Our Maryland Crab Cake Tour made another stop in the iconic space of the “old” Lexington Market with CEO Paul Ruppert who is joined Damye Hahn at world famous Faidley’s Seafood to discuss the opening of the beautiful, fresh space that is just a few paces from the market Baltimore has loved for almost 200 years.
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Nestor Aparicio, Paul Ruppert, Damye Hahn
Nestor Aparicio 00:00
What about W en s, G Towson, Baltimore and Baltimore positive or positively down here at fade Lee’s in the original Lexington market, which really began in 1782. About a week and a half ago. All that brought to you by the Maryland lottery got the 50th anniversary scratch offs to give away. We’ll be giving these away all summer long. I’ve already given a couple of weeks. I had a $2 winter here a couple of days a meager amount. But I did have $100 winner here on these tickets back on opening day. Right here at Bally’s. Marty, Gary was great guests are educating us about cat fish and eating fish eating crabs and the Bay and the Potomac and all the good things going on. David is going to join us in a couple of minutes as well. I had a great morning with Bill Cole talking about summer and Fourth of July and the city and crabcakes and nothing more Baltimore than this place which is about to become that place. And a couple of months ago, the new Lexington market opened up Paul Rupert is the president CEO it says you’re on Lexington marketing Corporation bought a republic markets Corporation. That means he’s got a lot of good food about 40 yards away. I came down for the crab races. A couple of weeks ago I didn’t beat BJ sir off because he’s more competitive man than I am. I didn’t realize you had to you had to beat on the crab to make a move. I was trying to catch them with their eyes, and my crab wouldn’t move it. So I didn’t I lost the crab thing. But I was a big winner that day because I spent the day at the market I put in a new market. I want to say five times I was apart. This is back when I used to be in the media. I got invited to the Hootenanny over there when they opened up the first night. And then I found myself not just here. But in Oriole games opening day my wife came down to visit with a friend a couple Saturdays ago, we did come in to have a crabcake the new mark and every time I’ve been in there, it’s been really vibrant, really full of people and full a newness and full of, hey, I will come back here. That’s definitely a feeling I’ve had to do, Mark.
Paul Ruppert 01:50
Well, that’s great to hear. We certainly put a lot of time, effort and money into that project. So we’re very happy with how it turned out. It’s not quite complete. We’re obviously waiting for families to come over and join us there. Once we get them in there before feel more complete to us. And we’re looking forward to moving forward.
Nestor Aparicio 02:07
I leave though the thing was at the bottom, I had been up in the top two or three times and then I had to pee. And then like oh, the bathrooms down the steps. I’m like steps. And I went down the steps. And I went to the bathroom. And as I’m coming back up, I’m walking up the steps and people were sitting and eating because it’s sort of like a bench step area. But I look up and there’s Eddie Murray Cal Ripken in there at three Orioles white panel smiling at me. And I was about to have lunch with Ryan Ripken. So I took a little selfie of myself of with Eddie and cow and I had lunch and a couple days later. And I’m like, your dad’s face is on like the wall at the new Lexington market, if you want to go check it out, you know, the Baltimore feel of it. And I think all of us that were familiar other than Bill Cole, who wasn’t at the old market, but everybody else in the city was at the old market. And I’m in the old market right now. And I’m on the I guess I’m on the southwest corner of the old market. And when we set new market and you conceptually conceptualize and say what we want the new market to be, what were the couple of things that that that had to be a part of it and fade these but had to be a part of the new market.
Paul Ruppert 03:17
So number one, we needed a brand new building. So the building that we’re currently in was built in 1950. And it’s certainly it’s seen a great time, but it’s but it’s life is coming to its end. And so we needed a new building. And we wanted to take that opportunity and say okay, what do we want to bring over from the old market to make connections to our history, but What opportunities are there to change the market as well to make it modern, to match 2023 and beyond
Nestor Aparicio 03:43
what makes a place modern to you what, not just the hardcore ice cream, because that’s pretty modern, but you got Ovenbird bakery and their newer brands.
Paul Ruppert 03:53
So that’s a big piece of it, or opportunity to again, have some of the old legacy vendors come in but also match with newer folks. One of the important projects of what we’re trying to do is have the market match the the, the kind of the piece of Baltimore, right, and so that means more stalls that are owned by women, more stones stalls that are owned by African Americans, or stalls that are owned by city residents. That was a goal for us as we open that new market. So
Nestor Aparicio 04:21
when you open a new market, you say we have stalls because that’s the word for it. Right. And it’s business frontage is, you know, our house and sort of newer markets. I saw what they did that across street, which is lovely. I lived in that neighborhood and Broadway after the fire and everything that happened there. What’s the limitations of stalls because it felt like you had a blank canvas to do a new I mean, there were incredible limitations in this building. Right, right, just in general from spacing to design to looking more like a flea market, right. I mean, that’s it. That’s the beauty of it. It looked like it looked like a farmer’s wall. market, a flea market. And they still have that in Dundalk. I mean over and Dundalk. I go over there all the time. There’s local vendors. That’s a little different than like mature businesses, like in saying we’re going to have a clean kitchen and a clean space. And we’re going to plan refrigeration, all the things that they be asked to consider, in moving over there have like, she’s made a work over here for almost, you know, 100 years in this sort of environment. But if you reach dream it and you say, what, what should it be moving forward, you’re thinking about all sorts of modern things. And I’m just thinking about water, refrigeration, cleanliness, all of those things you want to have around food markets, but doing it from scratch allows you to make it quite frankly, awesome. Make it better for everybody, including the customers.
Paul Ruppert 05:49
No, I agree. And we were able to add in that natural lighting that was really important, and bring it up to code. So we love the old Lexington market with its sloped floor, but that’s not killing
Nestor Aparicio 05:59
me today. Kills me every time I come damy. You know, Deniz like you’re the only one that stands here. Everybody else sits. And I’m like, this slope floor. I’m gonna be Dr. Steve at the chiropractic today. So that’s got it the crack. There you go. I feel I felt like a goof doing this in the last segment. But like moving my hips. By the way. Do you have music over there sometimes? So
Paul Ruppert 06:21
we do both? Yes. Yep. My hips
Nestor Aparicio 06:25
move just like that. For you with with food and vendors. And like I went, my friend that came two weeks ago, Jamie her her son had some special needs. And, and he really only likes fruit. And when I went to the bathroom, two hours for it came over. I saw all the watermelon I saw the fruit. And I guess I didn’t see it on the packet street side when I came in. But in thinking through vendors and saying I can still get fried chicken, I can get an egg roll I there’s a there’s a lot of different things I can get in there. When moving the the over the course of I guess two years and moving vendors give me a little bit of a flavor for who took what spots and where fade leaves is and where people wanted to be. Because you mentioned lighting and things like that things that even think about that would make it feel hospitable.
Paul Ruppert 07:16
Yeah. So for fade leads, we wanted to put them in the exact same corner that they are in the current market. So that’s that southwest corner, they’re going to be in the new market. They’re a block closer to Camden Yards, closer to Camden Yards. And what’s also nice is theirs. They’re going to have their very own outdoor space. And that’s something new for them. So it’s just dedicated to their customers. So
Nestor Aparicio 07:36
you’re saying is this crabcake in this shrimp salad. And these fried oysters with a beer important? Yep. outside, outside,
Paul Ruppert 07:43
under umbrellas. And
Nestor Aparicio 07:45
well, I’ll be doing that on any day. Maybe I’ll broadcast opening day next year because it’ll be unlimited space. She tried to get me in here this year to do you’ll have so much space in here and people want these although I did have $100 winner on our Maryland, Maryland lottery tickets. A Paul Rupert is here he is the president and CEO of all things Lexington market capacity, more vendors more things other than just Amy getting in there. It felt for me when I walked through, I know it’s not it’s
Paul Ruppert 08:12
not quite full. We’ve We’ve decorated it up so that it feels full, but we have another 20 vendors to move in over the course of these next six to eight months. And one thing that’s also a little bit different when we look at those lower level and the upper level, so the upper levels, you enter in PAC history, the lower levels Utah Street, that lower level is more like our grocery store. So that’s where you have our fresh fruit, but also the butcher poultry, this fresh seafood is located downstairs. And then the prepared foods are upstairs. Of course when we have Bailey’s they have their fresh fish as well as they’re prepared. So they’re a little bit different. They’re actually taking over the space of five stalls. So they’re much longer larger entity they’re really our cornerstone there we’re excited to have them in and
Nestor Aparicio 08:57
around here. He taught me election to market give me let me see this here. I’m gonna show some things with this show and tell Danny Hans is back. She’s over making crab cakes and make a time with Marty Carrie and learn more about cat fishing. And I’m making him a crab cake and making everybody crab cake world famous Lexington market since 817 82. It’s 100 degrees today. I mean, I’m gonna really love this in November. I am but I am appreciative. Nothing makes me feel more Baltimore positive than having less in the market. So, Davey, people come to you probably every day and say, Hey, I hear you’re moving 50 feet away. Why do you move into their place? give our audience a little bit of idea because you’re building now Catonsville, which is going to be all different kinds of restaurant animal, but in rethinking what you’ve done in here, which is, you know, I don’t know you can replicate it. But you’ve told me that when the witching hour comes at Chincoteague Bay sign is going over there right and that that neon it’s gonna be the same neon over there, the steam at sign. All of these things are crazy parents.
Damye Hahn 09:56
Grandparents, grandparents and great grandparents hung
Nestor Aparicio 09:59
in here for or 100? How many years yelled at me 136? I said 100. She’s 136. Is it different? So in what is what’s the family’s experience going to be over there?
Damye Hahn 10:10
It’s going to be, we’re one of the things that the market did a study. And of course, we did our own studies, before they even went down this path of building the new building. And you know, what people wanted to see. And one of the things that we realized is that people didn’t want us to change. They liked the fact that, you know, you you stand next to somebody you don’t know, they liked the fact that you can get in and get out quickly. They liked the fact they liked our open kitchen. This evolved out of necessity, but it has become a model. And it’s a model that a lot of other restaurants have tried to copy, because your
Nestor Aparicio 10:58
dad was in here everyday for 50 years saying that’s not the right way to do it. We got to do it this way.
Damye Hahn 11:04
Well, you know, a good version your dad it was it was there was no hot food in Lexington market until the late 1960s. And the first one to have I mean, I think there was a little hot dog lady. Wow, there might have been, but nobody was that hot food wasn’t in here. They didn’t have hoods. It was a market. It was a market it is strictly grocery. So my family had been selling grocery, you know, even upland game for years. And my grandfather, though, had a little electric skillet that he would plug in and he would cook himself a piece of fish for lunch while people would be sitting there. Doing game Yes. So is that muskrat and all that that yes, yes. Oh, no, we shot something and I’m like, is that a
Nestor Aparicio 11:48
country we’re up with? I’ve never heard upland game that was that has never been ordered on my airways. I don’t know that it’s ever been audited my presence. I don’t think that it was on the SCT test. Okay. What is Apollon for somebody did yell Do they still have muskrat because you have that crazy side over there with raccoon and raccoon
Damye Hahn 12:04
raccoon, muskrat so so what what When? When you think about the Chesapeake Bay and the Eastern Shore there are a lot of meats that that would be like money is what now buy you bunnies as they call the marsh rabbits. Or the muskrat is Marsh rabbit by you bunnies, things like that.
Nestor Aparicio 12:26
Never heard Marsh rabbit in my life. And raccoons. I got a raccoon that lives at my bird feeder every night. We’ve named them rock well you fed him well. He’s cute. He’s really cute. You know I wouldn’t need him.
Damye Hahn 12:39
Well, some people do eat them but they turtles terrapins Turpin was a big thing in Maryland, having terrapins stew was a big thing. And the seafood purveyors were the ones because they they caught them along the eastern shore. So the Terrapin was one eel was another the docks the pheasants, shockers all those birds that that the Chesapeake Bay, there was there was their feeding area. We’re all part of the seafood industry. And they are no longer the DNR does not let you sell them they have to be farm raised. But at one point up until that that point, we had them hanging here at Bally’s. You know they would that’s somewhat green frogs were another thing frog lights. Everybody had frog lights on all the fanciest restaurants. There were frog legs. So the terrapins and the frog legs were more popular. Nobody ate crabs at that point. But they ate terrapins too and frog legs. So those were things that stood
Nestor Aparicio 13:38
out hillbilly we really are. You know what it comes down to it? Yeah,
Damye Hahn 13:42
yeah. So that was so a lot of that anyway, the one of the things that that people have
Nestor Aparicio 13:49
just learned stuff. It’s great. Yeah, that they
Damye Hahn 13:51
wanted us to they wanted us to be the same. So when, when when the hot food started coming in, you know, one of the things was my grandfather, like I said, would cook himself lunch, himself lunch and then it became people said, you know, would you cook me some and my grandpa shrimp? Right? Well, the my grandfather ended up putting a couple of fryers in with fish and our first lines were for fish. Our lines for crab cakes and other things came later. But we’d have lines out the door. We have churches up and down Saratoga Street churches on right here on the corner St. Jude, and people would come on Friday. This is a Catholic city. And people would come on Friday to go to Mass and they weren’t they were they would only eat fish and they were lined up at the door of Lexington market to come get their fish for Friday dinner. And and that happened for years. So that’s how we ended up with this line the way it’s developed and how it looks with this open kitchen because we took the fish from this side brought it over this side and cooked it so that this this is part of our story. The way that it said honestly will look like this and we’re gonna we’re gonna keep it as part of this Dory. So there’s going to be a place where you can see the crab cakes, there’s going to be the same line where you can watch your food being prepared. And then there’s going to be the front of the raw bar where you’re going to be able to go up and get your oysters and clams, but turn around and come to the table. We don’t have the space for this great big raw bar anymore, but we have the space to be to look like this. And then we’ll have a space that with the, with the fresh fish and crabs around into the center space of the market. So when you come in to Bally’s, it’s going to look similar in layout. And we’ve actually taken some really good one at photos. So we will have the back wall wrapped in a photo of this. The old Mark Alright, so you’ll be able to recognize we wanted to make sure when people came in, they said, Oh yeah, that’s the place I was 20 years ago, or 30 years ago, or this is a place my grandfather took me because a lot of people move away and then come back. And if it’s unrecognizable, we haven’t done our job.
Nestor Aparicio 16:01
Yeah, we want to do you want it to feel all
Damye Hahn 16:05
correct. We wanted it to have all the pieces in it that people like to get rid of your signs. Don’t get rid of your signs. So we’re actually having a great big mezzanine where our signs can be plastered from top to bottom. So the signs aren’t going anywhere.
Nestor Aparicio 16:19
When’s it happening?
Damye Hahn 16:20
When’s it happening? Paul? Paul’s Answer Man on that,
Nestor Aparicio 16:26
did you bring it? I mean, this was a pretty aggressive timetable. I mean, this is a big project. I mean, I’ve been coming down here for years. The fact that it didn’t all happen in the first day, but the fact that I could still come here and get a crab cake, and when I leave here, go get an ice cream 50 feet away and have the crab races between, it’s probably not ideal. I mean, it probably not a perfect world, but it’s not broken. And not at all. And if it was broken, let’s be honest, we’ve all been broken in the last couple of years. So it
Damye Hahn 16:53
was very important for the market. To get the they had to shut down the rest of this market. We were we were independent, we were able to be closed off with our own doors still access to the bathrooms. So we were able to keep running, there were other merchants that weren’t able to keep running and it was really important for them to get up and running, you know, get their stalls sooner than ours. And I you know, we thoroughly understand that you know, these people did without you know, income for a few months and it was important for them to get that done. So, as we’re you know, as it takes time, you know, you know, not just the building but each stall has to be built out individually so it’s taking them somewhat a little bit more time than we expect
Nestor Aparicio 17:33
it to people need to come to the market to make successful
Paul Ruppert 17:36
you know we have right now we’re on on with only half the sauce hill we have about a million people coming in a year we’re actually able to track track that now. So we think that went Bailey’s is there. We’ll have well over 2 million a year if not closer to 3 million a year.
Nestor Aparicio 17:54
Well, Oreo game days had been primarily when I’ve been down here concert. I came out concert couple weeks ago. Yep, we had crabcake before. But the events that the CFG Bank Arena is bringing in the events at the Hippodrome and I had Ron Legler here last time we were together we spent time talking about Broadway just and and the stadium and the Oracles vibrance I mean, like I’m here on a day where you’re Fourth of July weekend. They’re doing floppy hats, and they’re doing Shaquille O’Neal, and they’re doing Hawaiian shirts over the weekend. They pride night on Wednesday night, just bringing down 2030 40,000 people that that is that’s got to be a honey spot for absolutely you and the market and for everybody. Because if you’re coming to an Oreo game, and you’re not going to the market, you really you’re kind of missing out. I don’t want to say I mean, pickles, you get a beer. Well, you know, too, but the harbor is not the harbor anymore. No offense. And this yes, it’s not a backup, it’s a better plan. It’s
Paul Ruppert 18:51
a nice thing we have here is we actually have affordable parking. So folks can park here cheaply, hit the Lexington market and then walk down to the game.
Nestor Aparicio 18:59
Yep, that’s what I have my wife do. Better friend down here, for per crabcake boy, and I succeed perfect cross street here, man. You know, it’s it’s easy, easy and easy out. And you know, I hear people banging on Baltimore all the time. And it really, it angers me because I’m in a city three, four days a week. And I see all of this. I see people building it up. And there’s just so many good things going on here. Especially right now. And I got it during the plague. I mean, all year, all of that. But every day, I see it getting better. And I can crow about that on the radio, because I drive through here. And I park and I know my experience today was better than it was two years ago. Right? Because your markets better. Yep.
Paul Ruppert 19:37
I agree. I think we’re seeing those first steps of a renaissance here in Baltimore. I think we see that in the arena. We see that in the new market. I see. We see lots of places and I think that that we’re just on that upward trajectory. Yeah,
Damye Hahn 19:49
I went to the Hippodrome. I went to see the frozen with my grandchildren last Sunday, and it was amazing how easy it was to get out and get home. I mean We were literally back to Ellicott City and 25 minutes. I mean, there was no, there’s no block up at the at the traffic lights, there’s no traffic getting
Nestor Aparicio 20:09
down was a Saturday. And it was a little stickier because there’s graduations at the RE Yes. So just just you don’t think of it. It’s just a lot of people that move through here. So when you say a million who comes to the market, you know, I mean, my stick may say to doubt that, but I think about how many people come through a transfer on a bus. You don’t have the mayor here. Before he was the mayor, actually, he was City Council. President running for mayor he sort of made that announcement in this space, right. And I remember him leaving and dancing. Nice kid. I don’t know if he can win money, politics, all that. But he sat here and we talked about the market. He said, Nestor I caught a bus every day in my life twice a day coming through this market. He got dropped off here and moved to the other side had to catch the other bus to go to Morocco. And you forget that that it is in this machine. You see people rolling through here. So Paul Rupert’s here. Dame is here. She’s been here forever. She’s not going anywhere. There’s rumors about Catonsville. But she will still be at the new Lexington market very, very soon. Still here at the old market. They’re shipping these crab cakes everywhere in the world. This is the crab cake here. This is the famous crabcake. It’s room temperature now so your mom would love to eat it right? Yes, yes, yes, absolutely. Perfect. Paul, I’ll tell you what, I appreciate you take his time. Thank you. So my anything that people need to know that I’ve missed here in regard to the experiencing Lexington closed on today that seven days we would
Paul Ruppert 21:31
work six days a week on a Sunday Sunday. No, we’re closed on Sundays. Yeah, because
Nestor Aparicio 21:34
my wife asked me about that. This weekend about the auras shutting down Saturday. So we can’t go Sunday because themes closed on Sunday. But I was thinking the markets got to be closed on Sunday.
Paul Ruppert 21:45
Yeah, the goal is probably in the new year to be open on Sundays, at least some of the merchants so that’s that’s what we’re working towards. We need to get everyone up and running first. And then we can expand those hours a little later into the evening and then add a social order
Nestor Aparicio 21:58
to be vibrant. I mean, my wife and I lived downtown for 19 years. We live six blocks from here. And on Sunday mornings very sacred to us. We did it for almost a dozen years, the last dozen years. We went to the farmers market and we loved the farmers market and we went to the farmers market. My wife still gets in the car every two or three weeks. She did this week because I actually brings the muffins home to me I hate the muffins I ate one of those muffins yesterday have good Mother’s Day. So we put this Sunday morning creating sort of a tradition creating something where people come maybe after church right and obviously great place to come and eat afterwards. So my experience in Lexington market they’ve given me sweatshirt which I’m appreciative don’t mean it today but I’m skinny and Latin man I get cold the winters here you know I mean all this global warming works to my favor, especially getting older Lexington market down here between Utah and PACA come on down for an Oreo game see see friends did one of those delicious Morning Glory muffins at the iron burger over at the heart to take care of the local people as well as the butchers down below and the folks itself produce and so delicious fruit he didn’t down you need some fruit complex in the market. That’s right they do a good enough job. Fantastic All right. I’m gonna step out take a break get back to the programming Luke is on vacation this week. The Oreos oh let me in so that’s fine. I’ll be watching on TV all weekend. The twins are in town it is Fourth of July weekend. When encourage everybody to get out to the heritage fair this weekend. If you get a chance to do that. That’s in my homeland at Dundalk. That’s, I’ll have my rock and roll hair out for that crack the sky in town this weekend. Beer Garden is wide open as well. It is summer in the city. The Orioles are relevant. We are wn st Hey in 1570, Towson Baltimore. We never stop talking Baltimore positive