After living in Boston and New York, Phil Han says he was always disappointed at the lack of quality coffee options for him as a consumer in his hometown Baltimore. So he took matters into his own hands, and now plans to open Dooby’s, a 75-seat coffee bar with a full coffee and espresso program, craft beer and wine, an in-house scratch bakery, and breakfast lunch and dinner service.
“We started this venture out of frustration of the inaccessibility of great coffee in Baltimore,” says Han. “We first thought to do this two and a half years ago, when the specialty coffee scene was tiny. Now, Baltimore hosts a number of great shops and continues to grow.” Indeed, last year alone saw the opening of TriBeca, a coffee house and micro roastery, as well as the opening of Artifact Coffee, from the team behind the Woodberry Kitchen. Han cites both as positive growth.
While the new Dooby’s space is undergoing its final touches at 802 N. Charles St., Han and his team have set up a 1,000-square-foot pop-up bar at 4 W. Madison St., in the same building but in a separate entrance. The space, known as The Hatch, is shared on short terms with other startup businesses with aspirations to open brick-and-mortar shops. With help from head barista Becka Dowding, who helped launch Spro in Hampden and Lamill Coffee at The Four Seasons, the Dooby’s team is serving Counter Culture coffees, which Han gained an appreciation for during a former stint at the Baltimore bakery Atwater’s.
The big question is, why Dooby’s? “Dooby is my nickname,” says Han. “It was given to me by my mother. The fable goes, when I was young, I cried a lot and it reminded my mom of a croaking toad. We’re Korean, and in the Korean language a toad is a “dookuhbee,” which she shortened to Dooby. This project has been such an intensely personal venture, that it seemed most fitting to call it Dooby’s.”