Photo by Ed Gunts.

George Marsh’s Heritage Smokehouse took a big step today toward operating as a full-service restaurant and tavern, when Baltimore;s liquor board approved its request for a seven-day liquor license at 5800 York Road, in Govans.

Marsh was the former head butcher and executive chef at Parts & Labor, which closed in 2018. He was at Woodberry Kitchen before that.

He has been running the business since late March from a temporary location, selling burritos, smoked turkey, ribs, braised lamb shanks and other items with curbside pickup at the Grand Cru Bottle Shop on Belvedere Avenue, while completing construction on the York Road property. It’s been operating as the Heritage Smokehouse Curb Shop.

According to testimony during a virtual liquor board meeting today, Heritage Smokehouse is Marsh’s first venture as an owner-operator. He lives in the area and is the 100 percent owner of the business, said attorney Frank Boozer Jr. The corporate entity is Heritage Smokehouse LLC.

“This is a dream of his,” Boozer told the board.

Heritage Smokehouse takes the place of Murphy’s Neighborhood Bar Grill, a college student hangout that was heavily damaged by a fire in 2017. It will seat about 60 and specialize in barbeque orders and other smoked meats, as well as salads and vegetarian side dishes.

Planning for Heritage Smokehouse was underway long before state officials temporarily closed restaurants to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. It was delayed after the former operators requested a hardship extension in transferring their liquor license. Now the city and state are allowing restaurants to reopen, starting with outdoor table service for those permitted to offer it.

An exact opening date for Heritage Smokehouse has not been announced. According to the liquor board, the opening is contingent on the applicant’s ability to pass inspections and otherwise satisfy city liquor board and health department requirements, including social distancing restrictions developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking to Baltimore Fishbowl last August, Marsh said he wanted the space to have a “throwback” vibe.

“I’m really not trying to have a place that makes people feel uncomfortable when they come in,” he said. “Barbecue isn’t pretentious, it’s not supposed to be fancy. It’s supposed to be satisfying, it’s supposed to be fun.”

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Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.