January 25, 2019 at 12:08 pm EDT | by Ed Gunts
Baltimore Eagle aims to reopen within weeks
Baltimore Eagle, gay news, Washington Blade
Baltimore Eagle’s owners hope to reopen within weeks. (Washington Blade file photo by Chris Jennings)

The Baltimore Eagle is expected to reopen soon, possibly within weeks, with the building’s landlord now running the business inside. 

The business at 2022 North Charles St., a destination for Baltimore’s kink and leather communities, has been closed since late July, following a dispute between the landlord and the previous operators.

On Jan. 17, Baltimore’s liquor board awarded a seven-day license to Baltimore Eagle LLC,  a group headed by Lorraine Parrish and Kathleen Church. Lorraine Parrish is the wife of one of the building’s landlords, Ian Parrish, and the daughter in law of the other landlord, Charles Parrish. Church is an employee.

Peter Prevas, an attorney for the Baltimore Eagle, told the liquor board that the landlord of the building will in effect be running the business too. “This [liquor] license will be the Baltimore Eagle LLC, which is the current owner of the real estate,” he said. “The current operation would be the landlord entity.”

Prevas told the board that the operators are prepared to reopen in two weeks or so.

“The place is there and it’s expected to be operational within two weeks,” he said. “I always think two weeks means a month by the time you get your sign-offs from wherever you have to get them, but they’re ready to go back into business. The staff is already hired. Things are ordered and ready to go, and [they] would like to make this an asset to the community again.”

Chris Jay, marketing and events manager for the Baltimore Eagle, said a date for the reopening has not been set, but the operators plan to announce one “in the next couple of weeks.” Jay said the operators are in the process of lining up entertainment and making other arrangements for the reopening. “We want to make sure we have a great event.”

Before it closed in July, the Baltimore Eagle was one of several unaffiliated Eagle bars around the country that cater to the leather and kink communities. Jay said the Eagle on Charles Street will continue to be a safe space for Baltimore’s leather and kink communities.

“The Baltimore Eagle will always be and always has been an LGBTQ space…centering on the leather and kink community….It’s still an Eagle. It will always be an Eagle. It’s not an LGBTQ-friendly space. It’s an LGBTQ space.”

Approval from the liquor board marks the end of months of uncertainty about the fate of the Eagle, which was previously operated by a group called 4 Crazy Guys LLC. According to documents on file with the liquor board, Lorraine Parrish will control 99 percent of the stock in Baltimore Eagle LLC, and Church will control 1 percent.

4 Crazy Guys had reopened the Eagle following the death of its former owner and made improvements reportedly costing more than $600,000. It was led by Charles King and Greg King, two longtime members of the leather community, known for organizing an annual “Bears, Bikers & Mayhem” event in Gettysburg.

The liquor license approved for Baltimore Eagle LLC was not the one associated with 4 Crazy Guys. It was an old “zombie” liquor license that was held by the previous owner of the Eagle property, a man who passed away several years ago, and is being transferred to the new operators.

In most cases in Baltimore, liquor licenses die if they are dormant for more than 180 days. But state legislators approved a bill in 2018 that allowed this specific, inactive license to come alive again if it is transferred before July 1.

Last year, Parrish and Church applied to transfer another license to the property, the one previously associated with 4 Crazy Guys and transferred from the defunct Baltimore Hippo.

The liquor board held a hearing on that transfer request last fall, and deferred making a decision after hearing that more than one party claims control of the license, and that it was mired in court proceedings.

Douglas Paige, executive secretary of the liquor board, said that other license could be sold and transferred to another address within Maryland’s 43rd legislative district, once the creditor issues are sorted out.

Paige stressed that the Eagle transfer request received preliminary approval on Jan. 17, and that final approval is contingent on the new operators filing additional paperwork and satisfying multiple public agencies that conduct inspections, including the fire and health departments. Once they have done that, he said, the liquor board will finalize the transfer and the Baltimore Eagle can reopen.

As part of their application, the new operators asked to provide live entertainment on the premises, and the liquor board agreed. According to Prevas and Ian Parrish, examples of the live entertainment envisioned include comedy events, karaoke, DJs, drag shows and drag brunches.

Jay said the dress code-oriented Code Bar will still be part of the Eagle and there will once again be an area for local clubs to display their colors and other items. Jay said the best way for patrons to see how supportive the staff is will be when the Eagle reopens and they can meet the employees and judge for themselves.  In the meantime, Jay said, a good way to keep up on news about the bar is on its Facebook page, Baltimore Eagle Night Club and Bar.

The new operators understand and appreciate the role the Eagle has played in the Baltimore-Washington area and want that to continue, Jay said.

“We are working very hard to make sure …that space remains safe and open for the community that wants to enjoy it.”

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