Friday, December 13, 2013

RIP Captain Harvey's Restaurant and Coffee with T.

Two local eateries of Nicky's and my acquaintance closed their doors recently.  Actually, Coffee with T. would be better described as a "nibblery," since its main selling point was -- you guessed it -- caffeinated drinks of various sorts.  After the demise of Owings Mills' Java Journeys a few years ago, Coffee with T. was one of the very few coffee-centric joints within a reasonable distance of where we live.  It was located in Stevenson Village, a collection of eclectic shops and a tiny post office in "the heart of Stevenson" (a somewhat unverifiable claim given that the town of Stevenson doesn't consist of very much to begin with).  I went to Coffee with T. to get lunch on those occasions when I needed to mail something and didn't have the time or inclination to wait in line at the much larger Owings Mills P.O.  I might still be able to do that, since the site has been turned into a satellite of Stone Mill Bakery, a larger (and much more outrageously overpriced) concern of similar type, but I would feel better about patronizing the business if it were still a go-it-alone concern.

Owings Mills itself suffered a much bigger dining loss in early November when Captain Harvey's Seafood Restaurant closed its doors.  The restaurant had existed since the 1930s and had been in its location on Reisterstown Road for 60 years. Though it is one of a relatively small number of higher-end, "non-chain" dining establishments in the area, it took Nicky and I a while before we decided to give it a try.  Perhaps it was the yardarm roadside sign, perhaps the crabhouse attached to the side of the main dining area like an oversized barnacle, but we rarely drove by it without making some joke about the proprietors greeting patrons with "Welcome Aboard!" or there being old fishing nets and crab pots tacked on the dining-room walls.  In downtown Baltimore, there's a seafood place that is literally shaped like a boat, and we figured that Captain Harvey's, for all of its conventional exterior looks, was probably such a place.

When we finally decided to gird our loins (not in public, mind you) and visit the Captain's quarters, the place turned out to be... not that bad.  Since we are not big fish, crab, or lobster eaters, the two big selling points for us were the weekly non-seafood dinner specials (beef tenderloin, fried chicken, etc.) and the everything-included Thanksgiving dinner.  On the few occasions we visited, the food was at least reasonably decent.  The wood-paneled, darkish main dining area and dark patterned rug, however, simply screamed "70s."  Since the place was partially rebuilt in 1972 after it was damaged by a fire, I suppose that we shouldn't have been all that surprised by the decor.  The refusal to change said decor, however, probably made it harder to attract a younger clientele in recent years.  Nicky suggested that the restaurant had to close because many of its key patrons had died off, and that seems a reasonable conclusion. 

Whereas Coffee with T. was at least replaced by another, somewhat similar establishment, Captain Harvey's suffered the indignity of being bought out by the Royal Farms convenience-store chain.  For the moment, the crabhouse is still open, but the place's supplies are slowly being sold off.  It's a sad way to end 80 years in business, but the dining world, like the rest of the cosmos, does move.

No comments: