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November 11, 2009

Canton Arts and Entertainment is big and bizarre

canton arts and entertainment

When restaurants and bars try to do too many things at once, they often overreach themselves.

I think that's what is happening at the new Canton Arts and Entertainment.

It's a bar named My Generation, an oyster bar named the Black Pearl and a fancy restaurant named Gutman's, all under one roof.

After seeing the place last Saturday night, it looks like the Boston Street spot is having a bit of an identity crisis.

The outside of Canton Arts and Entertainment is painted gold, which is awesomely tacky, or, as I like to call it, Baltimore chic ...

When you walk in, a mini-directory greets you, with arrows pointing to the restaurant, oyster bar and bar. Our group was there for the bar. Even with the building split into distinct spaces, the bar area is still big.

The room itself has exposed brick, a long bar and high ceilings. The black leather couches and chairs in the middle of the bar appear to be the same ones that have been there since Huckas opened several years ago. Heck, they might even pre-date Huckas.

Odder still: The men's bathroom was small and shabby -- strange, considering how spacious the building is.

Oh, and there is a fountain. In the middle of the bar. Don't ask me what place a fountain has in the middle of a bar, but it was there.

The only other bar I can think of with a fountain is Carlos O'Charlies in Highlandtown, an equally bizarre (but more popular) spot.

Though it's been open for about a month, Canton Arts and Entertainment doesn't seem to have caught on yet. At 10:30 p.m. last Saturday, when our party of six rolled into My Generation, we immediately doubled the number of people there. That's including the staff.

Even with the noise from the flat screen TVs behind the bar, we could hear the fountain gurgling in the background. That's not a good sign. It's also kind of a shame, because Canton Arts and Entertainment had a decent drink selection.

The bar itself looked fully stocked with cold and hot drinks, and I counted at least 25 bottled beers and several quality drafts. I ordered a Magic Hat, which cost about $5 and tasted fresh.

The six of us sipped our beers and watched an MMA match on one of the TVs. When we finished our round, we split.

At this point, I wonder how long such a big restaurant and bar can sustain itself when it's that empty on a Saturday night. I don't like to make projections, but at this rate, I will be shocked if Canton Arts and Entertainment is still open a year from now.

(Photo by Shankman)


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Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:54 AM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Comments

I went there a few weeks ago - it is indeed a strange place. My Generation is supposed to be a coffee bar as well - if you look on the far wall, they have a ton of coffee drinks listed...but I just don't see anyone ordering those. I think they would attract more people if they had 3 distinct entrances for each of the places - rather than calling it Canton Arts & Entertainment (that makes me think there is an art gallery inside or something)

I kept looking for the ball pit, but I couldn't find it.

When are people who open bars going to learn that trying to please everyone pleases no one.

They painted the entire building using ladders and gold spray paint. No joke. They are right by my office and I watched it happen. Six cases of gold spray paint.

The building should be renovated into office space - or a parking garage for the red line - either of which would certainly be more profitable than another empty bar on Boston Street.

Small men's room + large fountain in bar ... survey says ...

Gold? Like Ukrainian church roof gold?

Sounds like a failure on all levels so far. The design sounds like something we would have come up with in college on beanbag chairs while passing the homemade bong:

so like we're gonna have sofas, yeah, leather and like three totally different places in the same place

Whooa, dude. And a fountain, let's get a fountain, bro-ham.

And a classy name like Xtreme Cilantro, no the Awesome Zone, no, hey we'll let the accountant come up with a name.

And paint the place in gold like an Aztec palace.

And a kickass web site. Anybody know how to do that? No? Eh, nobody will notice.

Hey, Weed-dog didn't your girlfriend take a pubic relations class or something? She can do our PR

Yeah, yeah and one of those flashing OPEN signs.

And a phone. We should totally get one of those phones that they attach to the building.

Hey, who drank all the Drank?

pure class

As long as it's not a chocolate fountain.

I remember when this place used to be the Grille, and then the GrilleWater. What a waste of space. Sam, did you even get to go upstairs? They used to have a huge bar on the second level.

They painted the entire building using ladders and gold spray paint.

Sounds like that mica student who put up the gold chain-link fence around Mt. Vernon has found a career for himself.

I think, for starters, some signage with facades perpendicular to the building front would do them some good. How about a chalkboard with specials? It is easy for someone not to realize what the place is until it is already behind them.

My favorite CA&E memory is from the day of the Baltimore Marathon. A friend and I were watching the race go down Boston Street, past CA&E. They setup a, surely non-sanctioned, water stop, handing out water to runners in small plastic Miller Light cups. When they stopped handing out water and a bunch of the cups still littered the street, for a while it seemed that every other runner who came by made a comment about just missing the beer stop.

the words on the tv read: sludge it's only funny when it happens to somebody else. I think that speaks true to the Canton's A&E scene. although it is funny when it happens to you too

Sam-

I think you're forgetting the waterfall staircase at FuL.

There is a scathing review of Gutbuckets, I mean the restaurant Gutpunch, ur, Gutman's and CA&E in the City Paper. Grim.
http://www.citypaper.com/eat/review.asp?rid=15487

paint the place in gold like an Aztec palace

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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 erik.maza@baltsun.com. 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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