Chef Ashish Alfred, owner of Duck Duck Goose at Fells Point, is opening a new concept called No Way Rosé in the former Bookmakers Cocktail Club space at 31 E. Cross St. in Federal Hill. Cosmetic renovations are currently underway and Alfred hopes to open No Way Rosé in August or September. Bookies closed during closures for the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 and have never reopened.
Duck Duck Goose is an upscale “modern brewery” that opened its first location in Bethesda six years ago. He then opened a location at Fells Point four years ago and will be opening a location in Washington, DC in about six weeks. Alfred said No Way Rosé will have a French menu just like Duck Duck Goose, but the restaurant will be more casual.
Alfred, who grew up in Montgomery County, has been coming to Federal Hill for many years and said the name No Way Rosé was a nod to the old No Way José Café. He said some of his earliest memories in Baltimore were visits to Fells Point and Federal Hill, and he recalls spending time at Mother’s Purple Patio and getting some memorable crab cakes from Ropewalk.
Alfred was named Chef of the Year by the Restaurant Association of Maryland in 2019. He has participated in the Food Network Chopped, Cutthroat Kitchen and The Kitchen programs. Southern Living named Duck Duck Goose in Bethesda the best restaurant in Maryland in 2017 and the Baltimore location was given the green light in 2018.
With lots of new concepts in Federal Hill, Alfred thinks the neighborhood is ready for his restaurant style. “I think Federal Hill’s palette is starting to widen a bit, and it’s time for us to go out there,” he said.
He also praised the quality of Federal Hill businesses and said it was one of the first things he looked for when choosing a dining space.
Alfred is leading a small renovation of the space which will “brighten it up a bit”. The facade was painted white, changing from a dark gray that was previously in place for bookmakers. He said a mural that had not yet been decided would be painted entirely on the storefront, noting that it would not be “offensive to anyone”.
As its name suggests, rosé wine will be on the drink menu. Alfred said it would be a very champagne and wine focused menu. It will also serve iced rosé.
Alfred noted that this wouldn’t be quite the cocktail bar that Bookmakers was. “This will be a great place to buy an old-fashioned soda, but also a vodka soda or a Miller Lite without making yourself look like you have three heads,” he joked.
The menu of dishes is still being worked out, but No Way Rosé will offer dinner, weekend brunch, and possibly lunch times. Alfred noted that it will be open as many days as possible while dealing with the current “staff crisis”.
No Way Rosé will have a bar and seating on both levels. Alfred does not plan to offer outdoor seating at this time.
Alfred said the past 15 months of the COVID-19 pandemic have been “horrible.” He spoke of the heartache of letting employees go and worrying about paying his own mortgage.
“Our expansion is not due to the fact that we are doing incredibly well,” he said. “We were fortunate to find owners who were very realistic about what the next two years might look like. “
Alfred gushed about the way Baltimore treated Duck Duck Goose during the trying times of the pandemic. “The guests in Baltimore have been incredibly supportive, very understanding and very patient,” he said.
He also said that whenever he visited the Cross Street area, neighbors in Federal Hill would come to see him and tell him about their enthusiasm for the new restaurant. “We are so excited to be a part of this neighborhood,” said Alfred.
This was first reported by the Baltimore Business Journal.
About the Author: Kevin Lynch
Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime South Baltimore resident and graduate of Towson University. Unconditional fan of Ravens and O’s, father of three, amateur pizzaiolo, skateboarder and “bar food” gourmet. Write to me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.