Cafe Hon

Cafe Hon
Cafe Hon

Cafe Hon, with the flamingo
Restaurant information
Established 1992
Current owner(s) Denise Whiting
Street address 1002 West 36th Street
City Baltimore
State Maryland
Postal code/ZIP 21211-2415
Country United States

Cafe Hon is a restaurant in the Hampden area of Baltimore, Maryland and site of the annual HonFest every June.



Opened by University of Baltimore graduate and gourmandizer [1] Denise Whiting in 1992, Cafe Hon takes its name from a common term of endearment ("hon" - an abbreviated version of the word "honey")[2] used by Baltimore residents for years. In 2007 she was quoted as saying she hoped to generate more than $2 million between her restaurant and merchandise.[3]

In 2002, the iconic flamingo sculpture was introduced above the restaurant.[4] The original flamingo was made of wire and cloth.[5]

Following the trial of Sheila Dixon (the former mayor of Baltimore), Elaine Pollack, known as "Juror no. 11" during the trial, came under fire as it was later learned that she was present during the unveiling of the second flamingo along with Dixon.[6][7] This was one of Dixon's last public appearances before her resignation.[8]

Whiting has a trademark on the term "hon," and in 2010 announced the opening of HONtown, a gift shop across the street.[9] The trademark issue was criticized by Dan Rodricks, columnist for The Baltimore Sun: "You can't own something that doesn't belong to you.... 'Hon' isn't unique to Denise Whiting, no matter how special she wants us to believe she is."[10] Because of Whiting's trademark many citizens of Baltimore were outraged and took to the streets in protest on December 19th to express their anger.[11]

On October 26th, 2011 it was announced that Cafe Hon had been declared a Kitchen Nightmare by Chef Gordon Ramsay and would be appearing on a future episode of the show.[12] Cafe Hon is one of the more prominent establishments to appear on the show and said appearance may indicate that Cafe Hon is at risk of failure.

On November 7, 2011, Cafe Hon owner Dense Whiting had an unusual press conference that also featured Gordon Ramsay announcing that she would be relinquishing the "Hon" trademark and Gordon Ramsay stated that with Cafe Hon, "There was a level of hatred that was almost untouchable. I've never known a restaurant to have such a huge issue." The Cafe Hon episode of Kitchen Nightmares has been briefly described in a Baltimore Sun article, stating that while the typical Kitchen Nightmares episode features "slovenly kitchens and indolent staffs" the Cafe Hon episode apparently deals with a "unique" public relations issue, "one woman vs. a city." Gordon Ramsay helped improve the decor and the cuisine of Cafe Hon. Whiting stated that the controversy over trademarking the word "Hon" had a huge toll on her business and her own health, she estimated that since it was first revealed in December of 2010 that "Hon" was trademarked to her, she estimated a "20 to 25 percent drop off" in sales and that she needed to sell her IRAs just to meet payroll.[13]

Flamingo controversy

In October 2009, the city of Baltimore announced the Cafe Hon had to either get a permit for the flamingo at a cost of $1300 for the first year and $800 each year thereafter or to take it down.[14] The issue was that the flamingo protruded into the public right-of-way.[15] The bird was temporarily removed while this case was being disputed.

Whiting stated that the flamingo was "hibernating" during its time of absence, and was determined to fight the city.[16] During this time, many citizens of Baltimore protested the city's decision to order the flamingo removed. Whiting and the city finally reached an agreement, in which the permit fee would be at least $400 a year,[17] and the flamingo returned.[18]

The new flamingo that was introduced is made of fiberglass.[19] Then Mayor Sheila Dixon was present at its unveiling.[20]

External links


  1. ^
  2. ^'
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Vozzella, Laura (2 December 2009). "Laura Vozzella: The prolific Juror No. 11 finally gets to speak out". Los Angeles Times.,2,6651486.story. 
  7. ^,0,6147395.story
  8. ^
  9. ^ Perl, Larry (8 December 2010). "Hometown Girl on The Avenue in Hampden to reopen as HONtown". Baltimore Messenger. Retrieved 16 December 2010. 
  10. ^ Rodrick, Dan (11 December 2010). "Dan Rodricks: You don't own me, hon". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 16 December 2010. 
  11. ^ Rosen, Jill (19 December 2010). "Demonstrators protest 'Hon' trademark in Hampden". The Baltimore Sun.,0,7221389.story. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  12. ^,0,6361067.story
  13. ^,0,2357455.story
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Across the USA News from every state". USA Today. 28 October 2009. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Across the USA News from every state". USA Today. 28 October 2009. 
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^,0,6709760.story

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