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In Mt. Washington, building brick by brick

With plans to reopen this November, the Mt. Washington Tavern is selling paving bricks with proceeds benefiting the Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital.

The Mt. Washington Tavern has been closed since a fire on Oct. 31 nearly burned it to the ground. Owner Rob Frisch plans to reopen in November.

The popular restaurant and bar has been closed since November, when a fire nearly burned it to the ground. While the tavern still has five months before it serves its first customer, its presence in the neighborhood is still being felt.

Mt. Washington Tavern co-owner Rob Frisch said he was chatting with an old customer a few months back when the idea came to him.

“I just thought it’d be fun to sell some bricks,” said Frisch.

The fact that it would be aiding another local establishment made the idea that much more appealing, he said. The tavern has already sold 300 bricks, and the success shows no signs of slowing down.

“We’d love to sell 1,000 of them,” he said. “It’s been a good way to stay involved in the community.”

According to Frisch, bricks can be purchased for $75. They will be set in concrete along the entrance to the tavern and can be customized with whatever message the buyer wants, as long as it fits on three lines of less than 15 characters each.

Patrons will notice a few changes to the tavern this fall, including a new elevator. The layout of the restaurant is also in the process of being altered. While the tavern gets its makeover, the Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital is benefiting from the brick project.

“We’ve had over a decade of involvement with the Mt. Washington Tavern,” said Tom Paullin, vice president for developmental and external affairs at the hospital. “They’ve done many philanthropic things for us.”

According to Paullin, proceeds from the brick project will go toward enhanced patient care at the hospital. Additional areas that will receive funding include event planning and community education.

“The children are going to benefit from this the most,” he said.

Paullin noted that using the tavern’s local celebrity status is a good way to get the community excited about giving back to the hospital.

“It’s a great example of how a local business and a local nonprofit can work together to benefit the community,” he said.

Regular customers and local businesses have been the most prominent brick buyers. Some will feature couples who met at the establishment, while others will display names or sayings. One even has a marriage proposal inscribed on it, said Frisch.

The tavern plans to do a soft opening to work out the kinks before it begins serving Baltimoreans by the masses. Frisch said there are tentative plans for a night thanking the first responders and firefighters involved in the Oct. 31 blaze.

“We’re anticipating it to be busy,” said Frisch. “And it’s going to take some time for people to get back in their groove.”

The tavern and hospital hope to reveal the bricks at one of the grand re-opening celebrations.