Open & Shut: Wico Street Beer Co.; Unity Bar & Restaurant; Jazz + Soju

COMING SOON

Wico Street Beer Co.: This new brewery from cousins Jordan McGraw and Mike Richardson is currently under construction at the 1100 Wicomico building in Pigtown. McGraw hails from the beer scene—he was head brewer at Hysteria Brewing Company in Columbia for a number of years and currently works at Oliver Brewing Company—while Richardson complements McGraw’s suds knowledge with a background in finance. The two are looking forward to striking out on their own. “We’re cousins, we’re three months apart, so we’ve been best friends our whole lives. We’re living the dream,” Richardson says. “I’ve been working in finance ever since I graduated college; he’s been in the brewing industry, and we developed this passion together.”

Wico Street Beer Co. will be part of a marketplace concept inside 1100 Wicomico. Aside from the communal atmosphere, the cousins were drawn to the space for its proximity to M&T Bank Stadium and upcoming South Baltimore projects like the Warner Street Entertainment District. As for the beer, you might’ve seen it around town already, as Wico Street has debuted a handful of releases this year at Max’s Taphouse and Lighthouse Liquors. Their brews will also pop up at The Ale House in Columbia on February 17.

Baltimore beer lovers can expect an emphasis on sours, including Wico Street’s two sour IPAs, Factory Settings and User Settings. “We want to focus on sour beer, spontaneous mixed culture beer, and aging beer—whether it’s in wine barrels or different spirit barrels,” Richardson says. “We just want to do something different.”

Also on tap will be the brewery’s easy-drinking American lager, Steez, plus other IPAs. Wico Street is aiming for a late spring/early summer opening.

Sweetgreen: The fast-growing salad chain is adding a new Baltimore-area location to join its current sole outpost in Harbor East. The new Sweetgreen will be located in Towson at mixed-use development Circle East—where it will be in the company of other chain eateries like Shake Shack and On the Border Mexican Grill. Stay tuned for more details.

OPEN

Unity Bar & Restaurant: A new concept has taken over the old Trinacria Mount Vernon space at 111 W. Centre St. Last fall, chef Justin Holloman took the reins—after Trinacria was looking to sell—and gradually transformed the décor and menu into Unity Bar & Restaurant. Holloman describes the new eatery as “a place where everybody can come, that’s not too snobby or uptight.” Menu highlights include lamb chops, jerk chicken, and a sweet-and-spicy shrimp appetizer. Patrons can also sip on cocktails like Mai Tais and frosé. Holloman also features designated theme nights, like Taco Tuesdays, pasta night on Wednesdays, and chef specials on Fridays.

“A lot of people that were frequenting Trinacria were families, college students, people that lived above the building and in the senior citizen building not too far from there,” Holloman says. “It was a family atmosphere-type of place, and we wanted it to stay the same.”

Holloman says a particularly popular time for the new restaurant has been Sunday brunch, when he serves up fried chicken and waffles (“I had to buy two more waffle makers,” he quips), shrimp and grits with tomato gravy, crab benedicts, lamb and eggs, and a vanilla bean French toast. “We want to bridge the gap between all walks of life,” Holloman says. “People can come and be unified. That was the whole point in calling it Unity.”

And stay tuned for more updates on Holloman’s other project, The Rooftop Garden Restaurant & Lounge, expected to open this year downtown.

Downbar at The Brewers Art: It’s back! The basement bar at The Brewer’s Art is open once again after a two-year (or “697-day”) hiatus due to the pandemic. Baltimore beer lovers can once again enjoy a pint of Resurrection in the rathskeller. The Brewer’s Art also recently announced new hours. The kitchen will be open until 10 p.m. every night, while the upstairs bar will be open until 11 p.m. and the downbar will operate until “at least” 12 a.m.

LōCal Restaurant and Kitchen: Chef Calvin Riley, formerly of Chez Hugo and Duck Duck Goose, has taken over the old Chez Hugo space at 206 E. Redwood Street downtown. He has transformed the historic space into LōCal, which specializes in French, American, and soul cuisine. The menu includes dishes such as house frites tossed in garlic and duck fat, steamed clams and mussels, pan-seared sea bass, and shrimp and grits. Signature cocktails are on hand, too. Try the “Wild West,” with High West whiskey, brown sugar cube, angostura bitters, a splash of soda, and garnished with an orange twist. You can also opt for the “Josephine Baker,” made with gin, fresh lime, pineapple, hibiscus syrup, and garnished with a hibiscus flower.

“Being a Black chef that cooks French food, I wanted to raise awareness to the Black culture in France, to people like [entertainer and civil rights activist] Josephine Baker,” Riley recently told the Baltimore Business Journal. “These people who at the time weren’t necessarily accepted in the U.S., so they went to Paris and thrived.”

If you’re hoping to check out LōCal—or the aforementioned Unity Bar & Restaurant—next week’s Black-Owned Restaurant Tour, put on in conjunction with the CIAA men’s and women’s basketball tournament in town, is a great time to get your fix.

NEWS

Bagel Works Hunt Valley Launches Food Truck: Look out for these New York-style water bagels from Bagel Works Hunt Valley at a school, workplace, or hospital near you. The bagel shop is now taking its wares on wheels with a food truck. The operation comes from Samantha Blumberg and her partner Tim Giancola, who has owned the brick-and-mortar Bagel Works Hunt Valley on York Road for 25 years. If you spot the truck, or are interested in booking it, menu items might include both breakfast and lunch bagel sandwiches, as well as the classic bagel with schmear. Follow the truck on Instagram @bagelworkshv for updates.

Two Additional Vendors On Board to Join the New Lexington Market: The vendor list for the renewed Lexington Market continues to grow. This week, the public market announced two more tenants: Mount Royal Soaps and Royal Deli. The former, located in Remington, sells sustainably made body products and home goods such as soaps, lotions, shampoo bars, bath products, candles, and scrubs. The latter, Royal Deli, has been a staple at Lexington Market for 21 years—hawking sandwiches, salads, and fresh fruits—and will continue operating its stall in the reimagined space. The transition will allow owner Ana Alvarado, an immigrant to the U.S. from El Salvador, to bring her two daughters into the business, as well. Mount Royal Soaps and Royal Deli join 22 other previously announced Lexington Market vendors, including Black Acres Roastery, Ovenbird Bakery, and Taharka Brothers Ice Cream.

EPICUREAN EVENTS

2/24: De Kleine Duivel Launches “The Loves of the Plants” Speaker Series
Owners of Hampden’s Bluebird Cocktail Room and De Kleine Duivel—located in the same building on Hickory Avenue—are launching a new speaker series, “The Loves of the Plants,” which will focus on beverages, in keeping with both establishments’ commitment to locally sourced drinks. The first, scheduled for Thursday, February 24 at De Kleine Duivel, will feature Peter Elmore, head farmer at Whitehall’s Star Bright Farm— which grows aromatic and medicinal herbs like lavender, chamomile, calendula, and lemon thyme. Elmore will be in conversation with Bluebird/De Kleine Duviel co-owner Paul Benkert, discussing innovative ways to use organic herbs as an at-home cook or bartender or restaurant professional. Tickets are $95 and include entry to the event, two cocktails featuring Star Bright’s hydrosols, heavy hors d’oevres, and recipe cards.

SHUT

Jazz + Soju: This Korean-influenced Locust Point eatery announced last week that it had closed up shop. The restaurant, which was located on the ground floor of the Anthem House apartment complex, had its last service on February 5. “Thank you so much for the many wonderful years of shared meals, great music, and good times,” the restaurant wrote on Facebook. “We’ll miss you as much as you’ll miss our wings.”

For our part, we can’t think of a more fitting goodbye. As our food and dining editor Jane Marion wrote in her 2018 review of the spot’s signature twice-fried chicken wings: “What makes this truly a dish to die for is the way the incredible juiciness of the meat melds with the crunch of the skin, which is fried in soybean oil to dissipate the fat.” Sigh. Thanks for the memories, Jazz + Soju.