As Pride weekend approaches in Baltimore, two LGBTQ-friendly gathering spots that were open last year in Mount Vernon won’t be part of the festivities this year, and their liquor licenses have expired.
Both Central Bar at 885-889 North Howard Street and The Manor restaurant and ultralounge at 924 N. Charles Street have signs on their front doors indicating that the closures are temporary, but each business has been dormant for more than a month.
The two businesses had active liquor licenses until April 30, when they expired and were not renewed. According to Nicholas Blendy, deputy executive secretary of the liquor board, the operators of both businesses applied to renew their licenses for the year starting May 1, 2023, but the board was unable to do so.
In each case, Blendy said, there is a “state hold” on the license that must be resolved by the State of Maryland before the city liquor board can lawfully issue a new license. Blendy did not explain the reason for the state holds.
The closings are in line with a trend that has brought the loss of other LGBTQ-friendly bars and restaurants in the Mount Vernon area in recent years. The list includes The Hippo; Grand Central; City Café; G.A.Y. Lounge; Flavor; and the Mount Vernon Stable & Saloon.
The Manor, an upscale restaurant and lounge known for its popular drag brunches and other events in the building that formerly housed The Elephant restaurant, made its debut in February 2020 and was last open on Dec. 29, 2022.
When The Manor closed just before New Year’s Eve, owners Joshua Persing and Robert Gay said the 11,260-square-foot building suffered damage from a broken water pipe and they needed to make repairs before they could reopen.
The Manor’s website has the same message it did in December: “Please stay tuned to our social media accounts for continued updates. We will update you as soon as we know more about our reopening date.”
Central was last open on April 29, just before its liquor license expired. Co-owner Marc Hayes said in an email this month that his business partner, Ivan Yordanov, wanted to sell his percentage of the business and that he was seeking other potential investors in order to reopen. A sign on the door reads: “Temporarily Closed.”
Central is a 6,200-square-foot bar, restaurant and nightclub that opened on Howard Street after Grand Central closed at 1001-1003 North Charles Street. Grand Central closed in September 2020 to make way for an eight-story office and restaurant development called City House Charles, which opened earlier this year.
Hayes was the manager of Grand Central before it closed. He and Yordanov renovated the former Bentley’s jazz bar and lounge on Howard Street and opened it in November 2021. In his email message, Hayes expressed optimism that he would be able to find new investors.
The Pride Center of Maryland is hosting Baltimore Pride from June 19 to 25 with the theme “One Heart, One Love, One Pride,” to honor contributions made to society by sexual and gender minorities. A list of events is posted at baltimorepride.org.
Two highlights are the Baltimore Pride Parade on Saturday, June 24, which starts at 1 p.m. at Charles and 33rd streets and ends at Charles and 23rd streets, the location of a block party from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. The party takes place along Charles Street between 23rd Street and North Avenue.
On Sunday June 25, Druid Hill Park will be the site of Pride in the Park, a festival from noon to 6 p.m. It will be preceded at 9 a.m. that day by the Baltimore Pride 5K Run or Walk, starting at 900 Druid Park Lake Drive.
LGBTQ-friendly bars that will be open near Saturday’s parade route include the Baltimore Eagle at 2022 N. Charles St.; Leon’s of Baltimore at 870 Park Ave.; and The Drinkery at 205 W. Read St.
Allora opening in October
The former site of Grand Central will become the new location for Allora, an Italian restaurant that’s expanding from 1005 N. Charles St.
On June 15, Baltimore’s liquor board approved chef-owner Brendon Hudson’s application to take over an existing liquor license for a 2,500-square-foot space at 1001 N. Charles St. Hudson is aiming to open a full-service restaurant and wine bar in the new location in October.
Mount Vernon Stable update
Former patrons of the Mount Vernon Stable & Saloon, at 909 N. Charles St., will have to wait a little longer to see what opens there.
In March 2022, Baltimore’s liquor board granted a “Class B” restaurant license for the 909 N. Charles St. property to HM Fayette Liberty LLC, an affiliate of ASHNYC. ASH turned the Latrobe Building at 2 E. Read St. into the Hotel Ulysses and obtained a license to open a restaurant at the former Stable & Saloon in conjunction with the hotel. The Stable & Saloon, known for the replica of a sarcophagus that hung from the ceiling, closed several years ago.
On June 15 attorney John Denick asked the liquor board to give the license holders a 180-day time extension to open a business there. Denick told the board that the hotel is currently using the Charles Street building for storage and the operators need more time to finalize their plans now that the hotel is open.
“They’re doing very well at the hotel, particularly on the weekends, and they’re envisioning that maybe it could become a wedding facility, because they’re booking rooms and people want an event space,” he said. Following Denick’s explanation, the liquor board members voted 3 to 0 to grant the applicant’s request for extra time.
Clifton Pleasure Club fundraiser
Another LGBTQ-friendly spot, the Clifton Pleasure Club at 2803 Grindon Ave. in Lauraville, is having its first annual “CPC Pride Fundraiser” on June 23 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
A member-supported operation, Clifton Pleasure Club bills itself as a “queer-run space that believes in radical inclusion.” In addition to a bar, dining area and club rooms inside a former one-room schoolhouse, it has a half-acre yard for socializing and outdoor dining. Its website is https://www.cpcbalt.com.