Baltimore could be getting its first authentic German biergarten as the restaurant group behind Ryleigh’s is looking to open Crossbar Der Biergarten at 12-18 E. Cross St. in Federal Hill. They revealed their plans at a meeting with the community Wednesday night at a filled-to-capacity room at the Federal Hill Main Street building. The biergarten would replace the former home of Turners/Billabong, which has a liquor license registered to 12-14 E Cross St., and they are hoping to extend it to 16 and 18 E. Cross St., the former home of Lanasa Produce.
Though the bar will extend into two additional properties, the addition of larger bathrooms and a $100,000 kitchen will only increase the patron square footage by about 1,000 square feet more than Turners. The biergarten will feature many green and historical architectural elements and will have permanent picnic table-style seating, which is authentic to a German bar. The restaurant will be fully enclosed on all sides and it is anticipated that it could hold up to 250-300 people. The trash will be kept inside the building in a trash room and they are looking into getting a trash compactor.
“Just like Ryleigh’s where 47% of our income is from food, this will be a food-extensive establishment. We will be serving fresh foods daily from the local area,” said owner Brian McComas. The menu at Crossbar will feature homemade soft pretzels, sausages, bratwurst and other German favorites. Beers will range in price from about $6-$8.
“If you go around the country in places like New York City, San Francisco and Philadelphia, you will find great German biergartens in neighborhoods just like Federal Hill. We take a lot of pride in Ryleigh’s and will do the same at Crossbar. If Crossbar has a negative impact, it will affect us at Ryleigh’s as well,” said McComas.
Many attendees at the meeting were concerned that another “mega bar” would be coming to Federal Hill. A resident in the crowd asked, “When is it too much hospitality?” This question, referring to how Federal Hill has become a bar district instead of a district for restaurants and retail, received a large ovation. Concerns were also voiced about the growing parking problems in the area.
There is an upcoming hearing with the Baltimore City Liquor Board to expand the liquor license into 16 and 18 E. Cross St. No zoning variances are needed for the project.
The biergarten lies within the Federal Hill Neighborhood Association (FHNA) and they will take a vote on whether to support the project during meetings in the upcoming months.
McComas hopes to open Crossbar by September 21st in time for Oktoberfest.
Update, 6/19: FHNA is protesting the expansion and a hearing has been set for 6/27 at the Baltimore Liquor Board. Crossbar has started a petition for support that can be signed at Ryleigh’s Oyster.