The building with its art deco facade of curved corners, clean lines and a smooth finish appears impervious to time, proudly distinguished from its boxy neighbors on Reisterstown Road. Yet, its role in the Pikesville community has evolved with each unique reincarnation it has undergone since it opened in 1937. For today, it’s the Pikes Diner and Crab House and the Pikes Conference and Event Center. For always, it’s the Pikes.
The high ceilings created a soft echo for the 1950s music that played in the restaurant where owner Will Reich settled into a booth and discussed the Pikes, his business experience and his plans for this establishment’s future success. Nearby stood life-size statues of Betty Boop, the Blues Brothers and Marilyn Monroe in characteristic poses, reminiscent of the Pikes’s earlier days.
Under its first two owners, the Pikes was a neighborhood movie theater. It changed hands over the years becoming an Italian deli, a barbecue rib restaurant and a kosher deli. In between time, the Pikes suffered a burner explosion that blew out a wall and was eyed as the location for a performing arts center, he said.
As the Pikes’s story was being told so was Will’s. Described as the man who can make things work, Will started selling cars about 40 years ago at Mondawin Mall. The exodus of Sears from the mall left its space vacant, so Will purchased it and moved his auto business there. Eventually, “I rebuilt Mondawin Mall, redeveloped it and leased it,” he said.
This success inspired him to pursue other ventures in Pikesville. Among his accomplishments were creating the 1100 Shopping Center and opening Jilly’s Bar & Grill, both of which are on Reisterstown Road, he said. Will’s and the Pikes’s paths crossed when he purchased the property. He saw potential.
Originally, the Pikes “was a full-scale restaurant. It was too large and could never be filled,” he said. “So I decided to divide it in half with a theater on one side and a restaurant on the other side.”Patrons gathered for films and food, and business at the Pikes was doing very well, but the theater’s size made it difficult for the theater’s operators to generate enough business to be profitable. The theater has been remodeled and is now the Pikes Conference and Event Center where people can gather in town for meetings and events. The facility offers more than 135 reclining seats, two huge screens, and food and drink from the restaurant.
For a man who can make things work, Will is one person who can add to the story of the Pikes.
The Pikes Diner and Crab Houseand the Pikes Conference and Event Center are located at
921 Reisterstown Road. For more information, visit thepikesonline.com or call 410-218-2778.
Signature Dish – Baltimore Club
This sandwich is loaded with jumbo lump crab meat, freshly blended shrimp salad, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and bacon, and served with french fries and a pickle.
by Therese Umerlik | Editor