The DuClaw Brewing Company restaurant in Fells Point was surprisingly busy for a holiday week. But the servers put on a happy face, and if you didn’t know that the restaurant was closing today (Dec. 30), none would be the wiser.
I skipped a beer tribute and had a Cuban sandwich with the Misfit house-made chips and an iced tea. It was an adequate lunch, but nothing I will miss.
But, then, DuClaw was never known for its food. It offered acceptable pub grub but was mostly known as a great place to meet up with friends for drinks, especially when the weather was nice.
My cheerful waitress Mandy said the staff was told on Monday that DuClaw was closing, but was given no reason. She has two other jobs, she said, so she’s okay. But "It is sad," she said, looking around at her co-workers.
Back in the office, I talked to David Benfield, president of DuClaw, who emphasized that the Fells Point location is the only store that is closing. It was a financial decision.
Benfield said the landlord, Bond St. Wharf LLC, offered DuClaw a buyout of its lease. Since the brewing company was coming on to five years in that location, it accepted the offer.
He said the company took into consideration an expected increase in real-estate taxes and fees and the fact the restaurant was located on the outskirts of Fells Point and not quite in Harbor East. "The store was not a great performer," he said. "We were missing the critical mass."
For now, DuClaw is focusing on its other locations (a soon-to-open franchise will be at BWI) and its bottle launch in liquor stores in Maryland, DC, and soon Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Still, I'm going to miss the warm breezes, water view, outdoor patio, and its excellent ales in Fells Point.