It's been in the works for months but Smaltimore, the new Canton bar that was once to be named Canton Beer Exchange, is now open at 2522 Fait Ave., the former home of Lagers Pub. The soft opening was July 12, said managing consultant Jason Zink (also of No Idea Tavern in Federal Hill). The official grand opening is scheduled for Aug. 15.
The bar's quiet opening was on purpose as the operation is still working kinks out, Zink said. Smaltimore is currently open 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Tuesday-Sunday, but food is only served Thursday-Sunday as of now. It's a partial menu of quarter-pound burgers (not sliders), BLTs, grilled cheese sandwiches, tater tots and french fries. In September, the menu will expand to include sushi and weekend brunch options.
The most intriguing aspect of Smaltimore won't make its debut until Aug. 15. Beginning then, Smaltimore will use the Drink Exchange software system, which will allow popular beers to rise in price and the prices of less-ordered beers to fall in real-time. The supply-and-demand format will inform customers of prices via a TV screen. For example, if Natty Boh is a hot item that night, the price will rise and cause other beer prices to fall. Zink is excited to implement the technology.
"It has such a great appeal," Zink said.
He said the focus of Smaltimore will be on American craft beers (the plan is to have every Maryland brewery represented at all times) and customer service. The bar has 36 taps, and you can read a recent beer list here. Zink said he's also tired of what he considers poor service from many bartenders around the city. For example, the bar will not hold credit cards for tabs because it feels impersonal.
"I don't want your credit card. I want your name," Zink said. "We're going to be very service-oriented."
Zink said he's been impressed by the positive response he's received from the Canton community so far.
"The people in the neighborhood have been, for lack of a better word, phenomenal," he said. "They've been very supportive."