Nine months after Cafe Hon closed its door, taking with it the 30-foot giant flamingo that hung from the metal fire escape of 1002 W. 36th St., details are emerging on what will take its place.
If well-sourced information can be believed (and Baltimore Fishbowl is believing it), the Hon burger, crabcakes and Natty Boh – staples of the old spot – will be replaced by English pub grub (think steak and kidney pie, bangers and mash and toad in the hole). The building in Hampden, being leased by restauranteurs Tony Foreman and Cindy Wolf of the Baltimore-based Foreman Wolf Restaurant Group, will be the group’s seventh restaurant and is expected by some familiar with the plans to be a nouveau take on traditional English fare.
Foreman and Wolf own Petit Louis Bistro, Johnny’s, Cinghiale, Charleston, Cindy Lou’s Fish House and The Milton Inn. They also run Bin 604 Wine + Spirits in Baltimore and Bin 201 Wine + Spirits in Annapolis. The new restaurant will be the group’s third nod to Europe; Petit Louis offers French cuisine, while Cinghiale celebrates the Italian table.
What will take the place of the kitschy Cafe Hon has been a closely guarded secret. No one with the restaurant group would respond publicly about the new eatery, and for its part, the Foreman Wolf team has taken the position of “you’ll know when we tell you.” “When there is news to share, we will be happy to send information your way,” said Sue-Jean Chun, in an email on behalf of the group.
For more than three decades, Cafe Hon was a Hampden mainstay, transforming the block into a quirky spectator destination for off-beat shopping and dining. In announcing its closing in April, Owner Denise Whiting confirmed the restaurant would be leased by Foreman and Wolf.
“I am so happy that Cafe Hon provided a place for so many special memories,” Whiting said in a statement at the time. “Tony and I have been acquaintances for decades and Petit Louis holds a special place in my heart. I have spent some of my best times at Petit. I look forward to seeing what comes next for the space.”
The windows now are covered with a combination of plywood and heavy black tarp masking action — or inaction — inside. Tea Fulcher, who works at a neighboring business, has been following the progress but doesn’t know what’s going in the old location. “All I know is that I hear it’s going to be good,” she said.
What comes next will not include the pink flamingo that hung on for dear life on the side of the Cafe Hon building. The bird is currently in pieces in the studio of its designer and fabricator, Randall Gornowich. Gornowich said he is currently in discussions with officials at the Maryland Zoo, where the flamingo could go to live with real-life animals. He also has received a planning grant from the Maryland State Arts Council to explore other locations in Hampden.
For those still needing a Cafe Hon fix, Whiting is continuing to host and organize HONfest, Baltimore’s annual two-day festival celebrating working women. In its 30th year, HONfest will be held June 11-12. These days, Whiting is working as a private chef, doing some catering and taking Cafe Hon’s dill vinaigrette to market. “I am just glad I don’t run a restaurant anymore,” she joked.
And while there’s no word on if there will be a pinkies-up high tea or whether William, Kate and the gang will pop in for drinks and a meal (because we have been told nicely to mind our bloody business), word on the street (where we got most of our info), is that the restaurant will open sometime late summer. We think.