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Little Italy restaurant making comeback at Cross Street Market

6 new vendors announced Thursday
CROSS STREET sign.jpg
Posted at 7:49 PM, Jun 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-10 06:14:24-04

BALTIMORE (WMAR) — In an effort to bounce back from the toll COVID-19 took on businesses at Cross Street Market, the management company announced several big leases exclusively on WMAR-2 News, bringing the vacancies from nine to three.

“While the project clearly suffered due to the pandemic, we are optimistic that the market will achieve the goals we had for it when we renovated it,” said Arsh Mirmiran of Caves Valley Partners, which manages the market. “I feel very confident in the market going forward. The key is that we need to get people into the market.”

Mirmiran said they sought out businesses that would do just that. The lineup of new vendors includes the comeback of a longtime Italian favorite.

“I’ve been wanting to do it for a while now,” said Brendon Hudson.

Hudson is the grandson of the owner of Velleggia’s, the first Italian restaurant in Little Italy open for 70 years.

“I started there and I didn’t get away from it,” said his grandfather Frank Velleggia.

His parents started the restaurant in 1937 and he kept it open until he retired in 2007. Hudson is carrying on the legacy, re-imagining Velleggia’s at Cross Street Market.

“It feels great. It’s almost like being reborn but as long as I don’t have to do that work, it’s fine,” said Velleggia.

“After seeing the revitalization of Cross Street Market, which carries heavy historical weight, it made sense to re-invent another iconic Baltimore establishment,” said Hudson.

Hudson grew up in the original restaurant, hosting and working in the kitchen before going to the Culinary Institute of America. He and his partner started Liliahna, a catering business, and then opened Allora, a successful Roman café in Mount Vernon.

They’ll offer a high-end, sit down experience with a twist on the original bold designs, including jazz music and a wine bar. For the food, he’s taking inspiration from menus from the 60s and 70s.

“While the food may be a little different, and the design and the space is obviously going to be different, what we want to make sure we convey is that feeling of home and family is still there,” said Hudson.

Hudson is shooting to open by the end of the summer. He hopes the concept will contribute to the renaissance of the market, which lost half of the vendors because of COVID’s impact on the restaurant industry.

“I think what Velleggia’s will do is bring a whole new genre of clientele into Cross Street,” said Hudson.

Five other businesses will make their debut by the fall, including a radio station and two beverage stalls.

DMV Empanadas just opened up.

Krishna Aunty, a quick casual Indian concept, will open in the next few weeks. South Baltimore residents Joe Moroney and Divya Gopal have been operating a delivery-only Indian concept out of B-More Kitchen in North Baltimore, and this will be their first brick and mortar location.

“Krishna Aunty aims to make it easy and affordable for Baltimoreans to enjoy dishes loved in homes across southern India by delivering authentic homestyle dishes in convenient bowls and wraps that are easy to eat at home or on the go,” said Moroney.

The market will also be getting some entertainment, in the form of a radio studio and sound stage operated by Audacy, the parent company of 105.7 The Fan, Mix 106.5, and Today’s 101.9. The stall will allow for on-air programming, live musical performances, and seasonal events, such as holiday-themed family programming and listener events.

“This partnership provides our stations and talent with another opportunity to interact regularly with loyal listeners,” said Tracy Brandys, Audacy’s Baltimore Market Manager. “We are thrilled to be associated with Cross Street Market and look forward to hosting many live broadcasts in our on-site, satellite studio.”

The final two stalls will be beer, wine, and cocktail-oriented to replace Cans and Old Line, two original market tenants. While tenants' food sales have generally recovered to pre-pandemic numbers, beverage sales have taken longer to rebound.

“The market is investing the money to redo those stalls, just give them a fresh look and rebrand them. We are still working on who the actual operators will be for those two stalls,” said Mirmiran.

To help bring more customers in, Atlas, which owns Watershed at the end of the market, has been brought on to run the marketing.

“We thought it made more sense given their local reach and their staffing at the market,” said Mirmiran.

Cross Street Market was originally built in 1846 to serve the growing population of South Baltimore. One of the country’s oldest public markets, Cross Street Market completed a years-long renovation and revitalization project in mid-2019.