December 8, 2007

New store a treat for candy lovers.

Reprinted from :The Catonsville Times

11/29/07 By Marcia Ames

The term "Penguin Poop" may not trigger an appetite.
But it certainly grabs shoppers' attention at the Little Sugar Shack in Catonsville.
And in the few seconds needed to scan the label, they identify the product as chocolate-covered almonds.
The candy store, at 821 Frederick Road, opened in mid-October. offering a mix of sweets, including Snowman Poop, tiny marshmallows packaged with a hot chocolate mix, as well as other standard fare.
As winter approaches, store owner Dawn Hoffman said she expects both oddly named goodies to sell as quickly as more traditional candies.
Although young customers, such as Hoffman's 6-year-old son, Caleb, prefer the cotton-candy-flavored ice cream, "with adults, it's chocolate," she said, pointing to a display of hand-packed chocolates made by 115-year-old Asher's Chocolates in Pennsylvania.
The Little Sugar Shack occupies the east corner of Craig Witzke's Strawberry Fields at Catonsville retail complex, in the 800 block of Frederick Road.
"I'm very glad to see new retail coming to Catonsville," Witzke said, noting that he chose Hoffman over other potential tenants who wanted to use the space for offices.
The store's name comes from the 1963 Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs hit "Sugar Shack," one of her favorite tunes.
But the Elvis Presley posters she has tacked to the walls have nothing to do with the song or with candy.
"I just like Elvis," said the West Virginia native, who moved to Catonsville's Paradise community about three years ago.
Because another Maryland corporation already had the name Sugar Shack, she added "Little" when incorporating her business earlier this year.
A single mother who studied the hotel-restaurant business at Anne Arundel Community College, Hoffman has worked in restaurants since moving to Maryland 15 years ago.
Little Sugar Shack accurately describes her first independent venture, a one-room store that is small, at 400 square feet, but packed with a plethora of sweets.
She carries a few salty foods, such as popcorn, but sugar clearly dominates the scene.
Although the song referred to a coffeehouse, Hoffman offers sweeter beverages such as sodas and the packaged mix for preparing chocolate milk.
Hoffman planned a grand opening for Saturday, Nov. 24, but the details are pending.
Over the next few weeks, she will add gift baskets and other goodies to serve the winter holiday trade.
The store is open daily except holidays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday; noon until 5 p.m. Wednesday and Sunday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

November 27, 2007

Wall to Wall Construction

We are very pleased to announce that Greg Wall is moving his administrative and Sales Offices to:
9 Newburg Ave. - Suite 100

Here is an excerpt from his website.

Wall To Wall Construction LLC is a full service home improvement company committed to the needs of our clients. We are licensed by the Maryland Home Improvement Commission and our M.H.I.C. license number is 123700. We are fully insured including both liability insurance and workers compensation insurance.
With over 15 years combined experience in the construction industry, we provide the quality service expected to protect your investment. Our team consists of skilled craftsman employed directly by Wall To Wall Construction LLC. Additionally, we only work with qualified sub contractors who have gone through our thorough screening process, taking the hassle out of the general contracting process. Quality craftsmanship, dependability, and professionalism are the major characteristics that our employees and associates embody.
We are a Quality Home Improvement Company known for our ability to exceed client satisfaction. Communication is an important part of our formula for success and we work diligently to keep our clients informed throughout the entire project. Our experience enables us to manage your project and deliver the results expected. We partner with our clients to create a comfortable relationship and a successful project.


October 31, 2007


I would like to start this letter out by thanking some people that have helped me get Catonsville Gourmet to this point. Many thanks to Tom Raineville & Pierce MacGill from the MD.Dept. of Economic Development who got me on the right path, and Steve Smith and everyone from BB&T who got the deal done. Most of all I would like to thank Craig Witzke for all of his patience and efforts to make this venture come true ! Craig could have filled the "Hardware Store" along time ago with a tenant, but chose to follow his vision and give Catonsville & "Strawberry Fields" a business that will truly fit. Catonsville is lucky to have him and his continuing efforts to improve Catonsville.
Catonsville Gourmet - Market & Fine Foods will be a very diverse operation. Offering the very best meats, seafood and prepared items in a variety of forms. Customers will be able to shop in the market area, grab a quick sandwich or salad and enjoy it at the eating counter, or relax and dine gourmet in our beautifully renovated seating area and tasting / raw bar. Customers will also be able to call ahead and conveniently pick-up any of our fine fresh and frozen product from the market, or pick-up a carry-out order from our menu ! Whichever way you choose to get you product, they will be the freshest and highest quality available, with an emphasis on local and seasonal products. Catonsville Gourmet will also be able adjust its offerings to the demands of the customers, which will include the prepared foods as well.
I am hoping that this revitalization project will lure many other Catonsville business men & women to see the benefits of upgrading our Frederick Rd corridor ! This venture should be something very unique and a landmark in Catonsville! And while the building may be known as the "hardware" for now, it will quickly become Catonsville Gourmet - Market & Fine Foods after your first bite !!!!! More to come !

Many Thanks,
Sean T. Dunworth
Catonsville Gourmet - Market & F ine Foods
Est. 2007

October 18, 2007

The Little Sugar Shack

Just in Time For Everyone to Pick up Those Halloween Treats -
For Our Little Ghosts and Gobblins.

The Little Sugar Shack is Now Open! 821 Frederick Road.

Be sure to Stop in and see Dawn.

Get some of your favorite Sweets and maybe an ice cream cone.

Store Hours - Seven Days a week 12-5pm

October 15, 2007

The Catonsville Gourmet

Construction has begun! The Old Muir Hardware Store is about to become .....

The Catonsville Gourmet - Market & Fine Foods.

And the construction crews are busy making up for lost time, working to make "What is Old - New Again".

The Owners Intend to Keep the History of Muir Hardware alive. While Making Improvements to Create a Wonderful Place, We will all want to Frequent.

Specializing in Fresh Seafood and Meats.
The Catonsville Gourmet will be an exciting new addition to our Main Street.

Located at Strawberry Fields, with Ample Parking,
The Catonsville Gourmet - Market & Fine Foods,
will not stay a local secret for long.

October 1, 2007

Change of Plans For Wicked Java Internet Cafe'

Ending of a Dream; Closing of a chapter for local entrepreneur

CATONSVILLE , Maryland — Friday, September 28, 2007 —Wicked Java, LLC today announced that the Wicked Java Internet Café, intended to open at 801 Frederick Road , Catonsville , Maryland , will no longer be opening.

The Wicked Java Internet Café was the vision and dream of Michael Dougherty, to give the school age members of Catonsville a place to call their own.

“Having grown up in this community, I realized quickly there is very little to do unless you’re twenty-one or have a fake ID,” said Michael Dougherty, of Wicked Java, LLC. “I have always heard complaints on how upset people were with the teenagers “running the streets” because they had no where to call their own and I wanted to give the untapped thirty-three percent [33%] of Catonsville’s population somewhere they can socialize with friends, the ability to access online gaming, and generally provide a large enough space for them to call their own with hours that fit their schedule. I also wanted to work towards bringing up a portion of the over twenty-four thousand [24,000] college students less than two miles away to Catonsville without providing another place to purchase alcohol, but rather enjoy Catonsville for what it is and that’s a family centered community.”

After an electrical fire destroyed the value of the home intended to be used as collateral for the business loan, Michael, along with his father-in-law Samuel Dougherty, invested close to $60,000 of their own money to cover the cost of rent, architectural designs, permits and other initial expenses. Several “interested” investors came and went causing delays for the project. Also due to the café being a start up company, several banks approved the business plan and attested to its potential for financial success, but were unable to offer a loan without collateral. The company was in its final stages, needing only to finance the construction and equipment costs, when a decision was made to end the project due to financial shortcomings.

“This was a heartbreaking and difficult decision to make,” said Michael Dougherty, of Wicked Java, LLC. “To close the door on this chapter meant that five years of research, planning and hopes in making this happen has come to an end. I want to thank everyone who emailed weekly for updates or stopped me on the street to let me know this is something the community wanted. I only wish that I could have been able to see this dream come to fruition.”

Michael will be working with the landlords, Paulo and Mariah Narboni, to find a suitable business to take over the location.


Press Contacts:

Michael Dougherty

Wicked Java, LLC

[443] 602-4696

NOTE TO EDITORS: Wicked Java, Wicked Java Internet Cafe, the “Flaming Mug” logo are trademarks and copyright of Wicked Java, LLC. Other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

September 18, 2007

DeVille Ink

On September 17, DeVille Ink opened on Frederick Rd. DeVille Ink specializes in body art. They were obviously drawn to Frederick Rd. because the town is known as Music City and Tattoos are very popular among musicians.

September 9, 2007

Arts & Crafts Festival 2007

I would like to commend everyone that was involved in organizing and facilitating this years Festival. It was Awesome! I heard that it was a record turn out.
It was great to see many of our local businesses highlighted. I heard several people say that they didn't know that there were so many nice shops in Catonsville. I hope they will come back before next year.
It was wonderful to hear all of the live music spread through out the street. In addition to the main stage, there was live music in front of Bill's Music House, on the front porch of the Peace of Sunshine, a few musicians strolling through the street and we had a variety of impromptu entertainment at Strawberry Fields. I even met a magician that kept popping up to perform his tricks!
Attractions like the car show ( how do they keep those old cars looking so perfect?) and the kiddie corner broaden the appeal of the festival - there really is something for everyone!
Everyone worked together this year, neighbors, businesses, the chamber of commerce, the vendors and the Arts & Crafts committee. It really showed. The beautiful weather only made the day more enjoyable.

September 4, 2007

The Two Letters

I would like to explain why I decided to share the two letters.

When I purchased the properties from the Muir's, I knew that they would be a good investment once they were cleaned up and leased out. I did not purchase the hardware store with the intent of obtaining a liquor license. I knew that this was a great property and it was adjacent to the properties that we already owned. It would be a great location for some sort of retail or many other uses.

This blog was created so that the community could share their thoughts and ideas as to what types of businesses the would be supported here. A way for the process, of creating Strawberry Fields, to be transparent. A forum for everyone, to not only see what was going on, but, also offer input. From the beginning there have been requests for, among other things a nice restaurant. That is when I looked into changing the law for the liquor license.

We have secured a tenant, whose business model seems to fulfill many of the desires of the people that have posted here. The Catonsville Gourmet, does not need a liquor license.

While I have never hid the fact that Mr. Andrews and I are not best friends, I have stated several times on this blog that I did not intend to use this site to post negative things about him. I have been asked by several people to try and work out my differences with the owner's of Ships. These two letters were not private, they have been circulated to many people, as is evidenced by the cc:s on each letter. The letters were posted here to show that an effort has been made to work together. To give insight into why things are the way they are. I made no comments about the letters other that stating the obvious - That we don't see eye to eye.

Now that the properties at Strawberry Fields are mostly leased and the liquor license is no longer an issue. I hope to keep things on a much more positive note here. To use this site to share the good things that are happening in Catonsville and more specifically at Strawberry Fields.


September 1, 2007

We Can Work It Out - (I Hope So!)

In the Spirit of improving the Village by working together for the common good. Several people and business owners have suggested that I sit down with the Owner's of Ships Cafe or that I write them a nice letter and try to reason with them, surely they will come around and see the benefits of improving Catonsville beyond their own place.
Well I tried meeting with them -Not so good. So I sent them what I thought was a nice letter, suggesting that we work together.

Here are the unedited copies, of the letter that I mailed to the Andrews' and their response.

Jim Andrews

Sharon Andrews

Ship's Cafe

828 Frederick Rd.


July 2, 2007

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Andrews,

We seem to have gone down the path of developing a less than desirable
relationship as neighbors'. I would like to take this opportunity to reintroduce myself and share my thoughts about the future of Catonsville with particular regards to your business/property and ours.

I have lived in Catonsville my entire life and really want to see the town grow in a
forward direction. I have many fond memories of the businesses that once lined
Frederick Rd.- Father's Gay Nineties, Jo Jan Archery, Fields Hobby Shop, Pete's Grill,Earl Dew's Bicycle Shop &Wilson Lumber to Name a few. These were businesses thatattracted people to the area and gave the Village, a true sense of Community. For a variety of reasons, all of the above businesses are gone. Most have been replaced by service-oriented businesses, establishments typically closed after 5pm and on weekends. A "Main Street" should have stores, shops, cafes and restaurants that bring people to the area after the workforce has gone home.

Along with this change, in the dynamic of The Village, the Residents of Catonsville
have changed as well. There are more young families and the income level is higher than it used to be. Many of these families leave Catonsville and drive to Ellicott City,Columbia and Baltimore City on a regular basis to find establishments that serve their needs. While I sincerely believe that Ship's Cafe is an asset to the community and has helped the image of Catonsville and along with ChefPaolino's offers new dining options for Catonsville. I have never heard of anyone saying "Let's go to Catonsville for Dinner". People usually will mention the specific Restaurant that they intend to patronize and if it is too crowded or the wait is too long. Then, they might say "Let's go to Ellicott City or Columbia" or another area, where they know that they can drive, easily park and then walk the street. Reading Menu Boards and checking out the specials before they decide
where to dine that particular evening. I bought the properties across the Street from you with the intention of following your example and working to continue to revitalize the area by attracting a Sushi Restaurant and/or other different dining experiences to the area. I have several letters of intent from restaurant owner's that are established in the surrounding counties and Baltimore City. Restaurants that already have a strong client base and would draw new patrons to the Catonsville area. I am being strongly encouraged by many of our neighbors to bring another restaurant to town. The benefit of attracting an existing business from say Columbia or Towson, is that Diner's from Pikesville or Ellicott City may view Catonsville as a more attractive destination. I firmly believe that a "Rising Tide, Raises
all Ships". Once a few new Restaurants open up then boutique type stores will follow.

Unlike most property investors, I have been very selective in the types of tenants to
whom we will lease space. I have recently turned down: several mental health care
facilities, a used appliance store and a Mattress Wholesaler (the one that just opened down the street) in the spirit of, attracting interesting businesses, that attract more affluent customers to the area. I have also been very hesitant to lease the space to anyone that wants to come in and create a brand new Restaurant from the ground up. While I have seen some very interesting business plans, most incorporating Bring Your Own Alcohol, these entrepreneurs have all tried to sell me on the idea that they will build their businesses buy focusing their efforts on drawing customers away from the existing restaurants on Frederick Rd. While, I am sure that they could succeed, the vitality of Catonsville as a whole would suffer from this type of competition. I believe that drawing new customers to the area, rather than competing for the finite number of potential customers that live in the immediate vicinity, would better serve us all.

This area will be undergoing some major changes in the next few years. Positive or
Negative, is yet to be determined. If the Promenade, with its multiple Restaurants and convenient parking were open today, I believe that it would flourish at the expense of the existing restaurants in the business district. It does not have to be that way. We can create the feeling that Frederick Rd. is The Place to Go, so that when the Promenade does open, its many visitors will want to travel beyond the "Bright and Shiny" new center to visit "Quaint and Charming" Old Catonsville.

When we last discussed my plans, you stated that you did not share this vision. I
would like to ask that you reconsider your position. The success of Ship's Cafe gives
testament to the fact, that Catonsville will embrace and can support more dining
attractions. We would like to work with you before we lease the space across the Street. You have the opportunity to help shape something that could have a very positive impact on Catonsville and your business in particular. I am hopeful that you will support expanding the Revitalization efforts beyond your own concerns.

The County has approved our site plan for Strawberry Fields at Catonsville. We are
moving forward to add additional parking spaces behind 821-829 Frederick Rd. As I had
mentioned to you before, I would like to work out an arrangement where you and your
customers would benefit from the new parking and I could bring an establishment to the area that could enhance your business as well.

We are neighbors. I would like to suggest that we work together and not against
each other. I have faith that if we support each other to do what is best for the community then we will both succeed beyond our expectations.


Craig Witzke


Councilman Stephen G. Moxley

Delegate James Malone, Jr.

Delegate Steve DeBoy

The Honorable Adrienne Jones - Delegate

Senator Edward Kasemeyer

The Honorable James Smith

The Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce

(I then indicated in handwriting that I included the above contacts to show them that we were trying to work together for the benefit of Catonsville)

Here is the response the I received:

Dear Mr. Witzke

In response to your letter received July 5,2007,1 too grew up in Catonsville my
entire life. The Andrews family moved to Catonsville in 1910 with a strong community
commitment. As far as me not only being bom in 1950 and raised in Catonsville I also
was a uniform police officer for 15 Yrs. and an undercover narcotics officer for 10 yrs. putting my life on the line every day for the community, the state of Maryland and the United States of America.

In February 2002 my wife and I bought the old 828 bar and opened Ships Cafe' but six
months prior we had put together a five year business plan and investigated whether or not we would be able to expand and grow the restaurant with out any problems regarding state and local laws. One of the things that was attractive about purchasing the 828 was the fact that because of state law a liquor license could not be placed on the Muhr property across the street because of being within 300 Ft. of the church.

My wife and I were able to obtain loans for the purchase and expansion of Ships Cafe
after we had to guarantee the loan by putting up everything that we own. My wife and I have worked seven days a week for the past 5 1/2 Yrs. To make Ships what it is today. The one thing I must point out is the fact that Mr. Muhr was still alive when Ships was being built and after his death the property was passed onto his son. You on the other hand purchased the property from Jay Muhr and went to settlement in August of 2006. After purchasing the Muhr property and going to settlement Mr. Witzke you contacted Dave Mister the attorney for the Baltimore County Beverage Association inquiring on placing a liquor license on the property that you want to develop. You were informed by the attorney that because of state law one could not be placed their. You further inquired with several other people about a liquor license and were told the same thing because of state law a liquor license could not be placed on the property that you want to develop.

It is a disturbing fact that you Mr. Witzke being on the planning board for Baltimore
County that you were unaware of this law. If that is the case that you were unaware of the law let me refresh your memoly. About three years ago two business men in this
community purchased the liquor license from the Westview Lounge and attempted to
open a restaurant on Frederick Rd. They too were unaware of the state law and were three feet shy of Catonsville Elementary School they were denied because of the state law. What makes you any different then those two business men? Because you are on the Planning Board for Baltimore County. Now that you are a land developer in the
Catonsville area of Baltimore County don't you find that being a conflict of interest? (I DO)

I would like to address the issue that you stated the residents of Catonsville are leaving the area and going to Ellicott City, Columbia and Baltimore City to dine to serve then-needs. Where do you get your facts from or are they your own opinion or is this another cry for wolf to help Craig Witzke attempt to change the state law to obtain a liquor license for the property that you want to develop.

Please tell me what all the Restaurants in Ellicott City, Columbia or Baltimore City have to offer that is drawing all of the residents out ofCatonsville. In Columbia you mostly have chain restaurants where you do not get the personalized service that you get in an independently owned restaurant. Chain restaurants want to get you in and out to turn those tables as quick as they can. Baltimore City is the same way unless you go to little Italy or to the Canton area. As far as Ellicott City what do they have? The Phoenix is more of a bar then a restaurant. La Palapas Mexican restaurant is more of a bar and if you check with Howard County Police on how many calls they get at that place you would be surprised. So you have Coco Lane, Jordan's Steak house or the new place Rumor Mill which is Asian-Fusion. Besides that what great restaurants do they have that is the big draw?

People are going to go out to the restaurant of their choice and if there is a wait the majority of the time they will wait why. Because by the time they get back into their vehicle and drive to another restaurant they could have been seated and there is no guarantee when they get to the next restaurant that there isn't a wait there unless the food is no good and no one is there. Where would you like to go? To a restaurant where it is filled and has a fifteen minute wait or a restaurant that is not filled and has plenty of seating available. The restaurant that is filled must be doing something right.

The statement in the letter that you sent to me and my wife Mr. Witzke that stated that you bought the properties across the street from Ships Cafe is to continue your effort to revitalize the Catonsville Area by offering more dining experiences. That you have been contacted by several restaurant owners that are interested in leasing your property but that they would have to have a liquor license before they would conceder.
Lets be perfectly honest Mr. Witzke you are now a land developer who is more interested in how much money you can make off of leasing to a restaurant with a liquor license then several boutique shops. As far as being honest Mr.Witzke the one restaurant owner in the Canton area of Baltimore City who was interested in opening another restaurant in Catonsville in your project used the same Maryland State Law to stop a restaurant by the name of Rope Walk form opening in Canton. But now would like to see the law changed.

To address the issue that you have been contacted by several entrepreneurs to open a
Bring Your Own Alcohol restaurant. This is ok by Maryland State Law and the Baltimore
County Liquor Board. You as the property owner leasing to this type of restaurant and the restaurant owner are still under Maryland Law are not relinquished from all liquor laws.
This type of restaurant must control minors from consuming alcohol on the premises,
allowing their customers to become so intoxicated that they would be driving what is
prohibited by law, disorderly conduct, assaults, fights etc.

Mr. Witzke you stated in your letter that with in the next few years the Catonsville area will be going through some major changes with the Promenade Restaurant Park being developed by Mr. Whalen and if it were opened today that it would flourish at the expense of the existing restaurants that are already in the Catonsville area. But if we act now and open several more restaurants in Catonsville before the Promenade opens that the citizens who do dine out will come to as you say the Quaint and Charming Old Catonsville men the Bright and Shiny new center. Who are you trying to kid. Number one again you were on the Baltimore County Planning When Mr. Whalen
proposed his project to the Catonsville community and approved the project. Now that
you are a land developer you are trying to suggest to Sharon and I and the elected
officials of Baltimore County that we must beat Mr. Whalen to the punch first.
I strongly disagree with your suggestion on me other side of the coin we allow several other restaurants to open with liquor license and when the promenade does open there wont be enough customers to fill the existing restaurants in Catonsville.
Besides the Maryland State Law which in your opinion is hampering your effort there is one question that hasn't been answered. Where is there a liquor license to be obtained?
Mr. Whalen has bought two from this district, will be allowed a few more because of his project and was allowed to move two or three over to the Westside from the eastside. Mr. Whalen will have approx. 7-9 liquor licenses. This will mean adding 7 to 9 more restaurants to the Catonsville area.

Mr. Witzke let me make this suggestion to you. If you feel that more of a variety of
restaurants are needed in Catonsville find a buyer for some of the ones that are already in Catonsville and are for sale. I know of three. Do your homework.

The last couple of points that I would like to address of your letter regarding the fact that our relationship as neighbors is less then desirable and that the fact that I do not support your vision as to the revitalization of the Catonsville is not true.
Mr. Witzke you and I sat down in the old hardware store the first week of November
2006. At that time you expressed to me your vision of Strawberry Fields of Catonsville and asked for my opinion of what else would I think would go over well in your project. I was very supportive of the Strawberry Fields project and suggested to you about a Star-Bucks, a card store that had candy, flowers etc., and an upper scale grocery store. I was very supportive of your project until you asked me how I would feel if you were to attempt to obtain a liquor license for the hardware store. At that time I did tell you that I would not support a liquor license and at that time I informed you of the Maryland State Law.

I further suggested to you reverse the situation and you and your wife had built Ships Cafe and along came Mr. Andrews and his wife and wanted to develop Muhrs property and circumvent the law and put a restaurant with a liquor license. Of course your response was I would welcome it. Lets really be honest if it were reversed you would fight me tooth and nail and would use the existing law to your benefit. This is when as you put it the good neighbor ended because I wouldn't support you or anybody else trying to place a liquor license across the street from Ships Cafe.
Mr. Witzke lets get down to the real issue. You and your wife don't want to own
and run a restaurant like Sharon and I if you did there are several available right here in Catonsville. You want a liquor license for your land development for the sole purpose of increasing the rent of the building.

Sharon and I have been contacted by several other restaurant owners in the
Catonsville area. They have the same opinion that any additional restaurants or liquor licenses are unnecessary due to Mr. Whelan's Promenade restaurant park already
approved by Baltimore County and set in place.

One more issue about Ships Cafe, Sharon and Jim Andrews supporting the
Catonsville community the amount of contributions that we give Saint Marks, the PTA,
all the schools in the district, the Fourth of July committee, fund raisers I could go on and on so please don't suggest that my wife and I are selfish and are only interested in our own concerns as you suggested.

repectfully yours,

James Andrews


Councilman Stephen G Moxley
Delegate James Malone jr
Delegate Steve DeBoy
Delegate Adrienne Jones
Senator Edward Kasemeyer
County Executive Jim Smith
The Greater Chamber of Commerce
Archdiocese of Baltimore

August 2, 2007

A Few Links

Please check out some our friends

July 28, 2007

A New Restaurant to Open In The Hardware Store !

We Are Getting a New Restaurant in Town !

A Brand New Place, With Old Time Charm - A Place Where Everyone Know's Your Name.

July 13, 2007

'Lil Sugar Shack

821 Frederick Rd. is soon going to be home to the 'lil Sugar Shack. A new Candy Shop.
The 800 block of Frederick Rd is turning in to a much needed shopping district!
It is great to be able to walk Frederick Rd. where you can buy clothing and shoes as well as surf, skate and snow items at A.W.O.L.

Then go a few doors down and buy posters, T-Shirts, hand bags, sunglasses and More at the Peace of Sunshine.
Pick up a some Flowers at Hilton Florist or the Blue Iris.
Shop at Record and Tape Traders. Stop in The Collector's Edge and pick up a gift for your favorite sports enthusiast.
And soon you can stop in and pick up some great candy and delicious chocolates at the lil' Sugar Shack.
The Catonsville Groomery has outgrown their space (actually they out grew it shortly after opening) We were trying to bring in a Sushi Place, but, without the liquor license anyone that would like Sushi, will still have to leave Catonsville. But, Kathy, Val and the girls at the Catonsville Groomery persisted and now they will be moving next door into the newly renovated space, where they will groom pets and have a new Pet Boutique.

July 11, 2007


To: Jack & Cara and Tom & Jenny and the rest of you that have left messages - Thank you! I know you understand and I appreciate your support.
Jack and Cara your response to June 10th's post was particularly to the point. Look at Ellicott City. Not to many years ago it was not a very nice place to go. There was a pool hall and the Bloody Bucket, not a place where Main Stream Customers would want to visit. Today many of us leave Catonsville regularly to eat and shop there. It appears that people are attracted to area's that offer choices. Craig

June 30, 2007

Maryland Crabs Are Arriving Soon!

Starting on July 4th you will be able to buy Fresh, Maryland Crabs at 825 Frederick Rd.
A Touch of Maryland Crabs, the Two Mt. St. Joseph Graduates, that you have seen in front of the Presbyterian Church, will be Selling Live and Steamed Crabs on The Beach at Strawberry Fields. To Start They Will Offer Carry Out Only. But, We Expect to Have "BYOB on The Beach" Very Soon. If You are Not Familiar With These Guys, I Can Tell You that, We Just Bought a Couple of Dozen Crabs From them. THEY WERE EXCELLENT! And Very Reasonably Priced.

If You Want Crabs for the Fourth, it will be First Come First Served. As Always, There is Plenty of Free Parking and You Can Pick Up Your Favorite Beverages Right Across the Street at R.C. Rodgers.

For More Details Call

Kyle Storm 443 889-5113 or
Jordan Pierce 443 904-0553

June 29, 2007

The Collector's Edge

On July 7th a New Store will be Opening in Catonsville. The Collector's Edge - is located on Mellor Ave. at the Corner of Frederick Rd. It is on the lower Level, where the Locksmith used to be. Check them out. The sell all Kinds of Sports Memorbilia, Ravens, Terps, Orioles etc. Stop in and see Steven. Please be sure to mention that you read about him on the Blog! Craig

June 28, 2007

New Mattress Store to Open In Catonsville!

Well, we finally got our much needed Mattress store on Frederick Rd!

The Store Front that used to house the Catonsville Tuxedo Company, next door to Morsberger's Tavern, has been leased to a Mattress Dealer.

This is the same storefront where a local businessman tried to open a Wine Tasting and Tapas Bar, not too long ago. Not a Package Goods Store, but Upscale Dining.

A liquor License was secured and everything was progressing, when the 300 ft rule was imposed. It seems that the building was just a few feet to short of being legal. I would like to personally thank the Restaurant owner that raised the issue. I am sure that his main concern was to protect the citizens of Catonsville from the horror of a decent place to eat and not purely to protect his own business.

This was another lost opportunity for Catonsville.

I truly do not believe that the Citizens of our Community realize how much power they have to make a difference. It is much easier to get in our cars and drive to another Community for dinner, than it is to Contact our State Politicians and let their voices be heard.

For the record, I don't have, nor have I ever had any financial interest in the above property or the business that didn't open there. But, I do believe that if Main Street Catonsville doesn't Thrive, it is not going to Survive!

June 21, 2007


Well, it Started out to be a beautiful day.

We were all taken by surprise, when the Storm Arrived, out of nowhere. Sending about 250 kids and many Parents scurrying to find a dry place.

Doug Murphy and the Others were able to get in about 1/2 a dozen songs before the rain came.
The Oellaphants were Standing By and ready to Jam, as the Movie Screen Sat in a Trailer on the Back Lot.

It was a Very Tough Decision to Postpone this event, but, the likely chance of high winds, combined with all of the electrical equipment on the wet ground forced us to Reschedule.
Ben squeezed as many skaters as he could into the shop to watch the Premier on his Flat Screen TV.

For those of you that didn't get to see the film, and for those who can't wait to see it again, we have resheduled the Movie Screen for Tuesday July 3rd.

Again we would like to Thank our Sponsors.

Bear's Den - Tatoos
PDA - Marketing
Appalachian BlueGrass Shoppe
Hair - M Hair Salon
The Columbia Bank
Peace of Sunshine
A.W.O.L. - Surf-Skate-Snow
Select Specialities
and The Catonsville Groomery

June 16, 2007

Movie Night Beach Party Update

Well, we have had the sand delivered. 50 Tons of it!
The Courtyard Area of Strawberry Fields Looks and Feels like a real Beach.

Doug Murphy and the Others as well as the Oellaphants are lined up to be our Musical Entertainment for the Afternoon.

The Film will start at Sunset.

We have secured some sponsors for the event:
George Brookhart - Long and Foster Realty
Bear's Den - Tatoos
PDA - Marketing
Appalachian BlueGrass Shoppe
Hair - M Hair Salon
The Columbia Bank
Peace of Sunshine
A.W.O.L. - Surf-Skate-Snow
and The Catonsville Groomery

Please be sure to patronize these businesses and THANK THEM FOR SPONSORING THE MOVIE NIGHT. It is because of them that we are able to do this for Free!

See you there!

June 10, 2007

More of the Same and A New Store in Town!

The issue with the Liquor License is still a major obstacle.
We have had several more Restaurants contact us in the Last couple of Months that would really like to locate here. But, they all still require a liquor license.

The Space at 821 Frederick Rd. (where we had been trying to put the Sushi Bar) has been Leased to the Catonsville Groomery. They have been doing a really good business out of the old Coin Store and desperately needed to grow. They will now be adding a retail section to the business. If we can't get Political Support for a new Restaurant in Catonsville, Kathy, Val and the Staff of the Groomery are a good substitute.

The only businesses that have expressed interest in the old Hardware Store have been -
A Piano Store (From out of Town)
A Real Estate Office
A Contractor
2 Mattress Stores

Scunny, the owner from Nacho Mama's is still interested in opening a place here, but, not with out on Premise Alcohol.

We have been contacted by a Crab House out of New Jersey that runs a BYOB operation in their home state. We are talking with them and one other. It seems that Crab House's are the only Restaurants that really work BYOB. The owner of Ship's Cafe has told me that he would welcome a crab house, that is BYOB. But, will continue to fight to keep Nacho Mamas out of Catonsville. (I personally think that a Mexican Restaurant would only help his business and I get my Steamed Crabs at Sea Hut- which started as BYOB and now has a liquor license)

June 4, 2007

Starbucks Watch

Starbucks has leased 1/2 of the former Mattress Store in the shopping center at Rolling Rd and Rt 40. Look for them to open in August.

June 1, 2007

UMBC Shuttle

The UMBC Shuttle is now running to Catonsville - PLEASE USE IT!
If you are a Store Owner or a Restaurant consider offering discounts to Students and Faculty from UMBC. Sign up to take the one card! We need to have a strong partnership with UMBC.

If you rent out a room in your home or have an apartment or house for rent - it is a great incentive that we are now on the shuttle route. Promote it in your advertisements!

Let's make this Partnership work!

May 24, 2007

Go Skateboard Day/Beach Party / Movie Night

On Thursday June 21st from 4pm -11pm.
A.W.O.L. -Surf-Skate-Snow Shop and
A&A Enterprises, LLC .
Will be hosting a Premiere of The New
Element Audio Visual Project
- The Skate Film- This Is My Element.
Featuring Bam Margera, Buckey Lasek. Mike Vallely, Chad Muska, Tony Tave, Tosh Townend, Nyjah Huston, Brent Atchley, Chad Tim Tim and the Rest of the Element Team.
Join us for a fun filled evening on the Beach at Strawberry Fields in Catonsville!
Gates open at 4pm There will be live entertainment in the Courtyard preceding the Film.
Drop off DVD's of you and your friends doing your best stunts at A.W.O.L. Skate shop before June 15th and you may find yourself on the huge 24'x 20' screen!
Concessions will be available.
Check back here, or stop by A.W.O.L. for more details.

May 10, 2007

Catonsville Times May 8, 2007

County executive's visit features personal touch
05/10/07By Scott Weybright
Email this story to a friend
County Executive Jim Smith, second from left, is accompanied by a group that includes county officials and business leaders as he takes a walking tour of downtown Catonsville May 1.Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith said a desire to see developer Craig Witzke's plans for 821-829 Frederick Road up close prompted his May 2 tour of downtown Catonsville.
"It's the perfect example of a mixed-use neighborhood where people can live, can work, can shop, can go to restaurants," said Smith of Witzke's plans for the property, which also includes two buildings on Newburg Avenue.
"It's just a strong statement of the vitality of Catonsville," said Smith, who checked out an apartment Witzke refurbished on the second floor at 821 Frederick Road, in addition to looking at the commercial space at the site.
Witzke told Smith other developers had suggested he tear down the existing structure at 821 Frederick Road and the former Muir Hardware building next door and build a drugstore on the property.
"I know that that financially, short term, would be the best thing," Witzke said. "But I grew up in Catonsville.
"I said I'll do that in another county," he added with a laugh.
The two men discussed the potential for a restaurant on the property, and Smith, who said he wants to see one there, acknowledged that liquor license restrictions make finding such a tenant difficult.
State law prohibits selling alcohol within 300 feet of a church in Baltimore County; Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church is located at 905 Frederick Road.
Smith said the county is looking to work with the state and the county liquor boards to create exceptions to the law for the county's renaissance neighborhoods, such as Catonsville, Arbutus and Baltimore National Pike.
Smith also stopped and talked to the owners of the Appalachian Bluegrass Shoppe, Dixon Signs and the Ships Cafe on Frederick Road.
Dixon Signs owner James Dixon told Smith how pleased he was with the county's Department of Economic Development.
Dixon, who started the business in 1994, said the department helped his business complete renovations and additions to the property at 701 Frederick Road.
Smith also checked out the renovations at Ship's Cafe at 828 Frederick Road.
Emory Knode, the owner of Appalachian Bluegrass at 643 Frederick Road, said the visit was lighthearted and fairly short.
Knode, whose father opened the store in 1960, took a guitar out of a store display case for Smith to pretend to play during the visit.
Knode said the number of people in the touring group made serious discussion difficult.
New Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce executive director Jim Lister and Del. Jim Malone were among more than 20 people in the group.
Smith said the variety of businesses along the Catonsville thoroughfare is a strength of the community.
"Each business can feed off the other, which brings a larger segment of the population into the neighborhood downtown," he said.
Smith started the tour at Chef Paulino Cafe at 726 Frederick Road and ended it with lunch at the Italian restaurant about an hour later.
E-mail Scott Weybright at Scott

April 18, 2007

A Way Of Life !

A "New" Way of Life for Catonsville Youths

My name is Ben Munoz, and I am 31 year old, avid Skater, Snowboarder, and Surfer. My family has lived in Catonsville for 12 years. My Mother was born and raised in Pig Town, and I was born in D.C. However my Father was a Chief in the Navy, and my family moved to California before I was 1 year of age. While I was in College, I worked as the General Manager and Product Buyer, for a Sporting Goods Retailer, consisting of 3 shops and an Internet service. I lived the majority of my life in sunny San Diego, but moved to Baltimore in the summer of 2000, after graduating from San Diego State University, with a B.S. in Anthropology.

Growing up in Southern California, I spent most of my time as a child on a Skateboard, and as I got a little older, Surfing was added to the agenda. When Snowboarding hit the scene, it was only a matter of time before I constantly found myself on the peaks of the San Bernardino, and Sierra Nevada Mountains. I have grown up riding a board. It has been a true constant in my life. Whether I'm on the mountain, in the water, or in the street, I can always find a line, and leave it all behind. That's just the way I live.

Since I moved to Baltimore in 2000, I have always thought that Catonsville would be a perfect place for a Board shop. With all the kids I see skating through the neighborhood, I was surprised to discover there was no local shop in the area. After asking around I heard that some places used to carry skateboards, but no longer. Every time I would drive down Frederick Rd. I was sure I would see a new store open selling boards. Sooner or later, the time would come, and a shop would open to take care of the kids. Well that time is just a few weeks away.

"A Way Of Life" is coming to Catonsville, and is scheduled to open in early May at the Strawberry Fields Complex. A.W.O.L. will be a core Skate, Snow, and Surf shop, emphasizing customer service first, while providing industry leading product, at an affordable price. "Quality Gear, No Shwag Here!" Stop fighting the crowds at the mall, or dealing with the uncertainty of online purchases. You will now have a local source for all your Board and apparel needs.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Craig Witzke for allowing me to be a part of the Strawberry Fields Project. It is my hope that both my store, as well as the Complex will be a place for the people of Catonsville to come and experience a "Sense of Community," with the other people that call this place home.


Ben Munoz

April 13, 2007

Catonsville: A College Town?

As Printed in the UMBC Retriever

By Jennifer Jones Retriever Weekly Staff Writer
Catonsville is being transformed into a college town and the whole town is involved in this transformation. Craig Witzke of A&A Enterprise is taking a different approach to planning this community project—he’s blogging about it.
An area called Strawberry Fields, right on Catonsville’s main throughway, has been selected and the blue prints have been drawn. Now all that’s needed is a little input and Catonsville residents don’t seem to mind supplying plenty of that. Many Catonsville residents, interested business owners, and conscientious members of neighboring communities are letting themselves be heard by responding to Witske blogs by posting comments of their own.
Catonsville is a suburb of a big city with a sleepy-town feel. Developing it as a college friendly atmosphere would be a benefit for UMBC students. Who feels like driving to downtown Baltimore just to hang out for a few hours; the parking sucks, you get asked for money by people on the street, and well, it’s a 15-minute drive when the drive to Catonsville would be less than five. Catonsville lends itself to some interesting cultural attractions, fun affordable dining, and practical places to shop. It has major potential because it is so close to campus.
The locals believe that there’s potential too. According to their responses, residents aren’t worried about being overrun by college students. In fact, many responses allude to the culture and the arts that students would bring to Catonsville simply by frequenting the businesses. Some even hope that it could be a largely student workforce running the new businesses opened, which could be great for us considering the limited selection of on-campus jobs available.
Witzke says he hopes Catonsville can become, “A town that is safe and welcomes students with open arms.” In fact, he requested a copy of a UMBC events newsletter from me when I contacted him because he says he’d love to tailor events around or in conjunction with our school’s schedule.
The starting point of Catonsville’s redevelopment is an area on Fredrick Road between Newburg Avenue and Melor Avenue. Extra parking, partial demolition, new signs, new plants, trees and even a pavilion show up on the plan. What everyone is waiting to find out is what will actually be housed in this complex.
Bloggers have requested an Irish Pub, BYOB establishments, Starbucks, bookstores, and the very, very frequent request for a Mexican restaurant. According to Witske, a Green Turtle has expressed interest in the location. Another possibility is a Nacho Mama’s; and if anyone besides me has had their crab nachos, they know this would be a great thing.
Starbucks, however, has said that they do not think Catonsville could generate enough customers for them to open a location. That’s okay though because, seriously, the world doesn’t need another Starbucks, though an independent coffee shop would be superb.
The list of potential businesses doesn’t end there. Witske would love to hear from any students that have a business plan. “We are getting a lot of good ideas, but, we need someone that would be interested and willing to open and run a business. I think that the right student or group of students, with a knowledge of UMBC, could open a business that would thrive and be welcomed by all!” Well, that is certainly an invitation. Didn’t UMBC just have a business plan competition?
To read more, keep up with the latest developments, and make your own suggestions check out
Jennifer Jones is a Retriever Weekly Staff Writer who thinks Catonsville should stop being so lame. She can be reached for comment at
Copyright: The Retriever Weekly

April 5, 2007


The Catonsville Chamber of Commerce and UMBC have been working together to make the shuttle available, to ferry students back and forth between downtown Frederick Rd. and the UMBC campus.

It looks like there may be an improved shuttle service to Catonsville as soon as June of 2007!
We are expecting to have 3 stops in the Frederick Rd. Area on each trip:
The first will be Mellor & Frederick, then Frederick at Bloomsbury and then Ingleside and Frederick before returning to Campus.

Many thanks to Joe Reiger and the folks at UMBC that helped make this possible. Especially Andrea and our Driver, John. Much work went into coming up with a route that would serve the students and businesses and be able to be navigated by the UMBC shuttle drivers.

We are moving in the right direction.

I will post the new route here asap.

March 29, 2007


Catonsville has a chance to really benefit from the 20,000+ students that attend the University of Maryland at Baltimore Coounty.

David Schwartz, the New Executive Director of the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce and I met with several members of the staff at UMBC on Tuesday. They are very interested in working with the business community on Frederick Road.

We are looking into a regular bus schedule to shuttle students back and forth between the school and our business district. We also talked about bring the student "One Card" to Catonsvile. This is a card that the students can use to purchase goods, services and food (similar to a debit card). The Card is already accepted by several businesses in Arbutus and is gaining popularity.

Store Owners and Property owners THE BALL IS IN OUR COURT. We need to give the students a reason to visit the businesses on Frederick Rd. Maybe offer student discounts, student nights, entertainment, specials for UMBC students with ID.

We have a great opportunity to get some of these students to move here, if we make the apartments in the Frederick Rd area student oriented (ex. equip them for wi -fi).

Good things are happening! I will keep you updated. Craig

March 24, 2007

Letter to the Jeffersonian : March 22, 2007

In follow up to the article, Witzke Comes Up Dry, Persists – He still wants a liquor license. Written by Marsha Ames in the March 8, 2007 Issue of the Jeffersonian.

Obtaining a Liquor License is only one of obstacle's that makes it very difficult to Breathe New Life into Baltimore Counties Main Street Areas. A very important part of revitalizing a downtown area is attracting businesses that will draw new people to the area. In today's world, a world where more and more families eat meals away from home, more and more often. Increased options for dining out are not just desired, but needed. An Existing Restaurant, with a strong following, from a neighboring county can do wonders in terms of bringing new clientele to an area. Such Restaurants become an immediate destination. Their Patrons undoubtedly spill over into the other established eateries and shops, invigorating businesses, that have been local favorites for years! There are many restaurants that would love to open new locations, on some of the counties Main Streets, however, they count on alcohol sales, not only for their bottom line, but to draw customers as well. When people are attracted to an area, entrepreneurs open more stores and the area flourishes.

I have had the privilege of being a member of the Baltimore County Planning Board for a few years now. Having seen many presentations about mixed use developments and the revitalization of older areas I have become very interested in doing my part to help the process. I have developed a true appreciation for saving and using existing buildings. I understand how these old structures really add to the character of a community. However, trying to retrofit old buildings to new uses is no easy task. When these buildings were built, there was no ADA, fire codes, if existent at all, were much different and parking requirements were virtually non-existent. Zoning regulations were largely established, considering the uses that were in place at the time. Times have changed and many of types of businesses that were allowed in these commercial districts then can no longer make a profit in such a location today. And many businesses that may be a good fit are not allowed today due to the zoning laws. This is why many developers today will try to recreate "Main Street" in the middle of a large parking area. But, to have a true Main Street, it needs to be surrounded by neighborhoods, not parking. The ability to be able to walk to a pedestrian oriented commercial adds to the quality of life of the neighboring communities.

One of the most important things that I have learned, through my involvement with the Planning Board, is that the most successful projects are successful because of community involvement. This is usually done though Charettes, Town Meetings and letters between the developer and community leaders. We are trying a more active approach. We have created a website HTTP://WHATSGOINGONCATONSVILLE.BLOGSPOT.COM as a way to establish direct communication with all of the residents of Catonsville. This is a site where people can leave comments about the type of businesses that they would like to see in the neighborhood. It is a place where a business owner can find out if their business would be a good fit for the community. And it is a place where we can keep the community informed about the progress of the redevelopment of our project, Strawberry Fields at Catonsville. Please visit the site your comments are welcome.

The citizens of Baltimore County are very fortunate to have a County Executive, Jim Smith,, that is so interested in the renaissance of the Historic Commercial Areas in the County. I believe that he truly understands the vital role these areas offer to the surrounding communities. With the support of the County Executive and the great programs in place, through the Baltimore County Department of Economic Development. Renaissance is taking place all around the county. It is very exciting time to be a resident of Baltimore County.

March 15, 2007

Letter in the Times

I would like to thank Steve Whalen for writing this letter to the Catonsville Times

Developer's frustration proof county liquor laws are poor

Craig Witzke deserves credit for putting his hard-earned money where Baltimore County has long encouraged redevelopment activity ("Plan to tap property's potential hits snag," Catonsville Times, March 7).
Unfortunately, he's also discovered one dirty, little secret hindering effective commercial revitalization throughout Baltimore County.
Its liquor laws are archaic, anticompetitive vestiges of post-Prohibition, making it difficult to attract quality restaurant operations.
In an era when more meals are eaten away from home than ever, where restaurant activity can act as a major anchor to catalyze revitalization efforts, existing county legislation can most kindly be described as counterproductive.
Perhaps one can justify limitations on liquor stores, package goods facilities and bars near schools and churches.
But restricting legitimate restaurant operations (Class B licenses), located on the main commercial thoroughfare for 600 feet of valuable frontage in each one of at least three Frederick Road business district locations, simply defies common sense.
The Frederick Road commercial corridor isn't that long to begin with, and we're going to exclude 1,800 feet on both sides of the street?
Let's get real here, folks. Can we at least catch up with late 20th century practices, if not the 21st?
To their credit, both County Executive Jim Smith and David Iannucci, the county's director of economic development, have been pushing hard to correct inequities in the current system. Jack Milani, head of the Baltimore County Licensed Beverage Owners' Association, has been reasonably supportive of those efforts.
The problem lies with some of his members who hide behind these regulations to exclude competition.
As an office developer, I'd love to have the county tell my competitors they can't build near Whalen Properties' projects. That would be great for me. But it would be lousy public policy.
When Tom Booth or David Brown constructs a building nearby, it provides incentive to keep my projects in good repair, maintain competitive rents, and, most importantly, offer my tenants value for their rental dollar.
Competition works, and it will work in the restaurant business if we'll let it.
I wish Craig Witzke success with his undertaking. And I love Mexican food! I hope my family can toast his Frederick Road venture with a Dos Equis, a Corona, a couple chimichangas and a burrito there some day very soon.
Steve Whalen
Whalen Properties

March 13, 2007

Invitation From The Catonsville Chamber of Commerce

11th Annual Taste of Catonsville
Presented by the
Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce
Monday April 23rd, 2007
Rolling Road Golf Club
$30. in advance - $35. at the door
To Order Tickets call 410-719-9609
or order online at
Past Participants Include
G.L. Shacks
Chef Paolino's
Jennings Cafe
Sam's Bagels
Ship's Cafe
The New Tiffany's
Trolley Stop
Whitehouse Caterers
Candlelight Inn
Rolling Road Golf Club
The Ville Grille
Edible Arrangements
Old Country Buffet

March 9, 2007

In The News!

(We Will Get Past This!
Excitement is Brewing and Options are Presenting Themselves!
Craig )

Catonsville Times
03/08/07By Marcia Ames

Plan to tap property's potential hits snag

Craig Witzke said his search for restaurant tenants for his Frederick Road property has been hampered by a state law denying a liquor license within 300 feet of a church.
Craig Witzke wants to spice up Catonsville's restaurant scene with a dose of Mexican food, but says his plan needs a liquor license to succeed.
Unfortunately for the Catonsville developer, unless the state lifts its prohibition against selling alcohol within 300 feet of a church in Baltimore County, he has a snowball's chance south of the border in getting such a license.
Witzke is proposing a restaurant for the former Muir Hardware store property he owns at 929 Frederick Road.
That site, though, is near the Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church, at 905 Frederick Road.
Although he hasn't polled the church's members, Witzke said he realizes the law would override their possible support for such a plan.
The county has no leeway in enforcing the law in question other than to exempt a business whose liquor license predates the legislation, said Gerard Kilduff, chief inspector, deputy administrator and a 20-year veteran of the county's Board of Liquor License Commissioners.
Witzke refused to say whether or how he might challenge the restriction.
But he has raised the issue on his blog,, which he initiated in February to engage Catonsville residents in his plans to redevelop the Muir store site.
Witzke's A & A Enterprises company bought 929 Frederick Road in August 2006 for $1.3 million, according to state tax records.
The purchase also included two houses around the corner, at 9 and 11 Newburg Ave., with backyards that extend behind the former hardware store and could be used for parking.
He intends to retain all three buildings, which are more than a century old, "rather than destroying what we have," he said.
Several people have asked about the possibility of opening a restaurant at the former hardware store, he said, and some restaurant owners have contacted him as well.
"We've got good restaurants here already that people like to go to, but the public, I believe, deserves more choices," he said, noting a dearth of Mexican fare.
He believes an additional restaurant would benefit those other destinations in town.
"Having a group of restaurants attracts people to the area," Witzke said.
"Then they can choose which restaurant they're going to when they get there."
Because he plans to use the existing store building, the "F" level-of-service grade proposed this year for Frederick Road's intersection with Bloomsbury and Ingleside avenues, less than a mile away, poses no threat, he said.
If the County Council confirms the F later this spring, as the Planning Board and Department of Public Works have recommended, the failing grade will result in a moratorium on building permits for most development.
But Witzke won't need any building permits to renovate his property, he said.
Only the liquor license, or lack of one, stands in his way, he said.
To suggest other uses for 929 Frederick Road, go to Witzke's Web page,

March 8, 2007

"Head Shop ! ? "

This Email was Sent to Me This Morning :

Dear Craig,
I am writing concerning the new store, 'Sunshine Peace' , currently
doing business in your building. If I am wrong and you do not own this
property and are not renting to Sunshine Peace, then view this letter as a
concerned parent and citizen of Catonsville. I have been told that
there is a back room, offered to view for teenagers entering the store,
that displays an assortment of bongs, pipes, stickers and decals
promoting drug use and various other items. I have not been in 'the back room'
, but intend to wander down there and look for myself. Are you aware of
this? The last thing Catonsville needs is a 'head shop' to attract our
youth. My sources are reliable...they entered the store yesterday to
look at the cool tee shirts and were then invited by the clerk to view
the back room. Even as teenagers, they were uncomfortable and promptly
left and informed me. I know this is not someplace you would want your
own children or their friends to frequent. I appreciate your response.
Thank you.

My Response:
I would like to start off by stating that I DO NOT OWN THE PROPERTY IN QUESTION.
I would also like to point out, that Record and Tape Traders, across the street, has sold many similar items for many years. Both stores appear to be operating within the letter of the law.

I do find it Ironic that, while the majority of the community would like to have a restauarnt in Catonsville, we are unlikely to attract one because of Maryland's archaic liquor laws regarding Baltimore County. And, if we are able to find a restaurant that would be willing to open here, without serving alcohol, adults will dodge traffic and walk accross the street to buy alcoholic beverages which they will bring in and enjoy with their food, while their children will be able to walk down the street and legally buy merchandise related to the use of illegal drugs. What is the sense?

Maybe someone else will open a Hookah Lounge, a BYOB Strip Club or a Gun Shop on Frederick Rd. Now that would change the character of "Main Street."

March 7, 2007


It is really great that so many of you are sharing your suggestions and ideas!

I think most of us would be happy with a Restaurant, whether is sells alcohol or not. The Challenge is attracting a business to Catonsville, that doesn't count on alcohol for part of their revenues.

Several of you have suggested National Chains, that offer Mexican food. While they would probably do very well here they bring an entire new set of issues:

First of all Baltimore County Does Not want any more Fast Food on Frederick Rd. And I agree, we can do better.

I have contacted several of the businesses, that have been suggested,and I can tell you that they either want to be on Rt. 40, with its higher traffic count and drive through. Or they want to be in a shopping center.

The operators of the suggested Restaurants also want the existing buildings torn down so that they can put up their, homogenized, muti duplicated, pre-fab structures. Do we want Catonsville to look like everywhere else?

The idea of splitting up the hardware store into stalls like Belvedere Square, sounds beautiful. But, at most, maybe two of the Vendors from Belvedere could share the space. It is just not large enough to be split up. By the way, people can enjoy an alcoholic beverage at Belvedere Square - Like it or not, Alcohol is always a big draw. A key element to the success of any Revitalization Project.

When this site was started, part of our mission was to find out if the community thought it was a good idea for us to save the old buildings. Now, that the intersection at Frederick and Bloomsbury has been rated as a Failed Intersection. It is no longer even a viable option to tear down the buildings and build something new.

Our focus now, is to determine the best businesses for the existing buildings. We would also like to know, if Restaurants are put in, would it be a good idea to have a courtyard for outdoor dining and community events. Or would the space be better suited for a few more parking spaces.

We have had some entrepreneur's with very interesting ideas contact us lately. It is really exciting. Please keep this dialogue going so that we can be sure and pick the right businesses.

As Always, Thank You for Your Input! Craig

March 3, 2007


Many People have Expressed the need for Additional Restaurants as Part of This Project. I too, believe that More Restaurants are Needed to Reinvigorate the Area.

There is an Area, Behind the buildings at 821-827 Frederick Rd., That has Historically Been Used as A Storage Lot. We are Proposing to Make This an Outdoor Common Area - A Gateway from The Parking Lot to Frederick Rd. This Could be a Great Space, With Benches and Landscaping and Tables for Outdoor Dining.

Here are some more Renderings prepared With the Assistance of Baltimore County's Architect on Call Program. (Please Note that the Carry Out Restaurant Depicted in The First Rendering Is Just One of the Businesses that Have Contacted Us, We have Not Made any Commitments as of Today.) Is Rita's a business that you Would Like to See Here?

You Can also see Part of the Parking Area that Would be accessed through the Driveway at 829 Frederick Rd.

These Pictures are Currently on Display in The Window at 827 Frederick Rd.

Comments Please!

March 1, 2007


I have always thought that Catonsville Could be a College Town! I am not suggesting a Party Town, but, a Place with Bookstores , Cafes, Music and other Businesses that are attractive to the Thousands of Students at these Schools. A Town that is Safe and Welcomes the Students with open arms. Where do the Students go now? Where do they go when their Parent's or Friends Come to Visit them? What Kind of Impression does Catonsville Leave? It Seems to me that if the businesses would market themselves towards the Students, the Town would Flourish and business would be Great.

I have talked with Scunny, the guy that owns Nacho Mama's, he would love to be here in Catonsville. I have also discussed this project with Someone that Would like to bring a Greene Turtle Franchise to the area. These are the types of businesses that Would draw so Many Customers that Ship's and Jenning's etc., would not be able to handle the overflow. New Restaurants would have to follow, to keep up with demand.

Many of the People that I have Spoken with, see the incredible demographics at the local schools. They also see a large work force, that would needs local employment. I have also always thought, that Catonsville merchants should have a shuttle that Runs on a regular basis, back and fourth from UMBC. Does UMBC have a shuttle that would bring people here? if There is one, Where does it take Students Now?

I have visited some College Towns and the Surrounding Communities usually seem to love the Arts, the Entertainment, and the entire Eviroment that is created, when the Students are involed.

I am really glad to see a couple of Students replying to this blog. Please Pass it on to your Classmates.

February 27, 2007

Leaving a Comment Should Now be Easier

We Have Removed the Word Verification Step From the Comment Process. This Should Make it a Little Easier for Those of You that Wish to Leave a Comment.

The Following Paragraph Explains why the Step is used.

"What this does is to prevent automated systems from adding comments to your blog, since it takes a human being to read the word and pass this step. If you've ever received a comment that looked like an advertisement or a random link to an unrelated site, then you've encountered comment spam. A lot of this is done automatically by software which can't pass the word verification, so enabling this option is a good way to prevent many such unwanted comments."

Hopefully, we won't have any problems and will be able to eliminate this Step. Craig

Strawberry Fields Part II

This is a copy of the Proposed Site Plan for Strawberry Fields. This Plan was prepared Through the Architect on Call Program, Provided by Baltimore County.

I believe that this Plan Serves the Community's Desire to:
  • Save the Buildings
  • Preserve the "Small Town Feel"
  • Provide More Restaurant Choices
  • Provide Better Parking

The Plan Reflects the Desire to Use The Existing Buildings. The Only Additional Structure Proposed is a Gazebo or "Band Stand". We Are Also Proposing to Close Off the Area, in The Center of This Rendering, to Vehicular Traffic and Make it a Pedestrian Area. A Courtyard with Outdoor Seating, for Patrons of the Eateries and Neighbors Out for a Stroll. Since this is "Music City", It Only Seems Appropriate to Have an Outdoor Area on Frederick Rd. ,Where the Light Sounds of Local Artists Can be Enjoyed! Imagine a Barber Shop Quartet or a Couple of Folk Singers Breathing Some Life into the Early Evening Hours. And an Occasional Story Teller with a Small Crowd of Little Enchanted Children on a Saturday Morning.

The Plan Also Provides for Approximately 80 Paved Parking Spaces. In an Area that was Formerly Used for the Storage of Tractor Trailers. The Parking would be Readily Accessed Through the Existing Driveways, Without the Need to Raze any Buildings. The Two Houses Currently used as Offices, on Newburg Ave. Provide a Palatable Transition to the Surrounding Neighborhood.

February 27, 2007


The Comments and Postings on This Message Board may Have been Quiet for the Last Week, but, Our Phones and Offices Certainly Have Not.

We Have had Six, Yes 6 Different Coffee Shops Contact us, in the Last 5 Days, Expressing Interest in Opening a Store, At one of The Locations on Frederick Rd. Readers May or May Not be Pleased to Know that, They Are All Indies (Read.... NO STARBUCKS). Some of These Entrepreneurs Have Locations Already, While Others Are Start-Ups. I Can't Help but Ask, Can Another Coffee Shop Exist on Frederick Rd. with Sam's Bagels, Dunkin Donuts, Friendly's, Coffee Junction, 7-11, and McDonald's?

The Calls are Still Coming In For: Second Hand Stores, Bail Bondsmen, Check Cashing Establishments, Florists, Car Rental's and a mix of Other Interesting Businesses.

This is Where The Readers of Our Blog Can have a True Effect on the Community. Please Tell us if There are any Types of Businesses that you Don't Want to See in the 800 Block of Frederick Rd.

February 22, 2007

New Tenant at 11 Newburg Avenue

We have just signed a Lease with Theresa and Andrea Ratajczak of PDA Marketing, Inc.
They will be Renting the Entire House at 11 Newburg Ave. Theresa and Andrea are both Catonsville Residents and we are Very Pleased that They have Decided to Move Their Business to Catonsville. PDA is exactly the type of business that we were hoping to attract to this property. They are a youthful, up and coming firm, that will bring new clients to the area. Look for their staff and clients to be visiting the Stores and Restaurants in town.

PDA specializes in media placement, public relations, development and mapping of advertising plans, production of multimedia advertisements and creation of promotional tools for both general consumer and business-to-business clients.
PDA has a complete in-house graphic design department and creative team. Projects include outdoor creative, identity packages, print ads, annual reports, brochures, direct mail and product packaging.
Enjoy more success…Plan, Decide & Act! You can visit them on the web at

Items of Related Interest

I have been asked to share the following information:

The Old Catonsville Neighborhood Association (OCNA), in co-sponsorship with Clean Currents, will be presenting an information session on creating a Clean Energy Buying Cooperative for the Greater Catonsville Area. This is a volunteer effort and will be for the purchase of electricity only. The meeting will be held on March 8th at 7:00 p.m. at the Catonsville Library.
A clean energy buying cooperative is a group of homeowners that voluntarily band together to purchase (in this case) clean energy. Clean energy is also called renewable energy. Examples are energy from wind power or solar sources. Come to the meeting and learn more about clean energy; it is available for purchase; we can get it for less than we are paying now for non renewable energy; it is reliable; and the process is easy.
Participation in the Clean Energy Buying Cooperative for the Greater Catonsville Area is a slam-dunk - Cut your electricity costs and help the environment at the same time. By using the power of volume purchasing, participants in the cooperative will secure lower prices for electricity than we would otherwise attain individually.
Each kilowatt-hour of electricity from a clean source reduces carbon dioxide emissions by about 1.6 pounds. A residential buying group of 100 homes from the Greater Catonsville area, for example, could cut about 1.6 million pounds of the global warming-causing carbon dioxide, from the atmosphere.
By participating in the Clean Energy Buying Cooperative for the Greater Catonsville Area there will be no interruption of service, no special equipment needed, and no change to the reliability of the electricity supply. It is a SIMPLE switch. At this meeting, presentations will be made by representatives from the Old Catonsville Neighborhood Association and Clean Currents.
Come, learn and even sign up on March 8th. By participating in the Greater Catonsville Clean Energy Buying Cooperative you will join with like-minded neighbors who want to save money and help the environment. If you are considering participation in this effort, bring along your BGE account # with you and you can sign on the spot.
Tell a friend; this meeting is open to anyone in the Greater Catonsville Area! Remember, there is no obligation to join the Clean Energy Buying Cooperative for the Greater Catonsville Area and OCNA will NOT make any decisions for anyone's home. You come as an individual homeowner and will have to sign up as such.
Any questions feel free to contact: Kirby Spencer at 410-747-1280, or Joan Plisko at 410-869-0292,

Purpose of this Site

Reading back over some of these posts. I see a trend towards establishments that serve alcohol. I want to take this opportunity, to be clear, that I am not suggesting that Alcohol or even a Restaurant has to be part of this project. I am just attempting to gauge what type of business the community would like to try and attract. The point that I have been trying to make is that there have been several Established Restaurants that would love to come to Catonsville and open a new location, in one of these existing buildings. The reason that they have chosen not to, so far. Is that selling alcohol is and important draw for them and is important to there bottom line.

We have had interest from other types of businesses, primarily, banks, drug stores and dollar type discount stores, that would also like to locate here. Although, they would require razing the buildings on the site.

I know my preference is to keep the character of a small town. What is yours?

February 21, 2007


There have been quite a few references to having a Restaurant where you would bring your own alcoholic beverage. More Specifically, a Mexican Restaurant, where you could BYOB. I have heard some pretty interesting ideas.

I have been told of places that have done this and had frozen drink machines, you buy a virgin frozen drink and then add your own Tequila or whatever. I have heard of places where the bartender will mix your drink, with your spirits, using their mixers. I have heard of parties going out to dinner and taking coolers full of their favorite beverages. I have even heard of people going out for a birthday party and taking a keg of beer!

I don't know about the legalities of running a place like these. But, many of you seem to enjoy similar type places. Every time someone tells me about one of these operations, they tell me how much they like them,but, they are so crowded that they can't always get in. These places seem to be very popular.

A Mexican Place that is B.Y.O.B., sure seems like it would be very popular. I would imagine it would draw quite a few students from the local colleges as well.

I must admit. The only places that I can remember going, where it was B.Y.O.B., were Sea Hut (Before They Got a Lisc.) and the Canopy (When it was a Tent on Rt. 40)
And I never saw anyone with more than a six pack or a bottle of wine.

Is there anyone out there that would be interested in Opening a B.Y.O.B. place here?
Is there anyone reading this that knows the legalities?
Can these places be family friendly?
Are you concerned that a Restaurant like this may be too popular?
We have the space to park the cars.

February 20, 2007

Mexican Food

I too, am a big fan of Mexican Food. In the last year I have visited many of the "chain's", looking for a Mexican Restaurant that might want to open here and not have to depend on Margarita and Dos X's beer sales. What I have found is that they all seem to be the same and are not very authentic. I did like the Chipolte Grill, but, they really need a high volume location (drive through). The county has asked that I not put a fast food location on this site, I agree with them on this one! Please Let me know if you know of any good Mexican Restaurants that don't serve Alcohol. Would you frequent a Mexican Restaurant without alcohol or would you keep going to the ones that you go to now?

February 19, 2007

Re: Chef Paul's

Thank you for your phone calls. You make some really good points, but, it would really be better if you would leave your comments here, so that our readers Won't Miss Any of your points.

Chef Paul's is a Great Restaurant! This is a Perfect Example, that When the Residents of Catonsville are Offered Something Good, it Will Be Supported! It Surprises me how Often People Will Tell Me That The Residents of Catonsville Won't Support Something Decent. If You Believe That, You Need to Visit Chef Paulino's (If You Can Get In!)

I didn't Write the Liquor Laws and I Realize That Chef Paul's is Directly Across the Street from St. Timothy's Church. And Has a Liquor Licence. All I Can Say is, That I Believe That They Measure From Building to Building, not Property Lines.

You were right on When You said that "People Inside of The Church Don't Even See The Place, yet it is only 30ft and Highly Visible from The Church's Ball Fields" and, " This Summer Many People will Participate in Activities on the Ball Fields or Tennis Courts and Then Will Enjoy a Meal and Beverage at Chef Paul's". I Especially Enjoyed the Comment that " More Kids will Eat at Chef Paul's this Year than Will Eat at Any Single School Cafeteria in The Area!!!" While I don't know if that is True, I can say that I have 2 Kids that Love the Restaurant and they Eat There Often, If Not With Us, With their Friends and Their Friend's Family's.

The Current Liquor Laws Are Not About Protecting Church Goers or Children They Are About Restricting Business.

February 18, 2007

The Future of Catonsville - More Like Ellicott City or More Like Irvington?

It has often been said that, you have to move forward or you will get left behind. You cannot stand still, nothing stays the same.

Traffic is increasing in Catonsville, we cannot stop it. We must embrace it. Manage it. Take advantage of it. We must give the occupants of these vehicles a reason to stop and spend some money with the merchants here. Currently over 25,000 cars per day drive down Frederick Rd., through the heart of Catonsville. What do the drivers and passengers see? To the person traveling this Road, is it a place that they would want to stop?

Every day many, if not most, of the residents of Catonsville get into their cars and leave. They leave to work, shop, eat and play in Places like Ellicott City and Columbia.

As Catonsville continues to grow and evolve, so do the other communities around us. For good or for bad. The obvious path for businesses that want to expand and for consumers looking for more choices, is to follow the main road. We are a natural magnet to attract from Ellicott City or Irvington.

As businesses in Catonsville close up and leave (Most recently the Catonsville Tuxedo Company) Landlords and Property owners, have to make a choice. That choice is - who are they going to sell or lease their property to? Individually, this is the property owners right. They are and should be entitled to solicit the highest price that they can for their location. Collectively, this is the future of Catonsville. The choices made today, by the property owners on Frederick Road, will affect values of residential property in the surrounding neighborhoods tomorrow.

There are no shortages of quality businesses that want to move or relocate to Catonsville. We have many reasons to draw them here. Our demographics are good. We are in an ideal location, close to the beltway, UMBC, CCBC, St. Agnes Hospital, Charlestown Retirement Community and the Airport.

We can either cater to the people associated with these institutions or chase them away.

What is life going to be like in Catonsville in 20, 10 or even 5 years? Will we be a town full of life? Or will we be a town where the owners of the Bailbond Shops, Tatoo Parlors, Used Appliance Stores and Check Cashing businesses all close the steel gates on their store windows and go home at 5pm?

February 17, 2007

How Can I Help?

I appreciate your many Phone Calls and Emails In Support of this Project.

The Fact is, My Family and I are Long Time Catonsville Residents and we want To Leave a Positive Impact on "Down Town" Catonsville.

Most Other Investors would Either Fill The Space As it Is, with a Store That Sells Something Like Used Appliances. Or They Would Tear Down the Existing Buildings and replace them with one Large Tenant, such as a Drug Store or a Behavioral Health Facility. While these are Allowable Options That Would Require Far Less Effort and Would Be Very Profitable, My Wife Deborah and I Believe that the Residents of Catonsville Deserve Better. We Want to Fix What Is Already There and Make It Shine! We are Up for the Challange to try Something Different. To Stretch a Little and Not Just Accept Being Told "No".

I ask Everyone that is in Support of What We are trying to Do:

Attract a Nice Restaurant, Open a Public Courtyard and add Parking.

To Please WRITE to The Catonsville Times or Our Local Politicians asking for their Support and Assistance.

Thank You,

Liquor Licences

The issue with the Liquor Licenses, as I understand it, has to do with Baltimore County, and it's Archaic, Protective Treatment of the Licenses.

First of all to obtain a liquor License in Baltimore County you must either buy an existing one ( Which usually sell for $100,000. +) or Build a shopping Center over 25,000sf or a Hotel, in which cases you are awarded one.

These Licenses cannot be transferred between districts, so one from (for example) Randallstown may not be able to be bought and transferred to Catonsville.

Another Caveat to the law is, you must be 300 feet from the nearest Church. It makes no difference if the Church and its members are supportive of the Restaurant's pursuit of a Licence.
Of Course when these law were written existing Bars, Liquor Stores and Other Holders of Liquor Licences were exempt. It appears that a small Tavern can expand it business as much as it would like and even permit outdoor drinking, thus completely reinventing itself, no matter how close it is to a church, If it already held a Licence when the Laws were written.

I think that these Laws were written to satisfy the Licenced Beverage Association and it's members, by restricting competition. They were definitely not written to give the Residents of Baltimore County the opportunity we deserve to have more and varied dining choices.

The Choice we have is, patronize one of the existing businesses in town or drive to Ellicott City, Canton etc.

Catonsville is in the Process of Revitalizing Itself. The County Executive is encouraging Businesses to relocate here.

The question is: Do we want "Revitalize" Catonsville by Attracting Customers and Businesses from our Neighbors in Ellicott City or Irvington?


In Response to everyone that has stated, "Catonsville needs another Restaurant". I agree with you, and do believe that Catonsville Could Support another Eatery. The Old Hardware Store would be an ideal location for a Restaurant. Some Really Great Ones have Contacted us about locating to this site. They are Attracted to this Location because of the Size and Character of the Building and the Fact that there is Room for Plenty of Parking.

The Challenge is Obtaining a liquor License - Which I will Explain in another post. The ability for someone to dine and have a beverage of their choice is an important draw for a Restaurant.

Some of the People that we have Talked with want to bring the following:

A Japanese, Hibachi Style Restaurant, the Kind where the food is prepared at your Table. Also, a Sushi Restaurant. Both of these Restaurants lost interest, when they found out that they would not be able to offer Saki (Rice Wine) or Kirin and other imported Beers.

Several Mexican Restaurants have expressed interest in Locating Here. This is always very exciting to me, as I am a big fan of Mexican Food. I doubt that we will see a Mexican Restaurant in Catonsville, Margaritas and Beer are important to their Clientele.

A High End, White Table Cloth, Italian Restaurant was quite disappointed when they found out, that their customers, would not be able to enjoy a bottle of wine, with their exquisite entrees. My Family, as well as many, many Families in Catonsville Love Chef Paolino's, as is evident by the need for Chef P. to move to a larger Location. The Italian Restaurant that wants to Locate in the Old Hardware Store, would be a different type of Italian Restaurant, ex. No Pizza. I don't think it would be Competition, but a Compliment to Chef P.'s

There have been Several "Wine Bars". Quaint Places that offer a Selection of Fine Wine and Light Meals that feel the Residents of Catonsville would support their business.

And, Yes, we have been contacted by an Irish Pub Style Restaurant that Offers Dining that we have not Experienced in this part of town.

All of the above Restaurants Have Existing Businesses in surrounding counties. They are all Well Established and Have Recognizable Names. And offer Dining Experiences that the People of Catonsville are already going elsewhere to Enjoy. They would draw new diners to Catonsville.

I believe that the Restaurants that already exist in Catonsville would see a boost in Their Businesses, as Customers are drawn to Frederick Rd., by a Restaurant that is already known and loved. Look at how many Successful Restaurants will only locate in Restaurant Parks! It has been our hope and desire to have an existing Restaurant either Relocate or Expand to Catonsville. Thus, bringing New Diners to explore our local, established Restaurants. If a new Restaurant were to open in Town, there would be a period of time, where they would have to establish their business by luring local Customers away from the other Restaurants.

On the Lighter Side!

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