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October 4, 2010

Review: Parkside Sports Bar in Canton

IMG_0689.jpgCanton bars fall into two basic types.  There's the O'Donnell Square, sports-centric watering holes (Looney's, JD's Smokehouse, Claddagh's), and there's the low-key neighborhood haunts that exist in semi-obscurity on the streets between O'Donnell and Eastern.

Parkside Sports Bar is a little of both.  Located on the corner of Fleet and Milton, Parkside is a sports bar that's off the beaten path, one that's decorated almost entirely with Ravens regalia.

But does it offer anything new to the sports bar concept? Not yet it doesn't. Nor does it feature the kind of charm that a comfy neighborhood bar needs to develop a loyal clientele.

There isn't any food, for starters. While plenty of smaller bars do not have a kitchen (Baltimore Taphouse and Butte's and Betty's come to mind), a sports bar is generally a place to sip cheap brew and enjoy pub grub like nachos and wings.  It would seem that Parkside is missing half of the equation.

That leaves only alcohol as their draw, and that they have in large supply. The bar advertises $1.75 PBR drafts and $5.00 pitchers daily, and on Sunday, the special was $12 buckets of domestic bottles. There are also four taps, with Guinness and Shock Top available in draft in case you don't want to spend your entire Sunday drinking the cheap stuff.

Parkside's strongest feature is that it is more spacious than most corner bars.  There's plenty of space between the bar top and the tables lining the window, so you don't have to squeeze your gut just to get in the door. A second room in the back offers ping pong, cornhole, and Big Buck Safari. 

But the bar's size also highlights its shortcomings. A smaller bar can feel alive or even crowded with a dozen or so patrons, but a place as big as Parkside feels empty with just a few customers.  Maybe most of the crowd leaves after the game is over. With fans gone, even the disco ball at the back of the bar looked extra lonely with no one to bask in its glitz. 

As the clock ticked down in the Eagles vs. Redskins game, only a few Philly fans sporting Michael Vick jerseys remained.  A speaker system blared the broadcast from several flatscreen TVs.  The speakers were easily audible from across the street, but inside, ESPN's echo made the place feel unpopulated.

Parkside has some potential to be more than a hangout for ping pong players and PBR drinkers, especially given its size. But to attract a less transient crowd, the owners will probably have to do more to create a neighborhood atmosphere.  

A sports bar on the square could get away with a disco ball, loud speakers, and cheap drinks.  Neighborhood bars have to do more to cater to a more loyal crowd.

Parkside is at 2501 Fleet Street. They are currently without a Web site.  

- Jay Trucker

Jay Trucker is a frequent Midnight Sun contributor. He teaches at Community College of Baltimore County and writes about the Orioles for Occasionally, he wanders the neighborhoods of Canton.

Photo: Erik Maza 

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Posted by Erik Maza at 10:15 AM | | Comments (24)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


I live 1 block away from Parkside and will tell you that the place has nothing to attract me back. I have been twice and have been disappointed both times. I would rather walk another 10 minutes down the road to the Square. What is Parkside doing to attract its neighbors?? Get with it!

Haven't been ... and likely won't go. The lack of food kills it. Kickball pregame, BSSC postgame, or watching a game - all are times you gotta have food.

Jay or Erik - are there plans to add a menu?

It's comments like mouse that makes me glad that the "square" exists. The square is not Baltimore City. The square exists for yuppies compete with white marsh suburbanites for bar space every Fri. & Sat. night. Please stay away from real bars like Parkside, and continue hang out in your familiar white marsh embassy; aka "the square".

watch out for the loose neighborhood locals...

Oh, and I almost forgot...SANDWHICHES!!!!

Negative media sells!
We have about 30-40 locals who come to Parkside regularly. We appreciate their business and will continue to cater to them. While we just opened about 3 weeks ago, we are working on getting food such as pizza, wings, etc. These things take time (i.e. health dept, etc). Our main goal was to get the doors opened up again as we noticed the neighbors were anxious for the re-opening of the bar.
An article such as this is the reason why many bars/businesses fail. For us, we use it as motivation. So thanks Jay Trucker, whoever you are!

Isnt that where Butchie and Omar used to chill?

It's a shame that they took the pool table out. I was on one of the teams that played out of there. When it was Bleachers there was 2 teams playing out of there on Tuesday nights. Each Tuesday one of the teams would be there bringing in 10-16 people. If they could get more teams throughout the week they would have more business coming in. Plus having the table could provide some additional revenue, not sure how much they can make on corn hole and ping pong unless the ping pong table is used for beer pong.

Not a problem, Scott Copiner, whoever you are. Let me know when the food is available, and I'll come back and give it a shot.

When it comes to wings, Claddagh's and Kislings provide some stiff competition.

I'm disappointed to see that before finishing this article/review/post/whatever-you-wanna-call-it Jay didn't bother to talk to the owners or managers and check into future plans. The place has only been open 3 weeks. I'm sure there are kinks to work out! Expecting the Balt Sun to post the full story is probably setting the bar too high.

Jay wrote: "When it comes to wings, Claddagh's and Kislings provide some stiff competition."

When it comes to wings Kislings offers you no chance at competition. Get on a bus to Buffalo maybe.

An article such as this is the reason why many bars/businesses fail

Sorry, no. The businesses fail because they are run badly. Not because someone writes a mildly negative article.

it's not usually part of a critic's job description to talk to owners. for more information about the bar, check my original post on the subject.

to be honest with you, it's not a bad article at all and it actually made me want to check it out. It's the bitching back and forth that might make me want to stay away. The ping pong table is a great idea, I think it's only one of two in the city in a bar. Everybody loves cornhole and having space to grow is also good. Once the food is ready the reviewer will go back and hopefully give a honest review. Keep up the good work.

I liked the bar the couple of times I've been there. The staff was friendly (I was there during the week, don't know if the staff is different on the weekend or not), the beer was a decent price. I might have liked to see some wine available but it's not really a wine drinking kind of place.
They have a ton of carry out menus and, as time goes by they'll know which places deliver the fastest. Heck it's cheaper to order delivery anyway.

Great Bar with a great Atmosphere. Keep up the good work!

"Guys ... we gotta get our friends to counter this review we got on Midnight Sun!"

Is Parkside the new Taps?

@Tif & other buffalo wing aficionados...

I LOVEEEEE the wing sauce at Kislings but the actual wings leave something to be desired. They're not meaty and are too dry... I usually go for the buffalo salad or get an order of fries and ask for a side of sauce to dip. Do you really think they're on par with Buffalo buffalo wings?

Also, if anyone from Kislings is reading this... you need to bottle that stuff and sell it. I would go through a bottle a week.

You can buy the sauce in a bottle! Also of the say 8 times I've been to Buffalo I was in my 20's and too sloshed to remember the wings lol

Ping Pong tables and cheap beer!? I'll be in tonight! :)
If no food yet - so no one would mind if I bring a crab-cake sandwich from Chris's to go with the beer, yeah?

I spoke with the manager and they do have a few things lined up. I believe they are going to establish a trivia night on Tuesdays and a microbrew night on Thursdays (I think both are great ideas). They are still getting set up and will have different things to offer.
That being said, there wasn't anything unfair about this review. Parkside doesn't have food--that's a fact. Whether or not they do in the future remains to be seen. If its added, great, there will probably be an updated review at that time. Its not the job of a reviewer to anticipate all possible future changes though and incorporate those into a review.
Whining about accurate reviews--reviews that aren't even disparaging--is probably a waste of time. Instead, how about getting some specials going, get a kitchen up and running, and think about ways to keep what works and improve what doesn't.

im sure this venture will be a failure like the one before- why should a sports bar that was already a failure somehow become a sucess when no real changes or attractions have been implemented ? Buying into something to say " I own it " just isnt enough. Good luck - you will need it

What are the hours at this place? No one answered the phone when I called.

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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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