The owners of La Cuchara in Woodberry are taking over the 3,723 sq. ft. restaurant space at 2 East Wells in South Baltimore where At Light’s End was previously under construction. Ben Lefenfeld, his wife Amy Lefenfeld, and his brother Jake Lefenfeld are opening Minnow which they describe as a casual neighborhood restaurant that will focus on fresh, in-season seafood. The At Light’s End team is not involved in the project.
The new business is a homecoming for Jake Lefenfeld who lives in the neighborhood and previously worked at Don’t Know and Blue Agave before opening La Cuchara. “A lot of people will be happy to have him back behind a bar in the neighborhood,” said Ben Lefenfeld.
Jake Lefenfeld will serve as the General Manager at Minnow and Chef Ben Lefenfeld will oversee the menu. Ben Lefenfeld previously served as the chef at Petit Louis in Roland Park before La Cuchara.
Minnow will seat approximately 130 guests total between its bar room, dining room, and a bar and communal table in its open kitchen. The design currently includes concrete floors; steel, reclaimed wood, concrete, and tile accents; and floor-to-ceiling windows facing Wells St. The space is mostly finished, but the Lefenfeld’s plan on adding their own touches. “We fell in love with the design and foot print. 2 East Wells is a gorgeous building,” said Ben Lefenfeld.
The space was designed by SM+P Architects and was built by JC Porter Construction, the same team that designed and built La Cuchara, which is how the Lefenfelds discovered the opportunity. The team signed a lease two weeks ago and is hoping to open Minnow in May.
Jake Lefenfeld said the menu will focus on approachable, affordable, and sustainable seafood, and that it will change daily based on what’s in season. When in season, the team will bring in scallops from Ocean City’s Elephant Trunk, crabs from the Chesapeake, and Caroline White Shrimp from North Carolina. Fish in the rotation will include tuna, sardines, sword fish, turbo, rainbow trout, rockfish, and more. Lobster and oyster dishes will also rotate through at Minnow.
“We are working with a bunch of different purveyors to get the best competitively-priced seafood,” said Jake Lefenfeld.
Non-seafood items will include a veggie burger and a crispy chicken sandwich on a stone cornmeal waffle.
The bar at Minnow will have five beer taps, as well as cans and bottles; 50 to 100 bottles of wine with 10 to 12 available each day by the glass; and what Ben Lefenfeld described as a “fun and lighthearted” cocktail menu including beer and shot specials. Jake Lefenfeld will lead the bar program.
The bar has four televisions where the O’s and Ravens games will be played.
The Lefenfelds hope the lively atmosphere at the bar will translate into the dining room. “We don’t want a formal dining room. Instead we want to create a casual neighborhood option you might visit a couple times a week,” said Ben Lefenfeld.
Minnow will not take reservations, so the team is hoping customers who are waiting for a table might grab a seat at the communal table or one of the bars.
Minnow will open every day at 5pm with happy hour from 5pm to 7pm. The team hopes to add Saturday and Sunday brunch about four to five months after opening and will also consider offering lunch in the future.
Minnow will hire about 40 employees.
“We are really excited to be in a neighborhood that we know people really love and enjoy. We really like what Hersh’s is doing and want to do our part to keep growing the restaurant scene in this area,” said Ben Lefenfeld.
2 East Wells includes 153 apartments, a 260-car parking garage with 29 spaces dedicated to retail, and an additional 2,141 sq. ft. retail space that will be the future home of Baltimore Soup Company. 2 East Wells owner Chesapeake Realty Partners also owns 1901 South Charles across the street.