Monday, May 11, 2015

The History Behind Tapas Teatro, Pen & Quill [Karzai & Friedman]

The Story of Karzai and His Station North Restaurants

Qayum Karzai owns many restaurants, but some of the most prominent restaurants he owns are located right in the center of Baltimore’s, Station North Arts and Entertainment District. Less than a year ago he opened his newest addition to his group of restaurants, Pen & Quill. Pen & Quill is located at the corner of Charles and Lanvale Street, at 1701 North Charles Street, and just north of Penn Station. Interestingly, it is located right next door to another one of his own restaurants, Tapas Teatro. Unlike Pen & Quill, which was only opened this past July, Tapas Teatro opened up in 2001. Ever since it’s opening has had much success. Tapas Teatro located right next to the famous Charles Theatre, allows many to go from a watching a great movie to grabbing something delicious to eat. When opening Pen & Quill, Karzai continued to use his initial staff, the manager of Tapas Teatro, Jared Cozart was involved in the project, also his kids were in the project. Helmand Karzai, who was working at his fathers’ restaurants and helping to run it with his mom, Patricia, was also working on the Pen & Quill Project. Both Helmand and Patricia help to run the restaurants.

Karzai’s restaurant career might have flourished with restaurants like Tapas Teatro, but he started out average.  In 2001, Tapas Teatro was not the start of Karzais restaurant career. Qayum had worked as a busboy and waiter in a restaurant prior to opening his own restaurant. He learned the in’s and out of the restaurant business while working in them. He had opened up his first restaurant, many miles away, in Chicago with one of his brothers. The restaurant was a success from day one. However his wife and kids were here, so eventually he decided to come back. His decision on returning never really did end his life in the restaurant business; in 1989 Qayum opened up an Afghan restaurant, called The Helmand, at 806 North Charles Street. From there he began his journey in the restaurant business. Since he was already a politician, and his brother was Afghanistan’s president, he did have to go back and forth between Afghanistan and here, but that did not stop him or his family from continuing to have a success in the restaurant business and continue to open up new restaurants all through Baltimore. Tapas Teatro was the second restaurant he opened in 2001.  The restaurant went well so in 2003, Karzai opened up a Bolton Hill Bistro. Now in 2014, he opened up Pen & Quill, his most recent entrepreneurial endeavor. He never offered similar cuisine in any of his restaurants, therefore engulfing different cultural experiences for people trying food from all three. The Helmand serves Afghani cuisine, while Tapas Teatro serves Spanish cuisine and the Pen & Quill serves Maryland cuisine. All of his establishments are different, and all a success since everyone gets some different type of cuisine at each of his restaurants.  There is more to these establishments than just their success that we may know of; there is a history to them, especially Pen & Quill located at Station North.

If you lived in Baltimore your entire life, then you may have heard of the Chesapeake Restaurant. The restaurant that served with great success for about 50 years, was located where Pen & Quill has now opened, that location being historic has left its mark on many peoples memory even today. Prior to the 1900s, 1701-1709 North Charles Street had five brownstone buildings on it.  It used to be a living space where several tenants could live.  In the early 1900s Hasslinger’s, who changed its name to Walker Hasslinger and Mariner’s Nook Bar opened, opened up at this location. Then in 1913, Morris Friedman had come to America and opened a storefront type grocery store. It was a new idea at the time, but finally five years later, he purchased the location (1701-09 North Charles Street).   Then starting in 1933 this location got its fame. 
In 1933, Friedman decided to open up the Chesapeake Restaurant, serving seafood. This restaurant became a success in no time, especially after Morris’s son, Sidney, took over and ran the business. Sidney Friedman had taken a trip to Chicago and tasted steak that he thought was very tasty, so he learned how to make it and brought the recipe back to the Chesapeake Restaurant. He made it such a success, that the restaurant got many awards, and much business. Philip Friedman (son of Morris) was young at the time, but he always watched Sidney at the restaurant and would help out in the restaurant, and according to him “Sidney was a second father to him.” The rest of Morris’s family (son Norman, and Richard (Norman’s son) came and joined the business. Philip and Philip’s son Donald were already helping in the business. Donald had expanded, opening up another restaurant in Baltimore, while Philip continued to work at the Chesapeake. A business that was running so well, many people coming to it, in a great location, no one would think that one day a fire would begin and destroy parts of the restaurant. It took a lot of money/loans to repair however, in 1983, nine years after that fire, loans were still not paid, Sidney was growing old, and Norman was losing interest, so the restaurant was set up for auctioning. Philip and Donald Friedman bought it from the rest of his family, did some repairs, and then reopened the restaurant, this time calling it The Original Chesapeake Restaurant. Only a few years of remaining open, the restaurant was forced to apply for bankruptcy since loans were not being paid off fast enough. The Friedman’s said that even though the restaurant was bringing in a profit they were forced to close. In 1986, this forced bankruptcy closed down the restaurant and it was auctioned off to a Baltimore Attorney, Robert Sapero. He tried to reopen the restaurant, but after failing he kept the restaurant closed for 25 years!!!

In 2008, Robert Sapero had to sell the property to the city, since he never reopened it or sold it.  The historic site was sold for $2.5 million using the Baltimore Development Corporation! In 2010, the property was sold once again for $2.5 million to Ernst Valery. Valery and Michael Shecter decided to remodel it and reopen a restaurant, called The Chesapeake Restaurant. According to the contract they signed they were not allowed to remodel anything until $1.5 million was paid. Qayum Karzai was supposedly also in the deal, except he backed down just before signing, which led the restaurant to be managed by Valery and his family. The restaurant did not go as well and within less than a year of opening it closed. From there it went into the hands of Qayum Karzai, this time leaving the name of Chesapeake behind. Karzai renovated the restaurant all together, including changing the name, but he still left clues of the Chesapeake Restaurant origins. The name of the bar in the Chesapeake Restaurant was Pen & Quill, hence the name of the new restaurant opened, Pen & Quill. A site that even today is famous for the Chesapeake Restaurant that people still talk about it when eating at Tapas Teatro, Helmand Karzai said.  It was about a century ago this location was run by the owners of the famous Chesapeake, and a century later the Karzai family is now running it.  The location and restaurant was a success then under the Friedman Family, and it has a successful start now under the Karzai family.

Final Reflective Blog

May 11, 2015

Wow, I can't believe the semesters coming to an end. There has been so much that has happened and so much that still can be done. This was such a busy but fun semester. I really enjoyed this class and I learned so much. In class when we were discussing with Marc what we got out, there were many things that came to mind. Like Rachel, the most important I thought was the idea of going from just learning about it to actually doing it. It is a class that teaches more to just learn about something and then reiterating on the test, it made you actually apply certain aspects you learned in the class, but also you had to be able to be willing to do it. This class did require a lot of participation and contribution, but I feel that is actually the beauty of the class. It was a way for you to actually feel what it is like in the real world. We go to class, listen to whats going on, and then be able to memorize it for either a test or write a paper about it, however it is a whole other thing to be able to have a little piece of the real world. In reality, when we gradate and move on, we will have to be able to think on our feet, do things we may not like or be used to, and deal with it. There will probably be a whole lot more work involved as well. It may be just you and maybe a few other people going out and doing a project like this, who knows. This class just gave me a piece of what the real world is like.

I feel my strongest contribution in this project was interviewing people. I had never thought that I would be able to do as many interviews as I had done. It was a great learning experience, I had never taken an interview for anyone before, but then also being able to ask questions in such a way where the conversation continues. I did help in themes as well as transcribing, and the themes groups a whole but it wasn't as big a contribution as conducting the interviews.  In the end, I will say that I learned a lot in this class, it gave me a real view of the real world, as well as, it let me learn how to do things I wasn't able to do before. I just wish I had taken this class before my last semester in my bachelors, because I would take another class like this.

Adventure Photos

Below are all the pictures I took in Station North during my adventures to the city.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Adventure Blog 4

April 15, 2015 and April 22, 2015

I can't believe this would be my fourth time in Station North on April 15, 2015. I ended up going there for awhile, mainly for interviews however, since I had a little time before hand I got to see the place a little more. This time I got to go to Outtakes. I had never been there before. Honestly, I probably would not have been able to find it as easily if I had not seen the door on my last adventure to the city. I went in and also got a nice cozy feeling from it. It was small, but you know it's like that saying no place is small as long as you take care of it and you feel happy, nothing is small. Meeting the people there, you definitely got that feeling. The people working there and coming there both cared for each other. You could tell the way people entered and the way they left happy and satisfied, but not only that the way the person working there was smiling and seemed to love what he was doing was great. I would definitely say I would go there again just because he had such a caring and happy attitude. It wasn't just then I noticed it, when we went back later that day, I got that same attitude again, and also the way kids were happy to see him and be there.

Outtakes was the only place I saw that day. However I got to go back on April 22, 2015. We first went to the Community Center on Barclay St. It was really nice, it was big and it had a huge space for members of the community to have. I got to walk through their community park, which really consisted of benches with chess boards on attached to them, and then we got to see the marble benches that were made from old steps that used to be in the community. On there were also chess boards. Not only that but we also got to see the community garden. I thought it was really amazing that there was so many activities that the community members could do. They tried to pertain to all different age groups, it didn't matter who you were they had activities for all. Next we went to Sofi's Crepes, and then from there we went to Charles Theatre. Charles Theatre was nice, it was a little dark, but I think thats what gives it there look. I never saw a movie there, but sitting there the smell of popcorn in the lobby and the places to sit. It had a lot of signs for movies, I had never heard of, but that was another beauty of the Charles Theatre. It was getting late, and I had to go. I never thought that maybe the last time I was going to go before the riots.

Adventure Blog 3

April 11, 2015

My third time in Station North, it was a new day, and a whole lot more that I could see. It was nice out, much nicer than it had been on Thursday at the field trip. It was early Saturday that I had got there.I started out at Sofi's Crepes, even though I had been there twice before. There were several things you notice when you are sitting there and there is not many other things going on. The streets were quiet, the few people that were walking on the streets going or coming from cafes. People were enjoying themselves, either eating, or having a nice walk. It was actually nice to see how people were calm, relax, satisfied, everyone was happy and to themselves. Since Sofi's wasn't open we had to go to SNAC, but then once finally we were able to go to Sofi's we went there. Since there weren't many people at Sofi's I was able to see the wall of keys. It was a nice piece of work, really creative. It can connect with anyone, since, there are many opportunities in life, you have to pick a way (a key) and if one door closes, you will find another open. After Sofi's we ended up going to Seoul Rice Cakes. It was the first time I had been there. I can say it was different then I had thought. It was more empty. Maybe for the Pop Up Korea Town exhibition. There was a lot of open space, nice artwork, and also had some greenery. There as a lot of things I thought were interesting here. I guess overall the one thing I really thought was different from other places I had been to was the way that anyone who comes to the door can't come inside unless if the owner/employee doesn't let you in the first time. At first I had thought the store was closed, but then I noticed any time anyone would come that happens. If there was no one there to open the door, then they just had to ring the bell and they would be clicked in. I really thought that was interesting. I really liked about Pop Up Korea Town was the artwork. Each piece had some kind of meaning to it, especially the pots. Each pot had the person who created it story. It was a creative way to get sentiment and stories in. Just by reading the little descriptions next to each picture, made me look at the picture through the artists eyes. Seouls Rice Cakes was the end of my trip to Station North.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Adventure Blog 2

April 9, 2015

My second trip to Station North was an interesting one. I must say, it started out well, but I got to see much more then I had expected. We had started out meeting at the shuttle. Even the shuttle ride down was interesting, in the fact that we got to see how to get down there but also people who hadn't taken the bus or been to Baltimore before were able to go. Once we got to the stop, we walked to Lexington Market. We walked in, and I will say it smelled like fish. There was a lot of people in the market, a lot more than I was expecting. We got to stop there for a little bit and buy whatever we wanted to. I went with a few people and walked around. We stopped by a crab cake store that is world famous for there crab cakes. Once we got that we met up with everyone else outside of the Market. As we took a small break there we got to see a disguised cop van and many things occurring which at the time I did not have any clue was occurring until Shawn came and told us. Moving on from there we ended up walking to Pratt Library. At the Pratt Library, I was able to make a library card before we left. We got to walk from there to Station North. It was a long house we got to see Washington Monument, and then passed through Mt. Vernon, and finally reached Station North. We walked through Station North, walking past the Montessori School through Lanvale and seeing the Copy Cat, through Greenmount West. Along the way I saw some cats walking around the streets. Finally we got back to Charles Street. We got to go walk around and do what we want. First, most of us actually went to Sofi's Crepes. However, from there a group of us went to go find Joes Squared for there very well known pizza. Unfortunately, we were running short on time and we hadn't found Joes Squared yet and before we got to the end of the street there was a random guy yelling so we decided we would go into the McDonalds. We went there, ordered food and then we were going to leave. We got to see an ID of a another random guy sitting next to us, talking to the people across the store. Once we were all there, we got to leave. We ended up going to Red Emma's to see how it was there. It was different, it was defiantly not the vibe I got from SNAC when I had gone there on my first adventure. Red Emma's had a whole different rhythm. It smelled and looked a lot more like a normal cafe. It was nice to see that they had a book area on one side and then a place where you could actually sit on another side. It was a good place to discuss as a group, with a great lobby. Also, it really impressed me that even in the riots last week they gave out free lunches to students. It made me have a lot more respect for them. We ended up going back to the Chicken Box to meet up with the rest of our class. We caught the circulator back, and waited a long time for the UMBC bus. Finally, once it came after a long day, and a lot of walking it was nice to take the bus back. I wasn't able to go for our next adventure on Saturday, but that was all good because I knew I would be back the next Wednesday. Fortunately, it was a really fun and interesting field trip. I got to see a lot of new places, walked around a lot, and also got to see some things I probably would not have thought of seeing. I got home that day and I had a lot to tell that was for sure.

Adventure Blog 1

April 4, 2015

My first visit into Station North was a calm one, not to exciting. I had never actually been down there before. At least not that I had realized. I went down initially to do an interview, however that plan ended up failing. We ended up meeting at Station North Arts Cafe (SNAC). As I entered, I saw Kevin Brown standing at the entrance. I probably wouldn't have even thought that much about it, but because we had discussed about him in class before, it was kind of cool actually seeing what or who you were talking about rather than just talking about them. I went into SNAC thinking it would be much different than it really was. It had a different vibe, different feel, different environment than I was expecting. I got a much more cozier,  more like a home feeling or vibe. The colors (green, yellow, white) really lit the place up, and the way the kitchen was set made it give that home feeling which was nice since you don't get that feeling often. It wasn't too big nor too small, it was the perfect size cafe. Even the employees there were welcoming and nice. As we waited for the interviewee to show up, we began talking to the person sitting right next to us, Sylvester Shorts. at first he seemed to us like a professor, however he was really one person who was trying to do something for his community. He had a lot to say and a lot he wanted to do. So, by the end we had a lot of information and contacts to call to get some interviews lined up. After sitting at SNAC for so long, and no interviewee showing up, Adam and I ended up leaving, we didn't want to take up more space than we had to. We ended up walking down to the Chicken Box to see if we could use that as our back-up space for interviews, however when we got there it was being occupied by a singing group. So, then we walked down the street to see the Seoul Rice Cakes' father painting that Alethia had just been discussing in class. It was kind of cool looking at that since, we had just heard about it from Alethia and then just seeing it made a big difference. It was definitely one thing learning or discussing about it, but then a whole other expierence seeing it after talking about it. We walked back past the SNAC and in front of Sofi's Crepes. From there we went to Metro Gallery to see if that could be used as a back up space, however to our luck it was closed. From there we went back to Sofi's and split up, I ended up going into Sofi's Crepes to wait for my ride. Since I had heard so much about crepes and I had never had one. The employee at Sofi's totally got that and he was the one who asked would you want something sweet or a different flavor. I went with the sweet. So, then he told me many people either get the banana crepe or the apple frit crepe. I went with the apple, while I was waiting, I actually got to discuss about our project and he agreed to an interview. Once I got my crepe, I ended up sharing it with my parents. We drove past Red Emma's and Joe Squared. I figured out exactly where I want to go next. I really liked going and seeing Station North. I felt even though I wasn't connected to the place, there was some connection since we discussed it in class, it made a different feeling.  Maybe it was that, that made me go there again and talk to so many people, make so many interviews, because I wanted to here what they had to say.   It was the end of my first adventure in Station North and looking back, it so was not my last.