Neill and Emily Howell are the husband and wife team who own The Corner Pantry, the small, British-tinged spot in Lake Falls Village. Here, they share a little about their backgrounds, how they got started in the restaurant world and what keeps them inspired.
baltimore family foodie guide: the corner pantry
How did you get started in the restaurant business? How did you get to where you are today?
Neill: I first started working in a kitchen at 14, washing dishes on the weekends. I fell in love with the hustle and fast-paced service. That is when I realized I wanted to become a chef and that I could get where I am today with hard work and dedication.
After finishing cooking school, I headed to London, where worked for multiple upscale restaurants and hotels. I got the opportunity to move to New York City in 2004 to work at Soho House and I jumped a the chance.
It was amazing to experience a new type of cuisine and mingle with top-rated chefs.
Emily: I am a graphic designer by trade – I graduated with a BFA from University of Delaware – but my career has always involved events, whether it was working on the floor for Soho House, designing wedding invitations or designing overall event concepts.
Aside from a post-college restaurant gig (to make enough money to move to NYC), I had no restaurant experience. That’s where Neill comes in. It was his desire to run his own place and my love of food that really got us to open The Corner Pantry.
What inspires you as a chef and restaurant owner? How does that inspiration come alive at The Corner Pantry?
Emily: I get inspired by other great restaurants, designers and chefs. Traveling to London this summer was hugely inspiring.
It sounds kind of funny, but Instagram also inspires me. I follow my friends, of course, but also other designers, event planners, chefs, restaurants, foodies. It’s cool to be able to have that kind of access and peek into someone else’s business halfway across the world. It’s also cool when someone halfway across the world follows a little place in Baltimore.
Neill: My inspiration comes from the relationships I have built with local farmers, my love of diverse, global cuisine, and our dedication to serving high-level food in a casual environment.
Our employees inspire me, too, as we push one another to get better every day.
What is your favorite thing about owning The Corner Pantry?
Neill: My favorite things about owning The Corner Pantry are being free to write a menu on a daily basis, interacting with our guests and hearing their responses to our food and service and hosting cooking classes and other community events.
Emily: Meeting the customers! I’m so glad we have a storefront in addition to a catering company. It’s more personal. I have met so many great and loyal people here in Baltimore. As if the town could get any smaller!
Are there are particular dishes that you especially love to cook or dishes that your guests are most enthusiastic about?
Neill: I just love doing the simple techniques right. Making pasta, for example, or brining and smoking our turkey, or making our perfectly cooked scotch egg.
Our guests love everything from the chicken-fried rice to the housemade falafel and – of course – all our freshly made bakery items. They’ve also embraced our English specialty items.
Emily: I’m actually surprised by how well the British specialties are received! If you told me 10 years ago that Cornish pasties and sausage rolls would be a mainstay on a Baltimore menu, I would have laughed. But there is no denying good food!
What’s next for you and the restaurant? Do you have any changes or new developments in the works?
Neill: As much as I would love to expand, right now, we are still working on making The Corner Pantry even better. It is our baby!
Emily: Expanding is always a topic of conversation amongst ourselves and customers. We can get frustrated with the small space and kitchen at times, but there is nothing better than looking out to a packed house with a line out the door. So at this time, we’re still working on what we have here.
Will your stroller fit? What kind of kid-friendly items are on the menu? Check out The Corner Pantry’s listing in our (cool) dining guide!