Crossbar Der Biergarten was first proposed at 12-18 E. Cross St. in Federal Hill at the former home of Turner’s/Billabong and Lanasa Produce in April 2013. Now, almost four years later, it is set to open next month. The Crossbar team of Josh Foti, Brian McComas, and Leho Poldmae are putting the finishing touches on a renovation that cost more than $1 million. Foti and McComas are part of the team at Federal Hill’s Ryleigh’s Oyster, which also has two other locations, and Poldmae is an owner at Myth & Moonshine in Canton and Neo in Annapolis.
Crossbar’s second proposal was approved by the Board of Liquor License Commissioners for Baltimore City (BLLC) in February 2014, but the validity of its liquor license was challenged by the Federal Hill Neighborhood Association (FHNA) later that year and it was determined expired by a newly-appointed BLLC. Crossbar had this decision reversed in the Baltimore City Circuit Court in April 2015, but this decision was appealed at the Maryland Court of Appeals. A ruling has still not been made in this case, but Crossbar successfully transferred the former Banjara/The Hill/Joey B’s license from 1015-1019 S. Charles St. to its property on Thursday.
In January 2014, Crossbar and the South Baltimore Neighborhood Association (SBNA), which shares Crossbar’s location with FHNA, were able to reach a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that includes a 155-person capacity for the restaurant with a 50/50 food requirement, and a valet parking plan. FHNA, which previously opposed Crossbar, co-signed the MOU last week.
Crossbar is comprised of four former rowhomes, three of which were to be demolished to make way for an outdoor beer garden. The outdoor aspect of this plan was denied by the Baltimore City Municipal Zoning and Appeals Board (BMZA) in 2014 and the team decided to instead build a fully-enclosed space. McComas told SouthBMore.com this change in course cost the team a lot of time and about $500,000 in additional constructions costs.
Three of the four rowhomes have been demolished and a new facade was built with bricks from the former buildings. The beer garden now has a clear roof that rises 36 ft. high. Its design uses the same plastic roofing material used by many international soccer stadiums. The beer garden features a lot of natural light coming from the roof, as well as large windows facing Cross St. The concrete floor has a pit which will soon be the home to a large ficus tree.
McComas said that despite the increased cost and extended timeline, the indoor beer garden works out better. On nice days, the large steel entrance to the beer garden facing Cross St., and the first floor windows, can be opened during the day to give the space an indoor/outdoor feel. The beer garden will feature a bar, wood tables that were used at Oktoberfest in Munich, and an area with a ping pong and foosball table. The beer garden is the focal point of the design. It is overlooked by the balcony to the second floor dining room, as well as a steel juliet balcony, purchased at Second Chance, on the second floor of the existing rowhome.
Crossbar also features a first floor bar area in the space that was formerly Turner’s/Billabong, and a second story space that can be used for private events. The design features concrete, brick, steel, stucco, pine floors, and reclaimed wood as well as large murals painted by Bob Merrel.
The first floor also features a large brand-new kitchen, which McComas said was an investment of more than $250,000. Crossbar has an indoor trash room which will also be used by Ryleigh’s Oyster.
The menu at Crossbar will focus on German comfort food and Chef Francisco Lopez will lead the kitchen. Offerings include over-sized Bavarian soft pretzels with a beer cheese fondue and other starters including schnitzel fingers and Crossbar wings with a Jaeger glaze. Crossbar will serve five types of sausages including bratwurst and frankfurters, and dishes including Baltimore-style sour beef dumplings, spatzel, and an Oktoberfest meat platter. Desserts include the apple pretzel pudding and the Rumplemintz ice cream.
Crossbar will have 16 beers on tap, which will be split between German craft beers and local craft beers. Foti told SouthBMore.com that they will serve many “hard-to-find” German beers.
Crossbar is assembling its team that will include 50 to 60 employees. It will be open every night for dinner, and will open for lunch on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. McComas said Crossbar will likely have additional lunch hours in the future.
Despite Crossbar’s setbacks, the team is excited to open and put everything behind them. “It will be a nice addition to the neighborhood and we hope those who were against us will give it a chance,” said McComas.
McComas, Poldmae, and Foti
First Floor Bar in the former Turner’s
Second Floor Dining Room
The second floor bar and event area