John Frenaye | May 8, 2017
Few restaurants hit a home run out of the gate. The new Light House Bistro did just that. I hesitate to write this review because sometimes I get selfish and just want to keep a place to myself. But the backstory is too much to not share!
First off, it is not expensive. It is not cheap either, but the quality of the food belies the price. This afternoon, I had a lunch meeting there and the place was packed. The menu intriguing.
I had one of the best flatbreads I have ever had (paraphrasing but…sausage, mozzarella, fennel and something else) at $14, and my dining partner for the day had a hunk of swordfish that he claimed was fantastic as well at $16.
Service was very attentive all around and you could tell that everyone seemed to be empowered to make sure everyone was enjoying their meal. Our server came by often, we were visited by the general manager, and I believe the executive chef. Spot on.
But even if the food was mediocre…which it is not….the selling point of the Light House Bistro is the people. Ninety percent of the people working in the restaurant have been touched by and benefitted from the Light House at some point. Some employees are graduates of their B.E.S.T. program, some employees are residents, others have received counseling and are now employed in a thriving, bustling restaurant. Maybe that is why the service was so spot on. I know for me, it is probably the biggest attraction. I know that when I spend my $15 for a lunch, I am getting a decent meal, but I also know that my patronage is helping folks that have fallen on hard times get back on their feet–and that is a great feeling.
Located at 202 West Street, the Light House Bistro is a social enterprise. Social enterprises are businesses that tackle social problems, benefiting an underserved population by delivering outcomes based on a specific mission. They create revenue from selling goods and services in the open market, but they reinvest their profits back into their programs and the local community.
The Light House mission is rebuilding lives in order to break the cycle of homelessness. Their Social Enterprise bottom line is providing living wage employment for those experiencing homelessness. You cannot have sustainable housing without sustainable employment.
The Light House Bistro actually is the original Light House shelter and serves multiple purposes:
- Advanced Culinary Training Center
Full Teaching Kitchen • Real-Work Opportunities for graduates of our culinary arts job training program, Building Employment Success Training (B.E.S.T.)
B.E.S.T. Catering Kitchen
Custom Catering • Lunch Contracts • Prepared Meals • Signature Items
The Light House Bistro
50 Seats • Coffee Bar • Open to the public for lunch and dinner
Permanent Supportive Housing
Four apartments for former residents of The Light House on the second floor
One surprise to me was that they have a full bar. Residents of the Light House are required to be clean and sober, so this was a bit of a surprise; but in keeping with their mission of providing jobs, a bar makes all the sense in the world. So yes, you can have a beer with your lunch or a drink with your dinner.
The Light House Bistro opens at 7am and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner six days a week (closed on Tuesdays). You can check out their menus here. For the daily specials, you need to go and check it out.
Parking is convenient–the Knighton garage is a few steps away.
So my recommendation is to go. Enjoy. You will not regret it. What a welcome addition to the dining scene in Annapolis!