Just as quickly as it closed, the Baltimore Eagle reopened late last week under the same ownership, but new management. While the bar was back up and pouring drinks on Thursday, one day after its former operators, 4 Crazy Guys, abruptly packed up and shut it down, owner Ian Parrish says it wasn’t until Friday that they drew a small crowd.
Parrish said former staff from the defunct gay bars The Hippo and G-A-Y Lounge, as well as Gallagher’s, helped them clean up the space and support them on Thursday. The night before, the bar’s liquor inventory had been cleared out, with bottles taken, broken or emptied into the sink, and memorabilia removed from the premises.
The old management, 4 Crazy Guys, had announced they were leaving the iconic gay leather bar behind in a letter posted online. It alleged Parrish and other co-owners had meddled with marketing decisions and locked them out of their website and Facebook page, and that lender John Yelcick sought to accelerate their loan repayment process to push 4 Crazy Guys out of the business, among other accusations.
“We’re picking up the pieces,” Parrish said Monday. “These guys, I guess their actions speak for themselves.”
Charles King, part of 4 Crazy Guys, on Monday questioned whether it was legal for Parrish and other co-owners to reopen the Station North bar. King said that when his team left, they tore up the business’ liquor license and removed a trader’s license, health inspection records and other documentation needed to operate a food and drink establishment.
They also left the owners a note informing them of their decision to break their licensing agreement, under which 4 Crazy Guys had been permitted to use the Baltimore Eagle brand and trademarks.
“For him to just operate while knowing that he doesn’t have those items in place, I just don’t understand how he would think that could be legal,” King said of Parrish.
Parrish said he had discovered a copy of the liquor license “torn up into itty bitty pieces” at the bar on Thursday morning, but “fortunately, we have the original.” Asked about the other documentation, he said, “I don’t even handle all that,“ but added, “as far as I know, everything is being taken care of, or everything has been taken care of.”
Liquor board records list King and Lorraine Parrish, Ian’s wife, as the holders of the liquor license. Lorraine Parrish has a 1 percent share in the business, King said.
Thomas Akras, deputy executive secretary of the Board of Liquor License Commissioners of Baltimore City, said the agency learned of “allegations” of the Baltimore Eagle lacking proper documentation over the weekend.
“An establishment can’t operate unless they have those documents,” including a liquor license, use and occupancy permit, health inspection documentation and a trader’s license, he said.
The board’s chief inspector is investigating, Akras said.
The original Baltimore Eagle opened in 1991, and served as a popular haven for the city’s LGBTQ community until it closed in 2012. A new partnership, comprised of father-son owners Charles and Ian Parrish of Investors United and operators Charles and Greg King and John and Robert Gasser (John now goes by Yelcick), reopened the bar, a process that took years and plenty of toiling to obtain a liquor license.
The revamped iteration opened in January 2017 with a new facade, a sports bar with a DJ booth and an expanded shop for fetish gear, among other renovations.
But relations soured between ownership and 4 Crazy Guys over the last year and a half, leading up to last week’s turmoil with the business. Both sides have disputed what happened regarding control over their web presence—King maintains Parrish locked them out of the page and the Eagle’s Facebook account after a dispute over an Easter event earlier this year, while Parrish says they never revoked access—and access to the bar’s security cameras.
Court records show Yelcick is suing 4 Crazy Guys for an undisclosed amount.
King said if the city does allow the bar to continue operating, he wants the owners to remove his name from the liquor license and any other documentation. “I don’t care if they operate, honestly… but if they’re gonna do it, then take my name off of it.”
Parrish expressed a desire to leave the public feud behind. “We’re gonna stay positive and move on, because we’ve got a community to reach out to.”
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