Little Bird in Hampden to shut down this weekend, plans in works for pub-style expansion

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Photo by Ethan McLeod

Bluebird Cocktail Room’s subterranean sibling will pour its final cappuccinos and spritzes this weekend, as the operators plan to shut it down after Sunday’s breakfast and lunch service.

In place of the Italian cafe, Bluebird is planning to expand with a pub-style space there, owner Paul Benkert told Baltimore Fishbowl Friday. He described it as a place that could handle overflow from upstairs, as well as a new spot to serve lunch.

“We just need room to grow,” Benkert said, “and we have so many people waiting on the weekends that we want to be able to offer them a nice place to wait and give them an opportunity to experience the Bluebird in some capacity.”

While the décor will be similar to what’s upstairs–dim lighting, built-in seating–“it’ll just be a little cozier” in the basement space, he said.

The food offerings will also be slightly different. For one, they’ll have traditional pub fare like a cheeseburger, fish and chips and a Reuben sandwich.

And there’ll also be an “expansive whiskey list” with American, Canadian and Japanese varieties, Benkert said. He noted the cocktail bar upstairs often gets requests for whiskeys served straight, but the bartenders use liquor there only for mixing cocktails.

The plan is to open for lunch daily at 11 a.m., he added. That’s a contrast from the Bluebird Cocktail Room, which is open from 5 p.m.-2 a.m. seven days a week.

“If you can’t experience the Bluebird on a Friday or Saturday night, for whatever the reason is, then you can come for lunch or brunch and it’ll still be the same Bluebird,” Benkert said.

Little Bird Coffee Bar announced its impending shutdown on Facebook today, saying it’s “making way for some room for The Bluebird to expand” in a post.

Located near the corner of W. 36th Street and Hickory Avenue, Little Bird opened in August 2018, with Benkert and his wife, Caroline, saying their concept would offer a more casual, approachable space than their higher-priced cocktail room upstairs.

Little Bird serves espresso and coffee drinks; some booze, including wine, amari, spritzes and a couple kinds of beer; and breakfast sandwiches, pastries and other light fare. It’s stuck to breakfast and brunch hours over its six-month run, staying open from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. seven days a week.

The estimated turnover time to convert the basement space from a coffee bar into a pub will be roughly two months, Benkert said.

That’ll make for three bars in the brick building, with Bluebird on the top floor and Belgian beer hall De Kleine Duivel on the middle level.

This post has been updated, and clarified to note that the new space will be a pub, but not necessarily an English-style one, according to Benkert.

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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in CityLab, Slate, Baltimore City Paper, DCist and elsewhere.
Ethan McLeod
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