The Wharf Rat bar and restaurant in Fells Point goes up for auction

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The Wharf Rat bar and restaurant in Fells Point, whose structure was built in the early- to mid-1700s, will be offered for sale at auction starting Oct. 2. Photo courtesy of Alex Cooper Auctioneers.

One of Baltimore’s oldest bars is hitting the auction block next month, as the owner prepares to retire.

The Wharf Rat, a family-run bar and restaurant at 801-803 South Ann Street in Fells Point, is being offered for sale in a virtual auction that starts on Oct. 2 at 1 p.m. and ends on Oct. 7 at 1 p.m. The opening bid is $500,000.

According to Alex Cooper Auctioneers, which is handling the sale, the landmark property was constructed in the early- to mid-1700s, making it one of the oldest structures in Baltimore, and has an interior that suggests an English pub.

“Records indicate that although the names have changed, The Wharf Rat has been a bar/inn/restaurant (and brothel) consistently since the structure was erected,” Cooper says in a description for potential buyers.

Since 1987, The Wharf Rat has been run by the Oliver family, which also started the Oliver Brewing Company. In 2017, Travel Channel personality Jack Maxwell named it one of his four favorite “Dockside Bars” in America. The same year, The City Paper named it “Baltimore’s Best Bar.”

The two-and-a-half story building is a corner property in the heart of Fells Point, with frontage on Ann and Lancaster streets, including a large covered outdoor seating area along Lancaster Street.

According to Cooper, the auction is an “owner retirement sale,” and includes a seven-day beer, wine and liquor license. Scott Frank and Jared Block of Cooper are showing the property by appointment on Sept. 16 and 30, but it also remains open for business seven days a week.

“We poured our heart and souls into this place,” majority owner Jen Oliver told the Baltimore Business Journal. “After 34 years, I’m so happy with the business model. But this is a 300-year-old building, and somebody else gets to take care of it now.”

Ed Gunts

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