Group plans to open Bentley’s, a club hosting live jazz, on Howard Street

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A view of the bar from the old Cookers Music Bistro Space. Photo courtesy of Leo McDermott/Brexton Commercial LLC.

A family is looking to resurrect an old neighborhood bar in the space left vacant on Antique Row by Cookers Music Bistro, a short-lived Cajun restaurant and bar that hosted live jazz on N. Howard Street.

A trio of Marylanders has received preliminary approval from the Baltimore City Liquor Board to transfer a Class B beer, wine and liquor license from the former operators of Cookers, which opened at 885-889 N. Howard St in 2016 but appears to have closed the following year. In its place, they’re planning to open Bentley’s, which the operators described in a statement as “the modern day, upscale reincarnate” of their own family’s neighborhood bar from “back in the day.”

The license applicants are Baltimore resident Janet Pettaway, jazz and R&B singer and retired Fairfax County fire chief Glenn Bydume, of Gambrills, and Windsor Mills resident Glenda Laws.

The Baltimore City Liquor Board preliminarily approved the transfer at a hearing Thursday morning. Bydume said they still need to submit all required permits to obtain the liquor license.

Laws and Bydume would also be part owners in the business with Laws’ brother, Mark Bynum (Bydume is their cousin)—all are native Baltimoreans, they said in a statement to Baltimore Fishbowl—along with Maurice Stokes, also of Baltimore.

Plans call for a full bar and restaurant at the street level and lounge and bar on the second floor. The food would be contemporary American—highlighting Baltimore specialties and Southern comfort food, they said—with some Asian and Latino influences, and the ambiance would include “elegant, classic décor.”

To go with food and drinks, they’re planning to host live music, including jazz and local DJs, and private parties.

On a phone call, Bydume said they haven’t pinned down an opening date just yet, and will still need to pass fire and health inspections. But renovations are already underway, including adding a new sprinkler system, updating décor and remodeling the kitchen.

Cookers, the predecessor to the new Bentley’s, opened in 2016 as a Louisiana-style restaurant with live jazz and DJ sets and Cajun and Creole food. Its former operator, Philip Myers, previously ran the Southern restaurant and bar Phaze 10 in the space, and is the current holder of the liquor license. He’s also owned the property since 2006 and lives in Brooklyn, New York, state tax records show.

Photos from a 2018 LoopNet listing show it’s well-outfitted, with a full-sized bar and kitchen on the main level and two levels of dining space, as well as the aforementioned private lounge and party room upstairs.

Leo McDermott, the leasing agent for the property from Brexton Commercial LLC, said it was leased to the Bentley’s group late last year.

“It’s a classy place and I hope they’re successful,” he said. “We could certainly use another jazz restaurant or bar in downtown.”

This story has been updated, and clarified to reflect that Laws and Bynum are siblings, while Bydume is their cousin.

Ethan McLeod
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