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December 16, 2010

Red Springs Cafe headed for Hollywood Diner?

hollywoodCheryl Townsend, who operated the Southern-style Red Springs Cafe on Calvert Street until earlier this year, may be headed for the Hollywood Diner on Saratoga Street. Townsend said that the deal with the City of Baltimore, which owns the building, isn't final, but that if things go according to plan, she could have the diner reopened shortly after the beginning of the new year.

The diner had been run by Crema Cafe Co. since September 2009. Crema's owner, Terry Jett, shut his operations down on Saratoga Street on November 24th. In a conversation with me, Jett  was frank about the rough time he's had of it on Saratoga Street. "It was tough," Jett says, "It's been a really hard year." Jett admitted that the home-made pancake batter, mayonnaise, sausages and chorizo; Zeke's Coffee; and Stone Mill Bakery bread may not have appealed to a value-seeking lunch audience.

As for the late-night crowd, Jett did try keeping the diner open until 2 a.m. (several nightclubs are nearby, not to mention the Block), but says he ended up spending more for security than he made in sales. 

Jett wasn't blaming anybody, really, and he said he may have stayed with the diner longer than he otherwise would have because of the diner's ongoing partnership with the Chesapeake Center  for Youth Development, which uses the diner for a job-training program.

Crema Coffee still operates two Baltimore area coffee shops for the University of Maryland, one at the medical school and one at the law school.

I'll keep you posted.

Posted by Richard Gorelick at 5:30 PM | | Comments (5)


I have passed by this corner every day, two times a day, for more than fifteen years. I hate to say that if Crema Cafe had trouble, the new folks will as well. Crema had great coffee, clean booths , really nice workers, and good food. There are several problems: 1) most of the commerce is to the other side of City Hall, towards the Harbor 2) the City has done nothing to promote the Diner, which it should 3) the area immediately around the Diner is dirty with plenty of trash from the nightclubs (Sonar) that doesn't get picked up 4) it is next to the Fallsway parking lot which is kind of scary. 5) there are often homeless guys sleeping on the bench in front 6) the Diner was cleaner on the inside than outside. 7) It needs better signage. Mostly, the new folks need to get the City on board to keep the area clean and promote the place in the many nearby City buildings so the workers will venture the block or two to the east. Otherwise, they won't. Best of luck.

well said

whatever happened to that shell of a diner that was parked across the street from The Senator?

I live not to far away and I agree. If anything is to survive at the Hollywood Diner location they need to keep the grounds clean. Make it look more inviting from the outside by addting tables and chairs during the nice weather. Add more signage outside that encourages people to walk up go in.

They also need to have the city press Sonar, Club 1, and Bourbon Street to clean up the club litter when they close.

Did Crema Cafe ever advertise during the farmer's market? That's a huge crowd of people who would love that homemade pancake batter, chorizo, etc. But I think a lot of people don't even realize that the diner is open.

p.s. Love that they use the diner as a training program. Good luck, and I hope business works out! I bet if they get City Hall staff to come eat, that would also be a huge support.

We did advertise during the Sunday Market. We had employees handing out fliers and samples. Sundays weren't the issue, it was the only day we were busy. It was the weekdays. We opened @ 7am to draw in breakfast and coffee business, hoping to capitalize on the commuter lots surrounding us.

If we were on the other side of City Hall, it would be a different story. I wish whomever comes in after us the best of luck.

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About this blog

You are reading the archives. For updated blog posts about the Maryland food scene, see Richard Gorelick's new Baltimore Diner 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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