Just one week ago, neighbors flocked to The Avenue’s Cafe Hon to toast its 30th birthday with discounted Bohs, buck-a-shuck oysters, and free cupcakes. It was a fitting menu to celebrate the haunt—known for its crabby comfort foods, adjacent Hon Bar, and classic Bawlmer decor—and everything it’s brought to Hampden throughout the years.

Tonight, owner Denise Whiting and her staff, some of whom have been on board for decades, will serve the cafe’s final meals.

“It’s something that’s been in the works for a long time,” Whiting explains. “I’m 63, and it’s time for me to look into doing a little something different. When I started, I never imagined it would last this long. But I really feel like I’m on a path, and this is the next thing. I’ve always known that when the time was right, the opportunity would present itself.”

That opportunity came when Tony Foreman of Foreman Wolf Restaurant Group expressed interest in the space. Foreman Wolf—which owns six local restaurants including nearby Johnny’s and Petit Louis Bistro in Roland Park—has newly leased the building and will soon begin transforming the cafe into a yet-to-be-announced concept. “I feel very strongly that this is meant to be,” Whiting adds.

She and Foreman, a longtime acquaintance, had an informal meeting in 2019, when she happened to mention that she was ready to embark on a new chapter. Whiting asked if Foreman knew of anyone who might be interested in taking over the lease, and “a couple weeks later, he texted me and said, ‘Hey, I’d like to come take a peek,’” she adds. The deal was put on hold due to the pandemic, but solidified recently.

“Cafe Hon has been important to the city of Baltimore and to Hampden for many years,” Foreman said in a statement released today. “We respect all of the efforts at Cafe Hon that have brought the spirit of this deeply Baltimore neighborhood to the public eye.”

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