The Prime Rib

Nearly 56 years after The Prime Rib restaurant opened in the Midtown-Belvedere section of Baltimore, and 18 months after the death of co-founder C. Peter “Buzz” Beler, the restaurant’s current owners appear to be considering a relocation.

Longtime patrons say they’re being told by employees that the venerable restaurant is likely to move within the next year or two from its current address at Calvert and Chase streets, where it opened in October 1965.

A move by The Prime Rib, one of Baltimore’s most notable dining establishments, would be a blow to the Mount Vernon-Midtown-Belvedere area, which has lost several restaurants in recent years, including City Café and The Elephant.  Last week, Red Emma’s bookstore and coffeehouse disclosed plans to move from 1225 Cathedral Street to Waverly.

Restaurant operators have not announced a move, and the city’s liquor board has not posted notices regarding a liquor license transfer or issuance of a new license.

But a potential move seems to be an open secret among patrons, who say they have heard about it from staff.

“The Prime Rib is leaving Mount Vernon,” said one area resident, who asked not to be named. “I heard it tonight from an employee.”

Added another regular patron: “They’ve been talking about it for a while.”

An employee who answered the phone at the restaurant on Thursday confirmed that the owners are exploring plans to relocate, but said he didn’t know when that might happen. He said a timetable is uncertain because “a development company is involved” which would largely control the timing.

For now, The Prime Rib is still taking reservations for at its location in the base of the Horizon House apartment building, he said. “We’re open for business.”

Since Beler died in October 2019 at age 90, the Midtown restaurant and its affiliates in Washington, Philadelphia and Anne Arundel County have been led by Rebecca and Brenda Dolan, members of the founder’s family.

The employee who answered the phone declined to give his name or a potential relocation site. He referred other questions to Rebecca Dolan, a Charlottesville lawyer who was Mr. Beler’s cousin and trustee. She did not respond to a request for information.

Restaurant patrons say they’re hearing a move is such a certainty that the restaurant operators are selling a nearby carriage house that has been used over the years for restaurant-related storage.

The two-story, 3,600-square-foot property, in the 1100 block of Hunter Street, went on the market in March for $190,000 and is currently listed as being under contract.  Photos with the listing show it is filled with dining chairs, restaurant furniture and other items. State property records list the owner as C. Peter Beler.

A carriage house on Hunter Street used to store furnishings for The Prime Rib restaurant is being sold.

Over the years, the Midtown location has been a popular destination for Baltimore’s elite, and celebrity visitors have included Liberace, Muhammad Ali and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

One much-discussed possible location is The Village of Cross Keys, the mixed-use community near Roland Park whose commercial assets were acquired last year by Caves Valley Partners. Since that purchase, Caves Valley has announced 10 new tenants and five lease renewals, with more transactions in the works.

On May 6, Caves Valley is scheduled to present plans for the first major structure it intends to build at Cross Keys since acquiring property there, a midrise apartment building south of Village Square, with up to 350 residences.

Questar is the developer working with Caves Valley on the apartment project, and CBT of Boston and Abu Dhabi is the architect, according to the city Urban Design and Architecture Advisory Panel agenda. Based in Baltimore County, Questar developed Baltimore’s tallest building, the 44-story apartment tower at 414 Light Street.

Asked in January about reports of The Prime Rib moving to Cross Keys, Caves Valley partner Arsh Mirmiran said he could not confirm that.

“The rumor mill is fantastic,” he said in an email. “I wish that were true, but it isn’t.”

Mirmiran said today that he has no update. “We haven’t announced any additional tenants since January, but the leasing pace has kept up,” he said in an email. “We anticipate that we’ll provide another leasing update sometime before mid-year.”

The awning of The Prime Rib restaurant, in Mount Vernon.

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

One reply on “Operators of The Prime Rib restaurant explore options to move”

  1. The Prime Rib is an institution to the dining culture of Baltimore. Many of the restauranteurs are seeking options outside of the downtown-area. This is a cause of concern to the future of Convention Center business & tourism when it rebounds in 12-18 months. The Inner Harbor is a shell of its 80’s & 90’s greatness. The Dwtn-West section has never had many dining options outside the bar and pub food of Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium games. Harbor East is the saving grace of downtown. The “Charm’tastic Mile” of Baltimore will give the heart of downtown a boost as it becomes more & more one of the Top 10-15 Most Famous/Iconic Streets in America. This will bring more attention to the downtown dining & retail sector where there will be focus to be connected to a Famous/Iconic Street like The Mag Mile (Chicago), Bourbon Street (New Orleans) or Rodeo Drive (Beverly Hills).

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