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September 13, 2010

Schaefer's Bar & Restaurant in South Baltimore still accepting your dollar bills

0912001400.jpgBaltimore bars come and go. Just last week, Midnight Sun reported that Tyson's Tavern, a 3-year-old bar on the Canton and Fells Point border was up for sale.

But some have been around for what feels like forever. Take Schaefer's Bar & Restaurant in South Baltimore. 

One of the distinguishing characteristics of Tyson's is the history of the building where it's located. Owner Dean Zlomke says it might have been the home of the original National Brewing Company. And underneath the bar, there are still tunnels that lead to Patterson Park that were supposedly used in the War of 1812. But if the sale says anything - other than this is a crapshoot of an economy - it's that locals like character along with their history.

Schaefer's in South Baltimore has character up the wazoo.

Its liquor license was the second one ever issued by the city, and its owners say the business has been around in some form or another since the 1800s.

Here's how authentic this place is. At some point in its twisted history, Schaefer's was a stag bar, meaning only men were allowed inside. To accommodate them, a metal trough ran underneath bar just in case any of the customers had to relieve themselves. They would just unzip, and open their personal tap. And the trough is still in place, only it's now covered by lots of floorboard.

But the owners haven't stopped there. The bar has several traditions that have sort of embedded it in the fabric of the neighborhood. Before leaving, customers are encouraged to leave their mark by signing a dollar bill with a special signature. Two years ago, when our own Sam Sessa profiled the bar, he left his own by writing "EBSS,"or Eccentric Billionaire Sam Sessa, a career goal of his to be at some point referred to by that tag.

A reader passing through Baltimore on a business trip recently reminded us of Schaefer's eccentricities. He was looking for Schaefer beer, and stopped by the storied bar after reading the story. Though he complained the joint didn't actually serve Schaefer, despite its name, he was won over by its dollar bill-covered walls. Then he left his own, pictured at right.

He left the best tidbit for last: Sessa's dollar is still up on the wall.

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Posted by Erik Maza at 8:57 AM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Bar stories


Wow, Cool Story, Cool Guy!

I thought your Vampire Weekend review was garbage, but this story was much better.

Word to the wise - change your cool-guy photo on the blog. That may have worked in Miami - I can assure you that it doesn't work here.

The troughs in old bars were not used as described in the article.....many of the patrons in those days either chewed tobacco or used snuff and the troughs were used as spitoons. Relieving oneself at the bar would have been a offense deserving a beating.

hahahahaa these trolls are the greatest

I think the picture is deliberately off-putting, in a very calculated way. It says, "Hey, I'm not from around here, and I don't give a damn what you think about my tight shirt."

It's quite refreshing, actually, and it's growing on me, mainly because everyone hates it. Erik is Bizarro Sessa.

But I have to admit that until I see Erik out in public (preferably at our CD Release Party on 10/8), I'll continue to be sceptical (sic) that this isn't some huge prank by Sessa. I mean, it just seems too perfect....

Oh, for god's sake, quite being such assholes.

"I can assure you it doesn't work here" This kind of huffing and puffing is really stupid. Give all of us a break.

How soon I forget...unless you are a dirty hipster you have no place on this blog.

I'm with Josh; cut it out, guys. Give Erik a chance to settle in, and if you don't care for the blog in the meantime, then don't bother coming around.

Your negative 'tudes are killing my Ravens Opening Day buzz.

You guys better watch it or I'll turn this blog right back around and head home

Who knew Vampire Weekend fans were so vitriolic

Eric Massa must have written this review of Schaefer's history and quirks via a phone conversation with the owner. Why do I guess this? Because nowhere in the article does he make fun of any of the patrons at Schaefer's., as he so eloquently did of the fans at Saturday's VW concert.

I am not a VW fan (couldn't tell you one song they play) and don't plan to be anytime. My problem with EM's review of the concert was his smarmy attitude toward the audience.

If you want to criticize a performer for being ridiculously late and disinterested (Lauren Hill), violence in the crowd (Buck Cherry), problems with a venue or stage setup, etc knock yourself out.

But to criticize the crowd because they are either: too white, too young, or too energetic for your taste is unprofessional and childish.

Maybe Eric Massa should have waited until he "settled in" before he turned on the smarm...

please write a review of Ice Bar. Based on that review, I will know whether it is worth my time to continue reading this blog sans Sammy Sess.

Ahh....Schaefer's aka Schaefer's Pleasure Club. Ask for Miss Patty!

Ahh....Schaefer's aka Schaefer's Pleasure Club. Ask for Miss Patty!

Rocky5, it's "Maza".

Also, complaining about hipsters says something worse about you than it does about them.

Josh, The misspelling was intentional. So I'm gonna get a little 'MAzA" on you here: if you don't know who Eric Massa is, google it. Peace.

Josh, After reading your comments on the Parkside Sports Bar post, let me help you understand why establishments employ doormen. Ian did a good job of explaining in his response, and

First, it helps dissuade underage drinking by making people show ID at the door before they are inside. The 19-20 year olds who don't have a fake won't try to enter a bar if there is someone checking ID's at the door. Owners are protecting their investment: their liquor license.

Second, if a place is wildly popular and at their fire department mandated occupancy limit then doormen help control the flow of patrons into/out of the bar. Have you ever seen a line outside a packed bar? They don't form on their own.

Third, they often help management with other functions such as moving tables/chairs, carrying kegs/cases to restock the bar, or maybe seating guests when they arrive. It's not just sitting there hoping for trouble so you can kick some butt; which seems to be your attitude about doormen.

I understand that doorpeople do an important job for bars. Rarely, do they need to be giants to do this job. However, I mostly don't care as long as they aren't assaulting people which most bouncers rarely ever do. I'm mostly just surprised that bar owners think they need big people to do the job. Again, that's my axe to grind.

And, I googled it. I get it. It's not funny or clever, but I got it.


Did you try and become a bouncer and they said you were undersized? Or did a big burly bouncer bounce you down the street? Or something else?



Something else. I was working outside my bar awhile ago and watched a few bouncers from the bar next door follow some patrons outside and assault them. Seemed totally uncalled for once the person making trouble is outside the bar.

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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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