July 27, 2018 at 12:02 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Baltimore Eagle abruptly closes

The Baltimore Eagle abruptly closed this week amid an increasingly bitter public dispute between the managers of the bar and the owners of the building in which it is located. (Washington Blade photo by Chris Jennings)

Editor’s note: This article has been updated.

The Baltimore Eagle abruptly closed on Wednesday amid an increasingly bitter public dispute between the company that managed the bar and the owners of the building in which it was located.

The Baltimore Sun on Friday reported Ian Parrish and his father, Charles Parrish, bought the building on the corner of North Charles and West 21st Streets in the city’s Old Goucher neighborhood, in 2012. The Baltimore Eagle, which had been closed for five years, reopened in the building in January 2017.

4 Crazy Guys which managed the Baltimore Eagle, on the bar’s website notes the Parrish family “rehabbed the structure, leased it to 4 Crazy Guys, LLC, and licensed the use of the brand ‘Baltimore Eagle’ to 4 Crazy Guys, LLC.”

“As part of our lease, 4 Crazy Guys, LLC, completely finished the interior of the building, including walls, floors, ceilings, electrical and plumbing,” wrote 4 Crazy Guys, LLC. “Nearly everything you see when you walk into the building was completed at our expense.”

4 Crazy Guys alleges the Parrish family “has attempted to control our licensing of the brand as though it were a franchise.” The company also claims the Parrish family has “meddled in the operation of the business in countless ways, each of which we believe demonstrated their lack of connection and understanding of our community and our market.”

4 Crazy Guys wrote Ian Parrish “at one time insisted that we could not have a woman pictured on our website.” 4 Crazy Guys also alleges Ian Parrish “objected to the use of models in our marketing saying that they were not attractive because of their body type.”

4 Crazy Guys accuses Ian Parrish of blocking their access to the Baltimore Eagle’s Facebook page and website earlier this year “in protest over marketing that he did not like.” 4 Crazy Guys also made allegations against John Yelcick, who once loaned money, and his brother, who invested in the Baltimore Eagle.

“In the last six months, one of our lenders, John Yelcick and his brother, one of our investors, have caused great legal troubles for the organization, which we have been adamantly defending ourselves against,” wrote 4 Crazy Guys on the Baltimore Eagle’s website. “The lender has arbitrarily decided to accelerate the terms of his payoff despite the fact there is absolutely no allowance for this in the legal documents governing his loan to the company. We also believe that they are in collusion with the Parrish family based on evidence they provided in a recent sworn deposition.”

4 Crazy Guys wrote it has paid for “nearly $600,000 worth of improvements” to the building.

“So, in the face of mounting legal expenses and having had this project turned from a dream to a nightmare by outside forces, we must now move on and hope that the communities and people we have come to love so much will find a new place that feels like home,” it said.

Chuck King, the Baltimore Eagle’s general manager who is one of the 4 Crazy Guys partners, on Thursday did not respond to the Washington Blade’s request for comment.

“I am away for a few days until the dust settles,” he said. “I’ll be back on Tuesday.”

King told the Baltimore Sun that 4 Crazy Guys “just can’t fight the fight anymore.”

“We finally reached our tipping point,” he said. “We’re in debt to our attorney for 20 grand. We don’t have any money to spend.”

Ian Parrish described the decision to close the Baltimore Eagle as “a slap in the face.”

“The fact that they left the community so suddenly says more about them than I ever could,” he told the Baltimore Sun.

Ian Parrish reiterated this point when he spoke with the Blade on Friday afternoon.

“It was just a total slap in the face,” he said during a telephone interview. “That’s what happened here. (They) just packed up in the middle of the night, left us.”

He also dismissed 4 Crazy Guys’ allegations against him and his family.

Ian Parrish told the Blade the company had not honored their lease “for sometime” and had “become hostile.” He specifically said 4 Crazy Guys refused to install a security system and failed to adhere to basic health and sanitation standards that prompted the cancellation of the bar’s insurance.

“The Eagle is a risqué place. That’s what makes it great,” said Ian Parrish. “When it comes to body hair and genital areas near people’s areas, near the ice that goes into people’s drinks, that’s something that needs to be managed in a responsible away.”

Ian Parrish also dismissed 4 Crazy Guys’ claim it spent upwards of $600,000 to upgrade the bar.

Brian Gaither, co-founder of the Pride Foundation of Maryland, which is based in Old Goucher and is a member of the Old Goucher Community Foundation, a neighborhood organization, lamented the Baltimore Eagle’s closure when he spoke with the Blade earlier in the day.

“It’s sad to see gay bars close under any circumstances,” he said. “They’re safe spaces for the community and the loss of a gay bar is a loss for anybody.”

The bar reopened over the weekend.

“I’m not going to leave this hanging,” said Ian Parrish. “This is my full priority right now.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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