years which he said has been quite popular.

Barfly’s could also get a boost next year from English professional soccer team Leeds United F.C., a team that Leeds follows and hangs their scarf in Barfly’s due to the common name. Leeds United is currently in first place in the English Football League Championship, the second-highest league in England. A top two finish in the standings when the season ends in May or winning the Championship Play-Off for the teams finishing third to sixth would promote Leeds United into the top-tier English Premier League, which is rapidly growing in popularity in the United States with a large slate of games on television every week. Leeds said Barfly’s could become the first Leeds United bar in Baltimore and that he’ll open up in the mornings for Leeds United’s games.

Leeds is also hoping the Ravens have an extended run in the playoffs as Baltimore bars get a huge boost from these games.

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