altimore took a blow this past Friday when Patrick “Scunny” McCusker, one of Canton’s most beloved restauranteurs, passed away after his bicycle collided with a bus in Ocean City. McCusker was best known as the owner of Nacho Mama’s and its sister restaurant Mama’s on the Half Shell, both located on O’Donnell Street in Canton Square. He was 49.
I’ve known Scunny for over a decade. No matter how busy he was in the restaurant, he always had time to come by and hassle me about my affinity for the Redskins. He was like this with everyone. I grew up being taught it was good to be a character, and Scunny was definitely a larger than life character. I used to see him ride around in his Natty Boh car with his son. And he combined his love of Elvis with his love for Baltimore sports when he wore a purple Elvis costume to the Super Bowl when the Ravens beat the Giants.
My funniest memory of Scunny, though, is a sign he hung at Nacho Mama’s in the early days, which noted the remarks of friend Neil Tabor (I believe) who helped convince Scunny to open the restaurant: “It takes a Jewish guy to convince an Irishman to open a Mexican restaurant in a Polish neighborhood.”
He was much more than just a restaurant owner in Baltimore. Some have even called him the unofficial mayor of Canton. He was a real friend to the community, and a true philanthropist, whether it was taking pizzas to a local senior center once a month, or his involvement with Believe in Tomorrow Children’s Foundation, a Baltimore-based nonprofit that provides hospital and housing services to critically ill children and their families. Scunny, you will be missed.
fter years of setbacks, delays and uncertainty, some momentum was made today for the planned Westphalia Town Center (early rendering above) in Upper Marlboro, Prince George’s County. Developers met this morning with members of the area’s business community to provide an update on progress, a loose timetable for construction, and information on contracting opportunities.
The 479-acre project, northwest of the Capital Beltway, is backed by three developers: Walton International Group, Smith Home Farms and Evangel Cathedral. The proposed development would include 15,000 dwelling units, 1 million SF of retail, 4 million SF of office space and centralized recreation amenities.
The development would the biggest in Prince George’s County since the National Harbor, which began construction in 2008. The waterfront project, still under construction, boasts a convention center, six hotels, restaurants, shops, condominiums, a beachfront walking path, and features a number of outdoor activities. Unfortunately, the National Harbor’s construction has caused considerable controversy for negative environmental impacts, mainly affecting the Potomac River.
Read more at The Maryland Gazette here.
hough craft breweries are seeing an increase in popularity in much of the U.S., Alan Newman, co-founder of Magic Hat Brewing, hasn’t found it easy to bring one to the nation’s capital. Newman heads Alchemy & Science, of Burlington, VT, and is looking to open breweries across the country in partnership with local brewers. The company is a subsidiary of Boston Beer Co., which is led by the flagship Samuel Adams label.
Despite interest growing in the DC area for locally brewed beer, Newman has so far had no luck in finding a suitable location. Looking for anywhere between 7,000 and 15,000 square feet, he has visions of a brewery that not only distributes beer but offers tours and samples, and sells ceramic jugs to visitors. The problem: DC presently has relatively little industrially zoned land, which is the zoning required for breweries that produce predominantly for off-site consumption.
Though discouraged, Newman hasn’t given up on a DC brewery. But in the meantime, his focus has shifted to other U.S. cities.
Read more at The Washington Post here.
espite the fact that the majority of Americans look for goods and services online, 53 percent of small businesses in Maryland do not have their own website. But that could all change next year with the help of Google. The Internet giant has partnered with the state to provide free websites for small businesses for a period of one year. The program, called “Maryland Get Your Business Online”, is part of a larger effort Google has already begun in other states like Texas, Vermont, Michigan and California, as well as overseas.
With the help of software company Intuit, businesses will be offered a website, web hosting, and domain names. After one year, registered businesses will have to pay $2 per month for their domain name and $4.99 per month for the website and hosting.
Interested small business owners can join on July 17 at the Legg Mason Tower in Baltimore to register for websites and attend seminars on building successful websites.
For more information, visit the website for “Maryland Get Your Business Online” here.
trial this week between Bengies Drive-In, the Baltimore area’s last drive-in movie theater, and a neighboring Royal Farms, may determine the fate of the drive-in’s business, according to owner D. Edward Vogel. The reason? Vogel says that lights from the convenience store, located across the street from the theater on Eastern Blvd, interfere with the view from at least two-thirds of the drive-in’s 750 parking spaces.
Not only does the light distract viewers from their drive-in experience, Vogel argues, but they also delay the theater’s annual opening by several weeks, until nearby trees are in full bloom and act as a barrier. Additionally, it’s prevented him from adding a second screen, a goal he’s had for years.
Vogel is seeking money to erect an 800 foot wall that would run along Eastern Blvd. Royal Farms maintains that it goes above and beyond the laws of Baltimore County. The case is being heard before a Baltimore County Circuit Court jury this week.
Read more at The Baltimore Sun here.
he Wonder Bread Factory Building has sat vacant since 1997, when it was bought by Douglas Development LLC. The building remained dormant until last year, when they began to redevelop the industrial space into loft-like commercial office space. Come the project’s expected completion in January, WorkSpaces LLC will take the role as first tenant and inhabit the entire third floor (20,817 SF). This will be the second location DC location for the company, who also has offices in Baltimore and New York.
The Wonder Bread Factory is located at 641 S Street NW. Originally opened as Dorsh’s White Cross Bakery in the early 1900s, it became a factory for Wonder Bread and Hostess products beginning in 1936 when it was bought by Continental Baking Co. Its doors have been shut since 1988, when production moved to Philadelphia.
The building has a total of 98,000 SF, with 24,000 SF dedicated to future retail.
altimore County’s Eastpoint Mall sold Tuesday at auction for $30 million, despite state records showing an assessed value of $58.6 million. The winning bid belonged to LNR Property LLC of Miami Beach, Florida. Thor Equities LLC of New York had previously bought the mall for $112 million, nearly four times as much. It is unclear whether LNR Property plans to sell the mall again or keep it under their wing.
Eastpoint Mall was built in 1956 and underwent two renovations, once in 1991 and again in 2005. It is located at the intersection of Eastern Ave, North Point Blvd and I-695. It includes around 100 retail, restaurant and office tenants, with anchors including Burlington Coat Factory, DSW, Sears, Shoppers World and JCPenney.
For more information on Eastpoint Mall, visit their website here.
hillips announced plans to close its manufacturing and distribution facility this July, effectively cutting 100 jobs (13% of its Maryland workforce). The spokeswoman for the seafood distributor said that since the plant began operations in 2002, the company hasn’t grown as much as they’d expected. Warehousing will now be shifted to Merchants Terminal Corp. (now MTC Logistics), with further help from Dot Foods. Phillips may decide to lease some of the plant as office space for Baltimore tenants.
The company’s 8.5-acre headquarters on Fort Ave will remain home to their sales, marketing, research and development staff.
Read more at the Baltimore Business Journal here.
ilene’s Basement closed its doors to its Lockwood Place location on Pratt Street back in January, along with all of their stores early this year. But lease terms are currently being negotiated with another retailer to take over the space, though no details yet on specifics. Baltimore City Community College owns the building, while David S. Brown Enterprises manages it and handles leasing. Other tenants include P.F. Chang’s, Fogo de Chão, Panera Bread, and, until May 12, Best Buy…
Best Buy announced it would be closing 50 of its stores this year as part of a “transformation strategy”. Though closing, they still have four years left on their lease at the 37,000 sq ft space. During that time, they have control over what happens to it, whether to sublet it or not. But Kirby Fowler, president of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, is “confident Brown will work out a solution for the site.”
fter 5 years of trying to survive, Della Rose’s Tavern closed its doors this past weekend at its Canton Crossing location. The area has remained undeveloped since the recession and financial troubles of First Mariner stopped any progress, and foot traffic hasn’t been enough to keep the tavern alive. They are the second tenant to leave the tower building.
If the retail development ever comes to fruition, it would mean much different activity of course. Public renderings in August showed a 140,000 sq ft anchor tenant with other shops and restaurants on a 31-acre site, and investors are pushing for Harris Teeter or Target to join. The site sits by the Merritt Athletic Club on Boston Street.