Eatery's expansion to include blues club

January 02, 1998


Staff Writer

Hagerstown is about to get jazzed up with a touch of Bourbon Street.

Downtown Hagerstown's Round the Square restaurant will expand by late February to include live entertainment in Harry's House of Blues, said owner Harry Grandinett.

Except for a short lag during late fall because of Public Square's renovation, business has been booming at the 12 Public Square restaurant, said Grandinett, of Fairplay.

"I've become so busy at lunch time that I'm losing patrons," said Grandinett.

The expansion will accommodate people who now stick their head in the door and leave because the restaurant is "jammed full."


Grandinett will double the size of his eatery by expanding into the first floor of the older section of the new Clock Building.

Local architect and developer Kurt Cushwa is planning to open the Clock Building at the northeast corner of Public Square this month.

The project includes a new building in the corner as well as renovating 6-8 E. Washington St. First United National Bank & Trust and filmmaker Ron Maxwell will have offices in the building.

Customers will be able to enter Round the Square or Harry's House of Blues from Public Square or East Washington Street.

The decor of pressed tin ceiling, hardwood floors and red oak bar will continue into the House of Blues, but at 5 p.m. on Fridays the mood will change in both establishments to jazz and blues.

While the original restaurant is decorated to reflect the early 20th century in Hagerstown, the House of Blues will fit the turn of the century in New Orleans, Grandinett said.

"I want the kind of music that would allow people to enjoy a coffee beverage and listen to blues and jazz in a comfortable setting," Grandinett said.

A few hot sandwiches and a cajun twist will be added to the menu that already features smoked meat sandwiches.

A variety of finger foods will be offered, including buffalo wings, cajun onion rings and jalapeno poppers, which are breaded jalapenos, he said.

Grandinett also will offer wines, hard-to-find microbrewed beers and coffees flavored with liquor, including Kahlua.

They will be topped with whipped cream or froth from the cappuccino/espresso maker.

"Besides tasting wonderful, they look gorgeous," he said.

Grandinett said he will work hard to ensure the restaurant maintains its coffeehouse atmosphere, even with a liquor license.

People won't be able to walk in and get a shot of tequila or bourbon, he said.

There will be live entertainment from 8 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays on a stage in the House of Blues that will be piped into Round the Square using a state-of-the-art sound system, Grandinett said.

Among local acts to perform at Harry's House of Blues will be 2BLUE Ensemble.

Grandinett encourages local acoustic jazz and blues artists to send him tapes since he will be scheduling bookings soon. Performers can call him at 301-745-6252.

"I truly believe that Hagerstown is ready for this kind of entertainment downtown," Grandinett said. "It's a risk, but calculated."

Grandinett said he thought about adding the stage to the restaurant because of the success of the annual Western Maryland Blues Fest held in Hagerstown in late spring.

While city officials are planning to make the first block of South Potomac Street into an arts and entertainment attraction, there isn't a place that offers live blues on a regular basis, he said.

"I think there's a real niche to be filled here," Grandinett said.

The expansion will double the eatery's employees to 10, double the space to about 2,000 square feet and add 60 seats so the two eateries will seat 95 people, said Grandinett, who owns the establishments with his wife, Mary Ann.

The expansion is costing the couple about $40,000, he said.

The hours will be expanded to 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday through Thursday and from 8 a.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

If demand warrants, the restaurant could open on other nights. There could even be an amateur or open mike night, he said.

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