Canton staple Jack’s Bistro will soon join the lengthy list of Charm City restaurants that have shuttered their doors this year. But, rather than being upset, executive chef/owner Ted Stelzenmuller is excited for what lies ahead.
“With this recent brash of restaurant closings, I can understand some people being sad,” he says. “But this particular case is much different. It’s a really happy time for all of us here. We’re still going to go kick ass seven blocks away.”
Stelzenmuller recently made the decision to close his 10-year-old bistro in order to open a new concept, Blair’s on Hudson, around the corner at 2822 Hudson Street. Jack’s will remain open through Baltimore Restaurant Week, and Stelzenmuller estimates the transition to take place by the end of August.
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“I’ve been involved with other restaurants before while running Jack’s and it’s nightmarish for me because I’m so hands-on,” he explains. “Ten years is an eternity in the restaurant business. So I thought, ‘Why not just start over?’ It’s kind of a way to set a reset button.”
Since purchasing the Hudson Street property—which previously housed neighborhood dive Mad Dog Murphy’s—in November 2015, Stelzenmuller has rehabbed the 68-seat space with new furniture, an Italian-tile bar, stained cement floors with swirls of blue, and an upstairs kitchen.
He says that, while the renovations are still not entirely finished, he wanted to give regulars a heads up so that they had the opportunity to dine at Jack’s one last time before the move.
Though Jack’s classics like the Guinness filet mignon and chocolate macaroni and cheese will transition to the new menu (cue sigh of relief), Stelzenmuller says that it will have a more approachable feel, featuring lots of burgers and noodle dishes.
“It’s going to be focused on everyday stuff,” he says. “Some people consider Jack’s more of a special occasion restaurant, which I never wanted it to be. This is a way for me to get away from that.”
Behind the bar, the new spot will highlight a curated wine selection and local beers from the likes of Union Craft and Monument City. Stelzenmuller adds that the acronym for Blair’s on Hudson (BOH) was intentional, and the beverage program will also incorporate Natty Boh cocktails.
“It’s just going to be fun,” he says. “We’re not going to take anything too seriously.”
Looking back on his time at Jack’s, Stelzenmuller mentions witnessing engagements through the open kitchen as some of his favorite moments—and he is enthusiastic about making new memories at Blair’s.
“I got a little complacent, and that’s the killer of creativity,” he says. “It’s exciting to be able to get to do it all over again."