Members of Baltimore’s leather community will have to go some place other than the Baltimore Eagle this season to spread holiday cheer.
Baltimore’s liquor board decided not to take action on a request to transfer ownership of the liquor license for the recently shuttered leather bar until it has more information on which to base a decision.
The board held a hearing on Nov. 29 to consider a request to transfer the license to Baltimore Eagle LLC, an entity headed by Lorraine Parrish and Kathleen Church, who are affiliated with the landlords of the property at 2022 N. Charles St.
But after hearing from three lawyers with different positions on the transfer, the board members stopped the public meeting and said they would take up the matter again on Jan. 10. That means the bar, which closed in July following a dispute between the landlords and their managers, must remain closed at least until then.
Before it closed, the Baltimore Eagle was operated by a group called 4 Crazy Guys LLC, headed by Charles King and Greg King.
Lorraine Parrish is married to Ian Parrish and is the daughter-in-law of Charles Parrish, the landlords of the Eagle property, and Church is an employee. According to their liquor board application, Lorraine Parrish would own 99 percent of the stock in Baltimore Eagle LLC and Church would own one percent.
The Eagle’s liquor license had been transferred to the Charles Street property in 2016 from the Hippo, a gay dance club that closed in 2015. The Eagle had been dormant for several years following the death of a previous owner and reopened in late 2016 after extensive renovations.
At the Nov. 29 hearing, the board members said they needed to determine who controls the liquor license now before they can make any decisions about transferring it to new operators.
An attorney for the Parrishes told the liquor board that he believes the license automatically reverted to the landlords after 4 Crazy Guys abruptly shut the business in July. He cited an 1823 court ruling that he said supports his position.
An attorney for John Yelcick, the primary investor in the club, told the liquor board that Yelcick has a judge’s order awarding him the liquor license.
The liquor board postponed its decision after a third attorney, Adam Spence, said he was the court-appointed receiver for the assets of 4 Crazy Guys group, including the liquor license.
Spence warned the liquor board that it does not have the jurisdiction to transfer the liquor license of a business under receivership until it is authorized to do so by a judge with the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. He said a court hearing on the matter has been scheduled for Jan. 7.
“We have two parties who are disputing who owns” the liquor license, Spence said after the hearing. “I can’t have the liquor license transferred until the court makes sense of it.”
Before it closed, the Eagle was one of the largest LGBTQ-friendly clubs in Baltimore. The dispute became public after the Kings posted a message on their website stating that their landlords “meddled” and interfered with the way they operated the business.
Ian Parrish said the applicants were prepared to reopen the bar “right away,” if the board had granted the transfer request. He said the principals of Baltimore Eagle LLC have been working to assemble a staff to operate the business in case the license transfer was approved but understand they will now have to wait until the next liquor board hearing.
Parrish declined to say who would be hired. Before it closed, the Eagle had about 30 employees.