Nelson

I guess I knew this might be coming. Grand Cru, the wonderful little wine bar at Belvedere Square, is being sold. As many know, Grand Cru’s former owner, Nelson Carey, died suddenly last summer. I wrote about it. That was a hard one to write, since I knew Nelson pretty well and always loved seeing him in the bar. We’d catch up, talk about food and wine, but mostly just enjoy each other’s company. What a good and kind person he was.

So months and months later, Nelson’s widow Christy has decided to sell the business. She told the Baltimore Sun, “Grand Cru was the result of Nelson’s passion for wanting to gather people around the table to share great wine, great food and great conversation, and because it was such a representation of Nelson, I have mixed feelings about the sale.”

Word is that they are selling to J.C. Unitas, grandson of legendary Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas. According to reports in the Baltimore Sun, he has some experience in the food and beverage industry via the Foreman Wolf Group, which owns and operates Petit Louis Bistro, PAZO, Cinghiale and more. And the article also states that he is a fan of the place, which gives me hope. What I have always loved about Grand Cru is that it’s attractive, comfortable and has a neighborhood feel, but also has a tight menu of food, an easy to navigate, approachable wine list, plus creative cocktails and an excellent and ever-changing list of beers on draft. What else is great about Grand Cru? The staff. These folks, some of whom have been there since it opened in 2003, are warm, friendly and so knowledgeable. I hope Unitas waits, watches and learns from them before making too many big changes too quickly.

I’ve worked at Friends School, which is around the corner from Belvedere Square, for 13 years. Nelson always joked that it was a teacher bar given its proximity to Loyola and the north Baltimore private schools. In two weeks, I will move on from Friends. I’ve spent my fair share of happy hours with my teacher friends and area school colleagues at Grand Cru. So, it’s no surprise that I’m meeting up with some colleagues there tomorrow for a few “good-luck-I’m-gonna-miss-you” drinks tomorrow. Over the years at Friends, I shared many, many glasses of wine with my late friend, boss and mentor, Gayle Latshaw. Grand Cru was our spot. She’d always say, “oh, just a little splash” as Nelson would fill her glass. I will toast both of them tomorrow.

As for Grand Cru, I am hopeful for the future and a bit nostalgic for the past.

Grand cru pretzels