Canton’s Marski Bar: Odd Name About To Become Familiar With Maryland Suds, Grub
Steve Fogleman, Baltimore Beer Baron
When I tested the name “Marski Bar” on my friends and family, it sounded odd to them. Every new name sounds odd at first, if you’re old enough to remember when Verizon launched or more recently, Xfinity. With the plans and pedigree the owners of Marski Bar have for the former Sheba location in Canton, it won’t be long before it’s a familiar name to you.
Named after owners Mike Marler and Andrea Nowowiejski, Marski Bar has the benefit of two veterans in the hospitality industry. Nowowiejski, who lives in Canton and grew up in Fell’s Point, managed Winchester’s Comedy Bar. Marler, a Patterson Park resident and local real estate agent, has served as a bartender at Kisling’s in Canton for almost a decade. And he looks to bring similar fare and a relaxed atmosphere to the corner of Foster and Clinton Streets before school lets out for the summer.
Yesterday afternoon, the Baltimore City Liquor Board unanimously approved the transfer of the liquor license to the new owners. For me, it was personal. I’ve lived across the street from the location for more than 15 years. It was my first corner bar, and a great one to have. Shorty’s was one of the best bars in the City 15 years ago and a very frequent haunt of mine. It was owned by renowned DJ Charles Feelgood (Fields) and had a lounge vibe that was way ahead of its time in 2002 Canton. Financial problems brought it down around 2011, and an Ethiopian restaurant, Sheba’s, moved in. An Ethiopian restaurant in Canton in 2011 was probably also ahead of its time, so it too folded and the owner rented out the bar. Sheba’s the nightclub ran into community complaints and a 60-day liquor license suspension in 2015. For the most part, the bar went dark after that.
I’ve seen so many bars become rowhouses with the license sold off to another area and I didn’t want to lose this little corner gem on Clinton Street. So when Marler and Nowowiejski came to me to represent them to acquire the license, I was delighted to have knowledgeable local operators who wanted to take over the location.
Expect seafood ike crab cakes, crab dip, crab soup, steamed shrimp and a throwback seafood–codcakes, known for generations of local lenten Catholics as “Coddies”.
In my opinion, Kisling’s has some impressive wings so Marler must have become a bit of a wing aficionado over the years. He won’t make any bold predictions about his wings (he doesn’t want to compete as he’s a big fan of his old employer), but he promises to turn out some beauties. Beyond that, expect pub grub like Reubens, Rachels and a good burger.
This is a beer blog so it probably shouldn’t have taken this long to let you know that Marski Bar will have at least 8 taps, half of which will be dedicated to local brewers like Union Craft, Monumental and Key. “And Heavy Seas Loose Cannon,” Marler adds. Because of their small size, they’ll make up for the lack of taps with lots of canned and bottled crafts.
Situated across from Pig and Rooster and a short fly ball to Annabel Lee’s, Chasseur and Cardinal Tavern, it’ll increase the restaurant density in this corner of northeast Canton. I’m a believer of the philosophy that a rising tide lifts all boats, and if more customers are coming to the area, they’ll stop in at more than one place.
It’ll take a while to get Marski Bar’s name on the map, but a visit or two and a couple of good reviews and it’ll be like it was always there, because it looks to be a perfect fit for the neighborhood. After all, these guys know their customers.