Baltimore, Maryland (BBR)
BBR: Welcome to Harbor East, Chef Saon. What made you want to open a restaurant during a pandemic? Most businesses are closing, and many are struggling in your industry.
- I realize that has a been an extremely difficult time for those in my industry. Many businesses fighting to keep the door open, lights on and staff employed. I have much respect and love for them and the resilience it takes to manage and push thru such difficult times.
- Last year, we were presented with an opportunity to open Blk Swan in the nice and desirable area of Harbor East. We were able to work out a deal that provided us protection against the current elements of Covid 19 and future threats if presented. So, when I was presented with the opportunity by the Outkrowd Group, it just made sense to me. I’ve always wanted to own my own restaurant since I was a kid and now things have aligned for us to bring our concept of Blk Swan to the people of Baltimore. Since we partnered, we have been working together daily to plan for and attempt to mitigate threats and develop a management system that will lead to a successful operation.
BBR: Have you adjusted a typical restaurant model to address the pandemic concerns?
- The public’s health is something that we take very seriously, and we are following all of the CDC and local governments recommendations and orders. When developing the concept and logistics of this place, we wanted to make sure that we not only allowed for to-go-orders but went a step further in designing our own carryout window and operation. This carryout almost serves as a separate / additional entity to Blk Swan as it has its own hours of operation and menu. So, whether you want to stop by for a breakfast sandwich, lunch salad, dinner or a late-night snack, we will be open to provide you with a taste of Blk Swan.
- We also realize that everyone may not be comfortable eating indoors yet or have busy schedules that don’t allow them to cook, so we wanted to make sure we accommodated those fast causal needs as well.
BBR: What does the Blk Swan represent?
- The Blk Swan theory describes “an event that came as a surprise and had a major impact” and that’s what we are looking to do. We developed this concept to fill what we feel has been a void in the Baltimore dining scene. While Baltimore is home to many great restaurants, chefs, and owners, we felt there was a segment of the market that wasn’t being catered to and that is the void Blk Swan will fill. Our venue is a place for young professionals, business execs, foodies, fashionistas, culture enthusiasts and just anyone looking to experience amazing food and ambiance.
While enjoying dinner, they are able to listen to music from our curated playlist and live DJ sets playing the best in Top 40, Hip Hop, EDM, R&B, and house. Another great attribute is our amazing craft cocktail program, which is designed to complement our dining menu and create a lively bar scene.
BBR: Interesting, Tell us more about your vision. Is it just completely dining?
- While our delicious and creative food options will be the biggest draw for patrons, we understand that people also want to have a place that is fun, exciting, and fashionable to hangout; that’s is another key element of Blk Swan.
- Guests will be wowed by our beautiful décor, art installations, and photo opportunities upon arrival; they will be able to experience great drinks and food. However, those who want to turn their experience up a notch, can stay for our guest lounge and bottle services, which happens on Friday and Saturday after 10pm. On Sundays, we will also host an unforgettable Brunch which is high energy and tons of fun.
BBR: You have led so many establishments. How have you crafted this experience to differ from your other dining experiences?
- Our concept differs because the Outkrowd specializes in guest experiences from dining to entertainment. It’s about combining great food and drinks, but swanky late-night fun. We embrace the soul, desires, trends, music, and fashion of todays generation while still providing a sophisticated dining experience.
- For example, our menu takes dishes that are familiar and popular in the Baltimore area and presents them in a refined and elevated manner.
BBR: You have a lot of competition in Harbor East. Where does BLK Swan fit in amongst your rivals?
- We don’t look at our neighbors and fellow restauranters as rivals as we are all apart of a community: a community that has been hit hard over the course of the last year. That is why we are excited about joining the neighborhood and working together to provide Baltimore, the surrounding area, and city visitors a great dining scene and showcasing the talents of our people.
BBR: Much as been discussed about dress codes recently. Will Blk Swan have a dress code?
- Blk Swan is a place for everyone, a place that people are going to look forward to getting dressed to come out to eat and enjoy themselves. Blk Swan, judging by its décor, is a very fashionable place, and we are certain that our customers are going to want to be part of that same vibe when attending.
BBR: Tell us about your background as a chef who will now be leading the hottest new destination spot on the dining scene.
- Growing up as a Black Chef in the kitchen with no formal training was not the easiest experience. You are often faced being looked over or treated differently then your counterparts. While this was a difficult experience, I am grateful for it. It allowed me to understand the importance of hard work, dedication, sacrifice and much more, which all came in handy when landing a position and opportunity to work at Linwoods. That is where I really learned the restaurant industry and grew as a chef and into their executive catering chef working there for 15 years. Linwood took me under his wing developing me as the chef and the professional I am today. I am thankful for that experience and many others such as being the executive chef at Copper Kitchen and working under the leadership of Kevin Miller. All of these experiences have helped shaped me and allow me to bring to Blk Swan a comprehensive menu that embodies my past experiences and my own creative ideas and culinary vision.