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March 26, 2009

Mount Vernon needs a sports bar

mount vernonYeah, that's right. I said it. Heck, I'll say it again: Mount Vernon needs a sports bar.

Don't write me off just yet. Hear me out on this one. I lived in Mount Vernon for a time, and I used to get so frustrated at how impractical that neighborhood is.

Why isn't there a good place to go watch a game? More importantly, why is it that every time I ask this question to someone who lives in the neighborhood, they sniff at me and say, "If you want to go to some meathead sports bar, go to Federal Hill or Canton, jerk."

What they don't realize is that in addition to the meathead joints, Fed Hill/Fells/Canton have some of the most unpretentious neighborhood bars in the city.

And by looking down their noses at these other neighborhoods, all they're doing is furthering the stereotype that Mount Vernon is full of snobs ...

That's not true, either. Not everybody in Mount Vernon listens to obscure music/goes to MICA. I know there are people who live there who would like to see a cheap spot to get breakfast, more convenience stores open 24/7 and more regular bars.

I remember going out on a Saturday night and being so frustrated at the lack of bars I could patronize that weren't high-end clubs or gay bars. I remember waking up on a Sunday morning and being so frustrated at the lack of cheap breakfast joints I could patronize that weren't uppity/expensive cafes.

I'm not saying they should turn the Peabody Library into a Hooters. Having one or two low-key sports bars wouldn't ruin Mount Vernon. Far from it.

But aside from Mick O'Shea's and maybe Midtown Yacht Club, there are no places where you can chill and watch a sporting event in Mount Vernon. That stinks.But I doubt change will come anytime soon.

Also, thanks to Midnight Sun commenter ryan97ou for suggesting the topic.

(Sun photo by Elizabeth Malby/Sun photographer)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:13 PM | | Comments (48)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


Howard's Deli at 900 Cathedral is cheap for breakfast. You can maybe even see City Cafe from there.

I like Mt Vernon just fine as it is. I wonder why no entrepreneur has opened a sports bar in the neighborhood. Maybe they don't think it will be profitable. They might well be right.

And I am glad you mentioned gay bars in your 7th paragraph. At first I thought you were going to assert that Mt Vernon was known for its music snobs and MICA students. Um....

i couldn't agree more. I lived in canton for a while and moved to mt. vernon because of said meathead bars, but now i miss the neighborhood joints that are prevalent in said hoods. the corner bars like baltimore tap house (used to be growlers), NcDevins, Yellow Dog Tavern, the OLD gin mill, where, excuse the cliche.."everybody knows your name".

not to say i don't like the places in mt. vernon (i've lived here for 3+ years) but there is something i can't put a finger on that's missing. I noticed it most recently when i went to ale mary's and everyone knew each other, the bartender chatted everyone up and everyone seemed to be in generally good moods.

It seems when it comes to neighborhoods people want to compartmentalize the demographics. Federal hill is for yuppie pretentious young professionals, canton is for meat-head young professionals and college kids, fells point is a mix of both of those, and mt. vernon is for gay young professionals and art/music "hipsters" or whatever you wanna call it.

But the reality is that most people i have met in these neighborhoods aren't the extremes but maybe a bit of all of those. In a given weekend you might find me friday night at the ottobar catching double dagger, while sunday i have zero guilt in going to a sports bar to watch my beloved browns (lose), and on saturday i might just be at some corner bar in canton enjoying some good beers and conversation.

Don't get me started on sat/sun morning/afternoon for food.

i digress, but i have a slew of friends, some engineers, some graphic designers, some freelancers, etc. that live in mt. vernon and we all pretty much share the same opinion.

no offense meant to the bars there now, just more varied options would be nice.

*awaiting my water boarding that is sure to come whenever i talk to people about this*

NcDevins is a meathead bar now. :-(

Hampden is also in desperate need of a sports bar! There are places that have TVs, but nowhere where you can really hunker down and a watch a game. Frazier's is OK, but it's so cavernous that you don't get that critical mass of fans who are emotionally invested in the game.

Please someone buy the huge space on the corner of 33rd and Keswick! It's right by my house! If you open a decent bar where I can watch the game, I will sign over my paycheck to you! RtV proved that people can and will leave the Avenue!

'Never on Sunday' at Read and Charles makes some good breakfast. Mt. Vernon Stable has a good Sunday brunch too.

How could you not know about Howard's Deli? Sure, you specified Sunday, the one day Howard's isn't open, but on that one day you can go to XS and still get a surprisingly cheap breakfast. As for sports bars, both Dougherty's and the Stable have TVs always tuned into sports, as well as Midtown Yaught. Sure, none of these bars have twenty screens, but it's, well... Mt. Vernon, after all.

I would expand this gripe to include "A solid sports bar in North Baltimore north of The Washington Monument to the County line." Shouldn't someone be making bank opening a sports bar somewhere between Mt. Vernon and Hampden, Remington, Charles Village etc. I don't count CVP, that's a wonderful dive bar with some sports photos on the wall. We could compromise with the hipster crowd and make it a Euro-centric soccer bar that will show other sports too. Premier League baby!

Hampden needs one too. I mean where are we supposed to watch a game - Kolper's?! I'd rather not get stabbed.

hey mt vernon -- what good are Never on Sunday and Jay's for breakfast if they're not open on Sunday!?!?!? That's so typical of the neighborhood. XS might not be expensive, but it ain't cheap, either.

rayray, your right. i guess i meant back when it first opened, which was when i lived near by.

and yes, i know about mt. vernon has the stable, and doughertys...which i frequent often, but something's missing. The game is an afterthought. I wanna go somewhere i know people will be there to RAZ the O's when they are stinkin it up.

Midtown Yacht Club is a pretty decent place to watch a game.

the last thing we need is a sports bar. bars like this have come and gone but never lasted. there is a reason for that-- the establishments in mt vernon reflect the tastes and preferences of those that live and play there. if you want a sports bar, jump the light rail to mt washington or downtown. if you just want to watch a game, go to mt royal tavern. you know what is worse that hipsters and mica kids? meatheads, yuppies and jocks.

adam, mount vernon does indeed need a sports bar. maybe i'll open it, and borrowing an idea from jmgiordano, call it Fumbles.

our slogan will be:

"Everybody scores at Fumbles!"

I'm going to get every single meathead and jock I know and organize weekly bar crawls through mt. vernon.

great idea, sam-- good luck with that! i suggest opening it where cobbers used to be or any of the other notorious black hole spots along charles st. btw... mt vernon stable is the gay version of a sports bar, I think. does that work?

I mean, Grand Central is a gay sports bar in the sense that instead of football, they watch America's Next Top Model.

they also play bingo at the Hippo! is that a sport?

Adam - that attitude is exactly what i am talking about. typecasting 101.

Evan -I'm with you. sounds hysterical.

Evan, yes, but at the Hippo it's called "Boing!" not "Bingo"

Same letters, different word.

so does Pigtown!!!!

Fumbles...brilliant. And by the way, watching America's Next Top Model is a sport.

As a proud Mount Vernon snob, a sports bar is the last thing we need. Here are things we DO need:

1. A Barnes and Noble with a Starbucks inside. There should also be a standalone Starbucks across the street from said bookstore. It's a much needed failsafe if one Starbucks is compromised.

2. A Trader Joes. All the precious pretentiousness of Whole Foods, but priced for art students.

3. An Apple Store with a Pinkberry counter. It's doesn't exist (yet!) but think of the yuppie bliss it would create.

Sam- Last time I checked, people eat breakfast on the other six days of the week... ;-)

But yeah, I hear what you're saying about NoS being closed on Sunday. You could always mosey on down to the Dunkin Donuts at Guilford and Read for a breakfast croissant... :-)

Would definitely be nice to be able to watch games in my neighborhood instead of traveling to federal hill.

Sessa, next time you are at XS actually check out the breakfast prices. Everything else on the menu is moderate (and not cheap), but breakfast is actually cheap, as in almost comparable to Howard's Deli, which is the definition of a cheap greasy spoon.

Also, Cobbers eventually became a sports bar in Mt. Vernon, and it failed.

Wait, why doesn't Mount Vernon Stable qualify? They have friendly bartenders and a television. They even serve bar food late. And, there is pinball.

pomme de terre, I'm just a few blocks down from you on Keswick.

My well-informed neighbor told me (last year) that a family bought the building at 33rd & Keswick with the intention of opening a microbrewery. I was thrilled!

They started spending money; clearing out the ghosts of past occupants and painting. I'm guessing the $ ran out and that's why it's on the market.

Let me see if said neighbor has an update. I'll post any new info.

Sam - if you call the place Fumbles, I believe the motto should be "Loose balls!" That should pump the attendance up a little...

Or just watch sports at your house, c'mon! The last thing we need is people watching sports, especially Orioles games in Baltimore!

Also, did I catch a reference to that show on after South Park with that comedian whose name eludes me...if so, well done.

Never on sunday is still open? God that place gives me bad memories.

Mt veron needs a Pur or club one...that way they can get their dance on and have shoot outs in the street afterwards....people need to broadened their horizons and stop being so remember, get your dance on and shootouts in the streets afterwards...
If Liam's Pint Size Pub reopens, that would qualify...Dougherty's has a good neighborhood vibe too.

And Mt.Vernon used to have great breakfast, especially at 2 am. Gampy's. RIP.

t@t - the shootouts still happen sometimes, like right out front of The Belvedere!

look. MT Vernon has a sports bar. It's in the Belvedere. It's called the Owl Bar. 5 TVs, always on sports.
That being said, as a resident of a near-by community, Mt. Vernon does not need another one. And lets be honest, people SAY they want a sports bar, but really. Outside of championship games, NONE of the "sports" bars I've been too have been anything like in the beer commercials (bros yelling in unison at the screen and hitting on hot babes). That's an image sold to you my Mad. Ave.
It's mostly bars with TV (sound off cuz they don't want to buy the rights or something) and people sitting around eating, drinking and ignoring them. It's an ideal. Patrons go to "sports bars" don't really frequent "hipster" bars and vice versa. And as far as paraphernalia goes, you want that atmosphere, go to TGI Fridays.
Mt. Vernon has a special atmosphere, it's fine the way it is.

hey jmgiordano, how long did it take you to get a drink the last time you were at the owl bar? and how many people were there?

it depends on when you go. I'll tell you this, they have the best kept secret happy hour menu, so I go there a few times a month to fill the tank b4 drinking.
As to bar time, my father and I were @ Mothers and were ignored for like 15 mins.
it's relative and depends on who the 'tender is.

Mt Vernon definitely needs a TGI Friday's. The neighborhood sorely lacks a place where you can just like, get together with your bros and max out on some fried green beans with Jack Daniel's dipping sauce oh man soooooo good. And sometimes I just want a good beer, like regular Coors instead of Bud Light. Plus there's lots of crazy crap on the walls!

JMG - Point made, but i guess my original point wasn't really about sports bars per se, but just more neighborhood joints like the stable , where there is a general lack of pretense. brewer's is obviously a great joint, but because it's always in the best of lists you always end up with a mish mash of people yah kind of lose that 'hood vibe. not that that's their fault.

it is what it is....but it was nice to vent a bit. see you tonight at club charles. i'll be the one in the corner on my iphone acting aloof.

*chuckle *

@ ryan I'm ALWAYS at Charles on my iphone acting aloof!
nah. head over to the Nudashank Gallery tonight:
see ya there.

@ Evan. fret not young conformist!
there's a Ruby Tuesdays on 32nd and Charles!

Oh yeah, I forgot about that place. Can't imagine why.

They don't need a sports bar unless there are enough neighbours who want it and will patronize it. They may need to be sold on the notion that having a sports bar, a cheap spot to get breakfast, more convenience stores open 24/7 and more regular bars isn't going to draw the "wrong" kinda people and diminish property values.
We've aready discussed some bars don't rein the litter and after hours noise that creates resistance to their being bad neighbours.

there is a 24 hour 7-11, another 24 7-11 coming, dunkin donuts, and rite aid. i honestly am not sure how many more convience type places mount vernon could support, its a small neighborhood and whenever i go to 7-11 or dunkin at 3am (which is often), i generally never see another customer (unless its a friday night).

howards gourmet delly (on howard) and howards delly (on cathedral) are both extremely cheap but neither is open on sunday. marie louise has a decently priced brunch.

Another thing worth noting is that alot of people seem to be discussing areas that aren't officially in Mount Vernon at all... Mount Vernon is contained within Franklin at the south, Guilford at the east, Eutaw at the west, and Read/Eager at the north. It's a fairly small neighborhood.

I know there has been "Mount Vernon creep" in people's perception but that is the official definition of the neighborhood. When most people say Mount Vernon they seem to mean "Mount Vernon/Midtown Belvedere/the North Parts of Downtown".

oh and howards delly was closed, but supposedly reopening in march... i havent checked to see if they did, but i hope so! it was my regular place on days i worked from home...

"I lived in Mount Vernon for a time, and I used to get so frustrated at how impractical that neighborhood is."

Perhaps its because Mount Vernon residents generally don't have the same priorities as, say, South Baltimore residents. I've lived in the neighborhood for 6 years and love the fact that it doesn't get infiltrated by douchebags in sports jerseys.

If that makes me a snob, so be it. I don't like going to bars in Federal Hill or Canton, so I don't go there. If residents of other neighborhoods don't like going to Mount Vernon bars, they don't need to come here. I imagine everyone will be happier that way anyway.

What are "regular bars" anyway? Homogenized? Franchised? No thanks.

Mick O'Shea's is a decent place to watch the game. It's never very crowded.

I would not call the Owl Bar a sports bar by any stretch of the imagination.

There are two TV's in there, the one with the crappy reception on the right hand side with ESPN, the other on the left usually with CNN or the Weather Channel. Usually no sound.

First off unpretentious is not always a good thing. A quick look around Federal Hill on any weekend night will make that abundantly clear. Second the city has plenty of sportsbars already. There's no use in diluting the scene in one of Baltimore few upscale neighborhoods by putting some crappy, no imagination sportsbar in Mount Vernon. Sportsbars are the low rung of bars in that they derive their scene from media, e.g. sports leagues, television broadcasts, rather than create their own thing. There is no dying need for them anywhere. What Mount Vernon needs is better clubs, with better DJs and live acts to go dance and party to. A little more NYC or Miami and a little less Buffalo, NY or Cleveland, OH.

Nowhere needs a sports bar or a bar for that matter, but if enough people want, will patronize and will appreciate what it has to offer it annoying the rest of the neighborhood than it's a great idea.

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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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