Richard Anderson used to take walks with his wife and six children down Bel Air’s Main Street, stopping at store fronts to sneak peaks at the interiors of shops while envisioning his future.
“My son, David, and I would look at the storefronts. We asked ourselves, ‘What does Main Street need?’” Anderson says. Father and son agreed: What was needed was a fine-dining restaurant. Anderson imagined a place on Main Street that was unlike anything there, a dining experience that would bring traffic from all over Maryland.
In early 2015, Anderson got a call that turned his vision into a Main Street mainstay. A New York-style deli was closing, and in its place, Anderson opened One Eleven Main, which has quickly grown from eager newcomer to local institution with popular cocktails, contemporary American food fare and an expert staff.
Anderson’s first entrepreneurship experience came to him on the side of the road — Belair Road, to be exact. In 1989, during time off from his job as a teacher, he began selling crabs to earn a little extra money. “That’s what started the whole thing. I was supplementing my income by selling live crabs on the side of the road. I did that for 11 years,” he says. Then he opened Richard’s Fish and Crabs in Bel Air and later The Seafood Stop. He retains ownership of both.
One Eleven Main is far from a crab house. The restaurant’s décor is simple and elegant with dark wood paneling and intimate tables set for couples. During a recent weekday lunch, the restaurant was full of professionals dining on burgers and shrimp salad. Two men sat at a table near the windows, looking out onto Main Street, while a group of women next to them chatted happily.
On the other side of the restaurant is a dark wood bar that is small with four leather seats. Bartender Stephen Feryus mixes and pours, including old-fashioneds and gin martinis as well as newcomers such as “Smoke by the Harbor,” which combines Baltimore Whiskey Company’s Fumus Pumila with its Szechuan Amaro and dry curacao and lime. The result is a faux margarita with smoke and subtle spice.
The restaurant’s menu has gone through a transformation in the dexterous hands of chef Bryan Boessel, who was executive chef at Iron Bridge Wine Company. Appetizers include lobster thermidor, created with half Maine lobster tail, cognac-grainy mustard, petite greens and a lemon vinaigrette. There is also the steak tartare shallot, made with capers, egg yolk and brown butter croutons. Entrees include duck breast Korean barbecue which includes duck breast, fried black rice, ginger, scallion, baby bok choy and Korean barbecue sauce.
Boessel also oversees the restaurant’s dessert menu. The signature bread pudding is just that, a menu favorite. But there is also a lemon tart with vanilla Chantilly cream, fresh raspberries and a cookie crumble that leaves customers’ palates ready to sip a cappuccino.
Just as Anderson shared his dream of the restaurant with family, he also shared its reality: His daughter, for example, picked the restaurant’s color scheme, and his daughter-in-law selected all of the glassware. “My son, my daughter and my daughter-in-law would send pictures of fixtures back and forth to me and each other for months before we could agree,” Anderson says.
Ultimately, the design process came together, but it was never forced. “This old guy in Louisiana who I buy crabs from is always saying don’t rush things. If you are thinking about going into a business, do not rush it,” Anderson says.
He used those words as his guide in planning the restaurant.
Now, One Eleven Main has regulars who trust Freyus and general manager Kristen Oktavec for delicious food and drink. “Our staff and customers are like a family,” Anderson says. “We are honored that people choose to come to us.”
This is what he was dreaming on those walks with his family: When people walk into One Eleven Main, it is as though they are going home to a place with familiar faces and a welcoming atmosphere. Except here, the food is more sophisticated than supper at home.