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March 15, 2010

Pratt Street Ale House eyeing Riordan's in Annapolis

the pratt street ale house is located on pratt street.

In early March, we learned the Pratt Street Ale House is looking to expand into Annapolis and maybe South Baltimore.

I heard from several people that co-owner Justin Dvorkin was in talks with Brian McComas about taking over Taverna Corvino. Untrue, McComas told me. It's just a rumor. A popular rumor, but a rumor nonetheless.

I did, however, find out what space Dvorkin and Co. are eyeing in Annapolis: The old Riordan's ...

"It's a location I looked at for a while," he said. "We're fighting pretty hard. Right now we're having some productive meetings on it."

Riordan's closed in 2007 (I actually dug up an interesting Sun article about its final days. Might post that at some point this week).

Dvorkin is in talks with the landlord as well as Annapolis city officials, trying to figure out building updates, permits and such.

"We're hoping," he said. "We've got our fingers crossed."

(Baltimore Sun archive photo)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:56 AM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


This is exactly what downtown Annapolis needs. The menu will be a bit redundant to Dock Street, Armadillos, Middleton's, Federal House, et al, but the beers will go a long way to improving that area.

Now if only Bob Kincaid's new restaurant could reach his normal standards and one of the 10 sushi restaurants would become affordable but well-executed bistro food, it would be everything that a downtown dining area should be.

Good Luck Justin, you're gonna need it. Did you dig around why Riordan's closed? How does a successful restaurant for 30 years just close up shop? The landlord, the historical society of Annapolis, the Annapolis Business Bureau are your answers. When the building fell into disrepair, the landlord threw it on his tenant to repair it. When they lost that fight and were forced to fix it themselves, the city stepped in and said they had to do it like this and it has to look like that. The city forced them to erect scaffolding even when there wasn't any exterior work to be done yet. (Riordan's said the scaffolding was the final nail in the coffin. People just walked around Riordan's and never went inside.) Then the owner of the building wouldn't pay for the work that was completed! This is just the tip if the iceberg, Pratt Street.

If you don't believe me, just take a look a what the beautiful city did to the downtown fish market. They EVICTED everyone in the place, the mayor secured a handshake deal with Dean & Deluca, who eventually pulled out of the deal, but since there was no contract, the city is left with an empty market house and struggling to find tenants in this economy. The two huge swamp coolers sitting in several parking spots outside the market place look awesome. Do your homework, GET CONTRACTS, and a GREAT LAWYER.

Good Luck is absolutely right. One hopes that sort of mismanagement left the city with Mayor Ellen Moyer. One hopes that's the case.

"Good Luck," I read the same articles and background info and thought much the same thing myself. However, the scaffolding allegedly was ordered raised because of the crumbling facade, and when repairs were being made the contractors allegedly found horribly crumbling brickwork ("wet chalk") in need of far more extensive repair than originally anticipated.

However, there was similar work undertaken at Max's a while back, and they managed to survive all that scaffolding for a while. Maybe the bricks were in better shape........

Having said that, I'd tread cautiously into the apparently politically charged/troubled retail environment around that square.....

Unfortunately, Riordan's let their grandfathered 2am liquor license lapse so unless the City Council lifts the moratorium on 2ams (which legislation is pending but controversial), it will be early closings. Even then, planning commission determines closing hours and it does not seem friendly to late hour bars. Maybe this is part of the meetings with City Officials. Good luck.

Man, I just perused what I wrote. I'm not a Riordan's homer. I never really went in there. I'm just mad as hell (and I'm not gonna take it anymore) that everyone has to get in on the act. The mayor, Historical society. The scaffolding issue was a he/she argument. City said it was mandatory, Riordan's got an independant city contractor who said it wasn't needed. As for Pratt St. if you're paying 10k+ in rent + shortened hours = good luck. The city will never allow new bars to open til 2am. They don't want the bars. They want boutiques, but the reality is they can't cover their expenses with rent being what it is. Would you pay $25 for a "Stop being crabby" t-shirt?

@Good Luck wow! that sounds like Main Street Association in Federal Hill, but worse. Annapolis is a tough town to do business in, ask the owners of the Sly Fox Pub. It's a shame that people are so anti-business.

They are pretty bad. They want to push all the nightlife out of downtown. They did a good job of it. Everybody went over the bridge to eastport or down west street or even into parole. The really nice little pub is Heroes that someone else mentioned. All the locals go there cause they don't want to pay/deal with tourists/tourists prices.

Too bad you all do not have the facts straight - maybe you read too many newspaper articles - Capital, Sun, et al. Facts: any new restaurant use going into that space MUST get a new liquor license (midnight under the current code) AND go through two public hearings - Planning Commission and Board of Appeals BEFORE the proposed user/tenant can apply for a building permit to make interior improvements to the site. It's called Special Exception, and in Annapolis it is a MAJOR process to go through. Simply said, it takes 9-12 months to go through this approval process. And guess what? When you pick up an approved building permit be prepared to pay horrific fees for number of seats (capital facilities), liquor license, grease trap (none there), etc. The fee structure in Annapolis for a food use goes on, and on, and on.

Love to see you here, but good luck getting through the process.

Gotta love the twisted world of city zoning ordinances, especially in a historic district.

I live around the corner from the Riordans building and the rent posted on the window is $30,000. I'm not in the business, but that seems like a lot, even for that space.

30k a month means you are going to have to do about 6 million a year in sales, good luck!

I didn't want to mention any rent numbers, but I do remember seeing they wanted $5 per sq. feet. I think the the place is 5,000 or 6,000sq. So it makes sense. BTW - if they don't get the 2am license, they will get serious kickbacks in taxes to make it worth their while. Good luck.

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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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