Argosy Cafe opens in the Munsey Building

A new coffee roaster, cafe, and bar has opened in the first floor of the Munsey Building, in the space previously occupied by Roly Poly sandwich shop.

Named Argosy Cafe (7 N. Calvert St., [443] 869-2942,, for one of the pulp magazines printed by the building's namesake, publisher Frank Munsey, the eatery serves breakfast and lunch and features a menu that includes salads, wraps, and noodle bowls with a Mid-Atlantic flavor.

Argosy Cafe is owned by a father-and-son duo, Jay and James Schaffer. The elder Shaffer brings with him decades of experience as a chef, with stints at Petrosian in Paris and his own bar and grill in New York, Shaffer City Oyster.

James, the son and a University of Maryland law school graduate, decided he wanted to leave marketing and saw an opportunity in the space that years ago housed a bank.

"We just came across it online and realized there was a need for something like this downtown and thought there was a lot of opportunity for investors to come in and make this neighborhood really grow," he said, noting nearby apartment projects and the recently opened Hotel RL.

The space feels more open, with Edison lights hanging over tables and much of the old marble from the bank restored to its original condition. The old balustrade around the stairs leading down to the bank vault has been turned into a U-shaped table, for instance.

An old partitioned office is now where the coffee is freshly roasted. That side of the restaurant is handled by Sarah Walker, previously a manager and roaster at the Spro coffee shop in Hampden. Customers can buy fresh cups of java or, soon, bags of whole beans, which are sold under Walker's banner, Vent Coffee Roasters. She says she's trying to focus on working with local importers and those who deal with farms that focus on sustainability and organic beans.

Argosy Cafe has a large bar and will feature a curated wine list, rotating taps of craft beer, and a selection of liquor. Its first happy hour, which runs from 4-7 p.m., is tomorrow.

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