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March 10, 2009

The Reserve to replace Charlotte's

beer mugsGot the skinny on the new bar coming to the space on Light Street where Charlotte's used to be.

It's going to be a bar/restaurant called The Reserve, and will feature upscale pub food, outdoor seating and occasionally some low-key live music, according to co-owner Andrew Dunlap.

He wants The Reserve to have a good wine list and a great selection of beers on tap.

Dunlap said they're planning on giving the building a massive facelift. That's much overdue ...

Charlotte's looked great inside, but had a terrible outer facade. Dunlap wants to change that.

"We're putting some money into the place," he said. "The whole front is going to look different."

Dunlap seemed to be aware of the building's rocky history when it comes to live music. He doesn't want to rock the boat with the neighborhood association by hosting full bands at the place.

"If anything, we'll do a couple acoustic bands in there and keep the noise down," he said. "We want to be friendly to our neighborhood."

The Reserve's two other owners are Sean White and Thomas Brown. Dunlap said he has worked in the business for a few years, at places such as the now-defunct Sean Donlon Restaurant and Irish Pub in Annapolis.

"This is a big move for us," he said. "We're excited for it."

(I just love this AP photo)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:17 AM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


With the continually running scorecard of bars/restuarants/clubs opennig, closing or changing owners, what do the owners that read and posts to this blog think would make for a successful establishment in general and Baltimore in specific?

This seems to be a good question for Mark Twain, Jason Zink, Queen Colleen, etc.

Carry on.


I think you’re on to something. I’ve discussed this with Sam, but it doesn’t seem to fall within the scope of Midnight Sun.

I think a better way of critiquing these bars would be to organize a bi-monthly event where bar owners could submit their venue for review. We could organize either a singular event bi-monthly, or a bar-hop event bi-monthly. Interested bloggers could RSVP, and as a group, we could patronize and review submitted establishments.

A synopsis of compliments and suggestions could be compiled from review cards completed by each blogger in attendance and a final review would be made available to the bar owner.

This isn’t about putting bars down, but about offering helpful suggestions, directly from the venue’s target demographic where appropriate.

I feel this is an overall better way of reviewing an establishment. An individual’s personal preference would be replaced by group though and consciences. It would introduce new customers to venues outside their comfort zone, and perhaps, outside of their respective neighborhoods.

Moreover, in essence, we would be creating a consulting group made up directly of potential consumers. The comments received could be invaluable to small business owners who may not have the resources to directly contract a consulting group.

This is preliminary idea, but one that I believe has legs. I’m willing to donate time to assist in handling the logistical and legal issues with such an event should there be interested takers.

That's a pretty cool idea Twain.

Agreed. I would be down for that.

I really hope they re-do the bathrooms. They totally need it!


Is it The Reserve or The Federal Reserve, which is what I heard and would have a nice touch to it.

Twain came up with a great idea, my body could only handle one place a month and that would give everybody a chance to go there to critique it. Have Sam go first and then we could follow and give our input. Let's come up with a creative way not to step on Sam's toes. I feel like everybody gave a lot of great advice to the Red House.

GDA- location, location, location

consistency, consistency, consistency,

good employees that care***

hands on ownership

money to weather the bad times (i.e. replacing an AC unit during the slowtime in the summer)

good food (can't be cheap)

networking (marketting) and cleanliness helps as well.

windows, windows, windows for The Reserve;)

The Reserve is going to do well, they have the space and with a kitchen$$$ it should bring a lot of people down Light Street.

Mark Twain,

Fabulous idea! I'm interested and willing to contribute input from the marketing/design perspective.


1. Consistency in the positives is a given.

2. I assume it's tough to get a manager or management team to be as attentive and caring as the owner, if he has more than one location to run.

3. Having the right product and service in a 100% traffic location of potential customers is golden, but how do you market to compensate when the best available location isn't?

4. How many businesses have savings/investments for emergency situations, slow sales periods, future improvements or growth? I'm aware such things impress lenders when applying for needed outside financing.

5. How does a business network?

Name selection, I assume, is important. I recently read that there was a bar named "The Gag and Vomit". This had to negatively impact sales, limiting how successful they were.

I work in Commercial Real Estate development consulting, sales and leasing, and property management. Working with independent business owners is very rewarding for me. So much more fun than doing a Panera or Starbuck's because it is someone's dream and vision....While I do believe that there is a place for National Franchises....I prefer independents for my neighborhood .....I worked with RUB to find their location and negotiate the lease and liquor license agreement as well as Pub Dog in Columbia. I would be excited to participate on Twain and GDA's idea if I could be of assitance.

Sam - I find that your blog and work on WTMD are both entertaining and informative. I wish you continued success.

--jaw, aw shucks, thanks for the kind words!

GDA- Management is extremely important and I have been lucky enough to find on who cares more than the owner. That is the beauty of the Ryleigh's family tree, he has a GREAT management staff including Jorbie, Tom, Chris, and Pat. A great manager can help you expand.

When you don't have the right location, then you better spend two hours plus a day on Facebook (ugh!). It works and/or you have to find you little niche and cheap drinks isn't the surefire way to go, I actually recommend against it.

You don't have to have disposable income but a freed up credit card can come handy. Remember no matter how slow it is, you have to spend money to make money.

A business can network through Facebook, Myspace, neighborhood associations, other small businesses in the area. Be that place where everybody from so and so goes.

One last marketting tool, (can't give away all the secrets, j/k) Name branding i.e. t-shirts, mugs, sweatshirts, hoodies, socks, eye blacks, you name it... I have my name on it. I also do a lot of 25-50% off gift certificates, sometimes you just gotta get people in there.

But once again, I highly recommend against $1 bottles or all you can drinks, even though I have done it all.

If you want any more info get my email from Sam.

--jaw do the same please, I have my eye on something and might need some help.

wait, I heard The Reserve was closing?

@ Mark Twain. (sam you can just pas this on if you don't want to post it)
Gutter would be more than happy to post your findings on our blog, with a link to sam's of course.

We'll call the column Bar Exam.

Somewhat like jaw, I am in the business of helping new and old operators manuever their way through the many obstacles that arise when opeing or launching a restaurant or bar and would love to assist or participate in GDA/Twain's idea.

BTW ....great blog!

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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