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A Recipe for Success at Charlestown

February 27, 2019

Executive chef brings passion for people and food to Short Line Café  

Catonsville, Md. -- Chef Paul Brewer got his first taste of the culinary industry as a teenager steaming crabs at a seafood restaurant in Maryland. After college, he pursued a career in the hospitality field and honed his skills at restaurants throughout the region. But it was the moment he set foot on Charlestown's campus four years ago that he really found his calling. Now, as the Executive Chef of the new Short Line Café, Brewer is pursuing his passion for serving the people who call Charlestown, a continuing care retirement community developed and managed by Erickson Living in Catonsville, home.

"I've always had a passion for food and for people," says Brewer. "There's a very unique culture here at Charlestown. It's a culture of service. That is our primary goal. We strive to create dishes that you would expect to get in any nice restaurant, but we also focus on developing relationships with our guests. I interact with the people dining at the Short Line Café every single day. They all know me by name."

Charlestown features a wide variety of distinctive on-site dining options—seven to be exact—so Brewer's goal is to keep residents coming back to the Short Line Café. To that end, he's created a versatile menu that includes regular entrees like a seared pork chop with sautéed apples, grilled panini sandwiches, and house-smoked meats, including bacon, pastrami, beef brisket, and corned beef, as well as weekly specials comprised of new entrees, sides, and desserts.

"Thanks to Chef Paul, who is incredibly creative, our residents are able to enjoy everything from a simple cup of soup to a made-to-order meal featuring fresh, house-made ingredients," says Charlestown's Director of Dining Aida Blanco Galindo.

Brewer says Charlestown's commitment to fresh, made-to-order meals is one of the features that differentiates the community from its competitors and drives his creativity.

"Most communities like ours are central kitchen-based, meaning there is only one kitchen that prepares all of the food served in the community. At Charlestown, each restaurant is managed independently, which keeps us on top of our game," says Brewer.

As a matter of fact, while the café underwent a complete renovation in 2018, Brewer took the liberty of adding some flavor to the new menu by incorporating local history.

"The café is named after the Short Line railroad, so I thought it would be fun to conduct some research on the history of the railroad," says Brewer.

As a result, the café menu features a B & P burger, for the Baltimore & Potomac train line that ran along the Short Line, a French dip named, The Cattle Car, and even a hot dog named after the former Baltimore Orioles slugger, Babe Ruth.

"You can get a hot dog anywhere but you can only get a Babe Ruth at the Short Line Café," says Brewer.

While every apartment home at Charlestown includes a well-equipped, modern kitchen, many residents find themselves spending less and less time over the stove. Donald Lampe has been a regular at the Short Line Café for the last decade. With so many dining options, Donald says he never cooks.

"I meet a group of friends at the Short Line every night for dinner. I like so many of the dishes it's really hard to pick one favorite," says Donald. "I love seafood, so whenever they have salmon, I always get it. I've even acquired a taste for things I previously disliked, for example, Brussel sprouts, which the chef prepares with a sauce that makes them delicious."

Brewer works in unison with his team of highly trained support staff to keep the café running smoothly.

"One of the first things I look for when I hire someone is their character and whether or not they believe in the culture and mission of Charlestown. Once I find that, I can train anyone to acquire the necessary skills," says Brewer.

At the end of the day, Brewer says it's that culture and values that make Charlestown a great place to work, live and perhaps most importantly—eat!

"It's extremely rewarding to work for a great company with such great people," says Brewer. "The residents and staff here are like family to me, and I love being able to share the gift of a great meal with them."

Photo Caption: As Executive Chef at Charlestown's newly renovated Short Line Cafe, Chef Paul Brewer leads a team of passionate, highly trained culinary professionals in creating extraordinary dining experiences.

Photo Credit: Kosta Viennas

About Charlestown: Charlestown, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 110-acre campus in Catonsville, Maryland. The community is located in Baltimore County and is home to more than 2,000 residents who are supported by a team of more than 1,200 employees. Additional information about Charlestown can be found at