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 www.pdamarketing.net

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, spencerjkelm@comcast.net or Joan Plisko at 410-869-0292, jplisko@hotmail.com.

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.

February 16, 2007

Strawberry Fields

The property is actually a bit larger than just the hardware store. There are a few other Buildings, That with the right businesses in them, and the Proposed Open Space, could create a truly vibrant "Town Center"

It also, encompasses 827 Frederick Rd. (The Old Cigar Store and Natty Boh Store). Currently an 800 sqf. Vacant Store Front, with several possibilities for expansion.

The Former Bray Electric Building at 821 Frederick Rd. 1,100 sf of Totally Renovated Space, with an Office and a Loft Apartment. All Currently available for Lease.

821 Frederick is also Home to the Catonsville Groomery - Stop in and see Cathy and Val !

9 and 11 Newburg Ave. are two Lovely Old Victorian Homes - Zoned for Offices.

If you are interested in any of these spaces or know of anyone that is, give us a call at 443.830.0310


OK -- I think we have it set up now that anyone can respond. Just click on the comment button at the end of each post.

Bakery and Cafe

Hi Craig -
Enjoyed reading your blog, although I did have problems when I attempted to create a new post. So, I thought I'd just email you some feedback : - ) One of my favorite places (I stopped in this morning) is the Old Mill Bakery and Cafe on Frederick Road next to theTrolley Stop (still in Baltimore County: - ), but close to historic EC. You probably have stopped in, but if you haven't, I think that this is the type of place that I (and my kids) would love to see in Catonsville. Last Sunday morning, the family and I stopped in and we saw two other couples from Catonsville in this place at about 9:30 in the morning. Wouldn't it be great to have a place on Main Street Catonsville to visit instead? I recall that this place may have been an old general store, judging from the design of the building. It seems to me that this would satisfy the Starbucks seekers, but it's a chain (and that's one of the reasons I love it!)The place is not very large (I would guess smaller than 5000 sq.ft), with a kitchen in the back, small bistro tables setup to the right and rear of the store, bar stools facing some larger windows, a small reading nook with a sofa and coffee table, and built-in book shelves filled with all sorts of things (varieties of teas and coffees primarily, but teapots and cups and other trinkets). My kids love the homemade muffins, I love the gourmet coffees and chai teas, and most of all I love stopping in at around 3pm to get a hot Wild Berry pot straight from the oven--YUM! Needless to say, the place seems to always be hopping with traffic. Dana B.

A Few Ideas

Hello Craig,

I have lived in Catonsville for 9 years and love it. I have a few ideas to throw out for your consideration.

I know that Muir Hardware did not make a profit at this location but Catonsville does need a "mom and pop" hardware store. Currently I drive into downtown Baltimore to a mom and pop hardware store.

Another idea is an independent bookstore.

A 3rd idea is a British/Irish style pub (with no smoking) that families with children would feel comfortable frequenting.

Lastly, a small family diner might work there, specifically a "coney island" style diner or an "Olga's Kitchen" restaurant.

Thank you for your commitment to Catonsville and your vision.


Amy B.

Trouble Posting

Since this Blog was created. I have been overwhelmed with emails and phone calls, people are having a difficult time posting to the blog. As soon as I can figure out how to make it easy for everyone to post . For the meantime, I will post a few of the emails .

Thanks for all of your support. Craig

Tear It Down

Craig, I am pretty dumb. How does someone like me make a comment on your blog? So here goes. Grocery store- no way, no parking, and the people in Catonsville will not support it and you will be pissing against the wind. The people here say all kinds of things like this, or a movie, etc. etc. Arbutus has a movie theater and it is empty. My wife and I go there often. It is our own private showing because it is empty. The people here did not support the Store or the old Korean Grocer. The bottom line is that shoppers everywhere shop price. Wal-Mart and Sam’s are big hits. Forget it.

Next, people here would like Catonsville it to be like Georgetown; except without the alcohol, bands, bars, young kids or anything open after 10:00pm. Go to Friendly”s some night.. See what I mean.

My suggestion: knock it down and start over! Also, I know that you love this place. So do I. But this is business and think through your brain, not your heart. And remember this, no matter what you do, this community will put you through hell whatever. Go see Tom Booth and ask his advice. Also Steve Whalen. They have the experience so don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Listen to them, they will be good counsel. Do the smart thing, If you are bent on doing the right thing, take some of your profits and send it to a missionary. Richard

(This Comment Was Emailed to Craig Witzke with a Request to Post It)

February 15, 2007

Grocery Stores

Another very common request has been that I contact a specialty Grocery Store - such as Trader Joes, Eddies, Wegmans, Whole Foods etc. Several Attempts to Contact these businesses and others have been made. Again, these Companies would prefer to locate to Rt 40 - more specifically Rt 40 in Howard County or other Location's in Columbia.
It has been our desire to use the buildings as they exist on the property. The Hardware Store is aprox. 5,000 sf. Each of the above Companies require stores of 18,000 sf and larger. Even if we were to demolish all of the Structures, there would not be enough room to build a new store and provide sufficient parking. We want to do our part to help improve the quality of life for residents of Catonsville, not create more parking problems.


Literally, almost every day since we aquired the property someone has contacted me and asked that I open a Starbuck's Coffee Shop. I have written letters, made phone calls and sent emails trying to reach someone from Starbucks to come and look at this site. Recently, I was contacted by a Broker that finds locations for Starbucks. I was told that while they would like to open a store in Catonsville, they do not feel that the residents of Catonsville alone could support a Starbucks. They feel that they need to be on Baltimore National Pike (Rt 40)

On the Lighter Side!

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