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Cafe Hon To Close After 30 Years, But HONfest Will Continue On, Owner Says

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Cafe Hon, the Hampden mainstay known for its comfort food, embrace of the city's mid-century blue-collar women, and the iconic pink flamingo on the building's façade, is closing after three decades in business, owner Denise Whiting announced.

"It's been a wild ride for 30 years and I'm grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this community and be a part of Baltimore and, you know, it's... it's a lot," Whiting told WJZ.

The Foreman Wolf Restaurant Group, operators of Charleston, Petit Louis Bistro and Cinghiale, among others, is taking over the space on the Avenue.

"I am so happy that Cafe Hon provided a place for so many special memories. Tony and I have been acquaintances for decades and Petit Louis holds a special place in my heart. I have spent some of my best times at Petit. I look forward to seeing what comes next for the space," said Whiting.

The final dinner service is Friday night.

"Cafe Hon has been important to the city of Baltimore and to Hampden for many years," said Tony Foreman. "We respect all of the efforts at Cafe Hon that have brought the spirit of this deeply Baltimore neighborhood to the public eye."

HONfest, the annual two-day street festival Whiting started in 1994 to pay homage to beehive hairdos and cat's eye glasses, will continue on. After two years away, HONfest is returning as an in-person event on June 11-12.

The restaurant did find itself in the middle of a "Hon-troversy" in 2010 after Whiting tried to trademark the folksy greeting in the name of her business. A handful of protesters gathered outside the restaurant to slam the move as "greedy."

Whiting relinquished the trademark in 2011, and later appeared on an episode of Chef Gordon Ramsay's "Kitchen Nightmares," which mostly dealt with the fallout from the trademarking squabble.

"It was a business decision. It was a bad decision," she said in the episode.

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