Baltimore Eagle set to reopen next month with original owner as operator

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Photo by Brandon Weigel

The resurrected Baltimore Eagle leather bar in Old Goucher is set to reopen once again in early October, with the return of the original club’s legacy founder and general manager.

Tom Kiple, who founded the first Baltimore Eagle leather club in 1991, is stepping out of retirement to head up the nightclub with a renewed emphasis on leather, specifically. Kiple left the venture in 1994 and later opened the gay resort SunCoast in St. Petersburg, Florida, which closed in 2007.

He’ll be joined by David Lessner, who served as general manager of the Baltimore Eagle during its first run.

“The Baltimore Eagle promises an experience ‘as it was in the beginning’–a judgment-free space for all members of the leather community,” Lessner said in a release. “We’re dedicated to revitalizing the spirit of this Baltimore landmark as a fun, edgy place for newcomers, while preserving the culture and attitude that has attracted guests from all over the world.”

The Washington Blade first reported the opening last week when it published the news release on the hires.

The Eagle that Kiple founded operated Baltimore for nearly two decades after he left, ultimately closing in 2012 after the death of its owner, Richard Richardson. Father-son team Ian and Charles Parrish resurrected the business in 2016 and poured $1.1 million into its renovation, though they’ve closed temporarily twice now due to management turnover.

The first management team, headed by Charles King and Greg King from a group called 4 Crazy Guys LLC, abruptly closed the bar following a dispute with the Parrishes, claiming the owners of the business and building had interfered with the way they operated the club and marketed events. Ian Parrish denied meddling with programming. 4 Crazy Guys had also invested hundreds of thousands into the business.

The Parrishes brought in a new group to run the leather bar this past April, nine months after it closed, but the arrangement fell apart last month. In the fallout, some complained online that the Parrishes were displeased with the club’s direction and its events catering to non-leather audiences, which Parrish adamantly denied.

Rather, he said he had suggested they try hosting more leather events as a way to bring in more money, and that the managers hadn’t paid their share of the rent in months. He said the management team and customers took his suggestions the wrong way.

The group left and recently opened their own venture, Night Shift 2.0, at the edge of Canton.

Parrish is currently remodeling his space at 2022 N. Charles St. The release said it will have a new courtyard bar, pool tables, kitchen, a full-service leather shop and more.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that SunCoast was located in Tampa, when in fact it was located in St. Petersburg. We regret the error.

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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in CityLab, Slate, Baltimore City Paper, DCist and elsewhere.
Ethan McLeod
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