Baltimore restaurants assess damage from riots and citywide curfew

Baltimore restaurants and bars, from Little Italy and Canton to Station North and Belvedere Square, closed early on Monday night as violence continued to spread unpredictably throughout the city.

Some restaurants, bars and businesses were damaged.

Cafes and businesses on the blocks of Centre Street between St. Paul Street and Park Avenue were vandalized. Others, including a 7-Eleven on the corner of Charles and Centre streets were looted as well.

Some reports of looting turned out to be false. Stories circulated on social media about looting at Boston Street businesses, but Fork & Wrench owner Andy Gruver said his business was not hit.

"I stayed at Fork & Wrench all night just in case," Gruver said. "Thankfully, nothing happened."

Bartenders Pub on Boston Street posted a message on its Facebook page Monday to clarify misinformation: "We were NOT looted ..., WJZ misread my post. The Liquor Store at Fleet and Boston was hit. We are all safe and CLOSED for the night."

On Monday night, restaurants and bars reacted apprehensively on social media to the mayor's announcement that a 10 p.m. curfew would be imposed for one week, beginning Tuesday night.

On Tuesday morning, this message appeared on the Twitter account of B&O American Brasserie: "Does this curfew mean that we need to close early to get our staff home without incident before 10 p.m.?"

Liam Flynn, owner of Liam Flynn’s Ale House on North Avenue in Charles North, wants Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to amend the city-wide 10 p.m. curfew for citizens older than 21. Monday through Saturday, the bar — like many in the city — is usually open until 2 a.m.

“Have the National Guard on the street, but don’t shut down our businesses,” Flynn said. “The media blowout has everyone freaked out except for people who live in the city and know what the turf is like and what’s actually happening in the street.”

On Tuesday, Flynn, a board member of the Midtown Community Benefits District, posted a letter to the mayor about the curfew on the website change.org. He originally posted it earlier this morning on his personal Facebook page.

A portion of the letter reads, “With a curfew, you will do more damage financially to our bars & restaurants than rioters will do. In this month, we have to deal [with] taxes, license renewals, annual inspections, insurance renewals, and more. Now you are cutting businesses['] and employees['] ability to recover.”

Flynn said a person online reacted to the post by implying the owner was being insensitive to the city’s current situation. Flynn said he is worried for his employees.

“Yes, I care about money for my employees and neighborhood,” he said. “A week with no business is going to crush us.”

Restaurant owner Bryan Voltaggio felt encouraged by the clean-up efforts Tuesday.

"Seeing residents out, cleaning up their own streets, made us feel like we had to get to work," Voltaggio said. "It’s good to see. That’s what I know Maryland to be; that’s what I know Baltimore to be. Today, to open up was our message."

Voltaggio said he watched Monday’s unfolding events from his hometown of Frederick. He decided to close his Inner Harbor restaurant Family Meal at 3 p.m.

"We were unsure about what was happening," Voltaggio said. "We need to make sure that residents and people coming into our city can go out without feeling unsafe."

But the presence of National Guard troops on Pratt Street made him feel that opening Family Meal was prudent.

Voltaggio said his biggest immediate concern was how the week-long curfew would affect business at his other Baltimore restaurant, Aggio, which is open for dinner only Wednesday through Sunday.

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