The corner of the North Avenue Market where Mobtown Ballroom and Cafe will be 30 West North Avenue. Photo by Ed Gunts.
The corner of the North Avenue Market where Mobtown Ballroom and Cafe will be 30 West North Avenue. Photo by Ed Gunts.

After 12 years in Pigtown, Mobtown Ballroom has found a new home in Baltimore’s Station North Arts District.

Owners and co-founders Sarah Sullivan and Michael Seguin announced Thursday that the business is moving to North Avenue Market and will open in December as Mobtown Ballroom and Café.

Mobtown’s new address will be 30 West North Ave., the corner location formerly occupied by Red Emma’s. It’s the same space where Mobtown was a “pop-up” tenant during Artscape 2023.

Known for its popular swing dancing nights and other events, Mobtown left its longtime space at 861 Washington Blvd. earlier this year and has been looking for a new home.

Its owners say Mobtown will continue to feature regular appearances by the Baltimore Square Dance and Baltimore Honky-Tonk groups, and they’re planning additional programming in the form of concerts and shows of varying genres, book talks, burlesque and other events.

Mobtown will also operate a café from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. six days a week, serving Black Acres Coffee Roastery drinks with breakfast and lunch, and will have food service at its evening events.

“Since opening our original location in Pigtown in 2011, we became a third place for a number of different communities,” Sullivan said, in a statement. “We are excited to come to the Arts District and be around other artists and businesses doing cool and interesting things. We will be right at the cross section of a number of neighborhoods, and with everything already happening in Station North, we hope to bring together the different populations in Central Baltimore.”

Historically, Sullivan said, “our regulars have hung out in our space upwards of four times a week, shaking off the work day, trying on different versions of themselves, and meeting people they wouldn’t meet otherwise.  We can’t wait to try that in the center of the city, with a wider variety of programming.” 

The café’s kitchen will be run by Jake Cornman, and David Cavalier will run the bar and cocktail program. Cornman said the menu will include: “Simple classics done right and from scratch.  Fresh sandwiches, salads, and soups by day paired with a full-service coffee bar. Bar food such as Ribwiches, Frito Pie, and fried pickles at night paired with original and classic cocktails.” 

Michael Seguin and Sarah Sullivan, fourth and fifth from left. Photo by Ed Gunts.
Michael Seguin and Sarah Sullivan, fourth and fifth from left. Photo by Ed Gunts.

Seguin said he wants the café portion of the business to be a hub in Station North.

“We’ve got the room for folks to work or study,” he said. “The combination of a daytime coffee program and an evening events space is perfect for Station North, we think, and lends itself to the kind of community-based second-home feeling that we believe in and work to cultivate.”   

Built in 1928 and currently owned by Mike Shecter and Carolyn Frenkil, North Avenue Market is under contract to a group that includes Timshel Development principal John Renner and the Central Baltimore Future Fund. The future fund is an affiliate of the Central Baltimore Partnership (CBP), which manages the arts district and provides technical and economic assistance to help entrepreneurs start or expand businesses in the area.

Renner’s vision is to make the nearly block-long market building a cultural hub for Station North, filling it with artists and arts-related tenants. Mobtown will be one of the first tenants under the new ownership. A settlement date has not been disclosed but according to CBP executive director Ellen Janes, Mobtown is fitting out its space and will begin programming while the purchase and redevelopment of the market move forward. Improvements to the space include a hand-laid sprung wood floor, for dancing. 

“We have been very involved in the cultural and business recruitment strategy of the North Avenue Market and are supporting tenants with flexible capital activation of this iconic space now as well as re-use of the building over the long term,” Janes said, referring to the Central Baltimore Partnership.

“It’s tremendously exciting to have Mobtown Ballroom join the neighborhood because they will so beautifully complement the vibrant arts and entertainment that is already available in Station North,” she said.

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.

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