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November 5, 2008

Instant vintage

ropewalk tavernCan you believe Ropewalk Tavern (1209 S. Charles St.) is 13 years old?

It's true. The South Baltimore Republican-themed hangout is about to turn Lucky 13, and they're celebrating this birthday tomorrow. Most drinks are $2 and Miller Lites (the staple of any Baltimore liquid diet) are only a buck.

I asked that question because to me, Ropewalk seems much older than that.

Granted, sticking around for more than a dozen years in a neighborhood with such a high turnover rate is no small feat. But because of the turn-of-the-century decor and vintage atmosphere, Ropewalk feels like a classic pub with a few modern flourishes (namely flat screen TVs).

I'll bet if you stop a neighborhood resident on the street and ask them how long Ropewalk Tavern has been there, they'll say it's been open more than 13 years. 

This reminds me of one of my first nightlife columns ... 

crabby dick'sBack in January 2006, I wrote a piece about Crabby Dick's, which was slated to close later that month. Here's how the story started: 

Soon after Crabby Dick's opened on South Broadway in 2000, co-owner John Buchheit started catching one of the best compliments a restaurateur ever gets.

"I would sit on the bench out front and hear people say, `Oh yeah, Crabby Dick's -- they've been there forever,'" Buchheit said. "That's what you want to hear."

In a couple of years, Buchheit and business partner Dale Slotter built a Fells Point tourist staple.

After covering Baltimore bars and clubs for more than three years, this still rings true. If a bar or restaurant owner can become a neighborhood fixture, they have a much better chance of succeeding in the long run.

I'm trying to think of other bars and restaurants like Ropewalk and Crabby Dick's that have this same appeal, but none come to mind right away. You got any?

(Photo of Ropewalk Tavern by Sun photographer Gene Sweeney Jr. Photo of Crabby Dick's by Sun photographer Kim Hairston) 

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:32 PM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


Max's has been around for a while. I think Looney's in Canton has been there since 1993.

My parents met at the Horse you came in on in the 70s. I asked how it was then. Their response, "It was a dive back then too."

Are you sure it's not 220 yrs old? ;-)

Dizzy Issie's/The Dizz...just think back to earlier this year when we all wondered if/when it would re-open

Looney's on the Square. Come along way since '93.



looney's is 15 years old!! you guys are right

Okay, "Drew from Greektown," were we separated at birth? My parents ALSO met at the Horse in the 70s (I believe it was 1977) and they also said it was a dive back then too. I'm think I ought to start hanging out there and maybe I'll find my future husband. ;-)


John Steven!

No way Jose's

Any old time Baltimore folks remember Phil's...the bar pre-Ropewalk. I went there on Saturday afternoon's when I was young with my grandmother and ate fried chicken and western fries from the market. We would sit in the old dark back room that is now mid-bar I guess. They had an OLD jukebox that had Happy Birthday on it. We would play it thinking it was hillarious that Happy Birthday was on it.

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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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