Sunday, September 14, 2008

Firehouse to House Wine Bar?

I first heard about this from Mike Johnson at the Judges Bench Pub in Ellicott City. He told me he spoke with the person who was planning on leasing the old firehouse building across from his place on Main Street. She told him she was planning on opening a wine bar.

The Main Street firehouse went out of commission as an active firehouse when a new home for Ellicott City Fire Company #2 was completed at the intersection of Montgomery Road and US Route 29. The old firehouse was sold by the county to local attorney, Richard B. Talkin. The sale upset some of the other restaurateurs’ in the old town. They didn’t want the new owner to lease the building to another restaurant.

I’ve never really understood that logic. More restaurants have generally been proven to generate more traffic. On the other hand, they also raise the level of everyone’s game and those who do not meet that challenge could get hurt by the new competition.

Anyway, in order to placate the locals and get the deal done, Richard agreed not to lease to a restaurant for a fixed period of time. I seem to recall that it was around two years. Keeping to his word, he then leased the building to an arts and antiques dealer.

The arts and antiques dealer closed up shop this summer. The self imposed prohibition against restaurants is now over so there is no keeping Mr. Talkin from leasing to someone who wants to open a wine bar.

When I called him the other day on another matter, I asked him about the rumor of a wine bar in his building.

“We are talking with some people,” he responded coyly. I certainly can’t fault him for that. A deal isn’t a deal until the deal is done and the check has cleared. This transaction apparently isn’t quite there yet.

He did let on though, that he thought a wine bar would be a good fit.