Staci Samaras and Randy Smith are long-time Howard County residents, businesspeople, and the lead singer and drummer of the 70s rock tribute band Foreplay. Likewise, Josh and Joyce Butts are Ellicott City locals who are the co-owner/manager and head of kitchen operations of HoCo Brew Hive in Ellicott City, respectively. Like so many others, this group has celebrated countless occasions on Columbia’s Lakefront. Now, the foursome has teamed together to be principle partners of The Collective, a combined dining and entertainment concept comprised of Offshore (restaurant) and Encore (music venue) that will open in the former Clyde’s and Soundry space later this year.
“We want to reclaim and re-energize Columbia’s Lakefront as a treasured destination spot and recapture the feeling that this is the place to celebrate and gather,” Staci Samaras explained. “As part of the Howard County community ourselves, we know how much this place means to residents. It means so much to us and we plan to use this space to connect with our community and serve as an anchor for a rejuvenated lakefront.”
Inspired by its lakeside location and views of Lake Kittamaqundi, Offshore will feature elevated casual coastal-inspired food that emphasizes local and regional seafood. The seasonal menu will change quarterly and have an approximate split of 60/40 sea to land items. Everything served will be brought in fresh; no frozen food will be used in any dishes. The menu is still being finalized but one can expect a raw bar and coastal items from the shores of Carolina up to New England, including plenty of Maryland favorites.
Encore will have live music roughly 3 time a week with an initial emphasis on tribute bands playing recognizable music that people know. Samaras and Smith will leverage their networks in the local music scene to book regional bands and smaller touring acts. Events will be ticketed with reserved seats and tables. Encore will remain open as a music bar on nights when the stage is dark with rotating themes that leverage the beautiful music room and phenomenal sound system. Music will be the predominant feel, but other programing, such as trivia nights or comedy performances may also be on the calendar. Encore’s menu will include small bites and a specialty drink program different from what is on offer next door at Offshore.
In addition to the restaurant and music venue, both Encore and Offshore will have spaces available for rent for private parties. Much like Clyde’s, the areas to the left of the entrance adjacent to the patio could be reserved for large groups and private parties. Encore will be a perfect space to host parties, corporate events, or fashion showcases, given it includes a stage, bar, separate entrance, its own full kitchen and backstage green room with private bathroom.
Staci and Randy first envisioned and began to seriously consider opening a live music venue in Columbia long before The Soundry opened its doors. As businesspeople and musicians plugged into the local music scene, the pair recognized the immense potential of a music venue in Columbia and dreamed of opening a place modeled after their favorite spot – Ram’s Head Live in Annapolis, ideally located on Columbia’s Lakefront.
Once news broke in 2017 that Clyde’s Restaurant Group was undertaking a $2 million renovation of Tomato Palace into a state-of-the-art 240-person music venue, Staci and Randy put the dream on hold. Another entity had beat them to the punch. The Soundry had a successful, but short-lived run between May 2018 to March 2020 – before it was announced in June 2020 that it and Clyde’s were permanently closing. Immediately after the news broke that The Soundry was closing, Samaras was on the phone looking to lease the spot, but it first required a partner to take over the Clyde’s restaurant space given the preference to lease the entire space to a single tenant. Enter Josh and Joyce Butts.
Josh Butts has twenty years experience in the corporate fine-dining steakhouse world – working in restaurant management at Chevy Chase and Baltimore locations of The Capital Grill and Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse in DC. In September 2019, Josh left the corporate restaurant world to become co-owner of HoCo Brew Hive in Ellicott City. Josh manages the restaurant and Joyce is in charge of kitchen operations. Within six months of opening, the pandemic required the restaurant to pivot everything and get inspired. With a focus on hospitality, being receptive to the feedback of guests, and an attitude of “I’m here because of my customers – they aren’t here because of me”, HoCo Brew Hive was able to sustain itself and flourish despite the challenges of the pandemic.
As regulars at HoCo Brew Hive, Staci and Randy began formulating their partnership and plans with Josh and Joyce to collectively lease the Lakefront location. Staci and Randy will handle the music/Encore side and Josh and Joyce will lead the food/Offshore side. The quartet experienced success working together to launch the impromptu outdoor Hive Live concert series in the parking lot of HoCo Brew Hive that regularly drew hundreds of attendees starving for live music during the otherwise quiet summer of 2020 into 2021.
The name The Collective (pairing Offshore restaurant and Encore music venue) was first announced in February, but other details have been sparse. That is until a Facebook post announcing the concept dropped on Friday May 27 that was widely shared on Howard County Facebook pages. The team will continue to update the Facebook accounts The Collective Offshore and The Collective Encore over the coming months as they prepare the space for opening. Launch updates will also be sent to the mailing list, which you could sign up for on the The Collective's website.
Encore doesn’t require much of a renovation given the space's recent multi-million transformation in 2018 into a state of the art music venue that contains a killer sound system. The Clyde's space also was renovated in 2013 to bump out the front façade and redo the bar. Offshore will undergo a cosmetic makeover with new painting, colors, and new décor to provide a coastal vibe and layout modifications will be made to open up the space to spotlight the lakefront views. The team wants to ensure that customers of Offshore don’t feel like they are walking into Clyde’s when they first enter the restaurant.
Outdoor seating will be available on the patio adjacent to Offshore (same patio location as Clyde's patio but slightly larger) as well as seasonally in the pavilion overlooking the lake.
The restaurant will open as soon as renovations are complete and all permits and licenses are obtained. The team is aiming to hoping in late summer or early fall 2022.
Note: Article updated on 6/3 to clarify that Josh Butts is a co-owner of HoCo Brewhive.