Hot dogs and beans were on the specials menu the other day at Larry’s 1332, the restaurant that took over for the Lunchbox in the Anello & Lidston Law Building on Sulphur Spring Road.
“Comfort food,” Larry Schwartz, a self-taught chef and 1970 graduate of Woodlawn High School, said of the cuisine. He opened the restaurant bearing his name in early June.
Schwartz, 59, played with his cousins in Arbutus as a young boy and believes he has come full circle with his return. Though he has been in the food business for almost 40 years, this is the first time he’s run his own place.
While an $8.50 plate of franks and beans with bread may be the Hopalong Cassidy cuisine that puts a smile on the face of aging boomers and a new wave of first-graders, it does not represent the flair of Larry’s full menu.
From Schwartz, who learned from the likes of legendary Baltimore deli man Sid Mandell, and chef Russell Cooper, an executive pastry chef, comes tomato bisque with fresh crab meat; homemade guacamole; roast beef and melted American cheese on rye; and—to complement the comfort food theme—root beer floats.
And of course, “Larry’s famous crab cakes.”
Asked how a man—however well schooled in kitchens along the Patapsco—could make such a claim in "Crabtown USA," Schwartz did not flinch.
“You’ve got to taste them,” he said, referencing crab cakes from the legendary (and now defunct) Bud Paolino’s in Highlandtown as an example with which to be reckoned.
“I use the best crab available and I don’t overcook them. I like a moist crab cake. It’s all about the food.”
Schwartz’s goal is to add a breakfast menu as soon as possible. He also wants to spread the word that Larry’s is available for catering, whether it's a drop-off of prepared meals for a business conference or on-site catering for weddings and holiday parties.
On the sidewalk out front he will put blue ceramic planters—to match the lapis blue flooring installed front to back, the tile from nearby Reliable Carpet on East Drive—and grow his own herbs.
It’s been many a moon since Schwartz and his folks came to Arbutus to visit relatives. Other than that, he has no direct claim to the neighborhood.
So why Arbutus?
“It’s a great place to generate business and catering,” said Schwartz, noting that Annie’s Lunchbox was successful enough to grow into a new location and the Ambrose funeral parlor next door is a potential source of customers.
“Arbutus has stretched out its arms to welcome me.”
Rafael Alvarez can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.