November 19, 2020 at 8:18 am EST | by Ed Gunts
Workers remove contents of Baltimore’s Grand Central nightclub
Grand Central, gay news, Washington Blade
Workers removed the contents of Grand Central this week. (Photo by Ed Gunts)

Any chance of Baltimore’s Grand Central nightclub ever reopening after the pandemic was pretty much wiped out over the weekend, as a work crew cleared out its contents to make way for construction of an office building called City House Charles.

The work is a sign that Landmark Partners, which bought the club last year from founder Don Davis, is getting ready to begin work on an eight-story building that will incorporate the front portions of Grand Central at 1001 and 1003 N. Charles Street, with new construction behind.

From 1991 until this March, Grand Central was one of the largest gay-friendly clubs in Baltimore. It was closed in March when the state shut down businesses to prevent the spread of COVID-19, then reopened over the summer to sell packaged goods and cocktails-to-go. Owners Jon Pannoni and George Watson closed it again in September, after they were cited for violating a mayor’s executive order prohibiting indoor service.

Gary Grant, one of the men removing items from the building, said it was the 27th bar, restaurant or nightclub that he has cleaned out between Harrisburg, Pa., and Washington, D.C., since the pandemic took hold in March.

Grant left many items on the sidewalk for people to take as souvenirs and packed the rest in a truck to haul away. Before he locked up for good, Grant allowed a few passersby to take one last look at the interior, with the shelves behind the bar empty of liquor and the barstools, tables and other accoutrements removed.

More sad news came this week when word got out that The Mount Vernon Stable & Saloon, a popular gay-friendly restaurant and bar one block south of Grand Central at 909 North Charles, known for its spare ribs and its faux Egyptian sarcophagus hanging from the ceiling, would be not be reopening after the pandemic.

Across the street, owners of The Manor Restaurant and Ultralounge, a gay-owned business that took over the former Elephant restaurant building at 924 North Charles Street, announced that it will reopen on Wednesday, Dec. 2.

That’s one day before the annual lighting of the Washington Monument in Mount Vernon Place, the unofficial gay start of the holiday season in Baltimore. The lighting ceremony, which provides an excuse for residents all around Mount Vernon to throw parties, has been turned into a “virtual” event this year, viewable only on TV.

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