Rob Frisch stood with his employees and neighbors on Monday morning, head craned back with a look of disbelief on his face as he stared at the smoldering remains of the Mt. Washington Tavern.
Before dawn, he received a call that the tavern he owns was on fire. He jumped in his car and raced to the scene to find eight fire trucks battling a blaze, with fire shooting from the roof. By late Monday morning, as Baltimore City firefighters still fought to put out hot spots, Frisch’s thoughts turned to his employees.
“We’ve got 70 employees and I’m very concerned about them because they’re dear friends,” Frisch said.
Frisch vowed the blaze would not be the end of the Mt. Washington Tavern.
“We’re absolutely going to rebuild and we’re absolutely going to be better than ever,” Frisch said.
Frisch, who worked at the restaurant for more than 20 years before buying it, said other merchants in the area have offered space so the restaurant can establish a temporary office and get ready for business again.
“The outpouring has been terrific,” Frisch said.
Ed Bloom, chef and owner of Ethel & Ramone’s, stood on Newbury Street across from the tavern and observed the damage.
“It looks small. It looks so small,” Bloom said.
Andy Gorelick, 54, works in the insurance industry and was on the scene for business, but it was also personal for him. He remembered hanging out at the tavern on Thursday nights when he was younger.
“It was the total meeting place for anyone in town,” Gorelick said.
Evan Keyser, 27, is a big fan of the tavern’s hamburger. He said that the year before he may have eaten there every Monday because of the restaurant's “hamburger night.”
“This place has a hamburger to die for,” Keyser said.
Keyser, who now lives in Cross Keys but grew up in Pikesville, said the loss of the tavern would be felt especially around Thanksgiving because it’s a favorite gathering spot for the people where he grew up.
“Everybody from Pikesville comes here,” he said.