Last month, the three-member Baltimore City Liquor Board refused to grant the owners of the Baltimore Eagle a liquor license transfer, claiming that the work on renovations was not completed within the required 180 days. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been invested by Charles and Ian Parrish in renovations, permits and other expenditures in an effort to reopen the bar on the corner of Charles and 21st Streets that had been a popular venue for the leather community since 1991.
“We disagree with the decision of the Liquor Board,” says a message on the bar’s website, TheBaltimoreEagle.com. “We believe that the City should honor its promise to us. Although their stated reason for extinguishing our license is that The Eagle has been closed for renovations for more than 180 days, they’ve set aside the 180-day guideline dozens of times for other bars. And although there is no penalty in law that requires the Liquor Board to revoke our license, they concocted the harshest punishment available. Why are they selectively penalizing The Eagle?”
Despite the Liquor Board’s decision, which many believe was unjust, capricious and even discriminatory, the ownership group and supporters have devised a three-pronged strategy to bring the Baltimore Eagle back. That strategy to recover The Eagle’s license will include pressuring elected officials, filing a reconsideration or appeal and launching an all-out grassroots campaign.
That endeavor has already begun. A group called Friends of the Baltimore Eagle, which is not affiliated with the Baltimore Eagle LLC, has distributed fliers mostly through social media urging members of the community and allies to support the effort. The flier, titled “PLEASE HELP US SAVE THIS LANDMARK TAVERN,” explains what transpired and claims the Liquor Board’s decision was tainted by a biased member.
Accordingly, Friends of the Baltimore Eagle is urging the community to write the governor, mayor and City Council requesting that they overturn the board’s decision. The Eagle’s website provides a simple form to use that includes a sample message of support.
“We are asking Baltimore City for justice,” Ian Parrish told the Blade in an email. “The City knew our plans, the City took our money, then the City took our license — and that’s neither ethical nor legal. We as businesspeople have been wronged, the LGBT community has been wronged, and area residents who need this major revitalization have been wronged.
“The Liquor Board has delivered nothing but broken promises, conflicts of interest, and selective applications of the law — blunder after blunder at the worst possible time for our City. We are asking the community to rise up and join us in our request to Mayor Rawlings-Blake to right this wrong and to show us that business investment and diversity are truly welcome in Baltimore.”
Parrish points out that renovations to the bar have resumed and are moving forward. He urges supporters to sign the petition at TheBaltimoreEagle.com.