Hot crabs and cold beer at the Inner Harbor

Imagine diving into a pile of hot steamed crabs and/or lifting a cold beer on the city’s waterfront at the Power Plant this summer. That could be a reality if redesigns for two restaurant and entertainment decks are given a thumbs up for permits and design by city officials this spring. The city’s Urban Design & Architecture Review Panel heard presentations from the Hard Rock Café and Phillips Seafood Thursday about retooling a pair of barges that sit just outside the front doors of the restaurants on the Inner Harbor. Plans would include a redo of the Hard Rock’s deck as part of a major overhaul of the restaurant, said Joe Emanuele, the company’s vice president of design and development. “Baltimore is an important city for us and we want to reinvest,” Emanuele said of the plans to rebuild the frame of the 36-foot by 60-foot pier to include a retractable roof and a new grill set up as an outdoor extension of the popular restaurant. “We need a facelift there,” he added. Next door, at the new Phillips restaurant, an outdoor crab deck would include a menu with crabs from various Maryland rivers (Wye, Choptank), an outdoor, open kitchen, a crab picking station with educational seminars on how to clean and eat a steamed crab, and a refrigerated crab truck to keep bushels of crustaceans in while awaiting the steam pot. “You see it. You hear it. You smell it,” said Steve Phillips, owner of the popular restaurant. Phillips said the Phillips deck would also have retractable awnings above an open-truss design, picnic tables and small twinkle lights to give it a summer pavilion look. The UDARP is expected to vote on the design plans at a future meeting.

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