After , co-owner Melony Wagner was a holdout for bringing it back.
Wagner and husband Eric (also a co-owner) first met in the second floor bar. More than 15 years later, they have three children and plenty of memories of the downtown Towson watering hole. A new CVP, she worried, would be like trying to replace the good times of the old bar.
"I miss my dirty old building," she said. "You know, not to get all crazy and sentimental."
Fifteen months after the fire, Wagner has a new building. After a slow start and several setbacks, Charles Village Pub is set to officially reopen on April 23, with an upgraded menu, new features, but the same classic feel.
"Now that I have literally picked out everything, I love it," she said. "I get sentimental."
CVP's silhouette on West Pennsylvania Avenue is much the same, with two floors of bars. Yet, there's no "tunnel" to the back patio from Pennsylvania. Instead, patrons go right through the front door.
Walking in, one can still feel the echoes of the old CVP. The railings, the patio, the layout, the look and feel will recall memories for many past and present college-age patrons.
Along with 26 televisions, Ravens, Orioles and Towson Tigers jerseys line the walls (Eric Wagner played baseball at Towson, while co-owner Rick Bielski once played football). An old scoreboard the Wagners picked up at an auction overlooks the rear first floor bar.
"We built this very industrial. If you look around, there is very little drywall. It is brick. It is wood. ... And it is metal. It feels homey, but we built it because we know what the kids would do," Wagner said. She recalled when, just a few days ago, a group of regulars popped in late and asked for a tour as she was wrapping up a day of finishing touches.
"They come in and they go, 'This is so similar to before, but it's bigger,'" she said.
The new CVP boasts four bars—two inside and two outside—on its two floors. The pub stepped up its draft list, which now boasts several local and microbrew selections. All drafts (listed below) are available at all four bars, along with a selection of domestic and imported bottles.
Like the decor, the menu has an old-school menu with a new-school twist, including burgers, mozzarella sticks, calamari, flatbread sandwiches and seafood entrees.
Wagner said she wanted to capture not just the late-night and crowd, but an earlier crowd, like the Towson office workers who always frequented CVP. A 100-inch projection screen was installed on the second floor not just with football games in mind, but Powerpoint presentations, too.
"I want to get some 30-year-olds, 40-year-olds, 50-year-olds in here eating dinner, maybe have a glass of wine," she said. "And then the college kids will come. They don't get here til 11:00 anyway. All the people my age will be gone."
Over the last year, many of CVP's regulars have shown their support, in phone calls, Facebook messages and greetings, she added. Most touching for Wagner were the 20 returning staffers, who often dropped by during construction just to ask what they could do to help.
"We're not big business people," she said. "We do this a lot by ourselves. And we're proud of it."
The reopened restaurant will also feature the following drafts:
- Miller Lite
- Coors Light
- Keystone Light
- Blue Moon
- Killians Irish Red
- Sam Adams Boston Lager
- Sam Adams Seasonal
- Angry Orchard Hard Cider
- Yuengling Lager
- Heavy Seas Loose Cannon
- Yards Love Stout
- New Belgium Fat Tire
- Dogfish Head 60 min. IPA
- Stella Artois
- Sierra Nevada IPA
- National Bohemian
- Shiner Bock
- Leinenkugel Summer Shanty
- Flying Dog Seasonal