Blue Moon Café To Grow Its Operations Out of New Federal Hill Location

| July 30, 2015 | 1 Comments

Chef Sarah Simington has been running her 950 sq. ft. Blue Moon Café in Fells Point for the last 19 years, but at her soon-to-open second location in Federal Hill at 1024 Light St., the kitchen alone will be larger than the original restaurant. The Federal Hill café, which will open its doors at some point in August, will be 3,400 sq. ft. and will be the home of Blue Moon’s catering, consulting, and new canning operations.

IMG_8677Simington told SouthBMore.com that she couldn’t be more thrilled about the large new space in Federal Hill, where her seating capacity will grow from 35 to 99. She described the neighborhood as being “so welcoming,” but also described such a big jump as terrifying and very stressful. The move to Federal Hill has been more than a year and half in the making with construction delays putting Simington behind schedule.

The new café occupies a space, which was most recently a laundromat, in a building, which was once a variety store dating back to the early 1900s, with the soon-to-open Himalayan Bistro and Charm City Yoga. Blue Moon Café will be open from 7am to 3pm during the week and 24 hours on the weekends, the same hours as the Fells Point location. Simington is also interested in the idea of keeping it open as more of a coffee shop from 3pm to 9pm during the week in the future.

IMG_8682Part of the large new layout includes a space for grab-and-go items such as coffees, teas, juices, sodas, biscuits, cinnamon buns, bagels, and Blue Moon’s canned items such as jams, salsas, and chile verdes. The café is also working with Baltimore’s Zeke’s Coffee on its own custom coffee blend.

“I want to bring back that 90’s coffeehouse scene where people hang out and there are readings and performances,” said Simington, who gave an enthusiastic “yes!” when the show Friends was mentioned as an inspiration. Blue Moon Café Federal Hill plans to host special events as well as karaoke brunches, drag brunches, costume parties, and fundraisers for the local arts community. Simington is planning a grand opening Halloween party with a “Dead Alice in Wonderland” theme.

Simington, who considers herself as an artist first, said the new café will not only be a restaurant but a gallery to display designs she is working on with local artist Adam Stab. The artwork includes decoupages of old Baltimore City blue prints and newspaper comics, as well as a wall commemorating her many travels as a chef with Navy Entertainment, where she has visited and prepared meals for troops in Africa, the Middle East, and on air craft carriers. There will also be a star honoring her best friend and mentor who passed away this February, Mike Hardin of Hodad’s in San Diego.

Thomas Pearce will be the resident artist at Blue Moon Federal Hill as his pieces will be displayed throughout the walls, just like at the Fells Point location.

The design and layout of Blue Moon Café Federal Hill includes exposed brick walls and columns, concrete floors and countertops, large new windows that were previously boarded up, tin ceiling accents, and walls and ceilings with blue and black stripes. There will be several different types of custom designed tables and the outside of the restaurant will feature a custom design. Simington describes the style as “rock and roll with attitude, plus gothic and weird.” The type of place you’ll find “once in a blue moon.”

Simington chose Federal Hill because she found a great spot that was the right fit and said Blue Moon’s format goes well with the large bar scene in the area as well as the many industry workers who get off at late hours.

It is the food at Blue Moon Café that has led to fame for the restaurant and Simington, who describes it as “bad ass breakfast.” The menu is most famous for its Cap’n Crunch French Toast and Sweet Baby Jesus, which features hash browns, jumbo lump crab meat, cheese, and hollandaise sauce. Both items were featured on Blue Moon Café’s first appearance on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, a show Blue Moon Café has been featured on a total of three times. Other menu items include egg dishes, pancakes, sandwiches, and platters, as well as homemade biscuits, cinnamon buns, jams, and salsas.

Simington, who is originally from Los Angeles, followed her mother out to Baltimore and was later convinced by her mother to open her first restaurant. She worked in the restaurant and coffeehouse industry in California prior to making the move and credits her mother for teaching her to cook and create dishes with great imagination.

Blue Moon Café has hosted countless celebrities, from Julia Roberts to Cal Ripken, as well as numerous other professional athletes, and cast members from Homicide and The Wire.

11742729_972412566114130_4683237678347576664_nSimington appeared last Thursday on NBC’s Food Fighters, a game show where home cooks put their recipes and cooking skills to the test against famous chefs. Simington’s segment was a shrimp scampi competition and she came away victorious. She will appear on the show again on August 13th and hopes the success of the show, which is hosted by Adam Richman, will lead to regular appearances. Simington described her television appearances as wonderful for business.

As Blue Moon Café looks to grow its canning operation and open more restaurants, Federal Hill will serve as the company’s home base. Simington called the large new space the “body of the squid.” Simington has agreed to a deal with Sysco to distribute its jams, salsas, cinnamon buns, biscuits, and other items, which will all be home made in Federal Hill. And, it is at this new space where Simington and her team will plan for more Blue Moon Cafés around the country. She hopes to open 10 new locations in places like Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles (where her west coast family can be closer to her creations). Simington said each new restaurant will be smaller than the one in Federal Hill.

IMG_8684As Blue Moon Café Federal Hill plans its opening, Simington needs to make a lot of new hires, as the new restaurant will start with 30 employees and grow to 50. “I need to find cooks who want to create bad ass breakfasts and want to be part of a growing empire,” she said.

As the finishing touches are being put on the inside and outside of the new Federal Hill café, Simington is excited this project is almost ready to show to the public. “I’m super stoked, I can’t wait,” she said.

(8198)

About the Author:

Creator of SouthBmore.com and resident of SoBo. Graduate of Towson University and owner of Incept Multimedia, a full service video production company. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover and "bar food" foodie. Email me at Kevin@InceptMM.com and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
×
  • Mike

    What a great story. Love seeing the sophistication level in the neighborhood creeping higher and higher.