Philadelphia bar/restaurant may take over DuClaw's Fells Point location
DuClaw's shuttered Fells Point location may soon have a new tenant.
Ladder 15, a Philadelphia bar/restaurant, is in negotiations to open its first Baltimore location.
John Durkin, a Mad River Bar & Grille owner and a part owner of Ladder 15, said nothing is set in writing, but that they're near a deal.
DuClaw closed its bar and restaurant on the corner of Thames and Bonds streets in December after five years on the spot.
President Dave Benfield told Midnight Sun then business had been slow.
"It was a little bit like no man's land down there," he said. "It became a seasonal business and we weren't too pleased with that."
Disagreements with the building's landlord and the smoking ban also added to the company's frustrations with the location.
But Durkin and his partners think they might strike gold where DuClaw didn't. Durkin, who describes Ladder 15 as "a gastro pub with an industrial chic design," said there aren't any many other places like it here.
"We looked [at candidates for a new Ladder 15 location] and saw that in the Baltimore and DC area there was a need for it," he said.
Originally, they were looking at Harbor East, but they were made aware of the Fells Point opening and have been pursuing it for the past three months.
Durkin, who's also an owner at Mad River Bar, said the two concepts are different. Ladder 15 calls itself "upscale yet unpretentious" on its Philadelphia website. It serves New American cuisine and offers nine wines in the $7-$11 price range.
Its Philadelphia location has 12 draft beers. Durkin said the Fells Point location would be similar to Philly's but with a Baltimore twist, such as serving several local craft beers.
Durkin said they haven't sealed the deal yet to lease the location, but that "it's close."
Already, though, the Ladder 15 owners have filed a liquor license application with the board of liquor license commissioners for Baltimore City.
(They didn't have to buy it from DuClaw because the beer company had surrendered it to the board last year, Benfield told me.)
Readers - could Ladder 15 succeed where DuClaw didn't?
Photo: DuClaw's Fells Point location (Sam Sessa)