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December 1, 2009

A bar owned by two firefighters caught fire. Here's what happened.

banners fire baltimore

When Baltimore city firefighters Wayne Robinson and Rick Hoffman opened Banners in August, they expected setbacks.

Of all the disasters that could befall the Locust Point corner bar, a fire was the last thing they anticipated. But that's exactly what they got last Friday afternoon, when a blaze sparked by a grease fire ravaged their kitchen and the storage space above it.

"It's crazy," Robinson said. "Rick and I are both firefighters. To have your own place go up like that is pretty disappointing."

Neither of the owners was at Banners when the fire started. Robinson was on his way to the bar and Hoffman was on duty. Apparently, an employee had cooked a burger on the kitchen grill and the leftovers flamed up, Robinson said.

Robinson received a few text messages about a fire at Banners, but didn't think it was a big deal. Then he rounded the corner and saw smoke billowing out of the second-story windows ...

Several fire engines responded to the blaze at 2:24 p.m., according to fire department spokesman Kevin Cartwright. They performed a search and rescue and controlled the fire in about 15 minutes.

Robinson was stunned by the damage. He doesn't know how much it will cost to repair the place, but he thinks it could be more than $100,000. They had just bought a new freezer, and received a large food shipment in time for the holiday weekend.

"We got banged pretty good," Hoffman said. "The entire kitchen is gone now. Just gone."

Following standard procedure, fire crews stayed on the scene for a couple hours to make sure the blaze hadn't spread through the walls to neighboring businesses, Cartwright said.

After the fire was extinguished, several neighborhood residents showed up with buckets and rags and offered to help Robinson and his crew clean up the mess. Robinson gladly agreed.

"In three hours, the place was spotless," Robinson said.

Though it could be months before Banners' kitchen opens again, the bar is still serving drinks, Robinson said. He and Hoffman are disappointed that the nearby Locust Point fire house was temporarily closed at the time of the fire, due to budget cuts. Firefighters responded from a station in Brooklyn instead.

"You could throw a rock and hit the fire house from here," he said.

Though the fire may have destroyed their kitchen (and dented their pride), Robinson and Hoffman are determined to make Banners a success.

"We'll bounce back from this," Robinson said.

(Photo by Midnight Sunner LGood)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:14 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs



"It's crazy," Robinson said. "Rick and I are both firefighters. To have your own place go up like that is pretty disappointing."

Is Banners on Twitter or Facebook? Does anyone know?

sad to hear that this happened. the one time i've been there everyone who worked there was super nice to me

i will definitely pay some return visits 1) because i was gonna anyways, and 2) it sounds like they need it more than ever.

I am going to go by tonight have a few drinks and support them out. They are all very friendly there, and appreciate their customers.. I feel I can help out at least a little by having a few drinks.

fellow midnight sun readers if you get a chance try this bar out.

Yes, there is a group on Facebook called "Friends of Banners Bar & Grill.

Look 'em up!

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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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