New operators aim to reopen the Baltimore Eagle in two weeks, after receiving a liquor license

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Photo by Ed Gunts

The Baltimore Eagle nightspot, shuttered since July, is expected to reopen within two weeks to a month under new operators.

Baltimore’s Board of Liquor License Commissioners on Thursday gave preliminary approval to a request to transfer a long-dormant BD-7 beer, wine and liquor license to Lorraine Parrish and Kathleen Church. Lorraine Parrish is the wife of one of the building’s landlords, Ian Parrish, and the daughter-in-law of the other landlord, Charles Parrish.

Peter Prevas, an attorney for Baltimore Eagle LLC, told the board that the applicants are prepared to open in the next two weeks or so.

“The place is there and it’s expected to be operational within two weeks,” he told the board. “I always think two weeks means a month by the time you get your sign-offs from wherever you have to get them, but they’re ready to go back into business. The staff is already hired. Things are ordered and ready to go, and [they] would like to make this an asset to the community again.”

Approval from the liquor board marks the end of months of uncertainty about the fate of the Eagle, one of the largest LGBTQ-friendly bars in Baltimore and one of several Eagle bars in the country catering to the leather community.

The bar closed in late July after a dispute between the landlord and the former tenant, a group called 4 Crazy Guys LLC. 4 Crazy Guys had reopened the Eagle following the death of its former owner, and made improvements reportedly costing more than $600,000. It was led by Charles King and Greg King, two longtime members of the leather community, known for organizing an annual “Bears, Bikers & Mayhem” event in Gettysburg.

In their application, Parrish and Church said they would continue trading as the Baltimore Eagle. In testimony to the liquor board, Prevas indicated that the new operators, who do not identify as gay, will still welcome the previous clientele, but also want to branch out to serve more of the community at large.

He said the new full-time operator will be Bang Warren, a restaurant industry veteran who most recently worked at the Crossroads Restaurant in Highlandtown.

“It will continue the same motif,” Prevas said of the Charles Street establishment.

At the same time, he said, Warren plans to expand the kitchen hours “starting off by lunch and hopefully brunch may turn into breakfast.”

When it opened under 4 Crazy Guys in late 2016, the business was “more of ‘the regulars’ crowd and not drawing from the population at large,” Prevas said. “That has changed already and Ms. Warren expects that it will continue to expand.”

The applicants requested to provide live entertainment on the premises, and the board agreed. Ian Parrish gave examples of the entertainment envisioned.

“We’re expecting to have comedy events, drag shows,” he said. He also offered DJs and karaoke as potential attractions.

The new operators plan to continue the drag brunch tradition from the previous group, Prevas added. “It’s very popular. A lot of people get quite a kick out of those events.”

The liquor license that was transferred was last in effect more than three years ago. In most cases in Baltimore, liquor licenses die if they are dormant for more than 180 days. But state legislators approved a bill in 2018 that allowed this specific, inactive “zombie” license to come alive again if it is transferred before July 1. According to Douglas Paige, executive secretary of the liquor board, that is not an unheard-of practice.

Last year, Parrish and Church applied to transfer another license to the property, the one previously associated with 4 Crazy Guys and transferred from the defunct Baltimore Hippo.

The liquor board held a hearing on that transfer request last fall, and put off making a decision after hearing that more than one party claims control of the license, and that it was mired in court proceedings.

Paige said that other license could be sold and transferred to another address in the 43rd legislative district, once the creditor issues are sorted out.

Paige stressed that the Eagle transfer request received preliminary approval on Thursday. Final approval is contingent on the applicants filing additional paperwork and satisfying multiple public agencies that would conduct inspections, including the fire department and the health department, he said.

Once they have done that, he said, the liquor board will finalize the transfer and the Baltimore Eagle can reopen.

Ed Gunts

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