Pinehurst Wine Shoppe Plans Expansion, New Restaurant

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Bob Schindler, the longtime owner of Pinehurst Wine Shoppe, has proposed a 1,400 square foot expansion of his building in North Baltimore to accommodate a new, family-style neighborhood restaurant. Initial concept and plans were introduced at a Bellona-Gittings community association meeting on October 29, where neighborhood reaction was “generally positive,” he says.

The popular wine shop, located at the corner of Gittings and Bellona avenues, is hoping to add a 75-seat restaurant and a small outdoor patio. “I want this to be the Petit Louis of Pinehurst,” said Schindler, “and I think the neighborhood is with me. I’m planning to make it great.”

The initial concept calls for a 21 X 42-foot restaurant addition with a two-level mezzanine, as well as a small rear addition next to the existing parking lot that would replace the existing shed and provide kitchen space, restrooms and circulation.

Both additions have been designed to complement the historic character of the existing building. The architect on the project is Vincent Greene, whose firm is known for high-end historic and waterfront residential projects throughout the country.

At a neighborhood board meeting Tuesday night, concerns were raised about opening hours, the presence of dumpsters and the possibility of attracting rats.

“That’s not going to happen,” says Schindler. “I’m going to be here. Gordie’s going to be here (Schindler’s business partner Gordon McNamara). We’ve never had rats in 30 years, and we’re not going to have them now. Look, we want what the neighborhood wants. If they don’t want a patio, OK, we don’t have to have a patio. If they want us to close at 10 p.m., that’s fine by me. Believe me, I don’t want to be here at 2 in the morning.”

Bib Schindler of Pinehurst Wine Shoppe

The owners have proposed limiting the hours of the restaurant to lunch and dinner, closing by 10 p.m. on weekdays and possibly 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

The idea for the restaurant was prompted by the new zoning code known as Transform Baltimore, which went into effect in June of this year. Pinehurst consultant Al Barry explained that prior to this, the commercial building, which houses both the Pinehurst Wine Shoppe and the Pinehurst Pharmacy, was in a residential zoned district and considered as “non-conforming,” a designation given to the use of a property that was established according to the zoning laws of the time, but does not meet current zoning regulations.

Under Transform Baltimore, the property has been reclassified as C-1, which would permit a restaurant use. The Pinehurst Pharmacy, which is contiguous to the wine shop, is separately owned and is not affected by the proposal.

Schindler imagines the new restaurant as a family-friendly place where you can get a real meal. “I want to have the kids. I don’t know who the chef will be yet, but it’s going to be seriously good food. We’re going to use all Roseda beef. The wine will be shelf prices with a small corking fee. What’s the downside? I don’t see it!”

Parking was raised as a concern by several board members, who pointed out overflow from the parking lot could increase pressure on an intersection that is already problematic. Residents closest to the proposed expansion were concerned about parking in front of their driveways or a potential drop in property values.

Barry pointed out that the trend in neighborhoods is to have more services and more activities within an easy walking distance. “If this is well-run, and I have every reason to believe it will be, it will make all the difference. This can be a local destination, and a real plus for the neighborhood.”

Schindler revealed that he has had lots of interest from his customers, and “lots of people who want to invest.” He stated that “money is not going to be an issue. I have backers, very experienced in the restaurant business, who believe wholeheartedly in this place. We are going to do it right.”

Approvals are still required from Baltimore City for a liquor license and possibly an interpretation from the zoning board about the patio setback. Schindler won’t apply for either until he has a formal agreement with the neighbors and the community association.

City guidelines recommend that owners enter into a binding and enforceable covenant agreement with the community association that would cover all operational and design aspects of the project.

On Monday, November 13 at 7 p.m., an open meeting of the Bellona-Gittings Community Association will be held at the Church of the Redeemer. Interested people are encouraged to attend. Schindler will present a proposal with architectural renderings for the expansion. The meeting will be open to questions, and a vote will be taken to gauge community interest.

“We need everybody who is with us, or even just open to the idea, to show up at the meeting,” said Schindler. “We are anxious to hear what the neighbors want. We are trying to be completely transparent here.”

9 COMMENTS

  1. This article dramatically misrepresents the communities perception of Bob’s and Gordy’s poorly conceived expansion plans. Please find out more here:

    https://www.stoppinehurstrestaurant.com/

    This plan, if one could call it that, is not based on any market research, or any research on how the massive expansion (a total of 106 seats) would dramatically impact this small, residential community. The

  2. Unethical and deceptive describe how Pinehurst Wine Shop has proceeded with this effort…as a resident of Bellona Gittings Community I am appalled at the moves to hide this effort from the very people who are expected to embrace this plan. There has been no notice given, other than perhaps this unbalanced article, of the upcoming meeting at Redeemer at which our own city councilman will be, and a preliminary vote taken. Closed Board meeting…hmmm, wonder why.

  3. Cynthia,. Thanks for the article and mentioning that there will be a neighborhood meeting to get community feedback. It is important that the community is heard and their input is taken into consideration.

    I would like to hear more from members of the community in the article. It seems that only the owners or partners in this investment were interviewed. It doesn’t seem balanced, which I look for in articles that I will take seriously.

  4. To respond to the above posts, I want to say that the owner’s stated intention was to develop a concept plan that they began to discuss with the immediate neighbors a few weeks ago and asked the Association’s Board to meet and schedule a community wide meeting. No vote was asked for or expected and nothing has been applied for. The comments about this being fast tracked show a basic misunderstanding of both the City approvals required and the Association’s long history of vigilance on zoning matters. To make things worse, an anonymous web site was created that made no effort to reach out to the owner to understand the proposal. Neighbors are entitled to any opinion on this plan and the owner expects a full discussion on Monday night to determine how to proceed. Neighbors are encouraged to stop by the store to discuss at any time.

  5. They’re trying to open a restaurant so they can sell liquor on Sunday. That way people can drive up from greenmount to buy their booze on Sunday evenings.

  6. Sounds like a great idea and a win for the community which needs more high end walkable options.. Parking concerns are probably over stated in the day and age of Uber/Lyft which is safer and more convenient for restaurant patrons. I would guess 80%+ of the surrounding neighbors would champion the idea, but you will have a small group of NIMBY opponents who will scream bloody murder (while forgetting that they chose to live near a liquor store). Hopefully the overstated concerns from a small minority will not outweigh the greater good!

  7. I should add that my comment above seemed to suggest I don’t like Bob, Gordy, and Pinehurst. Nothing could be further from the truth — I have patronized their store for 15 years and like them very much and have nothing but well wishes for the continued success of their liquor store. My angry response was due to my view that this article was extremely one sided and biased, and my vitriol was not meant toward the owners themselves, who are exploring a new idea. I happen to think it is a very bad idea.

  8. As a member of the community, I welcome this addition! I wish we had found out about the meeting earlier so that we could have been there to show our support. With Starlite Diner closing, this area needs a new family friendly restaurant – especially one within walking distance. My only concern is with that intersection but with plans to add a left lane further up on Bellona, I’m hopeful it will all even out.

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