Jazz bar eyes Hopkins Square
By EVA GURFEIN
Published: November 15th, 2012
Views: 11,455 views

The Ruby Tuesday located in Hopkins Square closed this summer, leaving a vacant space available for rent in the commercially viable complex. The Cordish Company, in charge of leasing for Hopkins Square, has been in conversation with several companies hoping to fill the space, however one likely company is the Java Jazz Bar and Grill.

Situated in the heart of Charles Village, Hopkins Square is located at 3003 North Charles Street. The Square is directly adjacent to the Homewood, the largest Hopkins undergraduate apartment building, accommodating 220 residents.

Cordish emphasizes the complex’s proximity to Hopkins and Union Memorial Hospital as an incentive for businesses to invest in retail space.

According to data provided by Cordish, the space is privy to an average daily traffic count of 22,000, in addition to vehicles. Beyond the foot traffic driven by Hopkins students and affiliates, the surrounding residential area is densely populated. Further demographic overview provided by Cordish indicates that the 2010 population within one mile of the Square was 37,784. The number of households was reported as 15,806.

Despite the reportedly extensive commercial traffic, Ruby Tuesday was forced to vacate the complex due to waning profits. The restaurant opened in the spring of 1999. The Charles Village location was the restaurant chain’s first opening in Baltimore. Ruby Tuesday was an anchor retailer at Hopkins Square, along with FedEx Kinko’s and 7-Eleven, for the past decade prior to closing.

The 4500 square foot space is available for a five-year lease contract, with an option of renewal for an additional five years at a fixed rate.

“We are currently in conversation with several businesses interested in the vacant space,” Bob Waugh, Director of Development for The Cordish Company, said. “Nothing is definite at this time.”

One potential leaser is the Java Jazz Bar and Grill, partly owned by Warriors Group. Warriors Group owns 51 percent of the company; the remaining 49 percent is available for investors. Warriors Group is a veterans advocate group founded by soldiers. This nonprofit organization seeks to assist, foster and promote enterprises that create entrepreneurial and employment opportunities for veterans. One percent of profits from the Java Jazz Bar and Grill would go to supporting this advocacy endeavor.

Sergeant Cornelius Thomas of the United States Army is part of Warriors Group’s team working on launching the new business. Thomas said that although conversations are still preliminary at this time, they hope to finalize contracts to lease the Hopkins Square space in the coming weeks. The owners hope to open Java Jazz Bar and Grill in the first week of January.

According to Thomas, Java Jazz Bar and Grill would be open 24-hours, 7-days a week. They plan to offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu items, with breakfast items served at all hours.

The owners aspire to make the Java Jazz Bar and Grill a relaxed environment where students and Charles Village residents alike will want to spend time.

Chelsea Brock, who is a Private First Class in the US Army National Guard, is also the program assistant, representing the mix of entrepreneurship and military service.

“We want people who live in the area to feel comfortable waking up and walking right down to us to grab some breakfast,” Brock said.

To entice students, the owners plan to make free Wifi available to patrons.

“We want students coming here to study with friends and grab some coffee, and then come back later in the night for some dinner and to unwind. A full wine bar and full coffee bar will be available, with over 300 different kinds of hot teas. Our main audience is college students, but also residents. We want to reach the whole community,” Brock said.

The owners plan to host live jazz performances during three shifts each day, as well as regular Karaoke nghts, Open Mic Nights and poetry nights.

Some Hopkins undergraduate students are excited by the possibility of a new eatery and social venue in the area. Many consider the limited selection of restaurants, bars and cafés currently available in Charles Village as a detractor from the Hopkins social scene.

“I think it’s great a new business is opening up. Charles Village needs more options for students. It gets boring going to the same places all the time,” senior Gerrard Clark said.

Java Jazz Bar and Grill’s unique offering of live music furthers the appeal.

“I love live jazz, and would be a huge supporter of any jazz bar to open in the Hopkins area. I know many students who would be thrilled with this addition, and many others who would love to explore a live jazz culture,” Peabody senior Kathryn Ledwell said.

No conclusive decisions have been made regarding the space at this time.

“I met with [the Warriors Group] yesterday,” Waugh said yesterday. “They’re very enthusiastic about the plans but I am still waiting to receive final paperwork before further discussion can be had. We are nowhere near finalizing a deal.”


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