Crossbar der Biergarten, or Crossbar for short, is the latest “super-bar” planned for Federal Hill. Brian McComas, Ryleigh’s owner, continues to push for this newest concept. The plan is to merge 12 & 14 East Cross Street and knock down the walls of 14 & 16 East Cross Street to create an open-air beer garden, thus uniting four currently vacant units.
But the hurdles continue for Crossbar. They are getting extensive pushback from some of the local neighborhood associations. There is much concern for the noise level and general aftermath of revelers. And if you’ve ever walked the streets early Saturday morning, you’re sure to see a few vomit splatterings and pizza boxes on your commute. There’s also concern regarding the general reputation of Federal Hill, our reputation as the party animals of Charm City rival Lindsay Lohan’s. Some argue that we are even losing retails stores like Zelda Zen for this reason. Although if it is true their profits have doubled since moving to Fells, there’s another side to that argument.
In addition to push back from the neighborhood associations, they are still negotiating out details with the zoning chief, David Turner. While a cool concept, the open air feel intended for the beer garden was nixed for policy and noise related issues. There is also some back and forth on whether they will offer parking and/or valet services (don’t get too excited, we aren’t talking Shofer’s type parking, it would only be 8 spots). One possible solution Crossbar has come up with is constructing a glass roof to keep the ambience on par with its concept. Will see if that one passes.
Regardless of all of these challenges, Crossbar remains optimistic that they will be open by October to host Octoberfest 2014. I think they are ignoring the most obvious challenge though….businesses rarely open when they expect. As a former bartender, I’ve helped open two different bars and neither one opened when they said they would. There are always setbacks with construction or inspections. And when you are considering a ramen diet after looking at your dwindling bank account because you have no income coming in, those weekly pushbacks are brutal. With the additional hoops Crossbar seems to be dealing with, I’d be surprised if we see the doors open in October. And sadly, Novemberfest doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
I can see the arguments on both sides. We are a relatively bar-dense cohort within the city. On the other hand, this would fill four vacant buildings and bring revenue for the neighborhood. And the Lindsay Lohan in me can’t deny the appeal of the garden. Oh, the fun that could be had there before (or during, or after) a Raven’s game… I think the concept will move forward despite protests, it will just be a question of how many compromises they will have to make and when.
If you want to keep up on Crossbar’s progress, visit their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/CrossbarFederalHill