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May 28, 2010

Taps is for sale

tapsFirst off, keep in mind: Given the right price, every bar is for sale.

That said, for the low low low price of $375,000, you can own "a Federal Hill landmark," according to the ad for the South Baltimore bar Taps.

Wait! Don't leave us, Taps! We were just getting to know you.

Why, it seems like just yesterday when Taps opened. The bar at the corner of Charles Street and Fort Avenue was going to have a ton of taps -- even wine on tap.

After an agonizing wait, they only installed 17 taps, and, sadly, no wine on tap ...

Make no mistake, 17 taps is a formidable amount. But co-owner Dave Holter made it seem like Taps was going to be the Max's of South Baltimore. So how could we help but feel disappointed when all we got were 17?

A series of unfortunate events made matters even worse.

Who could forget the profane sign posted outside Taps on Easter Sunday, which angered neighborhood residents? Or Holter's arrest for allegedly pulling a knife on a bouncer from nearby Mother's Grille. 

It's sad when any bar owners can't make it work, regardless of the reason. I'll keep you posted if/when Taps sells. According to the ad, the "owner must sell to relocate."

(Photo from the ad)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:49 PM | | Comments (18)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


Now is our chance Sam! If we take a collection at the next Midnight Sun Social we can purchase Taps and make it our dream come true.

Lines, spotlights, doormen in suits holding back the throngs of people trying to get in. Think of the possibilities...

$375,000 for everything including the liquor license, sounds like a fire sale.

"owner must sell to relocate."
Which plane out of the country is Dave Holter taking?, or is he entering witness/witless protection program?

Read the Craigslist ad to which Sam linked: It's $375K for the business, $795K for "everything" including the building.

Thank goodness. That place added nothing to the neighborhood.

Went in the first or second weekend and knew this place didnt have a chance.

Didnt exactly attract the right crowd.

Went in the first or second weekend and knew this place didnt have a chance.

Didnt exactly attract the right crowd.

Just curious, But for Serious..., what is the "right crowd"?

"Didnt exactly attract the right crowd."

As a frequenter of this bar I hope that you are not referring to me. When I am in Taps watching NASCAR on Sundays I am wearing sleeves at least 70% of the time.

What do you people want from me?

Hate to see anyone fail. The place had potential. Large space with a long bar. Service wasn't great but not a bad place for some beers and wings during a Ravens away game. The owner was nice enough when at the bar, but his reputation wasn't great and in a Smalltimore that can have a huge impact.

I for one will be sad to see Taps go. Businesses are always a welcome addition to any neighborhood in my opinion. It is sad that Taps never lived up to its full potential, but Dave and the rest of the staff at Taps have never been anything but nice, accommodating and generous. I have thrown and gone to many parties in the upper part of the bar, and the staff always worked with me to ensure that those parties were the best and most fun that they could be. The space is dissimilar to anything in Federal Hill and was a welcome addition. It was also made known to me that Taps had a live music permit. it makes me sad that they could not utilize this aspect of the business more. Baltimore has many artists and few places for them to showcase their crafts, it would have been nice to see more live music in an area so rich in culture.

I feel apathetic to the people who can not embrace the city and the change that comes with it. Businesses move in and businesses move out, homes go up and homes come down, people come and then they go. One can only hope that the ebb and flow of interactions leaves a lasting vestige of something usable and impacts in a positive way. I think Dave and company turned a dive bar into something more useful and appropriate, and I hope the next owners, if it sells, will use it in a similar manner.

I agree with the last post. Although, Taps was not fancy, it provided a great venue for a weeknight/ casual night. Dave and company were always extremely welcoming and friendly for planning graduate school group and kickball team events.

I also hope that the next owner utilizes the live music license. As a former Philadelphia resident, I really miss options for local live music in the neighborhood.

I used to work for Dave for a short time at Drifters, he was nice enough but seemed to have some...problems. ...

THANK GOD. the owners were all idiots who didnt know right from left.

they half a$$ed it the entire way and no one can argue that. they promised a lot and didnt even deliver half of it.

Firesale indeed. I am 90% sure they paid $1MM for the building, goodwill, license, FFE, etc.

$200M haircut stings.

I play in a band that played at Taps once (maybe even twice, I don't recall).
As it was explained to me, the upstairs portion was run by a different person but under the same ownership. They DIDN'T have the proper music license and eventually were shut down. Then they had to "rent" the space to bands who could sell tickets (ie pay to play). They also said the neighbor upstairs who shared the common wall with the stage was NOT happy about the situation. There was no PA system and only a makeshift bar using coolers. And we were paid in Natty Boh (that's not a complaint :)
Its a great space upstairs if someone could put in the effort to complete it and get the correct permits to have bands.

I disagree with most of the posters. Taps is a good spot to hang out on Saturday afternoons after SOBO football. The owners have never been anything but nice to us and they even hooked us up with some nice specials for my birthday party. It's a shame to see them go.

Dave is partially correct. They did share a common wall with a neighbor who was not pleased with the new direction Taps owners wanted to take, which resulted in several complaints. Also, Taps did not do it's best to make a good first (or second) impression with the neighbors. Taps upstairs was owned and operated by the same owners/management.

The deal with their upstairs is that Taps has what equates to a banquet hall's license. That is how the space was used in the 70's and early 80's, essentially as a VFW hall. They could have live music upstairs, but it needed to be under the auspices of a private party.

The letter and the intent of the law there was to permit DJ's/bands for weddings, graduation parties, etc. When Taps attempted to use that license to hold live acts upstairs (whether it be comedy, DJ's, or bands) without the "private party angle", they were slapped on the wrist by the liquor board.

The bottom line to me is that it is unfortunate to see a business fail, but there are measures that could have been taken to mitigate the failure. Whether or not that mitigation would have worked, I don't know. To make that space work, I think you'd have to invest quite a bit of money to renovate the whole space, and I don't know that it's worth it at the cost for the business, building, license, least for the near future. Whoever buys it better have some loot and even more patience, because I just can't see this space in the black for some time.

i dont understand what people expected????? TAPS was/is a great bar thier specials were the best in the neighborhood...i go in about 3 or 4 times a month and everytime i have a good time...yeah they had some problems at times but ive gotten bad service at Ruth Chris 40% of the times ive been it always seemed to me that the owners and the G.M were very REAL people not like these jerks at DONT KNOW/ NO IDEA and mothers mad river etc.....2 young guys took a chance on a bar and improved the neighborhood by doing so...and sam sessa the Profane sign on eater was by an employee who was fired the day after!!!!!! Get real have u ever been out in this city after 2 + years and u bring up a profane sign?????? i will never read ur blogs from here on out you obviously dont have a clue...have fun at Blue Grass wit ur 80 tabs per night i will miss taps and the crazy nights / ravens games that were very fun with a bar packed with avid fans........Get Lost Sam sessa...............

TAPS is a great bar!!!! Its not like other bars that dump a bunch of money into their place and then charge the customer more. I always had a good time and that whole neighborhood assoc. ia a bunch of jerks, i have been told that taps wanted outdoor seating,live music, front windows and a deck on the side of the bar but everytime they tried for something new the Neighborhood or the city voted against it. So its sad to know that Jeff/Dave and the G.M Miguel wont be around anymore cause i think they are what made the bar special. We could do things in that bar that no other bar would allow nothing to Crazy but just having fun dancing on the bar and requesting whatever songs we wanted to hear. You cant do that stuff anywhere cause all the other bar owners are to up tight. So i personally will miss TAPS and hope whatever bar is put there will be half as cool/fun as TAPS was.

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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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