« Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays: Post-bar nosh | Main | Corkboard: Where's the best place to watch tonight's Maryland-Duke game? »

March 2, 2010

Some bad bar news you should be aware of

velvet ropeBad things have been happening in and around Baltimore bars and clubs this past week.

First, there was a near-riot outside The Velvet Rope (pictured), the downtown mega club which replaced Palma on the corner of Calvert and Redwood streets. Last Wednesday, a promoter booked rapper Yo Gotti to play there, and allegedly oversold the show.

Some 300 people waiting outside the club stormed the doors, and security guards sprayed mace on them.

It took 50 police officers and a helicopter to get things under control. Read the whole story here.

Police wanted to shut the Velvet Rope down immediately, but that's not possible, according to liquor board chairman Stephan Fogleman ...

He said he'd schedule a hearing at the earliest possible date, which is no less than 10 days from the incident. I'll keep you posted on the hearing's outcome.

On Saturday, 25-year-old Michael Kooser was stabbed during a Fort Avenue bar crawl. I'm going to sum it up, but it's best to read Justin Fenton's account of the fight, and the storm of comments that ensued. The crawl was raising money for the Hitmen, a flag football team, of which Kooser was a member.

Basically, there was a fight around 6:40 p.m. outside Taps. Police arrested one of the Hitmen and left. Kooser said he tried to break up the fight, and when it was over, walked away. He got about as far as Hogan's Alley, where he was jumped by two women who were friends of the dude who got arrested (they thought Kooser should have backed up their buddy).

While the women were attacking Kooser, a 35-year-old man stabbed him in the back. Kooser lost about half of his blood, but is in stable condition. Both the women have been arrested and charged with attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, assault, among other charges.

Kooser had an interesting take on the incident, considering what just happened to him. According to Fenton's piece:

[Kooser] was disappointed that the stabbing was giving the bar crawl and the football team a bad name. "It was a really big success - we had a ton of people there, we made lots of money and everyone had a good time," Kooser said. "Now, afterwards, people will take it out on us, but it had nothing to do with the bar crawl."

Right or wrong, this incident is going to ignite a ton of debate from neighborhood residents over bar crawls and binge drinking.

Several of my friends (and Midnight Sunners) were on a Snuggie bar crawl around the same time as the Hitmen, and said many of the Hitmen crowd were absolutely wasted in the middle of the afternoon, and a few were looking for a fight. Looks like they got one.

chubbiesBut wait, we're not done yet. 

The Fells Point strip club Chubbie's (pictured, bottom) had its license suspended for a year at a city panel hearing last week. Read the full story here.

Chubbie's list of offenses seems tame, compared to spots like Suite Ultralounge. But neighborhood residents young and old cried NIMBY, and got Chubbie's shut down for a year.

I've never been in Chubbie's (though I heard from a friend they can't be accused of false advertising), but that neighborhood has drastically changed in the past several years, and I can see where the new residents might not be willing to put up with strippers, barkers and late night carousing.

Getting a bar's license suspended for year in this city is no easy task. Did Chubbie's deserve it? Depends on who you ask. I'd like to know if Chubbie's ever tried to be a good neighbor in the first place. Getting in good with your neighbors is key for any bar or club in a residential neighborhood.

(Photos from Sun archives)

Follow Midnight Sun on Facebook and Twitter @midnightsunblog
Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:30 PM | | Comments (34)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


I was down Fort Ave around 3pm on Saturday picking up my dry cleaning and saw both bar crawls going on. No offense to the Hitmen (I've played in your league before, and never had a problem) but some of the guests involved in the crawl were beyond intoxicated already and you just got a bad vibe walking by. Sorry that things turned out the way they did.
Sam, wasn't there another stabbing out in front of the Cross St Mkt a few Saturdays ago too?

I hate to be insensitive to someone that got STABBED, but this feels a lot like the "home invasion" that occured in Federal Hill near Muggsy's 1-2 years ago...on PREAKNESS saturday. Basically a group of annihilated 28-30 year olds were yelling white-trash type names at a car headed (rightly) toward Brooklyn/Curtis Bay.

a.) the ADA's report has the majority of the yuppies' blood alcohol levels a hair below alcohol poisoning

b.) the 911 tape includes one of the Federale's screaming to the dispatcher, "WHY ARE THEY DOING THIS TO US!!?? WE ARE NORMAL WHITE PEOPLE!". Good luck with a Baltimore City jury on that one.

Bottom line: it is VERY easy to find trouble in most cities. In Baltimore, particularly in "Renaissance Neighborhoods", there are a lot of people who are pissed off that 'we' (yuppies) are now occupying their 'hood. Getting laid off @ the marine terminal certainly isn't helping.

Drink like you are a sophomore
+Hang out @ TAPS
+try to get in a fight with a 'townie
crazy Curtis Bay parolee coming after you with a blade

Mark Twain was SO CLOSE

there was a stabbing outside of cross st a few weeks ago

also that gas station owner in towson died today from his gunshot wounds.

baltimore is a MESS

Yeah I saw that trainwreck of a barcrawl on Saturday. I emailed the stabbing article to all my friends that saw them with me with the subject line "Least Surprising News Ever." Seriously, it sounds awful but, wow, was I NOT shocked to read there was a problem with them.

I tried pulling onto Webster street early Saturday afternoon while a bunch of the Hitmen barcrawlers were leaving Tavern on Key, or whatever it's called now. I had to sit in the middle of the street as about 20-25 people, toting beer bottles, walked in front of my car and one gentleman gave the standard shoulder shrug "What are you gonna do?" I just sat there and waited, of course, thankful that these fine youngsters were helping boost our local bars. I think that's what I've seen a few of the people posting under Fenton's column, anyway.

It definitely sucks that a guy got stabbed. I hope he has a full recovery and can put the incident behind him. That said, it's not really surprising that the particular group was involved in fighting. They were rip-roaring drunk by 2pm and some were very disrespectful toward area residents. I have no problem with a bar crawl through my neighborhood as long as the group is somewhat contained. Have a good time but don't be overly rowdy, don't yell at random people at the street, don't throw your beer bottles on the street, etc.

I thought Chubbie's had been closed for some time already. Their Christmas wreaths are still up from two years ago, and I haven't seen the front door open in about as long.

Hey Sam,

Some good news....I heard some inside info that John Steven's is starting industry night on Mondays. CHEAP DRINKS FOR EVEYRONE!

I think it said on the LB site that the license was suspended for a year including 5 months time served.

Been to Chubbies twice. I'll admit it. Yes, the advertising is true. Also, if you read between the lines of the linked article, you'll note that the club didn't do anything wrong.

The neighborhood just doesn't want to have a strip club. I'm surprised the city actually closed them for a year with such little real cause.

Tochterman should beware.

It's like that old quote. "First they came for the dive bar, and I did not speak because I was not a dive bar.

Then they came for the strip club, and I did not speak because I am not a strip club.

Then they came for the bait and tackle shop, there was no one left to speak out."

Tochterman's days are numbered. Soon, only Crate and Barrels will be allowed.


Sam... you got the best gossip column in town.

If you don't want to wake up in jail or Hopkins, the lesson is simple... when you stop remembering, stop drinking.

It's definitely misplaced to try to associate the stabbing incident with pub crawls, because as Sam pointed out, there are pub crawls going on every weekend with no drama. Hopefully no one tries to play that angle, but we'll see.

As for Chubby's, that is a *harsh* penalty they stuck ol' Chubby with. I think it's definitely out of line to issue a 1 year suspension for an employee selling after hours, that just doesn't jive. The Liquor Board has been pretty fair usually, but I think they yielded to the pressure here. Jay is correct, the laws have to apply equally to everyone. You can't give a $500 fine to one bar and then put another one essentially out of business for the same thing.

And Velvet Rope sounds like they just got greedy. They should've capped the sales at a reasonable number and then sold tickets at the door to make up for the no shows. You have to expect that people are going to be really ticked off if they pay $40-50 for a ticket to a show and then are told they can't come in. It'll be interesting to see how the Liquor Board deals with this one also.


What was I close on? Refresh my memory, please.

Everything, Mark Twain. Everything.

Hee hee. Actually, I think Evan was talking about your prediction that the Velvet Rope would not fare well. Just a guess.

Sigh. my favorite bar closes, and now everyone seems to have lost their freaking minds.
I repeat what i said many years ago when two friends ( a couple) got into a drunk screaming argument on Shakespeare street " Dude, people live here.. could you keep it down, PLEASE?!"
You're guests in the neighborhood, don't forget that.
Get as hammered as you'd like, just don't be an arse. If you can't handle that, time to quit on the boozing until you can.

Sessa, you're an aloof douchebag, and your writing has reflected as much for years now. "Looks like he got one?" What an inane remark. How could you possibly suggest that a group's supposed behavior warranted a stabbing? That's irresponsible. Moreover, your writing ranks the behavior of the drunks of the snuggie bar crawl above that of the Hitmen. Yeah, grown people wearing blankets and getting drunk is so much more civilized. You're a tool.

On the bar crawl problem. Myself and some friends witnessed the One-Eyed Mikes bar crawl in fells last weekend that almost ended in a brawl at JP Murphy's over a girl. People were so wasted they couldn't talk. But the drinks kept coming. They were knocking into people and one guy literally passed out on the bar as the bartender flirted with some drunk crawlees. We won't be back to Murphy's anytime soon.
I think that some of responsibility has to be placed on the shoulders of the bar. Fed Hill and Fells keep serving drinks no matter how much people have had to drink. I think the liquor board should go under cover on a few of these "crawls" and see how much disregard there is for the amount of alcohol consumption.
The Hitman crawl was openly belligerent to another crawl with threats of violence.

Likewise with the Hitmen bar crawl piling on. I live a block from Webster and Fort, and most of those men (and especially) women were OBLITERATED at 2:30pm. Not surprised to hear that there was a fight (only one?) but sorry to hear about the guy who got stabbed.

A stabbing?! Well, that's hardly the image we want for the Hitmen!

Reading through the comments on the crime blog, it seems like every person who came into contact with this bar crawl has a "I'm not surprised" attitude.

And boy does this seem to piss off the people who were on the bar crawl (glad they've sobered up and are now able to post their thoughts). It's almost like someone wrote a bad review of a band they like.

I wouldn't mind if the bar crawls went away. There was a large one in Fells 2 weekends ago where every in neon yellow hoods were acting like complete --holes

I saw them getting kicked out of bars from Waterfront all the up to Todd Conner's

I can't even begin to comment on the comments I've been reading about this stabbing. So out of control on both sides of the fence. Rationality seems to be out the window in regards to this incident.

More than anything, I'm glad the guy that was stabbed is going to be okay.

I'm also annoyed, however, because regardless of whether this was or wasn't related to the bar crawl, the court of public opinion will make the connection and it will make it harder to sponsor these kinds of events. I love bar crawls. It's a fun way to get out and try new places and keep a group interested, and sometimes if you have something silly you want to do (like wear Snuggies in public, for instance), a bar crawl is a fun way to do it. It sucks that anything with that name is going to get clamped down on because of this.

@ Kateebee. The bars need to welcome them but also monitor them as I alluded to in my post up there. More and more, the crawls are getting out of control, the One-Eyed Mikes one (yellow hoods) almost ended up in a fight @ J. Murphys. All the while the bartender just kept serving them drinks. If you're doing a bar crawl, at least appoint some one to stay sober and monitor the situation. pay him/her in dinner or beers at a later dat, but it would work.

Nice one, Iconoclast. You even used part of the actual name of the episode, which only Simpsons geeks would know off hand. Haha.

@ redman,
A very good idea, but a sad state of affairs that adults need a sober sitter like we did in highschool, er college, yes, i meant college.
What's with all the fights? Where is the "walk away and drink another day"? Do we all need to sign a pledge before a night out to not start or defuse altercations if need be? Keep it up and the heavy police enforcement will be back, bars won't sponsor (or even allow, depending ) crawls due to insurance risk and it all goes to hell.

Maybe i'm being naive here, but isn't it illegal to serve alcohol to an obviously intoxicated patron? I've known at least one bartender that has politely asked people to find another bar because his establishment doesn't serve food and they were beyond the point of no return. (great story, end with the most irascible of the party trying to walk out the door and falling flat onto the sidewalk) Maybe it's the economy etc etc etc, but what happened to going out and having a GOOD time? Everyone seems so angry and out for blood on the sidewalk.

I blame the yuppies, the liberal elites, anyone who was born after 1980 and hack writers like Sam Sessa FOR RUINING OUR COUNTRY. Did I miss anyone?

Stroll without fear the Federal Hill Irish Stroll is next saturday 3/13. the event is sponsored by the Federal Hill Hospitality Association and we have gone to great lengths to make this event fun and safe!! we have commissioned several extra police officers to walk the streets that day and evening we are providing outdoor restroom facilities and scheduled the cleaning crew that we pay for to preform a clean sweep of the participating area to pick up the pieces bright and early sunday morning as for over serving our employees have been warned of the consequences if any patron is found to be over served by them, termination. its not a perfect system but we are doing what we can. hope so see you next saturday!

Yes, I too blame Sam Sessa: FOR RUINING OUR COUNTRY.

@ Danny Young, that sounds awesome! I have some bros from VT coming up that weekend! Are there going to be drink specials??? Can't wait to get wasted WHAT?????

I guess William Steig got it right

or Roger McGough once said "It was a nice party except for the people, people ruin everything"

I blame the yuppies, the liberal elites, anyone who was born after 1980 and hack writers like Sam Sessa FOR RUINING OUR COUNTRY. Did I miss anyone?


Sweet! I just squeaked by on all accounts. I think I'll go on a bar crawl to celebrate.

Yeah, thumbs down on bar crawls. Especially ones that fill up Max's with dudes in skirts or neon windbreakers drinking Miller Lite. I'm trying to drink trippels in the early pm, get outta here with that mess! Buncha rubes. Good for bar business, though.

Be a fan. Drink hard. But DON'T BE A JERK!!!

Looks to me like Sam Sessa is one of the few on here with any sense at all. Don't let the negative comments get to you Sam. People tend to get defensive when someone calls out their buffoonish behavior.

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Please enter the letter "v" in the field below:
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.

Most Recent Comments
Recent tweets
Sign up for FREE nightlife alerts*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for nightlife text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Weekend Watch newsletter
Plan your weekend with's best events, restaurant and movie reviews, TV picks and more delivered to you every Thursday for free.
See a sample | Sign up

Photo galleries
Stay connected