ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — The owners of Lemongrass are digging into the past to build a restaurant of the future.
Serial restaurateurs Gavin Buckley and Jody Danek have created an excavation site next to their West Street restaurant as they dig up the foundation of the old Ramsey Music building, which was demolished in 2000. They want to use Ramsey’s original walls and terrazzo floors to create a new restaurant to sell Belgian beers and other fare.
Called the Bier House, the 2,400-square-foot restaurant would be styled like an old-fashioned firehouse with rolling doors, outdoor seating and a green roof for growing herbs and spices. They are seeking a partner for the project and an investment between $350,000 to $500,000. Construction could start this summer, but they don’t yet have a targeted opening date.
“We’re always trying to make our (area of the street) unique,” said Buckley, who also owns the Metropolitan and Tsunami with Danek. “I’m always thinking of the restaurant perspective. Plus, I always want different food on the street and if I have to do it myself, I’ll do it myself.”
The Ramsey Music building dates back to 1946, when Donald Keeney Sr. – a trombone player in the Naval Academy band – built it. Once known as Keeney Music, it had a dance studio on its lower level and the family lived in its three attached apartments, including one overlooking West Street.
In 1972, Keeney sold it to Joe Ramsey and it became Ramsey Music. The shop closed and the “sparkling white, micaflecked building” was covered in “chipped paint and fallen siding” by the time it was torn down, according to The Capital archives.
Hyatt Commercial Real Estate President Lou Hyatt remembers walking past the old building as a high school student. That portion of West Street had a more vibrant business district then and that could return with the foot traffic and patrons that this new project could bring, he said.
“Restaurants are one of the most successful things in the West Street market,” Hyatt said. “I would think it’s close enough to generate traffic, especially if they have a track record of success on West Street.”
Joe Budge, president of the Ward One Residents Association, had moved to the area after Ramsey Music was razed. He is eager to see the land put to a new use.
“(The Bier House) would be a wonderful addition,” Budge said. “The West Street revival has been a tremendous benefit to the city and our residents. This will help further it along.”
Buckley and Danek heard rumors the buried Ramsey Music basement was good enough for use. So earlier this year, they fenced off the area and began digging to uncover the tops of the walls. It will be a one-level restaurant with a mezzanine looking down to the floor. Its green roof will supply basil, mint and other products that can be used at Lemongrass and Metropolitan.
“One thing about restaurateurs is that we’re sociopaths, we continue punishing ourselves,” Buckley said. “People will want to come to this town and see the different things we have in this town. We don’t have a ton of diversity in food.”
Information from: The Capital of Annapolis, Md., http://capitalgazette.com
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)