Maryland House by Brennan’s to open in former Mandarin Lounge on Maryland Plaza

Brennan’s is in expansion mode in the Central West End, with what many once dubbed “the coolest bar in town” set to reopen in a prominent location. Owner Kevin Brennan plans to open Maryland House by Brennan’s (44 Maryland Plaza) in the former Mandarin Lounge space this fall. Here’s a sneak peek.

The Backstory

For 15 years, Maryland House was a popular draw, located above the flagship Brennan’s location in the Central West End. Guests entered through an unmarked, speakeasy-style red door and climbed a flight of stairs to the second-floor bar and private events space. Then, in 2020, Brennan’s moved around the corner, to 316 N. Euclid—only to have the opening delayed until last summer, after a fire destroyed part of the space. 

When Brennan’s initially relocated, the design did not include Maryland House. Instead, the plan was to find a separate space and expand that concept. “When we reopened on Euclid, we knew we’d be adding an events venue at some point,” says Brennan. “We continue to get inquiries about parties several times a day. The business was already there.”

The Space

The new Maryland House space will be larger than the original, and plans call for a redesigned bar and rooftop garden terrace, as well as two private rooms, all of which will be available for public, private, and membership events.

“What we’re calling the Library Room is smaller, geared for 30 people, while the Gallery Room can accommodate 100, both of which bleed out onto the rooftop terrace,” Brennan explains. “So we now have the ability to do multiple private parties simultaneously and keep the bar area open to the public, which is important. You never want to be closed [for an event] when people think you’re open.”

A major attraction at the former Mandarin, the 1,500-square-foot Rooftop Garden will feature abundant greenery, a large gas fireplace, lounge seating, and bespoke sculpture installations, all overlooking the fountain below in Maryland Plaza.

Brennan says the interior will be gutted and the drop ceilings removed in order to open the space up and out. A large mirror will reflect toward the rooftop terrace, adding dimension and perceived depth. Like all of Brennan’s interpretations, the space will be unique in several ways.

An Artful Atmosphere

Besides its obvious appeal as an eating and drinking emporium, Maryland House will be home to a curated art gallery of sorts. Brennan has come up with a creative and personalized way for people to buy art, in custom sizes and at different price points.

“When we reopened Brennan’s, I wanted to provide a new way for people to buy artwork,” he explains. “My idea was to offer pieces that cost a couple hundred dollars as well as a couple thousand. We had the capability to print, frame, and sell our wall art and more but got too busy to focus on it. We designed Maryland House with that in mind.”

To that end, the larger, Gallery Room will “focus mostly on digital pieces, displayed on super-thin, wall-mounted screens,” Brennan says. The size of the room allows for larger installations from both established and emerging artists, and everything is for sale. “People can buy the entire digital screen or just a print of the image that’s on the screen,” Brennan says. “We can even personally deliver it. We’re in the process of decking out the trailer of a 22′ truck with a full bar for public and private events, which can double as a delivery vehicle.”

The Library Room features built-in, wooden casework and was designed to display smaller works of art that are available for purchase, in their original or a larger size. “Think smaller space, actual artwork, smaller images,” Brennan says.

Memberships & Exclusive Events

Another new offering: an optional membership program, in which members will be charged a tiered, annual premium, which will include access to the space, preferred reservations, and other benefits. Among the perks: house credit, exclusive food and drink offerings, and comped tickets to original parties and experiences, such as the popular This Is Not A Restaurant events, in which named chefs get out of their comfort zones by preparing one-off, no-holds-barred, no-advance-menu, multicourse dinners.

The membership format is similar to the Cigar Club program at Brennan’s. “It’s hard to just walk into a lot of places, Brennan’s sometimes being one of them,” Brennan says. “Offering a membership solves that problem and allows us to offer other options on the side.”

The Menu & Music

On the food and beverage front, guests can expect the same style and attention to detail that made Brennan’s so appealing: a cocktail-forward bar with a broad selection of quality spirits, wine, and beer, with food offerings that will complement the space. “Brennan’s will continue to serve more casual bar food,” Brennan says. “At Maryland House, the food will be will be slightly more elevated in presentation and content but clearly the same brand.

Music will run the gamut, from “a live trio performing in the corner to a DJ in a custom station that Moses Nornberg is building for us,” Brennan says. “In clubs, DJs are above the crowd and unapproachable. Ours will be spinning records at table height, so people can interact from time to time,”’ adding that the aim is not to duplicate the club scene of its predecessor in the space.”

Brennan says he’s already been adding staff in anticipation of the expansion. “Brennan’s is a little overstaffed right now, so when we open Maryland House, we’ll do so with an experienced crew,” he says. “I don’t see this as a new business but rather a really cool extension of our old one.”

With Maryland House by Brennan’s slated to open this fall, the timeframe “gives Brennan and his team time to build out the space “the way we want,” he says, “as well as build up the proper level of hype.”