Pizza Bar ‘Locals Only’ Now Open on Cross Street in Federal Hill

| September 13, 2023 | 0 Comments

Pizza bar Locals Only is now open at 25 E. Cross St. in Federal Hill. The new business fills a space that was recently Pretty Awesome Live Music (P.A.L.M.) and Social Pub.

Locals Only is a concept by Federal Hill hospitality veteran Andrew Wheeler. Wheeler was a partner at The Charles in Federal Hill before the ownership group sold it to a new owner in recent weeks. Wheeler also worked at Mad River in the same building.

When coming up with the concept for Locals Only, Wheeler was inspired by pizza bars in Chicago that he described as “fun, playful, and lively.”

Wheeler is friends with the landlord at 25 E. Cross St. and, when presented the opportunity, he saw it as a chance to create a concept of his own. He said ha has always liked the building’s open concept and garage doors that give it curb appeal as well as an indoor/outdoor feel.

The placement of the televisions at Locals Only was done so everywhere on the main level has a view of the game. Wheeler knows the value of the Orioles and Ravens in Federal Hill and mentioned the impact sports betting has on sports viewership.

Wheeler and his team spent the last few months doing a cosmetic renovation of the space. The exterior is now white and has “KEEP IT ON THE LO” and “LOCALS ONLY” written in a black script.

Locals Only has a second floor bar and patio that is available for private parties.

The building’s wood-fired pizza oven has been in place since it was Social Pub. Wheeler is working with Chef Cory Pastor on the menu that includes fast-cooking Neapolitan pizzas as well as the “Not Pizza Menu” that includes different appetizers.

The cheese pizza at Locals Only is called The F***ing Cheese. Other pies include a burrata pizza, a street corn pizza, a pot pie pizza, a BBQ chicken pizza (Party Fowl), a meat lovers pizzas, and a crab pizza.

The Not Pizza menu has a lot of items made in the wood-fired oven such as a crispy brussels sprouts caesar, wings, calzones, cheese bread, Mac-O-Rella macaroni and cheese sticks, and its charcuterie board called The Lunchable.

Wheeler said the mixed drinks and cocktails at Locals Only are “fun and playful” through the glassware and garnishes. They have unique drinks as well as the classics such as old fashioneds and espresso martinis. Wheeler decided to take out the draught beer system in the building, citing a lot of issues with profitability due to waste and maintenance as well as storage space in the walk-in coolers. But, there is an “eclectic” collection of canned beers at Locals Only as well as hard seltzers and other hard beverages in a can.

Wheeler says he understands the young demographic in the neighborhood that is supporting the bars and he wanted a simple concept with good food. Talking about menus, he noted, “You don’t want to go too far and then backtrack. You don’t really get to dictate what the neighborhood wants, the neighborhood dictates what they want.”

Locals Only made its debut on September 1st. The kitchen is open Monday to Thursday from 3pm to 11pm, Friday from 3pm to 3am, Saturday from 11am to 3am, and Sunday from 11am to 11pm. It will be pizza only after 10pm, and carryout only after 2am on the weekends.

The south side of the unit block of E. Cross St., which is separated from the north side by the Cross Street Market, currently has vacancies in spaces that used to be No Way Rosé and Crazy Lil’s. Ultimate Pizza is also currently closed following a fire, and there is an additional, unimproved vacant commercial building.

Wheeler said, “We have a lot of work to do on that side of Cross Street.”

Wheeler said he wants to see vehicular traffic closed on that side of Cross St. and see string lights added like it is on the north side. He also said he has interest in opening another concept on the block. He’s been working with neighborhood associations and City agencies to help clean up the block and address the “homeless situation.”

He recounted the days when bars such as Nevin’s, Crazy Lil’s, Grumpies, and Federal Hill Lounge were staples on the block.

“We’ll lure more businesses if there is more foot traffic,” said Wheeler.

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Founder and Publisher of, 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 and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.