The beleaguered ghost of Edgar Allen Poe can rest a little more easily — or at least grab a drink — as the Annabel Lee Tavern is officially back.
The S. Clinton Street bar’s grand reopening weekend started at noon today. Owner Kurt Bragunier said during a phone interview that he actually already held a soft opening Thursday evening that drew “a pretty decent crowd.” He’s also locked in plenty of reservations for tonight.
“I’m hoping that we have a good welcoming crowd,” he said.
Bragunier abruptly shut the bar down in late May, telling outlets his business had suffered from slow customer traffic and increased competition in the Canton area. The tavern, which pays homage to Baltimore’s most famous poet with historic décor and plenty of references to his work, had been a hit for years after it first opened in 2007, but struggled more recently leading up to its shuttering.
However, thanks to a bit of help from some old regulars-turned-investors, the closure turned out to be only temporary. Bragunier is now taking another shot at running his one-of-a-kind establishment, and he’s made some changes.
Among them are a new early bird happy hour menu with discounted food – something the tavern didn’t offer before, he said – and more customer-friendly perks, such as working with online to-go ordering service OrderUp and expanding his carryout beer and wine menu.
The bar has broadened its roster of Baltimore-made booze, adding spirits like the Baltimore Whiskey Company’s Shot Tower Gin and Sagamore Spirit’s rye whiskey to the lineup.
There are also some new specials. On Sagamore Sundays, customers who come in with Maryland-themed gear (O’s shirts included) will get a 10 percent discount. Mondays will feature a “burger and a Boh” deal, with a cheeseburger, chips and a Natty Boh costing $10 in all. “Time Period Tuesdays,” in which the kitchen picks recipes from Poe’s era out of a book, are making a comeback. Wednesdays will be reserved for a classic spaghetti dinner.
Bragunier said he’s brought some of his old staff back while also adding some new employees. Howard Myers, formerly his sous chef, will be running the kitchen.
“It’s been awesome,” Bragunier said of the support. “Everybody that called to make a reservation was like, ‘I’m so glad you reopened.’ It’s very touching, really.”
As we spoke on the phone, more customers came in the door to grab lunch.
“I’m happy, and I feel like a fish in water here,” he said.
Annabel Lee Tavern is located at 601 S. Clinton Street. The reopening celebration runs through 2 a.m. Sunday morning, according to a Facebook event.
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