Metro Weekly

Baltimore’s Grand Central nightclub closes permanently following alleged COVID-19 violation

Longtime LGBTQ nightclub was slated to close in three weeks after being purchased by a developer last year

grand central, baltimore, gay, bar

Grand Central bar and club in Baltimore – Photo: JD Uy

Baltimore’s gay nightclub Grand Central has permanently closed after nearly 30 years in business after allegedly violating prohibitions on indoor dining that were imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The club’s owners appeared at a hearing of the Board of Liquor License Commissioners last Thursday, after liquor board inspectors claimed that 15 patrons were inside the nightclub on July 30, when indoor dining was prohibited in the city.

On the night in question, one bartender was manning the bar, and said he was “having a hard time controlling patrons,” Stephan Fogleman, the club’s lawyer, told the board, adding that it’s possible not enough employees were working that night. The employee was fired after the incident, he added.

In response to the information uncovered at the hearing, the liquor board decided to close Grand Central immediately, while also fining the bar $200, reports the Capital Gazette.

Fogleman noted that the club was operating on “borrowed time,” as the club’s owners were planning to redevelop the property into an eight-story office building, complete with retail space and a full-service restaurant. It was slated to close at the end of the month.

“It will cost them lost revenue over the next three and a half weeks, but they think it’s the best that they can do in order to ensure 100% compliance with liquor laws,” Fogleman said.

Landmark Partners, a Baltimore-based developer, bought the club for $1.4 million last year after longtime owner Don Davis decided to sell it due to his battle with throat cancer.

See also: Baltimore LGBTQ business’s Gay Pride flag burned in apparent hate crime

Grand Central’s closure is just the latest LGBTQ-oriented nightclub in the city to close down in recent years. Club Hippo, located across the street from Grand Central, closed in 2015, and has since been replaced by a CVS. G.A.Y. Lounge closed in 2017.

Club Bunns, an LGBTQ club catering to black clientele, closed last year after 30 years in business, according to the Baltimore Sun.

LGBTQ-specific nightclubs that are currently operational include Leon’s, in the Mount Vernon neighborhood; and the Baltimore Eagle, in the Charles North neighborhood; Mixers, in Northeast Baltimore; and The Drinkery, also in Mount Vernon.

The management team at Grand Central posted a message to patrons on its website announcing the closure.

“After over 30 years of serving the community, Grand Central sadly has shut its doors,” the message reads. “Given the overwhelming challenges created by the pandemic, and our beverage-only driven business, the operations were not sustainable as we prepare for the next chapter.

“We appreciate all of our customers and supporters and thank them for their long-time loyalty; we look forward to celebrating the institution’s legacy in the future development.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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