It wasn’t long ago that Baltimoreans would have to trek to Annapolis to get their hands on the homemade pop tarts at Iron Rooster. But now, only two years after first expanding from the capital, the beloved breakfast-all-day spot has made a home for itself in Charm City.
“Baltimore had always been in our sights,” says Iron Rooster owner and COO Kyle Algaze. “When we originally opened in Annapolis, our whole goal was to try to give as many communities a sense of who we are and what we do.”
The restaurant first landed in the Shops at Canton Crossing in November 2015, and unveiled a larger location at Hunt Valley Towne Centre in Cockeysville one year later. Now, the brand continues to expand its area footprint with a fourth location slated to open at McHenry Row in Locust Point by the end of this month.
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Algaze says that the South Baltimore neighborhood mimics the sense of involvement in Canton, and he was ultimately drawn to the community’s evolving commercial development.
“It feels really industrious,” he says. “You just get this sense like ‘Okay, something is happening here.’”
Taking over the two adjoining properties that formerly housed The Greene Turtle and Piaza at McHenry Row, the new eatery will seat 200 and feature Iron Rooster’s signature comfort foods including chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, and bacon served in a Mason jar.
“Breakfast has always been this call to the day,” Algaze says. “That approachability has really helped us. We want people to feel like they’re home—like they’re walking into their parents’ house to get the food that they remember eating as a kid whether it’s French toast, pop tarts, or scrambled eggs.”
The homey feel will also translate into the décor at the new spot, which will highlight Iron Rooster’s Americana aesthetic with reclaimed woods, bright lights, and vintage finds from flea markets and garage sales.
“We try to go after pieces of authenticity,” Algaze says, adding that he frequents Second Chance in South Baltimore. “Those items that were somebody else’s at one point give you that feeling like ‘I’ve seen that somewhere before, my parents used to have something like that hanging on their wall.’”
Although the menu and décor will carry over from the other locations, McHenry Row will be the first to feature its own pop tart production station near the front entrance—which will allow diners to watch bakers roll out Iron Rooster’s scratch-made biscuits and pop tarts while they wait for a table.
Not only has Algaze been busy preparing for the grand opening in Locust Point, but he also recently unveiled a new ice cream shop in the freestanding shack (which previously operated as Farmstead Shack and Falafelicious) across from Iron Rooster in Canton Crossing.
“For a long time the shack had been staring at me, and I had been staring back at it,” he says. “So I finally thought of an idea to turn it into that old ice cream and snowball stand that Baltimore has become synonymous with.”
Now open Thursday through Sunday, DJ’s Ice House serves scoops sourced from Trickling Springs Creamery in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, along with an array of different snowball flavors.
“We knew very well that if we were going to open a snowball stand in Baltimore, we had to be at the top of our game,” Algaze quips. “We knew we’d better have the Tiger’s Blood flavor, and egg custard with marshmallow fluff.”
The restaurant’s commitment to celebrating all things local is one aspect that Algaze says he’s most proud of.
“We grab onto the neighborhood in every location that we open,” he says. “That’s a legacy that we’re happy to participate in.”