Charmery ice cream shop, Food Market restaurant coming to Downtown Columbia

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Two Baltimore favorites are coming to Downtown Columbia.

The Charmery ice cream shop is slated to open a fifth location–its first outside of the Baltimore area–in Columbia’s Merriweather District in summer 2020. Afterwards, The Food Market restaurant will open a location in Columbia’s Central District in late 2020, the Howard Hughes Corporation announced Tuesday.

Greg Fitchitt, president of the Howard Hughes Corporation’s Columbia region, said the town is thriving, in part, because of its support of community-based business growth and that both The Food Market and The Charmery are “known for their deep roots and loyalty to the communities they serve.”

“As we look to the future of the city that has, throughout its history, uniquely fused the cultures of Baltimore and Washington, we are thrilled to welcome two of Baltimore’s most beloved local food concepts to Downtown Columbia,” Fitchitt said.

The Charmery has three locations already, including its Ice Cream Factory that it opened in Union Collective in 2018. They will open a fourth location with a walk-up window in Federal Hill in the coming months.

The statement said the Columbia location will be located at 6000 Merriweather Drive and will cover nearly 1,400 square feet of space.

The new shop will feature some of The Charmery’s signature flavors like Maryland Mud and Old Bay Caramel, as well as some special flavors inspired by local businesses and musical talent in the Merriweather District, the statement said.

Laura Alima, who owns The Charmery with her husband, David, said bringing the ice cream shop to Columbia was a homecoming of sorts.

“I grew up in Columbia and still have family in the area, so this expansion truly feels like a natural progression into an area that we already know and love,” Alima said.

The statement said that The Food Market, located in Hampden, will open a second restaurant in Downtown Columbia toward the end of this year. Food Market’s chef and owner, Chad Gauss, is also a partner in the similarly named La Food Marketa, located at the Quarry Lake at Greenspring.

The new 5,000-square-foot location will continue to offer Gauss’ “approachable yet innovative spin on comfort food” with brunch, lunch and dinner menus and a coffee program, the statement said.

“We have a long-standing clientele from Columbia that has been traveling to Baltimore since we opened,” Gauss said. “We look forward to opening our doors and being an integral part of the Columbia community.”

The Central District, where The Food Market will be located, serves as the commercial core of Downtown Columbia and is home to the decades-old The Mall in Columbia. The district boasts more than 1 million square feet of office space and apartments, and is connected to 100 miles of walking paths and parkland, the statement said.

No further major construction will be conducted in the Central District. However, a five-year report on Downtown Columbia includes plans to connect the Symphony Overlook neighborhood, where The Food Market will be located, to nearby Lake Kittamaqundi and surrounding neighborhoods with pedestrian-friendly paths.

Meanwhile, the Merriweather District, where the next Charmery location will be developed, features 4.9 million square feet of the total mixed-use development near Merriweather Post Pavilion, the statement said.

The Charmery will be joining some other upcoming Merriweather District businesses, such as local restaurant-bar-coffee shop-bookstore chain Busboys & Poets, D.C.-based pizza chain Matchbox, the Dok Khao Thai Eatery, and Clove and Cardamom, an Indian-inspired restaurant.

“We have already begun transforming the Downtown Columbia food scene, and this marks yet another significant milestone as the Merriweather District and Central District continue to become dynamic culinary and cultural destinations in the region,” Fitchitt said.

Marcus Dieterle

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