By TESSA WISEMAN
For The News-Letter
David Key, owner of the Daily Grind, is opening a burger joint at the former location of Freshii at 3113 St. Paul St., which has been vacant since last year.
Key explained why he’s moving from Mocha Javas and Double Espressos to burgers and fries. He said he saw a need among Hopkins students, and thinks Bo Z’s Burgers, his restaurant, will hit the spot.
“I know the campus very well,” Key said. “I know what students want. They want hot, fulfilling food.”
If the Daily Grind serves as any testament, Key knows how to meet the wants and needs of students, from early morning breakfast sandwiches to late-night java jolts. While coffee won’t be on the menu, Bo Z’s Burgers will be open seven days a week, from 10:30 a.m. until 10 p.m.
Aside from knowing how to keep college students abuzz, Key also understands a thing or two about starting a business. He has owned the Daily Grind since the 90’s, and there are currently eight locations in the Baltimore area, mostly on Hopkins campuses. He also owns The Garden Plate at the Bloomberg School of Public Health as well as a gym. Key said that his entrepreneurial spirit is what drives him to continue to open new businesses.
“There’s a certain creativity to it, and there’s a lot of satisfaction in providing people what they want,” Key said. “I enjoy that. That’s why I’m here every day. I enjoy the students, and I enjoy giving them what they want and making them happy.”
Key wasn’t a fan of Freshii, 3113 St. Paul St.’s previous tenant that specialized in salads, wraps and rice bowls. He was convinced that the space could be used to supply students with something heartier.
“I tried Freshii many times, and it just wasn’t very good. I kind of figured they would go out of business. I just kept thinking, now what would work here?” Key said. “It finally dawned on me — there’s no place to go for hamburgers, fries and shakes anywhere near the campus that’s not like a sit-down place where it’s going to cost 20 dollars for a burger.”
There are many options for off-campus dining on St. Paul Street for students who want a break from campus dining: Pizza Studio, Subway, Potbelly, UniMini, Tamber’s and plenty of others.
But a hunger for burgers and fries hasn’t yet been met. A craving for a burger could require a trip to Five Guys or Shake Shack in the Inner Harbor. This trek just isn’t conducive to half-hour study breaks during finals week or during the midterm weeks that occur continuously throughout the semester. According to Key, Bo Z’s will be both fast and affordable.
Senior Jordan Matelsky, who frequents The Daily Grind Café at Brody Learning Commons, thinks Bo Z’s will deliver, at least in efficiency.
“[The Daily Grind] runs this place, and they run the one in Mudd really efficiently. Stuff happens fast,” Matelsky said. “I’ve never had a burger made in the Brody Café, but I’m sure that it will be done efficiently, if nothing else.”
Matelsky said that he’s looking forward to this new addition to the St. Paul Street spread.
“I’m excited. We don’t have a good burger joint around campus, which means I have to wait until every Tuesday when the Cooper’s Chowhound food truck is here,” Matelsky said.
Senior Amelia Gavurin, who resides in a home near the future burger spot, said she thinks Bo Z’s will bring something that’s currently missing to the neighborhood.
“I think in general it will be great to have a locally owned restaurant in Charles Village. I think a lot of the time JHU kids want big, popular brands like Chick-Fil-A, but there is something special about small businesses,” Gavurin said. “If it ends up being really awesome, it will be cool to have something that no other college has.”
Like Key, Gavurin thinks Hopkins needs a burger joint.
“In regards to what they’re going to serve, I am 100 percent down for diner-style food. I feel like that is something Hopkins is missing so I’m looking forward to taking myself out on a date there for a milkshake and fries,” Gavurin said.
Matelsky isn’t as certain about the need for a burger place. He said he would have liked to see something more uncommon.
“I don’t think I would pick a burger place to go in there, but I am excited that it’s not going to be an empty shell of an old burrito place that was healthy,” Matelsky said.
For those less carnivorously inclined, Bo Z’s will feature other menu items. There will be garden burgers, pre-made salads and build-your-own-milkshakes with flavors like salted caramel bacon. French fries will come as either regularly salted or seasoned with Baltimore-favorite Old Bay.
Key also said he plans to staff Bo Z’s partially with Hopkins students.
“We are trying to hire as many students as we can. A combination of both, just like I do at Brody,” Key said.
Key said this is his first foray into burgers, but he is hopeful that it will be a success.