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June 6, 2008

The Lodge Bar closes

The Lodge Bar in Power Plant Live has closed.

"As Power Plant Live! has matured so has its audience and this decision is reflective of that statement," said Reed Cordish, a vice president of The Cordish Co.

"Lodge Bar will be replaced with an exciting use that will be announced shortly," he said.

I was there for a nightlife column on their '80s dance night six months ago, and the bar drew a decent crowd but wasn't packed. Wonder what will replace it.

(Photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor/Sun Photographer)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:26 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


Granite has been renamed Fins. All signs indicate that it was purely a name change, as nothing on the interior or exterior has been altered.

Seems like Power Plant Live has pretty much completely changed over- not that Lodge was an original (mcfaddens preceeded it) But a lot of the places are different, and it doesn't seem to attract nearly as many people as when it opened.

yeah, crackdowns on underage drinking will do that. i don't know how well it'd do (if at all), but i'd like to see a Max's Taphouse-esque place take it's spot.

Allan wrote: "yeah, crackdowns on underage drinking will do that."

Not at all what happened, Allan. The "crackdown" occurred about two years ago when BAR Baltimore was shut down. There's a lot of seedy, shady elements that gone on in the bar/club business, but Power Plant has the most I've ever seen. If you know anything about what goes on at Power Plant, check what happened to Improv.

Probably like a mall, they need to make changes that renew and upgrade the novelty of the visit to thrump competition in being current, if not cutting edge experience.

For awhile people will come out of curiousity but the experience needs to make them want to come back again and again...

The problem with the Power Plant's declining attendance are threefold.

1.) The lack of "college nights" due to the policies implemented two years ago that mandate no one under 21 is to be on the property (with the exception of Ram's Head Live) after 9PM.

2.) The transition from Bar Management Group being the operator of the majority of the establishments on the property and the cooperation that fostered by way of large joint events, and the weekend long OnePass, to a Cordish Company controlled Power Plant. This has lead to a break in unity amongst the bars, and a lack of large scale promotions and events.

3.) The lack of convenient, safe, cheap parking that areas like Canton, Federal Hill and Fell's Point have an abundance of.

"The lack of convenient, safe, cheap parking that areas like Canton, Federal Hill and Fell's Point have an abundance of."

Red: Have you ever tried to park in any of these three areas on a weekend night? There are half a dozen parking lots within a three block radius of Power Plant, all of which are cheaper than a cab ride into any nearby neighborhood. Additionally, the central district is by far and away one of the safest areas in the city. It failed for the same reason it was popular for a few years, it was a fad. Some other cheeseball place will replace it and be the joint for a few months...

I think that you're barking up some of the right trees, The Red.

1. The impact of the under-21 policy is evident on Power Plant, and you're right, it was two years ago. That did begin the decline in numbers to Power Plant. But I don't think it's what put the place on the true downswing. Just like anything, the Power Plant establishments had to relearn how to operate after the Cordish mandate against under-21 admittance. To that point, BAR, Have a Nice Day Cafe, McFaddens, Tiki Bob's (all BMG ventures) had thrived on their ability to court the college night market.

At the time of the crackdown, Tiki Bob's had already gone under, but BAR and Have a Nice Day were thriving (largely on a college night crowd). I won't get into what happened to BAR, but it is pretty common knowledge in the industry. Cafe had no chance of sustaining with the reputation it had garnered over 7 years. The place had to be completely rebranded and remodeled, a prospect that BMG wasn't willing to undertake due to the tenuous relationship with the Cordish Company.

2. BMG definitely had good cooperation among its sister establishments. But there was also cooperation with Howl at the Moon (not a BMG company). The One Pass included Howl. I think a key thing here is the BMG is, by definition, a Bar Management Group. That's what they do, manage bars across the country. Cordish Company is a real estate development company, at least it was before they decided to become operators at Power Plant.

Simply put, the current version of Power Plant is not managed as well as the old Power Plant was (see Mosaic and the struggling live acts on the plaza). The unity, among other things, is definitely broken, and it is apparent.

3. I'm not 100% sold on the lack of parking. Between the Baja and Iguana garages, there is plenty of parking. I do know that both have endured their incidents (e.g. officer involved shooting at Baja), but really, I don't know that either garage is any more dangerous than any other garage. Canton simply needs more parking and both Federal Hill and Fells Point have had shootings.

Another key point to consider is the natural ebb and flow of popularity. In the late 90's, Fells point was the place to be. Early 00's Power Plant was the spot. Mid 00's its been Federal Hill and Canton. Eventually the tide will swing back to Power Plant, if it's still there. This is the same thing that happens in most markets (e.g. DC went from Georgetown to Adam's Morgan to mid-town. Georgetown is back at the beginning of an upswing. It took ten years, though).

As for The Lodge Bar specifically, they had a developing market in the 25 - 35 demographic, one that is overlooked by the other Power Plant establishments, and, really, that demographic is overlooked by most of the clubs in Baltimore. I don't know that their concept would have taken them through the next five years (the life expectancy of any club isn't much more than about 7 years) but it was working for now.

I think the bottom line is that Corddish wanted BMG out. Mission accomplished.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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