Martick’s Restaurant Francais on Mulberry Street is a place of fond memories where Baltimore enjoyed fine food, lively music, and art for nearly a century.
The once-famous restaurant started in 1917 as a small grocery store established by Harry and Florence Martick, both Jewish Polish immigrants. The Federal style corner building is even older—dating back to at least 1852—and the Martick family continued to live above the shop raising a family of five children. Following the end of Prohibition, the store (which may have already been operating as an illegal speakeasy) turned into a bar later known as Martick’s Tyson Street Tavern. After Harry’s death in the the 1940s, Florence’s five children pitched in to keep the business going. Morris Martick turned the family bar into a unique institution reportedly attracting what journalist Alan Feiler called “a mix of artists, musicians, journalists, working Joes and assorted self-styled bohemians, beats and hipsters” in the 1940s.
But, by the 1960s, Morris Martrick was ready for a change. After a failed run for state legislature, Morris traveled to France where he studied French cooking and attracted a chef. Returning to Baltimore, he renovated and re-opened the bar as Martick’s Restaurant Francais in 1970. The restaurant’s reputation grew eventually attracting celebrity guests that include Baltimore-born filmmaker John Waters, actor Nicolas Cage and actress Barbara Hershey. The restaurant closed in 2008 and Morris Martrick passed away in 2011 at eighty-eight years old.