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August 28, 2009

The collateral damage of a restaurant closing



With the recent closings of the Brass Elephant, Bicycle and Jordan's Steakhouse in Ellicott City, and the e-mails and comments I've gotten about them, I'm more struck than ever by the collateral damage these sudden closings cause.

For most of us, it may be simply that we've lost one more restaurant we enjoyed. But for the employees who arrive for work and find the doors shut or who are owed back wages, it's much worse. The restaurant's suppliers or landlord may be owed money. And so on and so on.

Customers may never be able to redeem their gift certificates, or they may only be able to redeem them for a fraction of their value, or at a restaurant they don't like as well. ...


Then there are cases like this one:

Hello Ms. Large,
I'm writing again to ask for your help.  My husband and I did select The Brass Elephant as the restaurant for our son's wedding rehearsal [dinner] on December 4th.  Because of the restaurant's closing, we are now beginning the search again and were wondering if you might have another suggestion.
Thanks for any advice you are able to provide,

I had suggested the Brass Elephant last February when she was looking for a restaurant in Mount Vernon, and I'm sure she was relieved to get at least one important detail set well in advance.

Now I'm not sure what advice to give her. Abacrombie is a possibility, although December is a long way away for a restaurant that, someone posted here, opened only for them during Restaurant Week. The Belvedere has a beautiful room for events, but I haven't heard anything about their catering. The Prime Rib would be a possibility, I suppose, if she has money. And the Brewer's Art has the food; I'm just not sure about the private room.

(Algerina Perna/Sun photographer)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 11:39 AM | | Comments (27)


3 suggestions for the wedding rehearsal:

1. Belvedere - food is fine; they do this all the time.
2. Engineers Club - probably the best choice, but expensive
3. Md Club - right across from where they were. May need a membership though.

#3 Maryland Club - need a long pedigree and lots of money. oh, and a membership or a member who can sponsor your event.

I had my rehearsal dinner at the Brass Elephant almost 11 years ago and my wedding at the Belvedere. They both did a wonderful job.

Hey Jennifer, where and when did you have your rehearsal dinner and wedding? How'd they do?


In case anyone is wondering, I just killed out Jennifer's 17 -- not exaggerating -- other posts. Remember, newbies, you only have to hit the "post" button once. Eventually it happens. EL

Anyone know where Jennifer had her rehearsal dinner?

Oh, now it's fixed. Oh well. I knew I shouldn't have posted that... oops.

I thought it was funny except, of course, I had to kill out 17 duplicate posts one by one. I think next time I'll just leave them up. :-) EL

We had our rehearsal dinner at Feast at Four East Madison Street. The food was fantastic, chosen specifically for us, and only cost $40/pp for four courses. I highly recommend it.

I want to say something snarky about Abacrombie given Jessie's performance on Top Chef, but I'll hold my tongue. Elizabeth, what IS it about Baltimore chefs on that show? Does Bravo have it out for Charm City?

They are my clients but it doesn't change the fact that Sotto Sopra Restaurant ( is a beautiful venue and has done many rehearsal dinners and meets the criteria of Mt. Vernon.

They aren't my clients, but we had our rehearsal dinner at Sotto Sopra and it was wonderful. Great food, great service, great ambience.

We had our reception at the Belvedere. It was nearly five years ago and people are still telling us how great the food was, so big thumbs up for their catering.

Since Elizabeth a;ready mentioned us, I don;t feel uncomfortable posting an answer to her question:

We have a semi-private room that seats up to 40 comfortably and in which we quite frequently do rehearsal dinners.

Does this make me the dread shill?

No, here's a better shill post:

We had a terrific rehearsal dinner at the the Brewer's Art -

Set in a grand Mt. Vernon townhouse, The Brewer's Art offers many temptations for your palate.

We went and had Roasted Berkshire Pork Belly with Quick-Pickled Peaches,
Charred Scallion Jam and Barbecue Jus over Cornbread, for only $9!!! You can't beat that price anywhere!

It's obvious the staff care a lot about the place, and we're going to go back again and again - you should too! Try the White Tuna Tataki: Seared Raw Tuna with Miso, Baby Ginger, Ponzu and Radish Salad, $8. Wow! Fantastic!

So try the Brewer's Art like I and my friends all did. We had a great time. Oh, and check out their website,!



By the way, yes, I'm a fan of the place. And the beer... oh my, the beer...

Same thing happened to us at Lucy's. We had our rehearsal dinner booked for there on July 17th, and got the call about them closing June 18th- so at least she has a little more time on her hands to deal with the reality. We ended up getting catering trays from Olive Grove in Aberdeen and taking it to my moms house, and it actually worked out quite well. Olive Grove is delicious and it was a more relaxed atmosphere, so maybe something like that could work? It was more a rehearsal party then a rehearsal dinner, but it worked well for us.

The restaurant in the Clarion Hotel on Cathedral Street is lovely. I think it called George's. That would be a great rehersal dinner spot!

don't forget that there will be parking considerations. This will be especially important if it is a large family.

I had my wedding reception at Brewer's and it was lovely. The food was great, and the service was too. I would totally recommend it.

liz, whats the name of the room on top of the Admiral Fell in, what a view with plenty of room

Mr. Weasel & I have good friends who had their rehearsal dinner at the Brewer's & I'm not sure I understand your concerns about the private room. They just blocked off the back room for us.

No, it wasn't a closed-door, quiet, best-behavior event, but I think the relative lack of formality increased the conviviality. & the food was DELICIOUS.

I believe The Belvedere's caterer is Truffles. The last time I attended an event there, the food was quite good.

How about Golden West Cafe? Seems that everyone likes it so much.

sam and i had our rehearsal dinner at La Famiglia, which is just a short drive from Mount vernon. Everyone loved the food and the private room they had for us was quite large and worked out perfectly. Definitely reccomended!

ASH, around here, Golden West Cafe is pretty polarizing. Folks seem to love it or hate it, and there seem to be roughly equal numbers on both sides.

I can't go to La Famiglia yet. I'm still mourning Brasserie Tatin. Silly of me, perhaps.

Lissa, I think ASH knew that and was deliberately trying to cause trouble.

It's not just restaurants. I saw an article that talked about how people are cutting back on lawn and cleaning services for their homes. Now the people that they employed are either out of work or have less income. The trckle-down effect is staggering!

I recently ran into the very nice man who has worked on the plaster in our old house on various occasions. He says he is only working about half the week. He knows some fine contractors who have no work to speak of.

This isn't Mt. Vernon, but Roy's at Inner Harbor east has 2 lovely private rooms, that can also make one large room for a private party. They have many menu offerings and someone on staff who is dedicated to catering and event planning. I worked there years ago when the restaurant first opened, and we had a lot of repeat customers for private parties. They have valet and there are also parking garages close by.

Brewer's Art or Dionysus

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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