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May 24, 2010

Tragedy at Hops Inn

hops innOver the years, I've written time and again about my love for Hops Inn. It is one of Dundalk's best bars -- a real gem.

So it's with great sorrow that I pass along the news that owner Lee Martin was slain in a shooting outside Hops Inn Saturday morning.

While I never met Martin in person, we spoke over the phone in the past. The bar, which apparently doubled as his house, had been in Martin's family for generations, he once told me. 

Martin's death means the future of this long-standing Dundalk watering hole is uncertain. I called the bar earlier today but no one picked up. As a bar-goer, I hope Hops stays open.

I've only ever been to Hops twice -- both on the same night ...

It was the first Dundalk Bar Crawl, in the summer of 2008. Walking into Hops, it felt like it could have been 1988. Black-and-white portraits of every president dating back to George Washington hung on the wood-paneled walls. My friends and I put Night Ranger's "Sister Christian" on the box, which got the other guys in the place singing along.

This is part of what I wrote at the time:

It's possibly one of the most random but welcoming bars I've ever been to. Hops sits in the middle of a residential section of Dundalk on Railway Avenue. A list of the buildings on this street would read: house, house, house, Hops, house, house. A big sign out front advertised "Bud On Tap," as if it were some novel thing, and I wondered just how long it had been there.

We had a round of beers, and then left Hops to visit some other Dundalk bars. But none of them compared to Hops, where we found ourselves at the end of the night. The bartender, a biker mama, brought us a round of free shots. Then one of my friends, J.M. Giordano of What's Happening Magazine, spotted a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue behind the bar. This stuff goes for $20 a glass at most Baltimore bars.

At our request, the bartender checked out the bottle, which had a hand-written label on the back of it: $3. Our eyes popped out of their sockets. We quickly ordered a round. Last year, I found out Hops had raised the price to $9 a shot, which is still much cheaper than most places.

Reading the news this morning shocked me. My condolences go out to the Martin family. You're in our hearts and thoughts.

(Photo courtesy of Hops' website)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:25 AM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


Liz Kay reports he was 43.

Andrea F. Siegel and Tricia Bishop reported he was 40.

Nice Job Sun!

Hey Yay, a good person was murdered. Does it matter if Editors got his age wrong? No.

Hey Babs, Um, yeah, it does actually. A good person was murdered, and they can't even tell us with accuracy who he was.

A horrible, awful thing happened, and my thoughts go to his family. But I do not claim to know the man based on a blog post. Nor do I claim to know what happened at 2:22 based on the multiple articles at the same newspaper.

For the record, Martin was 43.

@Yay For Editors -- I'm not sure why the discrepancy happened, but police reports can be rife with misinformation. From time to time, details like ages and street names can be misstated in police reports, and have to be updated later.

And as for an accurate description of who he was -- that's best left to our excellent obituary writers, Fred and Jacques.

my husband and I have been to Hop's many times. They had hoasted our best friends wedding out in the back. we remember the indoor horse shoes and friendliness. Irreardless of police reports and news resports the community lost a good and decent person.
Rest in Peace Lee and may the angels watch over your family

I did not know Lee, but my condolences go out to his family. Last year, we added the Hops Inn to our annual Dundalk bar crawl after reading Sam's blog. Even though it was our first time there, we were immediately greeted with warmth and friendliness as if we were long-time regulars.

What the hell is wrong with people?

A commenter on the news piece has a point, albeit heavy-handedly written there;
concealed carry permits might be a good idea.

My thoughts are with the family. What a tragedy.

I pray that these horrible people that killed such a good young man pay with there lives !.

@ Calico girl. Lee was ambushed. I HATE it that every time there's a shooting death the concealed carry people come out and say "well, if they'd only been allowed to carry a gun" It's not that simple. As a bar owner who handled the till every night, Lee could have carried. He was not that kind of person. I used to carry. If I were surprised like Lee was I wouldn't have time to pull..Let's keep this post focused on something important like....mourning a good man who was murdered!

For the last year and a half, I have ran the monday night karaoke show there. It took us three months to that night going, at the time, the only karaoke show on Mondays in Dundalk. He bought Goggle search priority, pasted flyers around the neighbor and was key to getting that night to be successful... and he had confidence in me, and loved my show. Lee had become more than just "the guy who hired me" he had become a good friend.

We spent hours talking about his plans for the bar, how much he loved it, and I came to respect how kind and gentle this large generous man with the easy going smile was.

The community lost a great man Friday night, and I feel privileged to have known him.

Thank you redman for saying it before I had to. As if a concealed carry permit helps in your home or business? Pro-gun vultures.

Here's some good news. Perps caught. News conference at 1130 am to discuss. I'll be interested to see who the Mensa members are the committed this ambush. It makes me wonder if they will be anything like the gang of fools that murdered the gas station owner in Towson a few months ago.,0,4550478.story

I guess my comment was somewhat knee-jerk. I do think that just because one is "packing" does not mean that

A) You will have time/opportunity to dispatch your weapon and

2) Your weapon will not be dropped, forcibly taken, etc. and used against you.

It isn't the answer to all situations.

I was just upset when I read about this, and I have no connection to this whatsoever.

@Jeff 9:57am: Look how on the nose you were-- the wife had someone off her husband. Isnt that what happened to the gas station owner in Towson?

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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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