Mike Rowe Visits Harborview Liquors and Accepts Invitation to Party Next Door, Shares More About His “Authentic” Baltimore Experience

| September 20, 2022 | 0 Comments

Baltimore native, Towson State graduate, and television host and narrator Mike Rowe has been living in Northern California for many years but, if you have just a brief conversation with him, you’ll realize he’s as Baltimore as it gets. He loves Old Bay, however, notes much of what we eat at restaurants is actually “No. 2” by J.O. Spice Company; he knows when someone from Baltimore asks you “What school did you go to?” they mean what high school, not what college; and he has a chip on his shoulder that can only come from growing up in Charm City.

Rowe, who was visiting Baltimore this week, described an interaction he had on Saturday night to his 6 million Facebook followers as “Only in Baltimore.” Rowe visited Harborview Liquors on Fort Ave. to see his new whiskey, Knobel Tennessee Whiskey, which is named after his late grandfather Carl Knobel, on the shelves for the first time. Carl Knobel, a tradesman, was Rowe’s inspiration for the show Dirty Jobs.

During his visit, he became enamored with Liz Hartlove who was working behind the counter. Many people commented on Rowe’s Facebook post about how they too adored Hartlove, which she said she was “amazed by.”

Hartlove told SouthBMore.com she immediately recognized Rowe when he walked in, saying how she’s a big fan of Rowe’s shows Dirty Jobs and How America Works.

“Last week one of the sales reps from the distributors called and said he had a new whiskey and it was by Mike Rowe. I knew I definitely wanted whatever he was selling,” said Hartlove, who bought a case. “It was just so nice to meet him in person. He was so down to earth, he’s just like one of us.”

A few minutes after Rowe’s arrival, Hartlove called next-door neighbor Mariah Fata, whose husband Scott Fata is also a huge fan of Dirty Jobs.

Mariah Fata told Scott Fata, “Miss Liz has a surprise for you.”

Alongside Mariah Fata, Scott Fata left his own birthday party to see what the surprise was and couldn’t believe it when he saw Mike Rowe standing there.

The Fatas bought a bottle of Knobel and told Rowe he needs to get a crab cake from Captain Larry’s as well as meet Barfly’s owner Michael Leeds, who has one of the largest whiskey selections in the country. They also invited him back to Scott’s birthday party.

Before the Fatas departed, Rowe sang Mariah Fata the song “They Call the Wind Mariah,” which he joked no one under the age of 50 has heard of, however Mariah Fata was very familiar with it.

Scott Fata said he never thought Rowe would actually accept the invite to come to his house. He went back to hanging out with friends and watching his beloved Penn State football team play Auburn, before seeing Rowe walk towards his door.

Rowe summed up his evening in his Facebook post saying, “A few minutes later I was inside one of the many charming brick homes in Federal Hill, eating chicken, petting dogs, singing Happy Birthday, and sipping my grandfather’s whiskey with some new friends. Only in Baltimore…”

Scott Fata said Rowe stayed for about 45 minutes, snacked on food including Chick-fil-A and pizza from Federal Hill’s Pizza di Joey, played with the Fatas’ dogs Charles and Radar, and took a tour of the house including checking out the views from the rooftop deck.

Rowe, the Fatas, and the party guests sipped on Knobel. Rowe, who is a trained opera singer, even joined in on singing Scott Fata “Happy Birthday.”

“He’s the nicest guy, salt of the earth. He talked to everyone here,” said Scott Fata. “Everyone was kind of floored when he showed up.”

Scott Fata also noted Knobel is “really good” and said Rowe signed his bottle “Keep it Dirty!”

Fata said Hartlove was the “hero and MVP” of the night. The Fatas, like many neighbors in South Baltimore, know “Miss Liz” very well. Hartlove and her late husband once owned Hartlove’s which was in the same bar space now occupied by Barfly’s.

In his Facebook post, Rowe said, “Liz Hartlove is pure Baltimore. She grabbed my hand and told me she loved me, which I took as a great compliment. When I offered to sign the bottles she had on her shelf, she told me she loved me even more.”

Harborview Liquors has now sold three cases of Knobel and is ordering more to keep up with the demand.

Rowe’s Facebook post about Hartlove and the Fatas has been “liked” more than 142,000 times, shared more than 8,200 times (including on most of the South Baltimore Facebook groups), and commented on more than 8,700 times. Fata said he was trying to “like” every comment that wished him a happy birthday, but said it became too much to keep up with.

Similar to what happened on Saturday night in South Baltimore, Rowe told SouthBMore.com he is a fan of random encounters, like when Bill Murray shows up in strangers’ wedding pictures.

“People are always freaked out that it would happen but, the truth is, if you are Bill Murray, it’s about the best thing you can do to amuse yourself,” Rowe told SouthBMore.com. “What else are you going to do, another red-carpet event? I’m sure he’s exhausted by all of that and looks for something that feels authentic.”

“That’s the thing about this town [Baltimore]. Pro, con, good, bad, whatever, this is a very authentic place,” he added.

Both Fata and Rowe agreed the interaction on Saturday made their day.

Talking more about the experience, Rowe reiterated the importance of authenticity and authentic experiences. “If you are trying to find something that feels actual, you can’t produce it, you can’t manufacture it, you can’t focus group it,” he said to SouthBMore.com.

Having such a great experience in South Baltimore, Rowe returned to the neighborhood the past two days. He said he toured around Locust Point, had dinner at L.P. Steamers, made a stop at Barracudas Locust Point Tavern, and walked around Federal Hill before the Ravens game noticing all the purple apparel in the bars and reminiscing when it was Colts’ blue.

He also admired the crucifix in the yard next to St. Mary Star of the Sea and thought Jackson St. was “really cool.”

When told about South Baltimore residents doing everything they could to keep local bars and restaurants in business during the COVID-19 pandemic, Rowe said, “I know it sounds weird, but you can sense it, you can feel it walking down Fort Avenue.”

Rowe said he has a new love and curiosity for South Baltimore after his experiences these past few days and looks forward to coming back in October. He said getting a crab cake from Captain Larry’s and talking whiskey with Leeds at Barfly’s is on the itinerary.

Photos courtesy of Mike Rowe’s Facebook Page

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About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at Kevin@InceptMM.com and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.