baltimoresun.com

July 6, 2011

Don't Know Tavern lawsuit settled for $115K; in shocker, lawyer grabs most of it

Jason Zink has settled the lawsuit five former employees brought against him two years ago.

Under the settlement, which was filed Tuesday in federal court, Zink agrees to pay his former employees and their attorney $115,000.18. 

The payment is to be made in several installments of several thousand dollars over the next two years. 

Under the settlement, Zink and the former employees also agree to a confidentiality agreement that bars them from discussing the details of the case. The Daily Record first reported the settlement news.

Continue reading "Don't Know Tavern lawsuit settled for $115K; in shocker, lawyer grabs most of it" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

June 30, 2011

Review: Baltimore Taphouse, Canton's low-key taps bar

This week's bar review is on Baltimore Taphouse, a low-key Canton bar with 14 rotating drafts and 25 bottled beers.

After spending some time there, I've become a big fan, and will come back soon.

Here's an excerpt from the review:

Baltimore Taphouse in Canton looks just fine when you walk in. It's a long, narrow hall, with plenty of beer on tap and a pool table at the back.

But the first sign that you might be in better hands than you thought is found above the cash register. There, owner John Bates has propped up a dog-eared copy of Michael Jackson's "Great Beer Guide."

Jackson is the elder statesman among beer and whiskey writers — the Julia Child of beer lovers. His place above the bar suggests that the Taphouse serves one master: beer.

The rest of the review is here.  In Canton, there are lots of other beer bars - Mahaffeys's, Hudson Street Stackhouse - which one is your favorite?

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Power Plant Live offering $1 Miller Lites at new Friday night happy hour

For the summer, Power Plant Live has started a happy hour for all its bars – which include Luckie’s Tavern, country-western bar PBR Baltimore (at right, as if you didn't know already) and Angels Rock Bar.

Called “Downtown is Happy,” Cordish Companies spokesman Chris Furst brags it’s intended to be “Baltimore’s biggest office happy hour.”

A venue-wide promotion is a first for Power Plant, which is just putting finishing touches on a multi-million dollar renovation that will also bring a Joe Squared Pizza and a Leinenkugel's Beer Hall to the Inner Harbor.

The happy hour, which had a successful try-out at Cordish Companies’ Kansas City Power & Light District last summer, started June 3 and is scheduled to run in Baltimore  every Friday this summer.

“It did very well [in Kansas City],” Furst said. “With a lot of the renovations, we decided to add it here as well.”

Continue reading "Power Plant Live offering $1 Miller Lites at new Friday night happy hour" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

June 29, 2011

Thanks to new alcohol tax, expect a 25-cent bump on beer Friday

When the first tax hike on alcohol in a generation takes effect Friday, expect some bars to bump the price of beer by at least 25 cents, not the three cents that the lawmakers asked for. 

That's what Annie Linskey reports in today's paper.

"Bar owners, who typically include the sales tax as part of a beverage's advertised price, don't like dealing in pennies, nickels or dimes. Prices, particularly at the local joints, are set in 25-cent increments.

"If you are tending bar, and it is a Saturday night, you can't make change," explained Andrew Burke, the owner of John Steven Ltd., a bar in Baltimore's Fells Point neighborhood. "The guy at the bar isn't going to count out 86 cents while three more people are waiting for a drink."

 For some bars, like Slainte in Fells Point, it'll be the first time in three years they'll touch prices, and employees aren't happy.

But some drinkers say a 25-cent surcharge is too small to notice. Thoughts?

Continue reading "Thanks to new alcohol tax, expect a 25-cent bump on beer Friday" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

June 24, 2011

Barfly's Pub, the new Rafters, is reviewed

We've been keeping a close eye on Barfly's Pub since owner Mike Leeds first mentioned it. It's finally open, and reviewed in today's paper.

Here's an excerpt:

"[Rafters] has been remade as a casual neighborhood bar with an ample beer menu and several wine options. Already, it's drawing small crowds, even on the Monday night I went.

Owner Michael Leeds bills it as an "upscale dive bar," but Barfly's still needs some time to develop the personality of a dive and spruce itself up to be "upscale."

This might be a question of time, and since the project is clearly a work of love for Leeds, Barfly's could eventually reach that goal."

The rest of the review is here

Continue reading "Barfly's Pub, the new Rafters, is reviewed" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

June 16, 2011

Update: Jason Zink sells Don't Know Tavern following lawsuit loss

Jason Zink has sold Don't Know Tavern, the South Baltimore bar he's owned for four years, likely the result of the financial burden of a lawsuit he lost in March.

A federal judge ruled then Zink was in violation of federal labor law by participating in the tip pool of his employees at Don't Know and No Idea, Zink's other bar. 

Zink told the Daily Record at the time attorneys' fees on the lawsuit could exceed $100,000. 

Writing on Facebook, Zink said June 26 will be his last shift at the bar. 

"As many of you have already heard, I have sold Don't Know Tavern. I want to personally invite you to my last shift there and to have a drink with me," he said.

Continue reading "Update: Jason Zink sells Don't Know Tavern following lawsuit loss" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

June 14, 2011

Barfly's, the old Rafters, is finally open

Barfly's, the old Rafters, is finally open, a few months after it was originally supposed to debut.

The bar, located in the Fort Avenue-Riverside neighborhood (620 E. Fort Ave), had a soft opening last Friday and will have its grand opening on Friday. 

The bar carries eight drafts, as owner Mike Leeds had promised, 20 bottled beers, and 12 wines. It is also serving food. 

The old Rafters, known for its formstone interior, closed in August. Leeds took it over and started renovating in late December with an eye towards opening in March

He said he gutted the old bar and made it more upscale. Some of the formstone interiors have been covered up with raised wood panels. 

Continue reading "Barfly's, the old Rafters, is finally open" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

June 10, 2011

Hampden's The G-Spot likely to close October 1

Hampden's The G-Spot, which has hosted a variety of performances and events in its ten years in business and most recently the inaugural Scapescape festival, is likely to close October 1.

Its landlord is seeking to transform 2980 and 2981 Falls Road, the two warehouses where Scapescape took place, into a restaurant-condo complex, says venue promoter Dave Underhill, who was also one of the organizers of the festival.

The venue's landlord, Douglas Carroll, first told venue manager Reuben Kroiz that June 1 would be the G-spot's last day before the space was turned over to developers.

Scapescape was supposed to be their farewell concert. 

Continue reading "Hampden's The G-Spot likely to close October 1" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

June 9, 2011

Red House Tavern gets entertainment license, outdoor seating

Red House Tavern, which I reviewed last week, has received its entertainment license from the Baltimore Zoning Board, owner Ron Singer says.

Singer had been waiting for the license, which had already been approved by the liquor board, to start hosting live music and karaoke nights, a tradition at the bar. 

The license was a foregone conclusion, it seems. When I was there, a piano and a microphone already occupied a corner right next to the bar.

The zoning board approved the entertainment license two days ago. Red House also got the greenlight to offer outdoor seating, and the use of the upstairs for catering, pool and dart leagues. 

Singer said the upstairs should open within the next two to three weeks.

A schedule of live performers will be posted by July 1.

Singer didn't say, but a website is hopefully next on the list of additions.

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:28 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

June 8, 2011

New Mt. Vernon Lounge E-Villa to open this Fall

Red Maple will have some competition this Fall. A new lounge is expected to open in Mt. Vernon in September, said its owner.

E-Villa, located at 917 Cathedral St., a block away from Red Maple and City Cafe, will be "a lounge with dancing," said owner Harold Edwards.

He said it's modeled after Washington's Marvin's. 

The two-floor bar, which Edwards said holds around 150 people, will be open five times a week and have nightly DJs, or at least that's the plan so far. 

It will also have a menu that's a combination of Latin and Ethiopian food.

The property, which Edwards said used to be a bar called Gaslight, has been in disrepair since the 80s. "Horrific" is how Edwards described it.

He said he bought it a couple of years ago, and has been slowly renovating it.

Continue reading "New Mt. Vernon Lounge E-Villa to open this Fall" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

June 3, 2011

Canton's Red House Tavern is one of 2011's best new bars

It didn't bode well for Red House Tavern when owner Ron Singer described it in a press release as "a Boulder Colorado Ski Lodge."

First of all, that's just uninviting copy.  Secondly, Singer, there aren't ski lodges in Boulder, so the press release didn't just make the bar sound pretentious, it also made it sound imaginary.

But, it turned out that Red House, which re-opened under Singer's management in March after a year closed, is a great bar, and certainly one of the best to have opened so far this year. 

I review it in today's paper. 

Check it out. Try the duck nachos, maybe pour some vinegar on those fries with the caked-on Old Bay.

Singer says the barbecue he hosted a while ago to introduce himself to the neighbors might become a regular thing. Let's see if he sticks to that. 

He's planning on keeping the karaoke nights the bar was known for, pending a final entertainment license approval from the zoning board sometime later this month.

Continue reading "Canton's Red House Tavern is one of 2011's best new bars" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

May 24, 2011

Shamrock Inn named among America's 169 best bars

Congrats are due to the Shamrock Inn in Hamilton. In a just released list of the 169 best bars in the country, Esquire magazine has voted it 78th best.

The magazine comes out with the list every year, and this year, it focused on bars that are two years old or younger, the authors write in an introduction. 

Shamrock has been around for at least that long if not longer. A couple of years ago, Esquire's readers voted it, with Brewer's Art, to the same list.

At the time, John Waters praised it in an accompanying blurb.

In Esquire's most recent, traffic-baiting reader poll, Brewer's is still in the No. 2 spot.

The magazine's official cut did not include any other Maryland bars. But, there are a few regional bars that were included: Dead Presidents Pub & Eatery in Wilmington (#39), The Tune Inn in Washington (#40) and Helen Back Cafe (#41).

Posted by Erik Maza at 7:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bar stories, Bars & Clubs
        

May 19, 2011

The Hexagon Space loses its lease, to close in July

The Hexagon Space, the Station North gallery and music space, will close in July after losing its lease.

The announcement was made on the venue's website. 

"Baltimore has supported us through thick & thin, and we thank every band, artist, volunteer, and audience member who has helped us survive to this point," the statement said.

Only four events were scheduled past July 1, including a volunteer meeting.

We'd gotten a tip about the possible closing earlier this week, but a request for comment from manager Stephanie Refo was not returned. 

The Hexagon Space, which is run by a collective of volunteers, had been at 1825 N. Street, for nearly three years, taking over from the Lo-Fi Club, which closed in July 2008. 

In that time, it hosted art exhibits as well as musicians, most recently, the rapper Height in April. 

Joy Martin is listed as the landlord of the building in state property records. Joy bought the building in 2002 for $75,000. 

After ASCAP threatened the venue with a $3,000 fine for improper use of copyrighted songs, volunteers took it non-profit last year and stopped paying ASCAP fees, becoming one of the only music venues in the country to do so. 

Until its July 1 closing date, volunteers will continue booking shows. 

Continue reading "The Hexagon Space loses its lease, to close in July" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

May 18, 2011

New Preakness cocktail recipes from B&O American Brasserie, Idle Hour, Sloop Betty, and others

The Black-Eyed Susan has been the official cocktail of the Preakness Stakes since time immemorial. At least since the 1950s, estimates Pimlico Race Track historian Joe Kelly.

The cocktail has been re-invented over the years, but not enough to satisfy people's complaints. Back in 1985, reporter Rob Kasper ran a contest to replace it with a new cocktail. 

It's time to give a coup another try. It's not like there isn't precedent. The White Carnation had been the official cocktail of the Belmont Stakes for years, until master mixologist Dale DeGroff suggested a change to his version of whiskey punch, which he called the Belmont Breeze. It’s now been the race’s drink of choice for 13 years.

In a long-shot appeal to the Maryland Jockey Club to replace a cocktail that’s ran one too many laps, we asked five of Baltimore’s best mixologists and bartenders to come up with a new official Preakness drink.

The recipes by B&O American Brasserie's Brendan Dorr, Bad Decisions' John Reusing (at right), Vino Rosina's Tiffany Haleamau, Idle Hour's Randal Etheridge (an excellent chartreuse-and-Pikesville rye cocktail he dubbed "Pikesville Palomino), and Holy Frijoles' Aylen Beazley-Maquehue can be found here.

After the story went to press, I got another recipe from Blackwater Distilling, the new Maryland distillery responsible for Sloop Betty Vodka.

Continue reading "New Preakness cocktail recipes from B&O American Brasserie, Idle Hour, Sloop Betty, and others" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

May 17, 2011

Club One has closed; club was site of 2009 double shooting

Club One has closed, management has confirmed.

It's not clear if the shutdown is due to the club's violent history or tax problems. 

Billed as "an upscale nightclub with four levels: Earth, Water, Fire, Air," the downtown club  was most known for a 2009 double shooting. 

Club One's managers had been leaving hints of the imminent closing on Facebook for a couple of weeks. 

 On Monday, someone responsible for the club's email account confirmed the news, but did not give any reasons, or even his or her name.

The email simply said: "Yes, Club One property has been sold. Thank you!" So polite!

Club One, located at 300 E. Sarasota, had a violent history. In 2009, a 29-year-old man opened fire on a crowd outside the club, injuring two women. The club had been over capacity that night. 

Continue reading "Club One has closed; club was site of 2009 double shooting" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Sonar regains liquor license; books Yob for July show

sonarliquor.JPGSonar has regained its liquor license. That's it at right. Club management posted it on Facebook Monday, lest there be any doubt about its validity.

The new license allowed the club to start selling alcohol immediately. Michael Stewart, who had been involved with Sonar since its Canton beginnings, is the new licensee, taking over from founder Lonnie Fisher. 

The renewal fulfills at least one of Dan McIntosh's promises. The club's acting general manager said last week the license would be renewed by Monday. 

It also closes a fevered chapter in the club's history that began with an announced shutdown in early May, alarm over sold tickets, a re-opening, and then uncertainty about upcoming shows. 

Sonar's liquor license expired on May 1 because of a business dispute between Fisher, the license holder until now, and the club's owners.

There are still disagreements between Fisher and the club's current management, which includes McIntosh. Fisher has said the club has a tax liability, while McIntosh insists taxes have been paid off. 

For now, metal fans can rest assured that they won't have to watch Coroner sober when the Maryland Deathfest takes place at Sonar later this month.

"We had an attorney look at the process and found a way to get the license to the new holder and allow Sonar to return to business as usual, which benefited all parties," Fisher said Monday night.

Continue reading "Sonar regains liquor license; books Yob for July show" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs, News
        

May 12, 2011

Redwood Trust fails to sell at auction; downgraded to $800K

Redwood Trust, the historic downtown building that housed mega-club Palma and now Dubai/Velvet Rope, failed to sell at auction last week.

The building at 200 E. Redwood St., which had a starting bid of $1.2 million, received 11 registered prospects, according to Leo McDermott, who was handling the sale.

But, the offers were not acceptable to owner Nicholas Piscatelli.

Piscatelli has now extended the online auction by 30 days and slashed the starting bid to $800,000.

It's a dramatic retreat for the developer, who spent $2.5 million to renovate the building in 2000 and has been trying to get rid of it since 2004, when it was listed at $3 million.

Continue reading "Redwood Trust fails to sell at auction; downgraded to $800K" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs, News
        

May 11, 2011

Joe Squared, Leinenkugel's Beer Hall to join Power Plant Live

Power%20Plant%20Live%21%20Rendering1.jpgJoe Squared and Leinenkugel's Beer Hall will join Power Plant Live by this summer.

The two are the latest additions to the complex's $10 million upgrade, its first in a decade, that was announced in December. For the Station North pizza joint, it will be its second location in the city.

The news was expected to be confirmed this morning at a press conference celebrating the upgrade that was to be attended by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Downtown Partnership president Kirby Fowler and developer David Cordish.

As part of the upgrade, Power Plant Live has also added a permanent outdoor stage; a new valet entrance; and some new tenants - The Comedy Factory, Tatu Asian Grill, and PBR Baltimore, a country-western bar/club.

Cordish Cos. is also close to signing a deal with a restaurant to take over the space Babalu vacated a year ago, said company vice president Reed Cordish, who declined to give the name of the restaurant.  

The upgrade was a necessary renovation for a valued property for the company, Cordish said.

"We wanted to re-invent at a time of strength, not when it was faltering," he said. 

Power Plant Live now draws an average of 3 million visitors a year, according to Cordish Cos., and the company expects an increase in attendance as a result of the upgrade, though he declined to give benchmarks.

But, by adding more restaurants and bars, the company doesn't want to just increase overall attendance, but also how long visitors stay at the complex, Cordish said.

"We want to create an environment that is appealing from 9 to 5," he said. 

Renovations at Power Plant have been on going for months, and won't be entirely completed until this summer. About 100 workers were hired for the project, Cordish said. 

Joe Squared, the Station North pizza joint, will take over the space now occupied by Two Boots, which is near the end of its lease.

The beer hall will be erected in a brand new glass-and-steel pavilion covering 3,500 square feet that is to be located near the entrance fountain, right across from the Port Discovery Museum.

Continue reading "Joe Squared, Leinenkugel's Beer Hall to join Power Plant Live" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs, News
        

May 9, 2011

Irish pub to open at Canton Arts and Entertainment

Canton Arts and Entertainment will get an Irish pub this summer, said Marc McFaul, who is looking to start managing the sprawling complex on Boston Street.

The new bar also means the nightlife entertainment complex, which has been mostly closed for renovations since March 2010, will be again open to the public some time in the future. 

The pub, to be called Finnegan's Wake, has a tentative opening date of June 16, the same day as Bloomsday. 

McFaul, who runs Stalking Horse, Delia Foley's and Ropewalk Tavern with his family, said he wants to split Canton Arts and Entertainment into two spaces. 

One will have the Irish pub, and the other will be a Southwest BBQ restaurant.

Update: McFaul sent in an update; the BBQ restaurant will be called the Dark Horse Saloon. 

Continue reading "Irish pub to open at Canton Arts and Entertainment " »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Sonar re-opens, for the time being; Maryland Deathfest, Deftones to go on as planned

Sonar has re-opened, acting general manager Dan McIntosh said.

The announcement first appeared on the club's Facebook page late on Friday, as abruptly as the news that the club had shut down in the first place. 

"I think Sonar will be able to open within 2 weeks and many if not of the all of shows scheduled from that point on should be able to occur as originally planned. Its definitely a fight but we are still in it!" the update read.

By Saturday, the announcement was definitive: "Sonar has been reopened! We are working hard at getting our liquor license back in place, this should be resolved very quickly!"

The re-opening means that the Maryland Deathfest and Deftones, along with a handful of shows that would have been stranded by the shutdown, won't have to relocate.

Saturday's Steve Ignorant show, which was announced as a cancellation, went on as planned. 

McIntosh said the club is trying to recover its liquor license, and should have it within a week.

Continue reading "Sonar re-opens, for the time being; Maryland Deathfest, Deftones to go on as planned" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

May 6, 2011

Are 274 liquor licenses suspended because of overdue taxes?

No, in short.

The Baltimore Business Journal's Scott Dance reported the number on a story published Thursday about Sonar's shutdown.

"Comptroller Peter Franchot’s office is holding 274 [liquor licenses] in Baltimore in suspension because of unpaid tax bills, according to a Franchot spokeswoman," Dance reported.

But that number comes from a list, compiled by the Comptroller of Maryland, that is out of date and riddled with inaccuracies.

Midnight Sun received the list Monday, but chose not to publish it at the request of the liquor board, which said it had not been cross-checked with its own more up-to-date records.

In fact, as of Monday, there are only about 50 bars and restaurants that the board has flagged for in-person reviews before their licenses are renewed, including some whose managers have said in interviews they have already received their 2011 licenses.

Every year, before liquor licenses are due for renewal on May 1, the Comptroller of Maryland sends the Baltimore Liquor Board a list of bars and restaurants that may not have paid the previous year's state sales taxes. The point is to hold up the license renewal until the bars settle their debt with the Comptroller. 

This year's list, which actually included 276 bars and restaurants, named Henninger's Tavern, Corks in Federal Hill, Donna's in Mt. Vernon and Clutch in Canton, among others.

But liquor board chairman Stephan Fogleman said that while some of the establishments on the Comptroller's list may in fact be late with their taxes, it is typically inaccurate because it is not cross-referenced with the board's records. Liquor inspectors only use it as a starting guide for face-to-face reviews.

By the time the liquor board decides whether or not to renew a license, many of the business have paid their taxes already, or at least established a payment plan with the state.

Continue reading "Are 274 liquor licenses suspended because of overdue taxes?" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

May 4, 2011

Update: Sonar closes; status of upcoming shows is unclear

Sonar has shut don, effective immediately, said acting general manager Daniel McIntosh.

The end of the club, a fixture downtown for over a decade, is the result of a business dispute between McIntosh, his partners and Sonar founder Lonnie Fisher. 

A show by Talib Kweli, which was scheduled for Wednesday night, has been cancelled. The fate of all upcoming shows is unclear, McIntosh said. The club's booking agents are trying to reschedule the appearances, which included, among others, Odd Future.

Update: The Talib Kweli show scheduled for Wednesday night has been moved to Bourbon Street, the rapper tweeted. Pre-purchased tickets will be honored.  

McIntosh did not know if tickets that have already been purchased for future shows will be refunded, nor if the club's owners and investors will resolve their differences.

"With a shutdown, it's kind of hard to know what's going to happen at all," McIntosh said. "We have no idea what's going to happen."

The club's liquor license expired on May 1, according to the Baltimore Liquor Board. The application for a renewal should have been filed by April 1, or by late deadline April 30.

News of the club's shutdown first appeared on Facebook, where a status update posted late afternoon read, "We here at Sonar regret to inform you that we are no longer able to operate as a venue."

The update went on to suggest that Fisher, who is now the executive director of the Baltimore Grand Prix, refused to renew the liquor license this year, and as a result effectively shut down the club. 

Continue reading "Update: Sonar closes; status of upcoming shows is unclear" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Dubai's home, Redwood Trust, up for auction again; price reduced by $2 million

Redwood Trust, the downtown building that once housed Palma and is now the home of Dubai, the former Velvet Rope, is up for auction again.

The starting bid is $1.2 million, a steep decline from the $3 million owner/developer Nicholas Piscatelli asked for in 2004.

It is expected Dubai won't be affected.

The deadline to submit bids for 200 E. Redwood is Thursday 5 p.m. Bids are submitted online at the property listing on Freedom Realty Exchange. 

The building at 200 E. Redwood has had many names and owners over the last 100 years. Midnight Sun posted a brief history around the time Dubai was reviewed

Piscatelli bought the historic building in 2000 and spent $2.5 million to renovate it.

Continue reading "Dubai's home, Redwood Trust, up for auction again; price reduced by $2 million" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs, News
        

April 29, 2011

No Way Jose Cafe calls for Ryleigh's Oyster boycott

A fan of No Way Jose Cafe has called on some 500 fans of the Federal Hill bar/restaurant to boycott neighboring Ryleigh's Oyster starting tonight.

In a Facebook event he created, Freddie Lang alleges Ryleigh's bought No Way Jose's building, blind-siding the Mexican restaurant' owners, who had been trying to buy the building for themselves. If Ryleigh's has purchased the building, Lang writes, it would push out No Way Jose Cafe.

The building at 38 E. Cross Street is owned by Killian's LLC, according to Maryland property records. Representatives for the company were not available for comment. Neither was management at Jose Cafe or at Ryleigh's, which is run by Brian McComas. 

One rationale for expanding Ryleigh's is to keep up with other bars in the neighborhood that have expanded in recent years, like Mother's, MaGerk's, and the Stalking Horse, which recently added a two-story addition called 30 East.

Curiously, the liquor license of Stalking Horse and Ryleigh's was protested by the Federal Hill Neighborhood Association, but as Sam Sessa reported earlier this week, the petition against Ryleigh's was eventually dropped. On Thursday, Stalking Horse's license was renewed by the liquor board.

 Lang, who identifies himself as a close friend of Jose's owner, finishes his note - found here - by asking fans of Jose to boycott all of McComas' establishments, which used to include Billabong Bar, but are now down to Ryleigh's and Taverna Corvino.

There are 500 attending the boycott so far, and more than 3,000 awaiting reply. 

Monday Update: Facebook event taken down. 

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

April 27, 2011

So you went to the Orioles and paid $8 for a beer

A couple of weeks ago I posted the beer menu at Oriole Park on the blog, but not the beer's price, which I hadn't received from the concessionaire.

Well, here it is:

Domestic Draft (20 oz) 7.50 (PBR, Coors, et al)
Premium Draft (16 oz) 8.00 (Heavy Seas, Fordham, et al)
Small Domestic Draft Beer (16 oz) 6.50
Domestic Can Beer (16 oz) 7.50
Premium Can Beer (16 oz) 8.00
Domestic Can Beer (24 oz) 10.00
Domestic Bottle Beer (12 oz) 5.75
Premium Bottle Beer (12 oz) 7.00

I was at the ballpark last week for a column about its beer,  and found the selection to be varied, but still expensive, sometimes gallingly expensive. A glass of Natty Boh is $7.50, for instance. 

The Orioles won Tuesday night, but when I was there the team trailed the Twins by three runs and eventually lost the game. As Peter Schmuck writes today, it doesn't look entirely promising that they'll stray from that recent streak in the near future.

While expensive concessions are a trope of modern stadium sports, they become harder to accept when your team is faltering. The question then becomes, can Oriole Park justify six bucks for a can of Bud? Should a ballpark's prices compliment its stats?

Fat chance of that happening.

The Wall Street Journal asked that question a couple of years ago, positing that if that were the case the Washington Nationals would be giving away their food and beer.

You can at least rest assured that Oriole Park is not gouging fans with these prices.  

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

April 26, 2011

Red House Tavern re-opens in Canton

Red House Tavern in Canton, closed since 2009, has re-opened as a bar resembling "a Boulder Colorado Ski Lodge," according to the bar's recent press release.

Ron Singer, who bought the bar last July, said the Canton bar re-opened earlier this month. 

The Red House Tavern was owned by John Harris and his family for four years starting in 2005.

But, business was so slow in 2009 that the family first organized a fund-raiser for the bar, and later closed it. 

Last year, Singer bought Red House for $325,000, according to property records, with plans to renovate it and turn it into a casual corner bar with regular acoustic music and dart leagues. 

Renovations at the bar started in July 2010. Singer, who also manages Leon's and Triple L in Mt. Vernon, said he added tin ceilings, a book exchange library, and restored a fire place and a Victorian-style bar.

On April 1, the bar was "reborn as a boutique restaurant and bar with a decor and ambience (sic) resembling a 'Boulder Colorado Ski Lodge,'" according to the press release. On Saturday and Sunday, the bar will have a free BBQ meet-and-greet from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. to introduce itself to the neighborhood. Attendees also get one free Natty Boh.  

Continue reading "Red House Tavern re-opens in Canton" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:26 PM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Phillips Harborplace to toast William Donald Schaefer tonight

If anyone could will the sun into coming out after a week of crummy weather, it would be William Donald Schaefer.

The former mayor, governor and comptroller's last tour of Baltimore was a warm, cloudless Monday that saw hundreds come out to say their goodbyes to a towering figure they all knew for his tenacity and for his love of the city.

At Fells Point, where I was covering the motorcade, Donald Graham remembered Schaefer as a no-nonsense governor who got things done. 

"I've been in the construction business my whole life and things never move quickly," the 69-year-old, who lives in Fells, said. "But he cut through the red tape and the bureaucracy and pushed projects through."

When longtime Schaefer aide Lainy LeBow-Sachs emerged from the motorcade, the crowd waiting outside Jimmy's restaurant, where Schaefer was a regular, greeted her to cheers of hip-hip hooray and "For he's a jolly good mayor." LeBow-Sachs chatted with the crowds for several minutes, hugged Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, and accepted two potted African violets, Schaefer's favorite from Nick Filipidis, co-owner of Jimmy's.

Sun reporters where covering the motorcade's progress through the city; their dispatches, mine included, are collected here.

Events commemorating Schaefer continue today. Phillips Harborplace will host a happy hour organized by WNST starting at 5 p.m. and until sunset. City offices are also closed for a mandatory furlough in Schaefer's honor. His public funeral will be held Wednesday at the Old St. Paul Church.

Continue reading "Phillips Harborplace to toast William Donald Schaefer tonight" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:22 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

April 25, 2011

Best 50 county restaurants list includes bar destinations

Up today is the first batch of Dining@Large's list of the 50 best restaurants in Baltimore-Howard-Anne Arundel counties. Chopstix in Perry Hall and Edo Sushi are in the list. But also included are a couple of places with popular bars: Ranazul, Michael's Cafe, and Cafe de Paris. The rest of the list is here.
Posted by Erik Maza at 10:43 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

April 20, 2011

Where are all the comedy clubs in Baltimore?

PX00054_9.JPGThe Baltimore Comedy Factory has now been open in Baltimore for 25 years.

In that time it's survived management changes, several presidents, a couple recessions, and lots of competition. 

Now at Rams Head Live, it's bought the real estate to match its seniority, and becomes, through sheer size, the largest comedy club in the city.

A story in Sunday's paper looked at its history, and Baltimore's shifting comedy scene.

Even if were its old size, the Comedy Factory would be the only standing comedy club within city limits.

There are still places in the city that showcase stand-up, but comedy-only clubs are a thing of the past. Some of the remaining options are below.

While changing audience habits and trends in the business have weeded out city comedy clubs, when comic Marc Unger started, he recalled Baltimore had "a booming comedy scene." Here's a short history:

Continue reading "Where are all the comedy clubs in Baltimore?" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

April 19, 2011

A toast to William Donald Schaefer at Mama's on the Half Shell

Tributes to William Donald Schaefer started Monday night at Harborplace and Camden Yards.

They were modest and personal, reporters Jean Marbella and Julie Scharper write. Tokens of appreciation for the way he championed the city for so long. The former mayor, governor and comptroller died Monday at 89.

No doubt, those tributes continued with toasts in his honor at bars all over the city, and will likely continue tonight.

But if you wanted to pay your respects at a bar Schaefer patronized himself, there aren't many options anymore. Not that there were many to begin with.

Schaefer was not a big drinker, recalled Liquor Board chairman Stephan Fogleman. 

Retired Baltimore Circuit Judge Thomas Ward tells Laura Vozzella Schaefer was a loner, despite his flamboyance.

"On trips together, I never saw him gamble, drink, carry on or misbehave. He was essentially lonely. For all his publicity stunts, it's hard to believe he was essentially a shy guy," Ward said.

Continue reading "A toast to William Donald Schaefer at Mama's on the Half Shell" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

April 14, 2011

Ten greatest hits from the anti- Tiki Barge complaint petition

At around 4:30 today at City Hall, a handful of cranky, loud critics and supporters of the Tiki Barge will speak before the Baltimore Liquor Board to discuss the floating barge's future.

It was so long ago that they crammed #215 at City Hall to argue for four mind-numbing hours, that it's hard to remember what exactly they were arguing about that March 3.

Before I checked in with the petition that some of the barge's neighbors filed with the board, all I remembered was the phrase "public urination" being uttered every ten minutes.

So, because I hadn't posted it before, below are the ten most egregious complaints from the Tiki Barge liquor board petition. 

At the last hearing, the liquor board ordered critics and supporters to come to an agreement about the bar's future. If they haven't by today, the liquor board will make a decision about renewing the bar's liquor license. The hearing today is not expected to be as contested as the last, which could easily be qualified a clusterflux.

The Tiki Barge has not been fazed by the criticism. It has already planned on re-opening Friday.

Continue reading "Ten greatest hits from the anti- Tiki Barge complaint petition" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

April 12, 2011

The Whistling Oyster closes temporarily; owner is evicted over late rent

Fells Point's The Whistling Oyster has closed temporarily.

Judie Butler, a part owner of the bar, is being evicted by her landlord, Amanda Sanchez, because she's behind on rent. 

Sanchez said the bar will re-open in the future, but doesn't know when. 

Butler, who started leasing the bar with her then boyfriend Pat Butler a year ago, said the bar officially closed last Tuesday. 

She posted the sign at right on the bar's window announcing the news. 

"I'm sorry but we are closed due to evil forces beyond my control. Thank you so much for your support and patronage," it reads. 

The 'evil forces' are not a reference to the bar's reputation for being haunted, Butler said. But to her landlord and her relationship with her ex-boyfriend.

She and Pat separated a month ago and she's been running the bar by herself since.

She acknowledged she's been behind on rent for three months.

"It's such a shame. I love this place so much," she said. "I really felt it was getting back to the way it hasn't been in years."

She said her ex-boyfriend might re-open it in a month. 

Sanchez, however, said that's not the case and she hasn't had any conversations with Pat Butler. She's not looking to lease the bar again because she says she's had bad luck with tenants. She confirmed Butler owes February, March and April's rent. 

Sanchez is now looking for managers to run the bar. She doesn't know when it'll re-open, but when it does, it'll have a larger menu and better service, she promised. 

Continue reading "The Whistling Oyster closes temporarily; owner is evicted over late rent" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:08 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

April 11, 2011

The definitive Oriole Park 2011 beer menu: Heavy Seas, Flying Dog, even gluten-free beer

Don't wanna pay $7.50 for a Natty Boh at Oriole Park? Well, there's a lot of other overpriced beer to choose from.

Delaware North Companies Sportservice just sent me the beer menu for the ballpark this season.

It includes six regional brews - from Fordham, Heavy Seas, Flying Dog, Dogfish, Evolution, and the Raven.

And 13 domestics, 6 imported beers for sale and one that's gluten-free, Redbridge. 

The menu I got doesn't say what's on draft or what's by the bottle, and is also missing prices. No doubt it'll be as overpriced as the Natty Boh.

Will update when I have those details.

The full list is below:

Continue reading "The definitive Oriole Park 2011 beer menu: Heavy Seas, Flying Dog, even gluten-free beer" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:49 PM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

April 8, 2011

Bond Street Social to open in September

Bond Street Social, the bar that has taken over DuClaw Brewing Company's former home in Fells Point, is expected to open in September, owner Mike Mastellone said.

The new bar will be similar to Ladder 15, the Philadelphia bar that he and some of his partners have run for several years.

"It's the same concept, but with a different name," Mastellone said. 

Mastellone, and John Durkin, who also runs Mad River Bar & Grille, had been pursuing the 901 S. Bond Street bar since last year. In December, they filed an application with the Baltimore liquor board.

The license was transferred in February, and the partners signed a lease on the property this Monday. Mastellone declined to talk about costs.

Mad River notwithstanding, Durkin has said they wanted the space because there was a void in the Baltimore market for a bar that was both upscale and casual. Mastellone echoed his sentiments, saying they were pursuing the "after-work corporate clientele." 

"We're filling a void in the Baltimore market," he said. "There are lots of places for young professionals to go, but once you go above 25 into your 30s and early 40s, there's no good casual bar or restaurant concept."

He continued, "Harbor East has a lot of white tablecloth places. Fell's Point is too casual. We want to mesh what we saw on both sides."

Continue reading "Bond Street Social to open in September" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:52 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Review: Power Plant Live's country-western PBR Baltimore

Power Plant Live's new country-western bar/club, PBR Baltimore, is reviewed in today's paper.

If you'll remember, PBR is billed as the place where "cowboy cool meets urban chic."

But, upon inspection, PBR has as much cowboy cool as a bucket of KFC has real chicken. 

It's not so much a country-western bar, as a mall-ified version of it. What Hot Topic is to punk, PBR is to country music.

The club's modest stabs at authenticity were seen on the walls - where they framed Jeff Foxworthy-isms - and on the waitstaff.

From the review: 

 The female bartenders' outfits were of the sexy Halloween variety. They wore Daisy Dukes and plaid shirts tied at the chest. There was another waitress, wearing leather chaps and red lycra gym shorts, who walked around with shots on a tray.

The hardest-working member of the staff is the mechanical bull, which must give more rides to incoherent drunks in one night than a Charlie Sheen goddess. The line to ride it went around the padded, plush red square where it's stationed.

On the club's music, there's this to say, which didn't make it for space reasons to the final edition: Of the few country songs I heard in the hours I was there - Jason Aldean's "Hicktown;" Dierks Bentley's great "Sideways" - none were by female vocalists. Here was a club with plenty of female customers, and a Carrie Underwood girl-power anthem couldn't even make an appearance? It was a missed opportunity.

The songs that did get played - Enrique Iglesias, the Black Eyed Peas, "Like a G6" - could have been listed from Jean-Ralphio's playlist on "Parks and Recreation."

The rest of the review is here

Your thoughts?

Continue reading "Review: Power Plant Live's country-western PBR Baltimore" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:06 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

April 7, 2011

Absinthe aficionado Cliff Long answers all your dumb questions about the notorious spirit

The Wharf Rat in Fell's Point is organizing an absinthe night tonight revolving around Lucid Absinthe, a brand that bills itself as the first genuine wormwood absinthe available in the United States.

Though absinthe was banned in the country for decades, it's been widely available since 2007, so that absinthe happy hours and promotional events are commonplace. The Kitty Kat Bar used to serve it. And the Wharf Rat itself hosts absinthe nights the first Thursday of the month.

But besides there, where is it available in Baltimore? And why was it banned for so many years?

Absinthe aficionado Cliff Long, who's hosting the event tonight, answered those and some other questions.

Popular culture has it that absinthe induces Kylie Minogue hallucinations, and Four Loko-esque reactions. Is any of that true? Well,  I suppose if you have Kylie Minogue stuck somewhere in back of your brain, she might show up as a hallucination, but I think any good, decent shot of scotch could do that too.  As for Four Loko-esque reactions, I would say absolutely not.  The ingredients are completely different.  I am told that Four Loko has caffeine and a  mix of other stimulants.  Absinthe has grand wormwood, which is a very different product.

What does it taste like then? Properly mixed, absinthe should have a very pleasant, slightly sweet, herbal flavor.  If a more encompassing physical image would help, many people compare it to what you might smell or feel lying about in a spring meadow.

Continue reading "Absinthe aficionado Cliff Long answers all your dumb questions about the notorious spirit" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:03 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

April 2, 2011

Update: Quadruple stabbing at Bourbon Street Saturday morning; club to stay open Saturday night

Four men were stabbed early Saturday morning at Bourbon Street Live, and one of them, a 24-year-old, died from his injuries, police said. The others have been transported to area hospitals and are expected to survive.

The club will be open tonight, said a spokeswoman for one of the events on the club's schedule. 

The stabbings took place in the ballroom side of the Bourbon Street complex, which was offering all-you-can-drink specials for women. 

The Sun's Jill Rosen reports:

David Adams, one of the club's managers, said Saturday morning that the violence erupted in the ballroom where ladies night was happening. He declined to elaborate on what happened, but said the bar was immediately discontinuing the popular promotion.

Earlier that night, the club also hosted a "Zombie Strippers and Beer" event, which promised a "killer night." The promo video is here. David Adams, a manager at the club, said the "Ladies Night" event will be discontinued immediately.

There are two events scheduled for Saturday night, a demo release party for the band Echoes in the ballroom and a 4th anniversary party for the adult store Sugar in the Quarter.

Continue reading "Update: Quadruple stabbing at Bourbon Street Saturday morning; club to stay open Saturday night" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs, News
        

March 29, 2011

Review: Barracuda's Locust Point Tavern

Picture%203.pngContributor Jeremy Trucker reviews recent addition to Locust Point, Barracuda's.

I haven't spent a lot of time in South Baltimore's Locust Point neighborhood, but I would go back for a dinner or drinks at Barracuda's, one of the neighborhood's newest haunts.

The evening at Barracuda's wasn't without its minor setbacks, but overall, the casual restaurant/bar seems to have a winning formula. To begin, free street parking on Fort Ave was plentiful on a Friday night, which is a major plus.

(Ed. For my most recent Locust Point bar crawl, where I also visited Barracuda's, click here)

On this particular night, the bar was full though not packed and the crowd was both racially and age-diverse, hosting men and women from their 20s into their 60s and white, black, and Latino customers. This is an occurrence rarer than it should be in Baltimore.

Call drinks were $4.50 a shot and well poured by the friendly if overworked bartender/server. Apparently, the place was short-staffed on Friday, which led a neighboring table to complain.

But the same server didn't seem frazzled as she hurried around the rest of the table and bar area on the first floor. Additional seating is available upstairs, but going out of sight seemed a bad idea on a busy, understaffed night.

Continue reading "Review: Barracuda's Locust Point Tavern" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:12 AM | | Comments (10)
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March 28, 2011

Blackwater Distilling's Sloop Betty Vodka hitting stores, restaurants Friday

sloop bettyWoodberry Kitchen, Kooper's Tavern are some of the first local restaurants selling Sloop Betty, features writer Jill Rosen reports.

Maryland's first distillery in nearly 40 years has begun to bottle its flagship spirit.

Blackwater Distilling, the company of Eastern Shore natives Christopher and Jonathan Cook, reports that its Sloop Betty vodka is available in the area.

Though widespread distribution is set to start on Friday, the premium wheat vodka can now be found at some Baltimore-area restaurants and retailers.

For instance, they're pouring it at Woodberry Kitchen and Kooper's Tavern.

It's retailing for about $32. It will be available throughout Maryland, DC and Delaware.

Continue reading "Blackwater Distilling's Sloop Betty Vodka hitting stores, restaurants Friday" »

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:57 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, News
        

March 24, 2011

Baltimore Comedy Factory to open in April

The Baltimore Comedy Factory will officially re-open in April at its new location in Power Plant Live, management said Wednesday.

The club, which has had many different owners but held the same name for over the 30 years, moved from its location above Burke's downtown in January, when the restaurant closed.

Owner Matt Weber said he signed a long-term lease with Power Plant Live in February, and has been quietly renovating the space since. 

He'll join an $11-million upgrade the whole complex is undergoing, its first in over a decade. 

I toured the site yesterday. Weber has added a bar to place, and renovated the lobby with a new, nautically-inspired decor. The theater will still hold some 250 guests.

The club has been in a soft opening since the beginning of the month, and anticipates having a grand opening in April, most likely with a performance by comic Bill Bellamy.

Weber said cover will stay at $17. 

The club is expected to be open Thursdays through Saturdays, and sometimes Sunday.

Its home at 6 Market Place has hosted several comedy clubs over the years, starting with Slapstix almost a decade ago, and later the Baltimore Improv and Rascals.

The space has been vacant now for at least four years. 

Photo: via

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:51 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

March 23, 2011

Today's Nightlife Photo: Progress at Liam Flynn's Ale House

Liam Flynn, who used to run the Pint-Size Pub, adding a medallion logo to his new, self-titled place on Station North, which I wrote about back in October.  Like several other local bar owners, Flynn is using architectural salvage to renovate and decorate the old building. Under wraps since at least last Spring, it looks like Flynn's Ale House is finally coming together.

To see your nightlife and music photos on Midnight Sun, join our flickr pool or e-mail me directly. Photo: Flynn in front of his bar (Jessica M. Beil, via)

Posted by Erik Maza at 5:20 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Last Night's Photo
        

Tipsy? Taxi! improves service on St. Patrick's Day, except between 1 and 2 a.m.

Tipsy? Taxi! did a better job on St. Patrick's Day than on New Year's Eve, a spokeswoman for sponsor AAA Mid-Atlantic said.

The service, which offers free cab rides to residents too drunk to drive on certain holidays, had been barraged by complaints over dropped calls and shoddy service in December.

But this time, 190 cabs were dispatched to service Tipsy calls, a 10 percent increase over last St. Patrick's Day, according to AAA spokeswoman Christine Delise.

While AAA qualifies the number as a success, the number is relatively small in context, and begs the question, why aren't more people using a free cab service when they're drunk?

The service, sponsored by AAA, Yellow Cab, and the State Highway Administration, is now in its third year.

 In December, it stumbled badly. Operator Yellow Cab dropped 18 percent of calls on New Year's Eve, and the waiting time for one of its cabs was 45 minutes in some instances. As a result, only 92 rides were given, and consumers responded with intense criticism.

After the complaints caught the attention of the SHA, Yellow Cab pledged to improve service going forward, and this year, they added an additional operator dedicated to Tipsy calls.

Continue reading "Tipsy? Taxi! improves service on St. Patrick's Day, except between 1 and 2 a.m. " »

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, News
        

March 17, 2011

Tipsy? Taxi! returns for St. Patrick's Day; How many calls will it drop this time?

Surely that's the first question to ask about the return of the free cab rides on St. Patrick's Day.

AAA Mid-Atlantic and Yellow Cab sponsor the rides on drinking high holidays to stem drunk driving.

But on New Year's Eve, the service received so many complaints that representatives of the State Highway Administration, a sponsor of the program, said they would have to re-examine how Tipsy? Taxi! is run.

In December, Yellow Cab missed about 18 percent of all Tipsy calls. And the waiting time for one of the cabs was as long as 45 minutes. As a result, there were only 92 rides on a free cab service that picks you up in front of a bar and drops you off in front of your house.

On Tuesday, AAA Mid-Atlantic announced an improved service would return for St. Patrick's Day. 

"Following the discussion on your blog regarding Tipsy? Taxi!, we wanted to reach to you directly as we gear up for St. Patrick's Day," AAA spokeswoman Christine Delise wrote Midnight Sun in an e-mail. "We've been working with our partners, [the State Highway Administration] and Yellow Cab, to discuss program enhancements, and in the short-term (sic) have added more staffing at the dispatch center to reduce call hold times."

The enhancements?

"Yellow Cab will be increasing their dedicated Tipsy? Taxi! phone operators from two to three," Delise wrote.

Continue reading "Tipsy? Taxi! returns for St. Patrick's Day; How many calls will it drop this time?" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:30 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, News
        

March 15, 2011

Update: Buy beer, help Japan relief efforts

In response to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that have devastated Japan, a couple of Baltimore bars are raising money to help with relief efforts.

Pratt Street Ale House will give the American Red Cross $1 for every pint of Strongman Pale Ale it sells. The beer was hopped entirely with Japanese Sorachi Ace.  Co-owner Justin Dvorkin said the bar has about 15 kegs of the beer, a batch that should last until the end of the month.

At Slainte Irish Pub, $1 of every pint of Guinness sold on St. Patrick's Day will go to the Red Cross as well.

Money raised by the Red Cross - $10 million so far, the organization said today - will go towards helping victims of the natural disasters, as well as to the hundreds of thousands who have been evacuated as a result of what may be the most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl. 

Also, several charities, including the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and the International Medical Corps, are taking donations directly at their respective websites. (via BiB and D@L)

Update: U Street Music Hall in DC also said Tuesday that it will donate all door proceeds from March 26 to the Red Cross and ongoing relief efforts. DJ Tittsworth will be appearing that night, when the cover will be $10. 1115 U Street NW.

Photo: U Street Music Hall Facebook

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:04 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

March 3, 2011

Will the Maryland Senate ban underage people from Baltimore clubs?

No, in a word. In the past week, some bar owners have written with alarm about a Senate bill (#844) that would ostensibly ban people under 21 from bars and clubs. Thursday morning the Examiner had an editorial about it.

Well, it turns out the language in the bill contained a typo. The bill would ban underage people from attending adult entertainment venues, not live entertainment venues. Reporter Chris Kaltenbach has more: 

 

Despite appearances to the contrary, state senators from Baltimore city are not looking to keep people under 21 from seeing their favorite bands live. They just want to keep them from seeing naked women.

A senate bill introduced last month, primarily designed to ensure clubs with liquor licenses have a police-approved security plan in place, had some club owners crying foul earlier this week. Under wording that was still in place this morning, clubs with liquor licenses – and this would have included The 8x10, Rams Head Live, Ottobar and others – would have been prohibited from allowing anyone under 21 inside.

No more all-ages shows, no more hands being stamped at the door to separate those old enough to drink from those who aren’t, no more bands with members younger than 21 even playing inside a club that serves liquor.

“That’s huge,” a shocked 8x10 co-owner Brian Shupe said when told of the bill. “This bill will definitely put me out of business.”

Continue reading "Will the Maryland Senate ban underage people from Baltimore clubs?" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

March 2, 2011

Pairing food and beer, plus upcoming beer dinners

Pairing food and beer is not a new concept; Hugh Sisson at Heavy Seas Beer has been doing beer dinners for almost fifteen years.

But it's still a tricky undertaking, even for experienced craft beer drinkers. Though Kevin Berry has been a home brewer for six years, pairings still elude him.

So when DuClaw Brewing Company hosted its first beer breakfast in December, the Glen Burnie engineer went for tips.

He and others have more suggestions on successful pairings in today's Taste section. Here's an excerpt:

In coming up with a pairing, [DuClaw president Dave] Benfield suggests trying flavors that play off each other rather than share a common flavor. If you pair a hoppy beer with a dessert, the sweetness might be canceled out.

The DuClaw chefs also found that some pairings that might have worked — steak with the grapefruity Venom Pale Ale — failed because the beer had too much bite. Instead, his chefs tried it with the maltier flavor of their Devil's Milk and found it to be a success.

"It gave the steak body, where with Venom it felt thin and sharp," Benfield said.

The rest of the story is here

Below are upcoming food and beer pairing events in Maryland: 

Continue reading "Pairing food and beer, plus upcoming beer dinners" »

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February 24, 2011

The new Locust Point bar crawl: the Sly Fox Pub, Five Points Tavern, Barracudas Tavern

John Householder and Tom Pomroy, the owners of Five Points Tavern in Locust Point, opened the bar in November, taking over the space where Aloha Tokyo used to be.

They say the nightlife here is still sleepy, but that they see potential in the condo developments that have been buzzed about in recent years. 

"The neighborhood in general is growing and getting more populated," he said. "As more people come to the area, we'll see success."

In addition to Five Points, Barracudas Tavern also opened recently, giving the neighborhood some much-needed new blood. 

Though the definitive Fort Avenue bar crawl ran four years ago, when this paper still ran 5,000-word features, the new bars demanded another go of it.

For tomorrow's paper, I went to the Sly Fox Pub, Five Points and Barracudas Tavern.  Here's a part of the column:

Barracudas Tavern is the Buckcherry to Five Points' Creedence Clearwater Revival

It's loudly decorated, with stuffed sea creatures hanging everywhere inside. And, unfortunately, a big, bosomy novelty mermaid hanging above one of the entrances outside — not the kind of message you want to send out to potential female clients.

At about 10:30 p.m., a fight almost broke out between a couple of young men; I didn't overhear the reason but chances are it wasn't over the virtues of taxidermy. There were also no taps here, but prices were cheap: $4.50 for three Bohs; a 20-ounce glass of rum punch for $7.50.

The bartenders were casual and quick, but the restless crowd and the loud music — Usher, again — made me want to go back to the relative peace of 5 Points, or at least the better bars in the area, like J. Patrick's or Down the Hatch.

The rest of the column is here

Continue reading "The new Locust Point bar crawl: the Sly Fox Pub, Five Points Tavern, Barracudas Tavern" »

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February 23, 2011

Power Plant Live's country-western bar, PBR Baltimore, gets opening date

Power Plant Live's country-western bar, PBR Baltimore, announced its grand opening today.

It will be March 4. Not surprisingly, it already has a twitter page; I'll let you find it on your own. The bar's publicists describe it, steel yourself, as the place where "cowboy cool meets urban chic."

Power Plant Live is making room for the bar as part of its $11 million expansion, which also includes the construction of an outdoor stage and the addition of some new venues,  like the Baltimore Comedy Factory, which is moving from downtown after Burke's closed.

The Factory's move hadn't been confirmed until recently. Chris Furst, director of marketing at Power Plant Live, said this week the outdoor stage should be completed by Preakness.

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:04 PM | | Comments (13)
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Review: Max's Belgian Beer Festival 2011

Contributor Alexander D. Mitchell IV, who writes for trade publication Mid-Atlantic Brewing News and blogs regularly about beer, sums up Max's Belgian Beer Festival, which ended its three-day run on Sunday.

After six years, is there really anything that can be added to what is arguably the largest presentation of Belgian beer in one location in North America? Not really, but that doesn’t keep the crew at Max’s Taphouse from trying.

With a recent expansion - from 70-some draft lines to 97 (plus five cask-ale hand pumps) - the venue was able to offer an initial 102 beers on draft, plus a stunning 192 in bottles. 

By the time the doors opened at 11:01 a.m. Friday morning, there was a line of nearly 200 eager beer fans waiting outside.

(A complete photo gallery of the festival is here)

The pleasant weather and an eager crowd kept the scene chaotic almost all weekend. Spread over three downstairs rooms and an upstairs lounge, the crowd at times resembled the worst of an Irish pub on St. Patrick’s Day. 

But just how many beers were there? Believe it or not, folks are still counting. 

Continue reading "Review: Max's Belgian Beer Festival 2011" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

February 22, 2011

Tiki Barge's neighbors want bar's liquor license revoked to "promote the peace and safety of the community"

Some 14 neighbors of the Tiki Barge want its liquor license revoked.

They've asked the Baltimore Liquor Board for a hearing to discuss the floating barge, which opened last Memorial Day and includes a swimming pool and two tiki bars.

The official item on the docket, which hasn't been released yet, says the neighbors want the bar's license revoked for "false statements made by the licensee in his 2010 renewal application" and also to "promote the peace and safety of the community."

The hearing has been scheduled for March 3 at 3 p.m. The City that Breeds posted an item about it earlier today.

The Tiki Barge, in anticipation of the hearing, is going on the offensive.

Continue reading "Tiki Barge's neighbors want bar's liquor license revoked to "promote the peace and safety of the community"" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:51 PM | | Comments (27)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Ladder 15 takes over DuClaw's Fells Point location

DuClaw Brewing Company's old Fells Point storefront has a new tenant.

It is the the Philadelphia restaurant and bar Ladder 15, just like Midnight Sun reported in December. The new owners got the liquor license last Thursday.

They plan on renaming the space at 901 S. Bond Street. It won't be a Ladder 15 after all, but will instead be called Bond Street Social.

It's not clear when it will open; the new owners haven't responded to several requests for comment.

DuClaw closed its location in Fells Point in December 2009 because business had been sluggish. 

Continue reading "Ladder 15 takes over DuClaw's Fells Point location" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

February 18, 2011

Dubai, Velvet Rope, Palma, Redwood Trust: a brief, 100-year history of 200 E. Redwood

The Velvet Rope re-opened in late January under a new name, Dubai. It's the latest name for 200 E. Redwood, a building that has had many tenants in over 100 years and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Here's a brief history:

1885: opens as Mercantile-Safe Deposit and Trust Co. branch, featuring the highly ornamental design of Baltimore firm Wyatt and Sperry.

 1904: survives the Great Fire

1960: undergoes renovation that damages original plasterwork. 

1993: Mercantile branch closes, leaving building vacant for seven years. 

2000: Baltimore developer Nicholas Piscatelli sinks $2.5 million on a renovation, one of the most significant in the city's history. Opens Redwood Trust, a megaclub. Cover was $10. VIP Access? Anywhere from $250-500.

Continue reading "Dubai, Velvet Rope, Palma, Redwood Trust: a brief, 100-year history of 200 E. Redwood" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

February 17, 2011

The Velvet Rope re-opens as Dubai

Troubled club the Velvet Rope re-opened a couple of weeks ago under a new name, Dubai, which must rank as the second worst bar/club name in Baltimore behind Garbo.

Management is eager to disassociate themselves from the Velvet Rope brand that had become so well known in headlines. When I tried to get a greenlight for our photographer to stop by, the club's attorney, Paul Gardner II, agreed to, but only if the name "Velvet Rope" didn't appear in the story.

We declined the offer.*

I still snuck in Saturday for the review in tomorrow's Live section. Here's the top:

Last Saturday, I went to Dubai. No, not the glitzy metropolis in the United Arab Emirates. But the club on 200 E. Redwood Street, which opened in late January under a new name after two years as the troubled Velvet Rope.

With the change, the owners hope to distance themselves from tarnished old name and associate themselves with the luxury that the word Dubai brings to mind.

But those might be too lofty aspirations.

If rebranding was all that a bad reputation needed, Hosni Mubarak might still be in power. And while in popular culture, Dubai might be linked to unlimited decadence, it's now a city burdened with a not-so-sexy $80 billion debt and a collapsed real estate market.

Dubai's owners might as well have called theirs Club Countrywide or Lehman Brothers VIP Lounge.

The club benefits from its still handsome historic location, and what seems to be improved security, but its insistence on passing itself off as an upscale club in a city that seems to be allergic to them raises doubts about its longevity.

The rest of the review is here

Photo*: Colby Ware photographed the club from outside. 

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:51 PM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Live!
        

February 16, 2011

Contests for Baltimore home brewers and chili cooks

Maryland home brewers, there's a contest with you in mind. 

DuClaw Brewing Company is looking for participants for their first home brewing contest. The winner's recipe will be brewed by the company.

The brewery will accept recipes from April 1 to April 8. All beer styles are welcomed except "wood-aged, lambics, sours and beers that utilize bacteria in the brewing process," according to the submission form.

Competition might be intense. Maryland has at least nine home brewing clubs, including, Baltimore's Chesapeake Real Ale Brewers Society and the Cross Street Irregulars Brew Club.

The submission form can be found here.

On February 27, there will be another competition: the annual Federal Hill chili cook-off. BeerinBaltimore has the official announcement

This year's contest will be held at Metropolitan at 6:30 p.m. If you're interested in participating, email ncsugiantsfan@yahoo.com recipe information. Rule of thumb: minimum entry is six quarts or more.

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:29 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

February 15, 2011

Canton's Clutch is closed

The Canton sports lounge Clutch has closed.

The news came via a reader, who noticed on the Canton Community Association's calendar a meeting Monday night to decide what to do with the lounge's former space.

Clutch opened in Spring 2009 billing itself "Baltimore's premier sports bar and lounge."

It replaced the decidedly more low-key Tiburzi's Cafe.

I'd heard rumors that Clutch was closing earlier last month. But when I spoke in early January with Trevor White, one of the guys running it, he contradicted the rumors.

Yet, a few weeks later Clutch had shut its doors. On January 29, the bar hosted a farewell party.

"Sadly, like all parties. It must come to an end," its Facebook page read.

It's not clear what prompted the closure. 

White told me earlier today he didn't have time to comment; and John Calvin, the other owner, hasn't responded to requests for comment either. 

The bar's phone number is already disconnected. 

Continue reading "Canton's Clutch is closed" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Max's Belgian Beer Fest full draft and bottle menu

Max's Belgian Beer Festival begins on Friday. For three days, the bar will only serve some 120 Belgian (and Belgian-style) beers on their extensive draft lines and about 175 bottles of Belgian beer.

In addition, it will have on hand about six casks from Brewer's Art and Stillwater Ales, including that microbrewer's most recent collaboration with Mikkeler, Our Side.

The festival is now in its seventh year, and has become a must on any beer lover's calendar. Admission is free. 

What's the deal about Belgian beer, anyway? Well, for starters, it's an acquired taste. Even Pratt Street Ale House's Steve Jones told me during Baltimore Beer Week he only started experimenting with them recently.

 What makes Belgians taste different is the way they're brewed. Belgian brewers typically use their own house yeast to make their beer, giving it a taste that's radically different from commercial American lagers and even traditional English Ale, Jones' specialty.

Max's cellar master Casey Hard sent me their most recent draft and bottle beer menu for the festival; Beer in Baltimore had also posted it over the weekend.

Here it is in an easily printable Scribd document, posted below:

Continue reading "Max's Belgian Beer Fest full draft and bottle menu" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:39 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

February 7, 2011

Illusions Magic Bar keeps entertainment license despite challenge from Paul Robinson, hater of noise, magic and beer pong

Illusions Magic Bar faced off against the Federal Hill Neighborhood Association in Baltimore circuit court today. The venue, which is owned by magician Spencer Horsman, had its entertainment license challenged by the neighborhood association, which claimed its members were adversely affected by "noise, parking and crime from Illusions and other nearby bars and clubs."

But the court sided with the magician, reports John-John Williams IV, and allowed him to keep the license:

Judge Audrey J.S. Carrion dismissed the association's motion, citing that a number of the complaining neighbors lived too far — one as many as three blocks away from Illusions— to be negatively affected.

The neighborhood association, headed by Paul Robinson, will meet soon to plan its next move. With this challenge, Robinson has distinguished himself as a hater of both magic and beer pong. Two years ago he pushed for a ban of drinking games at Baltimore bars.

Posted by Erik Maza at 4:27 PM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

February 4, 2011

Video: Tapping Natty Boh keg at Nacho Mama's


Last night, Nacho Mama's tapped one of the first kegs of Natty Boh in over 15 years. Here's video from the event featuring Mama's owner and Boh nut Patrick McCusker and other National fans.
Posted by Erik Maza at 10:55 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

February 3, 2011

Don't Know Tavern, Racers Cafe, Pratt Street Ale House plan expansions

The three Baltimore bars will change their longtime look this year.

The 67-year-old Racers Café in Parkville will serve food for the first time, and add a new bar.

At the 3-year-old Don’t Know tavern in South Baltimore, owner Jason Zink is adding more drafts.

And Pratt Street Ale House, formerly the Wharf Rat, will expand into the building next door.

Food at Racers, which has been owned by the Osenburg family for generations, has been in the works since 2000, when owners bought the property next door with plans to build a kitchen. Beerinbaltimore tipped me to the news.

General manager Donna Preisinger updated me though, and told me Racers will now include not just a kitchen, but a lounge area, and a brand new bar. All and all, it should double Racers’ interior, she said.

The new bar will allow Racers to add seven new draft lines, for a total 20. It should come online no later than this year, Preisinger said, and will be followed by the kitchen. She is not sure yet what the menu will be.

Zink said he wanted to expand his bar to compete with the neighborhood’s new bars. The Park Bench near Riverside Park opened in November, and Barfly’s Pub, formerly Rafters, is set to open in March, according to its owner.

Specifically, Zink wanted to keep up with the new Taps, Delia Foley’s, owned by Chris Reda and Ropewalk Tavern's Marc MacFaul.

Continue reading "Don't Know Tavern, Racers Cafe, Pratt Street Ale House plan expansions" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

January 28, 2011

Baltimore Police sued for $420,000 over "unlawful arrest" by Don't Know Tavern chef, two others

The Baltimore Police department was sued Monday for $420,000 by three men who allege they were "unlawfully" arrested outside South Baltimore's Don't Know Tavern last year. 

The lawsuit, filed with the Circuit Court for Baltimore City January 24, also names two officers, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and the Baltimore City Council.

The plaintiffs, which include Don't Know's executive chef Chad Novak, seek $210,000, plus $70,000 each in damages.

Baltimore police declined to comment on the lawsuit.

According to the complaint, police officers, including Andre Smith and Stephen J. Sloan, turned up at Don't Know around 7:50 p.m. in late January of last year to respond to a call.

Novak, a chef at Don't Know for nearly two years, said in an interview Smith and Sloan were questioning his 13-year-old brother.

When Novak tried to ask if his brother was in trouble, he was brushed off by the officers, he said.

Continue reading "Baltimore Police sued for $420,000 over "unlawful arrest" by Don't Know Tavern chef, two others" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

January 27, 2011

Baltimore's bars and clubs unaffected by snowstorm; offering snow day specials tonight

Last night's snowstorm disrupted air travel, shut down some schools early, and generally made it a dogfight to get home, even if you lived inside the city.

But, as always, if there was one sector that was seemingly unaffected by the multiple inches of snow it was nightlife. Few venues closed, and others even offered snow day specials.

That will continue tonight, when it seems the only the only canceled nightlife-related engagement is the Liquor Board hearing. 

On Wednesday, the only show I saw canceled was O Pioneers!!! at Charm City Art Space, which notified attendees via Facebook a half hour after 3 p.m. But Red Maple was closed, Club Hippo also canceled its bingo night, and in Columbia, Victoria Gastro Pub closed early.

Still, Joe Squared, Mothers, the Falls, Rocket to Venus, Roy's, Talara and Crush all stayed open.In Hampden, Golden West status updated: "Open for all your thundersnow burrito needs."

In Bolton Hill, people still flocked to the Tavern. And in South Baltimore, Elliot's Pour House wrote on Facebook: "Snow makes us all feel like boozin.'" Crude, but true. 

No Idea's Jason Zink tells me only Restaurant Week was hurt because of canceled reservations.

"Last night was good," he writes. "Most of the bars were open and pretty crowded."

For tonight, here's a list of some of the bars offering specials and venues that are staying open: 

Continue reading "Baltimore's bars and clubs unaffected by snowstorm; offering snow day specials tonight" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

January 21, 2011

Midnight Sun Mixer: the morning after

DSC_0385.JPGThis is today's first post. No, it's not the mixer's fault, like some of you guessed. Not entirely anyway.

Despite two beers, two shots of mysterious components, and a pickle back, I still made it early to work this morning.

But all day I've been finishing up a story for Sunday's paper about Lower Dens, Future Islands, Weekends and other young Baltimore bands.

I definitely needed more coffee than usual this morning, but I had worse hangovers in grade school. 

I got to Don't Know a little bit after seven last night. Evan, of The City that Breeds, and Jason Zink were already there drinking with Sessa. I checked into foursquare, and from then on, I must have gotten drunker, or just really enjoyed the conversation, because it was my last check-in of the night on any social media.

By the time I had swapped my Blue Moon for a Loose Cannon, Ryan, of Quarterlifeparty, had shown up. So had Alexander D. Mitchell IV (whose pictures you see above), Cyclops' Andy Rubin (pictured on the right), friend and coworker June Torbati and Angela Devoti, formerly of Atlas bar, sporting a leopard-print trench. Tif Saleem showed up later, with his wife Micki. At some point Evan iced Sessa in revenge.

Continue reading "Midnight Sun Mixer: the morning after" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 5:50 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

January 20, 2011

Liquor Board inspector accused of consulting for Damian Bohager's newest club

PX00075_9.JPGSo late last week a small brouhaha rightfully erupted at the liquor board meeting.

Pigtown residents brought to the board's attention that one of the agency's inspectors was consulting for a proposed bar, a no-no according to the city charter. The agency immediately began an investigation into the matter.

So far, as Investigative Voice has reported, the inspector, Don Fitzgerald, has been assigned to desk duty.

But speaking to chairman Stephan Fogleman recently, there's this update: Fitzgerald has decided to take a personal, unpaid leave for a week or two.

And Fogleman said the investigation should be wrapped up by the end of next week.

The problem started at a Pigtown community hearing  for a proposed 5,000-square-foot club called Ambrosia that's partially owned by the controversial Damian Bohager, formerly of Fells Point's defunct Bohager's, and one of Maryland's top 50 tax scofflaws last year.

Bohager owed the state nearly $600,000 in unpaid taxes. 

At that meeting, veteran inspector Fitzgerald said he was consulting for Ambrosia to help them navigate the tricky process of opening a new club, the residents said. 

Residents then presented video of the meeting to the liquor board last Thursday, which began an internal investigation that resulted in Fitzgerald's assignment to desk duty the following day. 

By Tuesday morning, Fogleman said, the inspector had decided to take time off on his own dime until the investigation was completed. Executive Secretary Samuel T. Daniels Jr. and chief inspector Ralph Gilliam are conducting the probe.

Continue reading "Liquor Board inspector accused of consulting for Damian Bohager's newest club" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

The Midnight Sun Mixer is tonight at Don't Know Tavern

It's been a damn long week, even though it was actually a damn short work week.

With deadlines pushed up, tons of print stuff to get done in a shorter time, interviews to conduct (Girl Talk, among them, you'll be happy to hear), it's been manic around Midnight Sun HQ.

I hardly even had time to rile up anonymous commenters, though, apparently, I somehow accomplished that too.

So, for that, I've been looking forward to tonight's mixer, and a very tall pitcher at tonight's mixer, all week long.

Hopefully you all have too. I've already met some of you, and I'm looking forward to meeting the rest.

There's no agenda for tonight - just conversation, swapping stories, and answering questions if you're sober enough to ask them.  

We will be at Don't Know Tavern, 1453 Light St., starting at 7 p.m. 

Owner Jason Zink is offering complimentary cocktails to Midnight Sunners who get there between 7and 8 p.m.

This is the first mixer of the year, and I'm certain, not the last. If you can't make it tonight, I'll see you at the next one.

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:55 PM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

January 18, 2011

Delia Foley's, the new Taps, is officially open

Delia Foley's, whose development Midnight Sun has been watching closely since it took over Taps' former space in August, is officially open.

Blog The City that Breeds checked it out over the weekend, and came away impressed with the new decor and the menu. 

Chris Reda and Ropewalk Tavern's Marc MacFaul bought the nearly 5,000-square-foot property, which used to house the notorious Taps, in August for $450,000.

They have since re-listed it for sale on Craigslist, for $525,000. Reda has said they're "not actively" selling the bar, just taking a look at offers.

Credit that with the major makeover the location has received. Judging from the early review, the owners haven't just renovated the exterior, as Reda had said, but added new murals and updated the bathrooms.

Continue reading "Delia Foley's, the new Taps, is officially open" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

January 14, 2011

Cullen Stalin, Katrina Ford spin at new 'coldwave' party at Club Phoenix

bs-ae-midnight-rail-0114.jpgClub Phoenix is a dumpy two-floor bar in Mount Vernon that’s forgotten for most of the week, even by the crowd of older gay men that frequent its downstairs regularly.

But on weekends, it’s become known for hosting well-attended dance parties on its rickety, unvarnished upstairs floor.

Most Saturdays, a bunch of MICA students serve as DJs for the Dance Your Ass Off party.

And this Friday, it will host, for the second time, Ice Age, a monthly party dedicated to obscure, atmospheric music that marries Goth rock and New Wave — something that might sound like a cut from the Cure’s “Seventeen Seconds.”

It’s DJed by, among others, Cullen Nawalkowsky — aka Cullen Stalin — and this Friday, also by Katrina Ford, of the Baltimore band Celebration

The artists the DJs will play are largely unknown or have become cult figures only recently, Nawalkowsky said. The playlist will run the gamut from proper industrial to “dark” punk to almost-poppy New Wave.

Continue reading "Cullen Stalin, Katrina Ford spin at new 'coldwave' party at Club Phoenix" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:37 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Live!
        

Rafters, renamed Barfly's Pub, to open within two months

PX00195_9.JPGRafters, the South Baltimore bar famous for its formstone facade and interiors, will re-open within two months, new owner Michael Leeds said.

It will then be called Barfly's Pub.

Leeds is planning on a full renovation, and a big wine list.

The new bar, he said, will be "an upscale dive bar. "That's why I named it Barfly's."

Leeds started leasing the in November, and is now in the process of renovating the space and acquiring the liquor license.  

After Rafters closed in August, it was supposed to have been taken over by a Red Hill Tavern. But that deal never came to fruition, Leeds said. 

A former partner  at the Federal Hill and Bel Air Sean Bolans, Leeds had been looking for a place of his own. 

He settled on Rafters because he said he sees a future in its location - the Fort Avenue-Riverside neighborhood.

Continue reading "Rafters, renamed Barfly's Pub, to open within two months" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:55 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

January 13, 2011

Review: Frisco Tap and Brew House in Columbia

PX00233_9.JPGColumbia's Frisco Tap and Brew House opened in December to what owner Adam Carton called "gangbusters" business.

The bar, which is located in a strip mall, is the new, larger home of Carton's Frisco Grille and Cantina, which remains open in Columbia as well*.

It's three times as big as the old location, has 30 more taps, and expanded parking.

Last week, I went to review it. Here's the top of the review:

The strip mall bar is maybe a rung below the outlet mall bar and just a couple of notches above a dive on U.S. 40.

From the outside, Columbia's newest watering hole, the Frisco Tap and Brew House, doesn't inspire much confidence. It's sandwiched between a furniture store and a BMW motorcycle showroom. At the end of the strip, there's a Batteries Plus.

Frisco looks handsome — wide windows and a tastefully designed facade — just the way a Chipotle can look handsome. But the first hint that this might not be your average, anonymous strip mall tenant is its name. This isn't just a casual carrier of taps, it's a taphouse; one might even say a small temple — a tap-ernacle, if you will.

The rest of the review is here. A video tour of the bar is below:

Continue reading "Review: Frisco Tap and Brew House in Columbia" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

January 11, 2011

Select Lounge to re-open Friday; club's attorney releases statement

Select Lounge, the site of two fatal shootings Sunday morning, will re-open Friday, manager Alex Wolde said. 

The club has been closed since Sunday. 

On Sunday morning, the club was the site of multiple shootings that left two men, a 33-year-old police officer, William H. Torbit Jr., and 22-year-old Sean Gamble, dead, and four others wounded.

Police have confirmed that no civilian weapons were fired that day, and that five police officers shot a total of 41 rounds at what they described as a chaotic scene.

Wolde said he was inside the club when the shootings happened, but that, at this time, he couldn't address any other questions unrelated to the club's business.

He said the club has been closed since Sunday out of respect for the victims of the shooting. The club, which opened in late October, has a seven-day liquor license, records show.

Earlier today, the club's attorneys, the Gardner Law Group, released a statement:

"Because this case involves an active ongoing investigation, any comment on the specific facts would be inappropriate at this time. Until more information becomes available, it is our hope that no conclusion will be drawn or judgment made about Select Lounge, especially since the incident took place outside of Select Lounge. In the meantime, we solemnly join the grief that has descended on Baltimore as we attempt to understand what happened and why."

Continue reading "Select Lounge to re-open Friday; club's attorney releases statement" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:28 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

January 9, 2011

Councilman William H. Cole IV: law enforcement will have to rethink downtown safety after Select Lounge

Violence at downtown night clubs and lounges, including the Velvet Rope, Suite Ultralounge, and Club Choices, has been a problem for years.

It continued Sunday with a fatal shooting at the West side's Select Lounge.

Though city councilman William H. Cole IV defended the city's efforts to improve security over the years, he also said the shooting will force law enforcement and city officials to again rethink security strategies for night clubs.

"We're going to have to take a very serious look at these clubs to make sure police have resources they need and the clubs are contributing to keep their facilities safe," he said.

For tomorrow's paper, I spoke with Cole and Liquor Board chairman Stephan Fogleman about the shooting, and compiled some recent incidents of violence at the city's clubs and lounge. That story can be found here.  

In the past, Cole said, the city responded to violent incidents at downtown night clubs with padlocking, using the liquor board's enforcement arm, and demanding clubs improved their security. Police also increased security at closing times, when most problems arose, he added.

He argued the combined efforts had dampened violence problems, but that some clubs were still not on board.

Continue reading "Councilman William H. Cole IV: law enforcement will have to rethink downtown safety after Select Lounge" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 7:59 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Six shot outside West side's Select Lounge; unclear if club will re-open

Six people, including two police officers, were shot Sunday morning outside Select Lounge, a recently opened West side club that billed itself as the "premiere [sic] destination for sophisticated club connoisseurs, savvy socialites, A-list celebrities and Baltimore's elite."

It's unclear when or if the club will re-open following the tragedy. Manager Alex Wolde couldn't be reached for comment. 

Police were called to crowd control a chaotic scene outside the club Sunday morning when, around 1:15 a.m., an altercation broke out and multiple shots were fired, police said. Eight-year police veteran William H. Torbit Jr., 33, and civilian Sean "Loz" Gamble died at the scene.

Crime Beat has a comprehensive timeline of the events. Police still haven't determined who instigated the shootings.

Select Lounge opened in October with a lavish party that was sponsored by Belvedere Vodka (grand opening flier at right). Midnight Sun reviewed it. Owners had high hopes it would attract local VIPs.

It might have been on its way. Raven Dannell Ellerbe celebrated his birthday there in December.

It's unclear when the young club will re-open, or indeed, what effect this will have in the long run. Police tell Crime Beat the club hadn't drawn extraordinary attention since it opened. But, already, some patrons are saying they won't return there.

Phone calls to manager Alex Wolde haven't been returned.

And the club's frequently updated Facebook and Twitter have been silent since January 5. 

At the scene, reporter Justin Fenton writes, the club's parking lot is blocked off by police tape. 

More updates to come tomorrow.

Continue reading "Six shot outside West side's Select Lounge; unclear if club will re-open" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:50 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

January 7, 2011

Sticky Rice gets legit, granted live entertainment license

PX00189_9.JPGSticky Rice has been holding parties and music acts for some time now.

As of yesterday, it can do it legally. 

The Baltimore Liquor Board granted the Fells Point restaurant a live entertainment license. (As well as outdoor table service.)

Tonight moombahton king Dave Nada will spin at what is more or less their first legit music show.

Since it opened in September, the restaurant has hosted after-dinner DJ nights. Nada himself played their opening night party.

And Pedx hosts its "Always Dope" party there as well.

But none of those required a live entertainment license because the DJs didn't use microphones or instruments, as the law stipulates.

Owner Joey Belcher explais that they applied for a new license to be able to host karaoke nights, which will begin January 25.

Liquor board chairman Stephan Fogleman also explains that many venues can get away with not having a license if there are no complaints - as was the case here.

But it's best to pursue one to be in the clear with the city. In order to have a live entertainment license, venues must pay $250 in city fees, as well as already carry a liquor license - which costs about $1,300 in city fees, on top of its sale price - Fogleman explained.

The Nada show, which has no cover, starts at 11 p.m. Billfold will also perform. The DJ described the party on Facebook as, "moombahton madness meets club craziness."

Way crazier: sushi won't be served past 11 p.m.

Continue reading "Sticky Rice gets legit, granted live entertainment license" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:42 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

January 3, 2011

Nightlife Pocket Guide: Jan. 3 - 9: Golden West Cafe, Sidebar, Greene Turtle

You asked for it, and here it is: a guide to the week in nightlife. Call it the Midnight Sun Nightlife Pocket Guide: small enough to print out, and carry in your snuggest back pocket. On Monday, Red Maple's weekly free Electric Marmalade party moves to 9 p.m. Maybe a belly dancer will show up. On Tuesday, Second City does Baltimore. Show by the comedy troupe is on until Feb. 20. At the Greene Turtle in Columbia, 22-ounce Coors Light drafts are $1.99. The bar calls it Beer Pong Tuesdays. On Wednesday, one half of noise duo Abiku DJs a new party, "Bent," at Sidebar. Expect grainy video accompaniment. $3. On Thursday, more free trash at Windup Space's Mondo Baltimore. On Friday, go to 851 Hollins St. for the first Lith Hall "Twist & Shout" dance party of the year. $5. Also: Deep in the Game returns to Hippo. No cover before 11 p.m. On Saturday, the king of moombahton Dave Nada spins at Golden West Cafe for TaxLo DJ Simon Phoenix's birthday party. $5. On Sunday, no Lucky Dragons show like January 2, but emerging R&B singer Ledisi performs at Bourbon Street. $30. If you've got suggestions for next week, e-mail me at erik.maza@baltsun.com.

(Photo)

Continue reading "Nightlife Pocket Guide: Jan. 3 - 9: Golden West Cafe, Sidebar, Greene Turtle" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music, Nightlife Pocket Guide
        

December 30, 2010

New Year's Eve 2010: Eleven last-minute parties, including Bourbon Street, The Paradox, Golden West Cafe

PX00175_9.JPGThe Man knows you’re going to drink yourself into a stupor on New Year’s Eve.

Why wouldn’t you?

December 31 is the year's biggest get out of jail free card. The one day of the year when you can drink yourself numb and you won't have to answer for your actions the next day. And why? Because by the time you regain consciousness, it’ll all be in the past.

By Jan. 1, it’ll be a new you, the 2011 you: more responsible, more in shape, optimistic, armed with resolutions to face a new year that, as always, you’re certain will be better than the last. Last night's debauchery? That was the old you.

And because local government knows all this, it has taken a few steps to make sure you party as safely as possible. Just consider the Maryland Transit Administration partnership with MillerCoors to offer free bus, metro, subway and light rail services from 8 p.m. Friday until 2 a.m. Saturday. 

In addition, the MTA also partnered with Yellow Cab and AAA Mid-Atlantic to comp cab rides under $50 from any city bar to residents’ homes, a service that may not work perfectly, or even very well, but that's just another alternative to the surplus of transportation options available to residents Friday.

Even state legislators want you to have a good time. About 70 years ago, they approved Article 2B of the Annotated Code of Maryland, a law allows only cbars in the city to keep their doors open until 2 a.m. Jan. 2, said Stephan Fogleman, chairman of the city’s Board of Liquor License Commissioners.

And still, all these things have had the desired effect of tempering celebrations, so that residents have fun, but don't go overboard. Fogleman says New Year’s Eve is one of the quietest times of the year in terms of complaints. Maybe this is why Baltimore is 37th among the country's drunkest cities.

With so many bars staying open past 2 a.m., there will be no shortage of options to properly say good riddance to 2010. Here are just 11 of them:

Continue reading "New Year's Eve 2010: Eleven last-minute parties, including Bourbon Street, The Paradox, Golden West Cafe" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:03 PM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Live!, Local music, New Year's Eve 2010
        

December 24, 2010

Review: Rodos is still Fells Point's frat house 30 years on

In September, when I asked readers their thoughts on the best bars in Baltimore, no establishment was more polarizing than Fells Point's Rodos.

Some called it "disgraceful" and "gross." One said it was only popular with "underage girls from Dundalk" and "unemployed Greek sailors."

Said another: "Rodos is a great place to either be groped, or have your significant other get in a brawl because the troglodytes won't stop groping their lady friend."

Still, many others sang its praises, with at least one person exclaiming, "Rodos for president."

The reaction is to be expected. Strong opinions are what you get when you've been in business for more than three decades.

On this, its 33rd anniversary, it's a good time to reappraise the old standby.

After all these years, Rodos is decidedly old-school. It's not just that it looks like it hasn't gotten more than a cursory renovation since Gerald Ford was in the White House. It doesn't even have a website (though, surprisingly, someone's made it a skeleton Facebook profile).

Even if you haven't heard of the bar's reputation for rowdiness, its exterior suggests it. There are two intimidating bouncers outside its entrance on South Broadway. Inside, security cameras are installed in several places, including two above the bar by the entrance, watching over bartenders who look like they were hired after a wet T-shirt contest.

The rest of the review is here.

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:34 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

December 23, 2010

Today's Groupon? The Ottobar

ottobargroup.JPGWant $15 for $30 worth of beer? Here's Groupon's pitch for some local bar called The Ottobar:

"Seeing live music can be a transcendent mind-body experience, akin to getting a tattoo underwater, or making out during an eclipse. Transcend boredom with today's Groupon."

NB to Groupon's copywriters: those two things aren't transcendent. They're just wet.

Still, a pretty good deal. So far, 162 people have bought it. The coupon is only good for one person and for one bill. It expires in a year.

And, with MillerLite offering free bus service on New Year's Eve, you can actually get to the bar for free.

Too bad the Ottobar will be open 'til 4 a.m. that day.  Oops MTA.

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:29 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Checking in with Midway, the Block's only bar, after the fire

midway2.jpegThe Sunday after a devastating fire consumed The Block, I went to grab a couple of two dollar Bohs at Midway Bar to see how the city’s beleaguered red-light district was coping.

It had just been two days since the area was re-opened to the public, and signs of the fire were everywhere. The street was still blocked, and police tape cordoned off the Gayety Show World bookstore, which stood gutted.

But there were also signs that the area’s bars and clubs were slowly getting back on their feet.

As I walked down the street, guys in overcoats peddled free tickets to various strip shows as shamelessly as they had before.

“No cover here tonight,” one of them yelled. “C’mon, naked women!” As I quickly passed him, he re-focused his pitch: "Naked men?"

For years, Midway has been the only place on the Block that’s a bar and nothing else.

Yet, even if there aren’t strippers dancing inside, the bar is unmistakably of its surroundings. The walls are decorated with decades-old, hand-painted portraits of burlesque dancers from The Block’s glory days. They didn’t so much look like the glamour shots of dancers as those of Depression-era MGM starlets.

Continue reading "Checking in with Midway, the Block's only bar, after the fire" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:56 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

December 22, 2010

Waterfront Hotel to switch management, sources say

The Waterfront Hotel will switch management next year, two people with knowledge of the situation said. 

It's not clear right now who the managers will be, but here's what I've found out so far. 

After a reader wrote this morning the tavern might close, I called them up.

An employee who declined to be named said that's not the case. But that new management would take it over in January. 

A representative for Red Star Land Holdings, LLC - whose owners are involved with Waterfront, according to property records - confirmed that new management would take over the bar at the end of January.

The reason is that the current lease, held by Benjamin Greene, is up.

Red Star's owners would not be involved after that, the person said. "It will be run by entirely new management," the person said. 

The representative is not authorized to speak on the record on the company's business.

No one else at Red Star could be reached for comment. Benjamin Greene could also not be reached for clarification on what happened to his lease.

I'll update this post as soon as I  hear from them. 

The bar will close in January, but it will only be on January 3 and 4 for a previously scheduled cleaning. 

Continue reading "Waterfront Hotel to switch management, sources say" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:23 PM | | Comments (21)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

December 21, 2010

Is a beer brunch worth it? Lessons from the DuClaw beer brunch

DuClaw had its beer brunch Sunday. I was there.

It becomes just the latest craft brewer to offer one of these things. During Baltimore Beer Week, there were a whopping 49 beer breakfasts, brunches, lunches or dinners. 

Are they worth it? What's the point? What I've learned so far is that brewers see many more uses for these events than just a bargain meal for their customers.

The brunch was held at Arundel Mills at 9 a.m., a time so early mall power walkers hadn't even made an appearance yet. A few new ones would appear with each passing meal.

Still, the company's storefront was filled. 

Most beer meals consist of several courses paired with the brewer's beers. DuClaw's included six brunch courses. 

Sweet potato pancakes were served with the Sawtooth Belgian white, which, as DuClaw president Dave Benfield, explained, was made with bitter orange peels and coriander. Later, a bloody beer-marinated steak was served with Devil's Milk barleywine.(Full menu below)

Benfield and brewmaster Jim Wagner explained the menu was designed by playing with the ingredients in the beer and those in the breakfast food. The idea of this thing is that one should bring out the flavors in the other.

For instance, the 31 Munich Dunkel was spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg to accentuate the pumpkin waffles it was paired with.

Continue reading "Is a beer brunch worth it? Lessons from the DuClaw beer brunch" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

December 17, 2010

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.

Continue reading "Philadelphia bar/restaurant may take over DuClaw's Fells Point location" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:59 PM | | Comments (22)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

December 16, 2010

Update: Magooby's Joke House plans 81-hour standup marathon

Magooby's Joke House in Timonium plans to host a 55-hour stand-up marathon on January 18.

The comedy club wants to beat the Guinness world record for longest continuous stand-up show, which was 50 hours long.

Owner Andrew Unger said they're not doing the marathon to drum up publicity for the club, which  just opened in September. But for charity. Proceeds from tickets will be donated to Special Olympics Maryland.

Granted, though the publicity won't hurt. 

The marathon will start at Tuesday Monday at 2:30 p.m. with co-owner Marc Unger, and will continue through Thursday with other comics alternating sets.

In order to beat the record, they'll have to perform for 55 hours straight while keeping a minimum of ten spectators. That's almost two days of fart jokes. Yay!

Continue reading "Update: Magooby's Joke House plans 81-hour standup marathon" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

December 14, 2010

Catherine's Pub, the new Taps, listed for sale, renamed

Catherine's Pub, the new Taps, hasn't even opened yet, but it's already up for sale.

Has been for sale, actually, since November.

And it won't be called Catherine's Pub anymore, said property owner Chris Reda. Until someone buys it, it'll be known as Delia Foley's.

Judging from their actions, the new owners never intended to keep the two-story bar. 

The bar at 1439 South Charles Street was Taps until Reda and Ropewalk Tavern's Marc MacFaul bought it in August for $450,000.

Two weeks ago they started to renovate it with the intention to re-open in January as Catherine's Pub.

That's still the plan, Reda said. But the owners have always had an eye on selling the nearly 5,000-square-foot property.

They started listing it on Craigslist just three months after they bought it.

And for an additional $75,000. 

A reader noticed a post on Craigslist yesterday, but the Chris Reda Team had actually already listed it two other times, in November and early December.  

The renovations to the bar also suggest the new owners are keen on making the property more attractive to prospective buyers.  Reda has said these will be reserved to the exterior, plus some cosmetic changes to the inside.

The new price is $525,000, including the bar's liquor license. 

But Reda said they're "not actively" selling the bar. "We would sell if someone was interested," he said Monday when I spoke with him.

Continue reading "Catherine's Pub, the new Taps, listed for sale, renamed" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:53 AM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

December 13, 2010

Congress Financial looking to lease historic Marble Bar

The owners of the Congress Hotel are looking to lease the historic Marble Bar.

Congress Financial LLC., which just bought the hotel-turned-apartment building in September for $2.35 million, listed the bar Friday.

JBL Real estate, which is leasing the west side property, did not disclose how much it will charge to rent.

"We're looking for offers," said Henry Deford, a sales associate at JBL. 

In its heyday in the 70s and 80s, the Marble Bar was Baltimore's CBGB, hosting everyone from Iggy Pop to Thee Katatonix.

Before that, it was one of the city's great hotels when it was built in 1905. In 2001, it was converted to apartment units by an affiliate of developer Struever Bros., which spent $7.2 million to restore the building.

In February, the affiliate, Eccles & Rouse, defaulted on a $2.8 million loan, and the note was purchased by Congress Financial, a group of investors with roots in the area.

Congress Financial bought the property in September at auction

All 36 units in the building are currently leased as apartments. Deford said the new owners wanted to also revive the bar, which has been sitting vacant.

Deford said the cost to lease is negotiable. He did not want to disclose a minimum rental rate.

The bar, located on the basement of the Congress Hotel, is 6,000-square-feet, and comes with its namesake 70-foot marble bar.

The new manager would have to find a liquor license, buy it and apply to transfer it to the Marble Bar, as the bar hasn't had an active license in years, according to the Baltimore Liquor Board.  

Continue reading "Congress Financial looking to lease historic Marble Bar" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:13 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Frisco Tap House opens in Columbia

Frisco Tap House is officially open in Columbia. 

The former Frisco Grille and Cantina, which has been working on a new, larger location for most of the year, had a soft opening last Wednesday.

Owner Adam Carton said the new space is three times as big as the Grille. "It's not nearly as cramped," he said.

The new location also has a brewery on site, a larger bar that will seat about 40 people, and a community-style table that sits 20. It will also have a lounge and more parking.

As far as beer goes, it has 50 taps - hence the name - including 10 dedicated to Belgians. 

Since Wednesday, all taps have been operational; Carton said its basic menu is also being served.

A couple of new features haven't come online yet. Its lounge area still needs cocktail tables, and the brewery won't be active for another six months. Carton said it's also going to be at least three weeks until the bar can start serving pizza. 

But, they decided to open their doors anyway because the soft opening  went "gangbusters." He added they'll eventually schedule an official grand opening party.

The new location is at 6695 Dobbin Road Columbia. After the jump, video of the new location:

Continue reading "Frisco Tap House opens in Columbia " »

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:15 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Update: Hanukkah, Christmas beers face off at Max's

jewbelation.pngSo who would win in a battle between Hanukkah beers and Christmas beers?

What's a Hanukkah beer anyway?

The guys over at Max's Taphouse are extending the Jewish holiday through Tuesday night with a little contest to answer that very question.

Hanukkah will be represented by beers from the He'brew beer line of San Francisco-based Shmaltz Brewing.

And on the Christmas side? Not sure, though presumably Scaldis Noel will be part of the line-up.  (Update: below, the full line-up of Christmas beers)

The event is actually organized by Shmaltz, whose founder,  Jeremy Cowan, has just published a new book about the unlikely success of a kosher beer microbrewery from San Francisco.

Cowan founded the company 13 years ago, and in that time has launched six brands under the He'Brew line - Genesis Ale, Messiah Bold, Origin Pomegranate Strong Ale, Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A., Rejewvenator, and Jewbelation- as well as the non-kosher Coney Island Craft Lagers line.

Every year he has puts together the Hanukkah vs. Christmas contest, and this year it's part of his book tour for Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah (ha ha, get it? 13 years?).

Max's is one of two Maryland bars chosen to host the tongue-in-cheek event; Victoria Gastro Pub in Columbia is the other. 

Representing the Hanukkah team this year are eight recipes of Shmaltz' Jewbelation. In the past, Scaldis Noel, Moylan's White Christmas and Telegraph Winter have "played" for the Christmas team.

The event starts at 6 p.m. Call Max's to reserve tickets in advance. In addition to the contest, Cowan will be signing copies of the book.

Fun fact: So what makes beer kosher? Well, certification by the Kosher Supervision of America for starters, duh. But actually, most beer is already kosher, as it is made from water, barley, yeast and hops.

Photo: Shmaltz Brewing  

Continue reading "Update: Hanukkah, Christmas beers face off at Max's " »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

December 10, 2010

Update on the new Taps, Catherine's Pub

DSC_3042.JPGIt was just two weeks ago that renovations started at the new Taps, Catherine's Pub. How are things going?

A reader, Beer in Baltimore's Alexander Mitchell IV, sends in this picture at right.

Just like Chris Reda said, the new owners are sticking to exterior changes, and pretty big ones it seems. Let's see if the January opening ends up happening.

Catherine's will be an Irish Pub; Reda said hours of operations haven't been decided on yet, and neither has a bottled beer list.

(He and Marc McFaul bought the 4,000-square-foot property and the business for $450,000 in August, after Taps, which had been there for two years, closed.)


Posted by Erik Maza at 5:18 PM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

The Ottobar to revive Underground party

PX00018_9.JPGThe Ottobar will revive its Underground party next month.

The first one will be on January 8, and once a month after that. 

Underground started in 2001 as a monthly  britpop/indie/new wave/soul party. Ottobar owner Craig Boarman called it "the father of all [city] indie DJ nights/parties".

Hard to gauge how true that is, but the party did a City Paper Readers' Poll award in 2004. 

"We were doing 400-500 people every month for years," he said. "Even the most jaded hipster or coolest rocker came out and danced." At right, the party in 2005.

Boarman canceled the party in 2006 when crowds got smaller. "We were doing about 200 people and we felt the night was getting stale."

In the time since, the bar has tried different monthly parties -  "AUTOMAT!C" a few years ago, and a monthly "2-4-Tuesday" night downstairs, he said - but nothing took off. Only their retro music parties have been popular. 

Boarman figured there was a renewed demand for a party with an established name, and decided 2011 was the year to bring Underground back. 

"We're not delusional in thinking we'll be doing 400+ people each month and the energy level will be what it was back in 2001," he said. "We just want to throw a party for fans of these genres of music."

Boarman and Matt Walter will DJ. The party will be monthly, but he hasn't decided on a set day of the week for it. "The dates will vary as we'll book it around what dates touring bands need," he said. 

Underground will take place January 8 downstairs at The Ottobar. Cover is free before 10 p.m.; $6 afterward. 

Photo: Underground party in 2005, courtesy of The Ottobar

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:04 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

December 8, 2010

Update: Bill's Lighthouse Inn doesn't sell at auction

Bill's Lighthouse Inn was auctioned today in South Baltimore.

But owner Adele Wedemeyer, who took over the bar when her husband William died, rejected the high bid of $475,000.

Wedemeyer had previously listed the property on Craigslist at $775,000.

Up for auction were the four buildings that comprise the property, the bar's liquor license, and the bar/restaurant's equipment and furniture.

About 20 people turned up for the auction, which took place today at 11 a.m., said auctioneer Nick Luciani, of Alex Cooper Auctioners. He said they hadn't settled on a new listing price yet.

But, "It's still available," he said. 

William Wedemeyer owned the bar for nearly 30 years before he died last year. Adele couldn't be reached for comment. 

Update: Just spoke with Adele Wedemeyer. She said the bar won't close any time soon. 

"It'll stay in business until I get a buyer down the road," she said. The bar will soon be re-listed for $625,000, though she said she would consider offers.

She said the highest bid at the auction wasn't enough for her.

"I didn't want to give it away because it is successful," she said.

Photo: Alex Cooper Real Estate Services 

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:06 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Grumpie's closed for renovations

Picture%201.pngForget those $2 drafts at Grumpie's Pour House for the time being.

The Federal Hill bar was closed for renovations last week.

Manager Sarah Clark said the bar's last night was Thanksgiving eve.

MaGerk's owners, who have managed the property for eight years, plan to expand the bar into the building next door. 

That building, which the managers bought last year, used to be the Federal Hill Lounge. 

Clark said the new owners "chose to wait" a whole year to pursue an expansion. It was approved in late September.

She said the plan is to break ground on the expansion next week. It should last three to four months, at least, she said.

It will include renovations to the interior, though, asked what those would look like, Clark was circumspect.

"it's going to be a surprise," she said. "It's not quite press-ready."

Continue reading "Grumpie's closed for renovations" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

December 2, 2010

A secret word will get you free wine at Sascha's 527

To get a free glass of wine at Sascha's 527, all you have to know is the secret word.

Owner Sascha Wolhandler will give a free glass of house wine to anyone who knows the secret word she posts to the bar/restaurant's Facebook page two or three times a week.

It's all very Pee Wee's playhouse, except with a reward of booze. 

Wolhandler, who recently expanded Sascha's to accommodate a bar after 5:30 p.m., has stepped up with her promotions. 

At happy hour - from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. - all taste plates are discounted at 50 percent, glasses of wine are $2 off, and all bottled beer is $4.  

She's been quietly doing the Facebook secret word promotion since August. "No one ever uses it," she said.

Friday's secret word, not yet posted on Facebook, is after the break:

Continue reading "A secret word will get you free wine at Sascha's 527" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:17 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

December 1, 2010

Video: Preview the new Frisco Grille and Cantina in Columbia

The Frisco Grille and Cantina in Columbia has been working on a new building down the road from its current location for most of the year.

Baltimore Beer Guy has been tracking its progress for much of that time. 

A couple of weeks ago, he posted his longest preview yet: a nine minute video slash trailer that features interviews with the owner, Adam Carton. 

The new place will have additional parking, a more spacious bar, and a dining area that's further away from the bar.

This year, RateBeer, a beer review website, ranked Frisco 46th best beer bar. And! just as important, it was once a Midnight Sun mystery bar. (via)

Video follows: 

Continue reading "Video: Preview the new Frisco Grille and Cantina in Columbia" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

November 29, 2010

Christmas in November at Max's Taphouse

Last month, when I wrote about bars that repurpose architectural salvage to decorate, I didn't spend nearly enough time on Michael Metcalf, the guy who oversees interior design and construction at Max's Taphouse. To say Metcalf is just an interior decorator is to vastly understate what he does. He recycles useless junk and forges brand-new, incredibly creative decorative pieces. That old pick-up fender above one of the bar's doorways? That was him. Same goes for the miniature Maryland State Fair made out of beer cans and other refuse that was displayed on one of the bar's display windows in October. For the holidays, Metcalf has taken used translucent, spherical beer kegs, or key kegs, to create over-sized Christmas lights that might be seen from a distance.

Photo: Alexander D. Mitchell IV, aka Beer in Baltimore

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:30 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Canton on game day: Ravens specials, Joe Flacco hot dogs, Claddagh Pub and overall sensory overload

Contributor Jay Trucker spent a day barhopping in Canton on game day.

On your average Fall Sunday afternoon, Canton Square is full of jersey-wearing football fans yelping, cheering, cursing, and bro-high-fiving with child-like abandon. 

That's because despite all of the well-deserved criticism the area may draw for its lack of variety, Canton certainly doesn't want for sports bars. 

Southeast Baltimore bars offer cheap specials, are noticeably co-ed, and cater to fans of different teams.

Because of the area's transplant professional population - and their varying franchise loyalties - most bars will show each game on one of their many flat-screens, though sound is only piped into the speakers for a single game at a time.

This will sometimes create an awkward dilemma, such as the one I faced at Claddagh Pub last week. At the two-story bar, patrons had to listen to the Redskins game while watching the Giants.  Think that's difficult?  Try patting your stomach and rubbing your head at the same time.

And while most football specials in Canton favor domestic beer and wings, a few places have tried to branch out. 

Continue reading "Canton on game day: Ravens specials, Joe Flacco hot dogs, Claddagh Pub and overall sensory overload" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Barhopping on the Charm City Circulator?

Recently, I went barhopping using just the Charm City Circulator, and I survived. It was for an upcoming story. And, mainly, I did it to see if it was possible. It is, depending on how much time you're willing to spend traveling.

Anybody else do this?

According to the Baltimore City Department of Transportation, there are people who use the service at night, if not as many during the day. But with the bus active only until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, is it useful for people who don't have curfews? Or is it the kind of service that is more helpful in just getting you to your watering hole of choice?

Photo: Jed Kirschbaum/Baltimore Sun

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:03 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

November 24, 2010

Bill's Lighthouse Inn in South Baltimore to be auctioned off

Bill's Lighthouse Inn, a South Baltimore bar and restaurant for 30 years, will be auctioned December 8.

Owner Adele Wedemeyer wouldn't say what the asking price is. But the property was previously listed on Craigslist for $775,000. 

Up for auction are the four buildings that comprise 1741 Light St., the bar's liquor license, and the bar/restaurant's equipment and furniture.

The bar, which William Wedemeyer opened in 1980, is "more known for its food than its drinks," in particular the Lighthouse club sandwiches, Adele said.

She's been trying to sell the property for the last year, since William died. 

"I have too much money to pay off on his estate," she said. 

She listed the property with Alex Cooper Real Estate Services three months ago.

Continue reading "Bill's Lighthouse Inn in South Baltimore to be auctioned off" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

November 23, 2010

Bartending Academy drops out of Mix-off; Midnight Sun seeks new bartenders

PX00117_9.JPGAn update on the Midnight Sun Mix-off: Mark Russell, the owner of Maryland Bartending Academy, has decided to pull out of the contest.

But the mix-off will still happen. It is scheduled for December 13* at Don't Know Tavern

A week after I wrote about the bartending academy, a debate erupted in the comments over the value of a $540 bartending course. Some said the class would just teach students to pour and memorize the recipes of corny cocktails.

Russell -- and the students I interviewed -- said the course provides a solid foundation for budding bartenders. 

Russell was so confident in his school, he took the challenge proposed by commenters: a face-off pitting bartenders who had taken his course and those who hadn't ever stepped foot in a bartending classroom. 

Last week, he was still on board. But, on Monday, he commented on the blog (under the handle M.B.A.) to say he was pulling out because an "Erik Meza" wasn't a good judge of skill. Whoever that guy is, it must be said, he is probably a better judge than me. 

Over the phone, he later said he thought the rules were too vague. But when I laid out the rules again for him, like I had last week, he repeated he didn't see the value in participating because such a contest wouldn't settle any debates at all.

OK! That's a shame. I'd still like the academy involved, but, we'll pick up the pieces and move on.

This is still a debate with two very passionate points of view, and it merits a spirited fight. Midnight Sun is now seeking bartenders with school training and those with just real life experience to participate in the contest.

Just for clarity, here are the ground rules, as originally laid out:

Continue reading "Bartending Academy drops out of Mix-off; Midnight Sun seeks new bartenders" »

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November 22, 2010

Catherine's Pub, Taps' replacement, to open in January

South Baltimore's Taps bar, which was auctioned off in August, finally has a replacement.

Taking over 1439 South Charles Street will be Catherine's Pub. Opening is tentatively scheduled for January.

Taps, which replaced the old Fort Charles Pub, opened nearly three years ago, on February 2008 with promises to install 40 taps and even a wine tap. 

Two years later, only 17 taps had been installed, and no wine tap.

In August, two months after owner Dave Holter put it up for sale for $375,000, Ropewalk Tavern manager Marc McFaul bought the 4,000-square-foot property and the business for $450,000.

Chris Reda, McFaul's business partner, told me that today renovations began to prepare the bar for a mid-December, though most likely January opening.

Reda and McFaul then leased the business to Gary Morse.

Reda said the new bar, to be called Catherine's Pub, will be an Irish pub.  Renovations will be reserved to the exterior, though he said if the budget allows, the interior will be changed.

For the time being, Catherine's Pub will look a lot like the old Taps, minor a few cosmetic changes. 

Continue reading "Catherine's Pub, Taps' replacement, to open in January" »

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November 19, 2010

New bar The Park Bench opens in South Baltimore, replacing Boomer's

South Baltimore has a new bar called the Park Bench.

The place where Boomer's on the Hill used to be officially re-opened November 6 without much fanfare or even a sign.

It had been under renovation for a year. 

Owner Stephen Gronowski, who's also a manager at Don't Know Tavern, said he hopes the place will become "a nice little neighborhood spot."

The bar carries a small beer selection and sits about 40 people, Gronowski said.

Boomer's, which was well known for its Wii, closed in November 2009. Gronowski took over a couple of months later. 

Park Bench has 8 beers on tap - including Heavy Seas and Guinness. Gronowski said he wants to have ten bottled beers soon. He also plans to add food early next year.

Alcohol is moderately priced. Calls are $6 and drafts are in the $4-$5.50 range, Grownoski sai. 

There's still work to be done: a sign hasn't yet been posted outside, and the name is still somewhat undecided on; Gronowski has gone back and forth between The Park Bench and just Park Bench. (He also doesn't know if or when there will be a grand opening; this is his busy season at Don't Know.)

But "there's definitely room for growth," the owner said.  

Continue reading "New bar The Park Bench opens in South Baltimore, replacing Boomer's " »

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November 18, 2010

Bartender Ginny Lawhorn launches new charity event at Johnny Rad's

PX00244_9.JPGIf you've been to the Landmark Theater in Harbor East, you might have seen and tasted some of the movie-inspired drinks bartender Ginny Lawhorn makes.

There have been "Mad Men" drinks, "Star Trek" and "Harry Potter," and soon, there will be a cocktail for the tackiness explosion that will surely be "Burlesque."

Tonight, Lawhorn will bartend for free at Fells Point's Johnny Rad's to launch the first of an event she's created called "Tend for a Cause."

 Every month, Lawhorn will bartend at some local independent bar and donate her tips to a charitable cause.

She created the event after she won City Paper's Readers Poll for best bartender because, Lawhorn said, she wanted to put the award to good use.

Tonight's tips will benefit local artist Sylvia Ortiz' breast cancer treatment. And much like Boozin for Boobs, is as good a reason as any to get blotto tonight, not that you needed one.

The event starts at 8 p.m. at Johnny Rad's, 2108 Eastern Avenue. 

Photo: Johnny Rad's (Monica Lopossay/Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:52 PM | | Comments (0)
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November 17, 2010

Announcing the Midnight Sun Mix-off

When I wrote about Maryland Bartending Academy last week, a big debate erupted in the comments over who's better, a bartender with school training, or someone who's had real-life experience.

Some commenters said bartending is all about attitude and character, and training counts for diddly squat.

While Mark Russell, who runs the bartending academy, argued the school gives budding bartenders a primer on the trade.

So who's right? To settle the debate, Jason Zink, manager of No Idea and Don't Know taverns, proposed a contest, a mix-off.

Well, after calling Russell up, I'm happy to announce: It. Is. On.

The mix-off will consist of both a speed and a taste test to be judged by three impartial judges. Zink will volunteer Don't Know tavern, and agreed none of his bartenders would participate. All contestants will have the same ingredients and will make the same drinks.

Russell will pick three contestants from all his graduates.

And for the "School Sux" team (tentative name!), Midnight Sun is now officially recruiting participants.

Anyone is invited to throw their hat in the ring just as long as they don't have any school training. Though, remember, it is my prerogative to choose who the three final contestants will be.

We haven't settled on a date yet, though it will probably be after Thanksgiving or in early December.

Continue reading "Announcing the Midnight Sun Mix-off " »

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November 9, 2010

Max's Belgian beer fest 2011 dates announced

Max's Taphouse has scheduled next year's Belgian beer festival for Feb. 18 through the 20th.

Beer in Baltimore has the draft selection, which is 40 percent finished, cellarmaster Casey Hard says. 

The Belgian fest is an annual tradition at Max's now going into its seventh year.

Last year, it was mobbed as early as 10 a.m. 

Normally, it's held around Valentine's, but this year they've changed it up to a little later in the month. Not that it still won't be in the middle of winter, as writer Alexander D. Mitchell notes.

At the fest, Max's will have 102 Belgian beers on draft and 175 on bottle, with more to be added still.

The list in progress after the jump:

Continue reading "Max's Belgian beer fest 2011 dates announced" »

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November 8, 2010

Peer Pressure returns to The Get Down; new gay party takes aim at Grand Central, Hippo

Dustin Sugar-Moore is fed up with Baltimore’s gay scene. The Hippo? Grand Central? Totally passe.

“It’s always the same 50 or 100 people who seem bored with what they’re doing anyway,” the 27-year-old promoter said. “They don’t change their DJs. They play the same stereotypical gay anthems every weekend. It’s gotten old.”

Sugar-Moore is the promoter of a new monthly gay party, Peer Pressure, which will return to Fells Point The Get Down Wednesday. He said he launched it for young gay Baltimoreans looking for something other than “Donna Summer dance parties."

While Peer Pressure welcomes everyone regardless of sexual orientation, Moore said it's the first party catering specifically to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. 

On Wednesday, resident DJs Aisle_K and Steve Lemmerman, rapper Rye Rye’s former DJ, will spin, as will Antonio Harper and James Nasty of The Ottobar’s weekly Moustache party.

It’s common practice for gay youth to complain about their city’s clubs. But in Baltimore, they may have some more ammunition than most. Anyone who’s done that Saturday night commute to Washington in search of better crowds and music is likely to sympathize with Moore.

Continue reading "Peer Pressure returns to The Get Down; new gay party takes aim at Grand Central, Hippo" »

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November 4, 2010

Review: Select Lounge, the West side's newest lounge

Reader Tif Saleem, a former Baltimore Sun IT analyst and frequent Midnight Sun contributor, reviews the newest lounge on the West side, Select Lounge.

It doesn't really matter if Baltimore asked for elite, they've gotten Select.

The new lounge, located where the West side meets Seton Hill, is described on its Facebook page as a "premiere [sic] destination for sophisticated club connoisseurs, savvy socialites, A-list celebrities and Baltimore's elite."

If that's what you're looking for, this may be the place for you. But the lounge's longevity will hinge on whether non-VIPs will go there on regular nights.

I went by Select Lounge last Thursday night for the grand opening, which was sponsored by Belvedere Vodka's new "Intense" drink. 

"Intense" was free the entire night, and handed out by scantily dressed ladies who paraded around with bottles of it with sparklers on the spout.

Select also had appetizers like spicy shrimp, crab cakes, bacon wrapped scallop, pork on a stick available for free.

The setup is sort of Red Maple-like with a bar and a VIP section, and way more space for dancing. Though on Thursday, while DJ Quicksilva spun Hip Hop and R&B, nobody danced when I was there. The inside is marked with beautiful stained wood and several flat screen TVs.

The staff, at least, looked spiffed up.  One of the bartenders told me the owners brought barbers the previous night to make sure their male staff looked dapper. Manager Alex Wolde said this was a one time thing, but it was a still a nice touch.

Opening night imposed table service, meaning there was no seating or bar stools unless you purchased a table. We'll see how long that lasts. (Ed. Sounds like Select owners should get in touch with Garbo's people).

Continue reading "Review: Select Lounge, the West side's newest lounge" »

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October 29, 2010

Leon's to open Triple L, a new leather lounge

Next week, a reader will start a semi weekly column chronicling his visits as a straight guy to local gay bars. (He's heard all the jokes - so save it). 

A big fan of Leon's, he sent along this tip: Baltimore's oldest gay bar - and incidentally, 32nd best bar - will open a new leather lounge called Triple L next week.

The lounge will be located behind Leon's, a space that has had many names over the years.

First, it was notorious dive Tyson's Place. But after owner Ben Davis died, Leon's owner Ron Singer bought it and renamed it Nadds - as in, New Age Dine and Dance. Later, realizing the name didn't catch on, he called it Singer's*. 

Triple L will have its official opening November 6, with karaoke, 2 for 1 rails and a happy hour buffet, which, at a leather lounge, is bound to be super sanitary. 

The ad for the new lounge is after the jump. Beware, chaps are involved.

Continue reading "Leon's to open Triple L, a new leather lounge" »

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Baltimore's "subculturally mind-blowing" Halloween parties: Bonjay at Taxlo, The Annex, Celebration at G Spot

On Saturday, Power Plant Live will hold its annual Halloween party - "Baltimore's Biggest!" its website announces.

And Fells Point will be predictably mobbed with friendly neighborhood drunks bar-hopping all night long.

But there are other options too.

Jonathan Coelho, who's hosting the Halloween Monster Bash at the Annex tonight, initially scoffed at Baltimore's current Halloween party choices. "Power Plant Live is massively lame compared to something that will blow your mind musically and culturally, or should i say subculturally."

He also framed his party, though, as a showcase of local talent that may not have a chance to play bigger venues. "The reason for all this is to support emerging artists coming out of nowhere that don't have an audience," he said. "DIY shows help underground artists."

On the Midnight Sun Halloween party round-up, I want to highlight other parties with a similar focus. They're more indie, more underground - take your pejorative - but also, maybe, just more "subculturally mind-blowing."

The music at the bash, held on the fourth floor 419 E Oliver St., will vary - indie rock, progressive rock, noise, Baltimore house - and is scheduled to include acts like Abiku, Great Tap Root, Moustache, and Witch Hat, whose Chris Day screen-printed the poster above.

Bands are supposed to play 30-45 minute sets. Doors open at 8 p.m. Cover is $3-$5 at the door; $8 for the lame-o's who don't wear costumes. The Facebook invite specifies: "No $ no entry (sic), unless you got 2 beers and 3 smokes." Now you know.

Around the same time doors open there, Celebration will play its first non-festival show in Baltimore since March at the G Spot, says Bmore Musically Informed, which is throwing the concert. Sri Aurobindo, Microkingdom and Dustin Wong will also play that night. Day, actually, drew the poster above for this show. Tickets are $12 on missiontix. 

Saturday and Sunday parties after the jump..

Continue reading "Baltimore's "subculturally mind-blowing" Halloween parties: Bonjay at Taxlo, The Annex, Celebration at G Spot" »

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October 28, 2010

Sully's Comedy Cellar, Parkville's newest (only?) comedy club

sullys.bmpThe Bowman restaurant has been an institution in Parkville for 30 years. For most of that time, its basement was occupied by Tracy’s Comedy Club.

But in 2007, the Sullivan family -- which co-owns the restaurant along with several partners, including Steve Diffenderffer -- partnered with a couple of brothers, Marc and Andrew Unger, to open Magooby’s Joke House.

This year, Magooby’s relocated to Timonium, and the basement returned to the Sullivans’ ownership.

Now dubbed Sully’s Comedy Cellar, after Bill Sullivan, who opened the restaurant, the club is almost invisible from Harford Road.

It’s past a British Petroleum station, right next door to the Fraternal Order of Police building, and underneath The Bowman. And like it’s predecessors, Sully’s is a small venue that holds slightly less than the dining room upstairs — about 160 people.

Continue reading "Sully's Comedy Cellar, Parkville's newest (only?) comedy club" »

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October 27, 2010

Review: Magooby's Joke House in Timonium

magoobyalt.jpgYour standard comedy club doesn’t need many frills — just a microphone, an exposed-brick wall, and a schlubby comic parsing the day’s events.

Magooby’s Joke House, which moved from Parkville to Timonium last month, doesn’t alter the formula. Its new location is a former auditorium, almost big enough to host a high school production of “Oklahoma!” But it’s as sparsely decorated as an Elks’ Club.

Just two shades of paint — red and blue — and a few posters with one-liners like  “How many blondes does it take to screw in a light bulb?” The club hasn’t piled on the glitz because it doesn’t need to.

Baltimore has few comedy clubs to begin with, and certainly none as big as this one. And owners have fortified themselves against failure by smartly selecting a spot amid Timonium’s hotel area. If locals don’t trek out here to see the club’s comics, tourists and conventioneers certainly will.

On a recent Thursday, when the club hosted a political round-table featuring with 98Rock’s Mickey Cucchiella, Rain Pryor, bartender and comic Mike Tee and comic Marc Unger, among others, tables were full except for the last two rows.

Continue reading "Review: Magooby's Joke House in Timonium" »

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October 26, 2010

Morris Martick sells 40-year-old liquor license on Baltimore City Paper classifieds

Morris Martick, the 88-year-old proprietor of Martick's Restaurant Francais, is selling the liquor license he's held for 40 years.

Not with a broker, but on the classifieds of Baltimore City Paper.

Martick, who first opened the downtown French restaurant in 1970, closed it in 2008. He's tried to lease it since then but no one has expressed interest.

In January, he asked the liquor board to extend his due-to-expire license for six extra months so he could find a new buyer.

He tried Craigslist but was unsuccessful. Two weeks ago, he decided to try a classifieds ad on the alternative weekly. The ad appears on the back page, past all the ads for massage parlors, above a picture announcing $900 luxury apartments.

It is unadorned and pithy, reading simply: "Martick's Liquor License - for sale," with a few more words on location and a contact number. No mention of the restaurant's history, or its off-kilter reputation.

After 40 years, Martick had enough.  "I won't re-open it ever again. I'm too old."

Continue reading "Morris Martick sells 40-year-old liquor license on Baltimore City Paper classifieds" »

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October 15, 2010

The Laughing Pint: Your No. 1 Baltimore Bar

It's not Charles Village Pub. Or Brewer's Art, as many readers snarkily predicted it would be. Instead no. 1 on our list of Baltimore's best bars is the quintessential neighborhood bar, The Laughing Pint. 

The Laughing Pint embodies many qualities some of the other city bars possess. It's personable - owner Shannon Cassidy bartends regularly; it appeals to both natives and arrivistes. And most importantly, it's a melting pot. It invites mingling.

Readers will inevitably disagree. One of the challenges of lists like this is that popular places are left out. In Baltimore, it's especially challenging to rank bars because there's no deficit of good ones.

But in writing the list, we didn't just consider the places with the best cocktails -- B&O American Brasserie placed tenth -- or the diviest -- Leon's got no. 32. We looked at character, the bar's history, and where it fits in the city's colorful scene. We also wanted to be inclusive, ranking bars from several different neighborhoods that cater to varied crowds.

Readers have named some of the bars they think were left out in several different posts. This might be the place to compile them all in one location. The floor is yours.

Posted by Erik Maza at 4:07 PM | | Comments (43)
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The Get Down launches new gay party Peer Pressure

Baltimore's gay scene is as famously anorexic as some of its twinks. As far as dance clubs go, there's only Club Hippo and Grand Central.

At these venues, the music doesn't stray far from Lady Gaga or Katy Perry, and the favorite past-time is not dancing, but blocking people on Grindr.

It's a complaint heard so often, many young, local LGBTQ just commute to Washington on Saturday nights for proper venues, like Cobalt or Town (Danceboutique).

Among those bored are a former Sonar promoter and rapper Rye Rye's former DJ. On Wednesday, they launched a party at Fells Point' The Get Down to fill the void. Midnight Sun was there.

When I walked in, Kyle Holtgren, aka DJ Aisle_K, was playing Bob Sinclair's "World, Hold On." Not a good sign. If I'd wanted to hear hackneyed house, I would have stayed in Miami.

But when Steve Lemmerman, nee DJ Lemz, got behind the tiny booth, the music improved dramatically. I can't recall the last time I heard Roisin Murphy at a club; maybe when she played Mansion in New York a couple of CMJs ago. Lemmerman played Crookers' relentless "Royal T," where she's featured.

Naturally, he also played new M.I.A., but unlike her recent set at Virgin Mobile FreeFest, it wasn't a mess. "XXXO" sounded as good as it does on the album. I didn't stay past one, but if he remixed "Teqkilla" later, the ensuing hoedown would have been worth the price of a Yuengling alone.

Continue reading "The Get Down launches new gay party Peer Pressure" »

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October 14, 2010

Debate over Wayne Mahaffey's Bistro Rx continues

Midnight Sun's review of Bistro Rx has stoked the commentariat, with Wayne Mahaffey himself joining the debate today.

Bistro Rx is the new bar and restaurant in Patteson Park. Or is it Upper Canton? or Highlandtown? Talking about neighborhoods in this town is like dropping a lit match on an ant hill. But that wasn't the only point of contention for readers, or Mahaffey.

That question is: is Bistro Rx that different from Parkside or Three, the two other establishments that opened at 2901 E Baltimore and closed?

Mahaffey, using his personal e-mail, bristled at the suggestion Bistro looks just like those places.

"Can I send you a copy of my contractor's invoice?" he wrote. "My goal was to have my customers not even think about the previous businesses when they walk in the door, to include decor, service, food quality and consistency, prices, management, attitude and ambiance."

Continue reading "Debate over Wayne Mahaffey's Bistro Rx continues" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:05 PM | | Comments (17)
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October 13, 2010

Baltimore's top 50 bars: Ropewalk Tavern ranked 26th

The countdown of Baltimore's best bars continues today, with numbers 30-21 posted earlier this morning.

Ropewalk Tavern came in at 26: Well-known for being a Republican bar -- there's a statue of Ronald Reagan inside -- Ropewalk is also Federal Hill's best destination for men of a certain age.

Its cabin-like interior feels like an uncle's fortress of solitude, all whiskey glasses and dark wood. TV is never too loud, and conversations stay frank, but at a simmer.

With all the hubbub at bay, it's a place where you can sit and read your paper in peace, darn it. If John Boehner lived in Baltimore, this is where he would hang out .

The rest of the list is here

Posted by Erik Maza at 5:43 PM | | Comments (14)
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Full Moon Saloon to reopen as Garbo in November

IMG_07352.jpgStoried dump Full Moon Saloon will reopen in no more than 30 days as Garbo, a lounge catering to an over-25 crowd, owner John Saki said Tuesday.

Take that date with a grain of salt though. The bar has been undergoing renovations for two years now, since Saki bought it. In June 2007, he promised Elizabeth Large he planned to open it in six months.

Saki explained his purchase as a way to attract "a sophisticated crowd," and a more affordable companion to his restaurant next door.

"Adults have nowhere to go in this historic neighborhood," he said.

One thing is for sure: the renovated bar also looks like nothing in this neighborhood, where authenticity is priced over glitz.

Full Moon was for years one of Fells' diviest bars that also hosted well-known jazz and blues musicians.  "It was the worst place," Saki said. "It was one of the only bars without a refrigerator. Everything was in buckets. There wasn't a bathroom."

But Saki's spent a half a million dollars remaking it, he said. He's added an onyx bar, granite floor, 20 bar stools done in leopard print, a DJ booth, a grand piano piano and an additional 1,500-square-feet of space to accommodate a dining room.

Even before it opens, the new owner is boastful about the new bar. "I changed a doghouse with no toilet to piss on into this," he said.

Continue reading "Full Moon Saloon to reopen as Garbo in November" »

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October 12, 2010

Baltimore's top 50 bars: Dionysus, Charles Village Pub, Ale Mary's among 40-31

Ale Mary's, Charles Village Pub, and Dionysus are just three of the bars that made it to the next installment of our top 50 Baltimore bars list.

Ale Mary's made it to the list at 33 because it's one of the Fells Point bars with most character. And that's some tough competition. But it's probably the only bar in the neighborhood that has more Sacred Hearts outside of a convent.

Last week, it was featured in Midnight Sun's story on Franken-bars.

The rest of the 40-31 section went online earlier today, and can be found here. The next chunks will be posted over the next three days. 

And no, commenters, Brewer's Art is not top dog.

Posted by Erik Maza at 4:53 PM | | Comments (2)
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October 11, 2010

Baltimore's top 50 bars: Joe Squared, Turp's, Grand Central among 50-41

Well, it's finally here. The official, definitive, ultimate:  Baltimore's best 50 bars list.

Sorry, Rodos, you didn't make the cut. You too Looney's.

When Midnight Sun asked readers for their thoughts on the city's best bars, these were two of the most talked-about bars.

But, in compiling the list - The Sun's Sam Sessa, Richard Gorelick, and yours truly, Midnight Sun - we looked at not just popularity, but quality of ambiance, conversation, and drinks.

Through sheer character and history, these bars stepped above the rest. They come from all parts of the city, from Mt. Vernon's Turp's to Hamilton's Brannan's Pub. There are gay bars -- Hippo, Leon's -- and sports bars -- Mother', MaGerk's.

But where on the list do they fall? We will be revealing them all this week in increments of ten. The first batch is online now, and it includes Station North's Joe Squared, Turp's and Grand Central. 

Agree? vociferously disagree? The comments are below.

Art: Wordle

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:28 PM | | Comments (27)
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Review: Wayne Mahaffey's Bistro Rx

The corner of Linwood and East Baltimore streets has had three different owners in the past five years. Bistro Rx seeks to find success were others flopped. 

First was Parkside Restaurant, which, when it opened in the mid aughts, was considered “ahead” of the neighborhood.

"Ahead" meaning nearby residents were not obvious patrons for $20-roasted duck and rosemary entrees.

But shortly after Parkside's opening, the housing market crashed, the economy tanked, and Upper Canton once again became Highlandtown. 

The restaurant closed, and the similarly spirited Three...[owner's ellipses] opened in its place shortly thereafter.  Three thrived for a time as an upscale restaurant/bar with picturesque outdoor seating near the leafy Northeast corner of Patterson Park.

But it too shuttered earlier this year.

On Thursday, Wayne Mahaffey's Bistro Rx, officially replaced it. From the looks of things, though, little has changed at 2901 other than ownership.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing.  For what it is—an upscale wine bar with a hummus-and-flatbread-leaning menu—Bistro Rx makes a good first impression.  But will the mobile, distinctly non-Highlandtown crowd stay loyal to Bistro Rx when a trendy new joint opens in, say, Harbor East?

Continue reading "Review: Wayne Mahaffey's Bistro Rx" »

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October 8, 2010

Little Italy has a new wine bar called Amedeo's

amadeos.jpgLittle Italy has a new wine bar at Exeter and Fawn Streets called Amedeo's.

The bar has been open for four months, but it's so under the radar it doesn't even come up on Google yet. Yelp hasn't even had a chance to review it. 

Amedeo's replaces Pepino's Tavern, which new owner Ahmad Ebrahimpour bought in March. Property records show he paid $200,000 for the place. When Pepino's bought it in 2003, then owners paid $55,000.

Ebrahimpour's invested an additional $175,000 in renovations, he said. 

If the owner's name doesn't sound Italian, it's because it isn't. Ebrahimpour is Iranian-born, but he spent five years in Italy as a college student and has lived in the neighborhood for the last 30. He's fluent in Italian.

Amedeo is a play on his first name. 

Even if not born to the region, he's turned around the place from what used to be a real dive. The new wine bar carries some 40 wines by the bottles, and a traditional Italian cold cuts menu.

Continue reading "Little Italy has a new wine bar called Amedeo's" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 7:56 AM | | Comments (20)
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October 7, 2010

Baltimore Beer Week is here. First rule: don't overdo beer week

For brewers like Steve Jones, the next 10 days will be like the week before Christmas.

After tonight's official kick-off at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, Baltimore Beer Baltimore Beer Week will be officially in session.

In total, 65-odd local bars and breweries will host some 300 events revolving around beer culture. There will be beer breakfasts, beer luncheons, beer classes -- even chilibrews.

Now in its second year, Beer Week has grown in scope and ambition. Organizers expect it to draw more than the estimated 5,000 who came last year.

Midnight Sun's full preview is here.

Of course, readers, I have your best interests at heart, and I've also put together a survival guide to the expected bacchanal.

First rule of beer week: don't overdo beer week. Jones, brewer at Pratt Street Ale House, and reporter Alexander Mitchell IV, chime with expert advice here.

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:21 PM | | Comments (2)
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October 4, 2010

Liam's Ale House, Ale Mary's and Max's are among Baltimore's Franken-bars

When Liam Flynn started building his new bar in Station North, he didn't go to the nearest hardware store.

He didn't scour Home Depot looking for the cheapest piece of pinewood, or the shiniest door knobs.

He went vintage shopping for bar parts as he would for second-hand football jerseys.

Flynn's idea of a Goodwill are architectural salvage stores like the Loading Dock and Second Chance, where he can find everything from stained glass to decades-old flooring.

He is among a growing number of bar owners that are using architectural salvage to enhance their established properties, or build new ones on the cheap.

While the practice has been common with bar owners seeking a vintage look, it's taken on a new currency with the shaky economy and a national movement toward building green.

The full story is in today's Sunrise. For a photo gallery of these Franken-bars, click here

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:03 PM | | Comments (4)
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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.

Continue reading "Review: Parkside Sports Bar in Canton" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:15 AM | | Comments (24)
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Does Jonathan Franzen hate the 9:30 club?

Jonathan Franzen is to literature what Lou Reed is to music: someone who's produced some canonical works, lots of middling ones ("How to be Alone," anyone?), and is still universally reviled for his personality.

But his new novel is a huge deal, so huge it made him the first novelist in decades to land on the cover of Time magazine.

Critics have praised his observational prowess, his ability to capture the subtlest details of the zeitgeist. And yet, in one passage where he describes DC's 9:30 Club as a "kiddie scene," he seems to have missed the mark.

Maybe that's because, as he told Politico, he's never actually set foot in the joint.

“It’s not hard to come up with enough familiarity for a persuasive sentence or two,” he told the Web site.

Reader, you tell me how persuasive. 

In the scene, characters Walter Berglund and Richard Katz, a middle-aged rocker, go see Bright Eyes at the DC club. The crowd -- "almost religious in its collective seriousness" -- is nothing like the groupies of Katz' youth, the author writes.

"They seemed to bear malice toward nobody... They gathered not in anger but in celebration of their having found, as a generation, a gentler and more respectful way of being. A way, not incidentally, more in harmony with consuming. And so said to him: die."

Zing! And he goes on.

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Posted by Erik Maza at 8:13 AM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

October 1, 2010

Your choices for best Baltimore bars

 bestbars.jpeg

Midnight Sun asked earlier this week your thoughts on the town's best bars, and you answered in force. Sometimes, too much. People must really love Rodos, or they must have one crack team of flacks. Also popular with commenters: Max's, Brewer's Art, and Looney's

The official list will be out next week. 

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Posted by Erik Maza at 9:20 AM | | Comments (12)
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September 29, 2010

Sascha's 527 on Charles Street is expanding

PX00166_9.JPGSascha's 527 is adding a bar to its restaurant.

Customers of the Charles Street restaurant have long known a set-up that includes a lunch menu friendly to nearby office workers, and a salad bar afterward.

But owner Sascha Wolhandler is transforming the salad bar into just a bar after the lunch hour. 

"We'll be like a bipolar restaurant," she says. "When lunch ends, the sneeze guard comes down, the chairs come out, and the lights go down. And we become a bar."

Wolhandler calls it the copper bar, but the lunch-hour turnaround makes it sound more like Mt. Vernon's new speakeasy. 

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Posted by Erik Maza at 8:54 AM | | Comments (8)
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September 27, 2010

Reader's Choice: Looney's, Della Roses's among best Baltimore Ravens bars

PX00107_9.JPGBefore the home opener against the Browns this weekend, Midnight Sun picked the best bars to watch the Ravens. Of course, this is a topic where everyone has their own opinions.

So, last week, readers joined the debate with their choices for the best Ravens bars.

While the original list included Mother's, Pickles Pub, Greene Turtle in Columbia, Padonia Station, and Baltimore Gameday Warehouse, there was no clear stand-out among readers.

Clearly, there's no lack of sports bars in the area. Readers came up with 20 different names. And they're not just in the city. The bars also come from White Marsh and Columbia. 

The names that got multiple mentions are Della Rose's Avenue Tavern in White Marsh, and Looney's, which has several locations in the area.


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Posted by Erik Maza at 1:12 PM | | Comments (7)
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September 24, 2010

What are Baltimore's best Ravens bars?

PX00010_9.JPGWhen picking a sports bar to watch a Ravens game, there's really very little difference between one bar over another. They all have the same beer and the same cable access; fans aren't too discriminating as long as there's booze around.

But certain watering holes are perpetually mobbed with people on game days. In today's Live! there's a list of the five best bars in the city and the county to watch Sunday's home opener. They are Mother's, Pickles Pub, Baltimore Gameday Warehouse, Padonia Station and Greene Turtle.

So why do people keep coming back to them if they just want a place to drink and scream? What the story finds is that the best sports bars are much more than just tacky memorabilia, flat-screen TVs and a couple of domestics. The play both haven and lucky charm.

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Posted by Erik Maza at 12:54 PM | | Comments (31)
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September 16, 2010

Alewife opens today in West side, testing neighborhood's business health again

A new beer hall will open today in the West side, the city's most punishing neighborhood for new bars.

Alewife, as the bar will be called, will be replace Lucy's Irish Pub -- nee Maggie Moore's -- which was one of a handful of nightlife businesses to shutter last year.

Alewife's success or failure could be a barometer of the area's ability to foster new business.

In July, owner Daniel Lanigan said he was opening the place because "that part of town is an opportunity for revitalization, and we want to be a part of that for a long time."

The West side was in fact primed for development; city officials promoted it as the next Station North. But so far it's nothing but a graveyard of forgotten nightclubs, with most shuttered businesses never making it past their toddler years.

A World of Wings cafe closed there last year. Bedrock opened in 2006 and closed in 2008. And Maggie Moore's opened in 2005, and closed three years later. Lucy's Irish Pub replaced it then, but was out of business by last year.

Lanigan might punt his way forward; he already owns three other beer bars in Massachusetts. But Alewife's soft opening is already a week later than he'd said in July

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Posted by Erik Maza at 8:21 AM | | Comments (54)
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September 14, 2010

New Canton bar Parkside Sports Bar opens, attracts Ravens fans

IMG_0689.jpgParkside Sports Bar chose the Ravens-Jets game for their grand opening Monday night.

The new Canton bar takes over the spot on Fleet Street once occupied by Bleachers, which was sold in May. For an opening day, it was surprisingly full by kickoff, which could say something about its future, or just the city's obsession with the Ravens.

Eric Mathias, one of the owners, says they envision "a good, old-fashioned neighborhood bar." He's something of an expert on the subject. Mathias is also part owner of the storied The Horse You Came in On Saloon.

Before the owners settled on the name, Parkside went through several iterations. First, it was Goodfellas, which was discarded in favor of The Irish Horse, an awkward name since Mathias has little Irish in him.

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Posted by Erik Maza at 7:04 AM | | Comments (28)
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September 4, 2010

Review: Funky Buddha and other basement bars

funky buddhaIn yesterday's paper, I reviewed Funky Buddha, the cool little basement bar which replaced Liam's Pint-Size Pub in Kumari's basement.

The happy hour prices stunned me and jmgiordano, who met me there. Between the two of us, we ordered three appetizers, two Heavy Seas Pale Ales (which tasted like they'd been sitting there a little while and lost some fizz) and two stiff Skyy Vodka and cranberries. The bill -- with tip -- was about $30.

Shazam!

By itself, Funky Buddha is nothing special. But manager Bonnie Roberts' warm, steady presence there pulls the bar together ...

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:36 PM | | Comments (5)
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September 2, 2010

Wild Willy's to open in Annapolis

Wild Willy's Rock House & Sports Saloon is set to open Sept. 18 near the Annapolis Towne Center.

The restaurant/bar, which will have live rock 'n' roll and country music on Fridays and Saturdays, will replace TK Sharky's, according to Courtney Smith, who is handling marketing for Wild Willy's. The new owner, Willy Koutroumpis, renovated the space and brought in a rock 'n' roll theme ...

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:56 AM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, News
        

September 1, 2010

Promoters busing students to Power Plant Live for "College Night" (updated)

Promoters are once again busing in students from area schools for a weekly "College Night" at Mosaic, a lounge in Power Plant Live.

The event, called Thursday Night Banger, is run by the local event promoter GoodLife Boys. It began last week, and the next one is set for tomorrow.

"We take a bunch of college kids and bring them out there," said GoodLife Boys co-owner Nino Sylvia.

"Towson, Loyola, Hopkins -- we've got all the students coming out there. ... The ratio of girls to guys is ridiculous." ...

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:00 AM | | Comments (34)
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Canton Arts and Entertainment opens again! Sort of.

some dudes chilling at canton arts and entertainmentIt's hard to keep a big bar down.

Canton Arts and Entertainment, the sprawling restaurant/bar complex/compound on Boston Street which closed for renovations, is back open again -- for private parties only.

CAE, as I shall now call it (because I'm sick of spelling that all out), could reopen full time if its application for a live entertainment license is approved.

Getting to the bottom of this whole ordeal was almost as labyrinthine as CAE itself. Take a deep breath and let's dive in together, gang ...

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:30 AM | | Comments (9)
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August 31, 2010

Hogan's Alley is up for sale

hogan's alleyHogan's Alley, one of the last old-school Fort Avenue haunts, is up for sale.

Sherry "Pinky" Hogan, who owns the place along with her husband, a retired police officer named Girard, wants to keep the building but sell the business, she said.

"I'm tired," she said. "You know how you get worn out? That's exactly what it is. I'm tired and I don't want to deal with it anymore."

Hogan, who used to sell real estate, was showing a bar to some folks from out of town in 2004 when she realized she'd rather buy it herself than let them have it. So she did, and opened Hogan's. ...

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:53 AM | | Comments (16)
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The Funky Buddha has some great drink specials

buddhabuddhabuddha.jpgA little bar called the Funky Buddha has opened in the space beneath Kumari, where Liam's Pint-Size Pub used to be. 

According to Midnight Sunner ryan97ou, Funky Buddha serves $1 Bohs, $2 domestics and $3 imports during happy hour, and possibly all night on some nights.

I'm trying to get a hold of the bar to confirm.

UPDATE: I spoke with Bonnie Roberts, who runs the bar. According to her, appetizers are half price and drinks are two-for-one during happy hour, which is 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. The food is from Kumari (Funky Buddha is way to small to have its own kitchen).

"It's very intimate," Roberts said. "Everybody knows each other." ...

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:15 AM | | Comments (7)
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August 27, 2010

Ropewalk Tavern manager buys Taps at auction

marc mcfaulMarc McFaul (pictured), the manager of Ropewalk Tavern, bought Taps at an auction earlier this week, he confirmed yesterday.

McFaul paid $450,000 for the building and liquor license -- the whole shebang. That means McFaul and family (I like to call them the McFaul clan) will now have three South Baltimore bars (Stalking Horse, Ropewalk and Taps).

But McFaul isn't sure what he wants to do with Taps, he told me. He might transfer the liquor license up closer to Cross Street Market, or he might keep it at the corner of Fort Avenue and Charles Street.

In fact, McFaul wasn't expecting to own the place at all ...

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:58 AM | | Comments (11)
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August 24, 2010

Magooby's moves to bigger location

marc unger of magoobysIn the coming weeks, Magooby's Joke House will move into new digs in Timonium, according to comedian Marc Unger (pictured), who founded the club with his brother Andrew.

The club's new home, which houses the Timonium Dinner Theatre, seats about 400, which will make Magooby's the largest comedy club in the region, Unger said. The club is currently located in Parkville.

"It's a prettier space," Unger said. "The overhead is a lot higher, but it's got so much upside." ...

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:30 PM | | Comments (0)
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August 19, 2010

Baltimore Beer Festival is coming in October

The first (and hopefully annual) Baltimore Beer Festival is set for noon-5 p.m. Oct. 17 at Canton Waterfront Park.

The festival, which caps the second Baltimore Beer Week, will showcase local, regional and national beers from brewers such as Saranac, Heavy Seas, Victory and Harpoon. Alongside the big boys will be the home brewers, according to festival organizer Torbin Green, who runs the events promotions company Smalltimore.

"You're going to be able to pair up with the corporate brewers but also sample home brews," Green said. "It's an interesting twist." ...

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:29 PM | | Comments (12)
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Patchen's first warehouse party

Midnight Sunner (and former roommate) Patchen is breaking the law, breaking the law with his first illegal warehouse party. Here is his account of his recent exploits:

The text came at an absurdly early 8:31 A.M. <