Baltimore bars come and go. Just last week, Midnight Sun reported that Tyson's Tavern, a 3-year-old bar on the Canton and Fells Point border was up for sale.
But some have been around for what feels like forever. Take Schaefer's Bar & Restaurant in South Baltimore.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of Tyson's is the history of the building where it's located. Owner Dean Zlomke says it might have been the home of the original National Brewing Company. And underneath the bar, there are still tunnels that lead to Patterson Park that were supposedly used in the War of 1812. But if the sale says anything - other than this is a crapshoot of an economy - it's that locals like character along with their history.
Schaefer's in South Baltimore has character up the wazoo.
Its liquor license was the second one ever issued by the city, and its owners say the business has been around in some form or another since the 1800s.
Here's how authentic this place is. At some point in its twisted history, Schaefer's was a stag bar, meaning only men were allowed inside. To accommodate them, a metal trough ran underneath bar just in case any of the customers had to relieve themselves. They would just unzip, and open their personal tap. And the trough is still in place, only it's now covered by lots of floorboard.
But the owners haven't stopped there. The bar has several traditions that have sort of embedded it in the fabric of the neighborhood. Before leaving, customers are encouraged to leave their mark by signing a dollar bill with a special signature. Two years ago, when our own Sam Sessa profiled the bar, he left his own by writing "EBSS,"or Eccentric Billionaire Sam Sessa, a career goal of his to be at some point referred to by that tag.
A reader passing through Baltimore on a business trip recently reminded us of Schaefer's eccentricities. He was looking for Schaefer beer, and stopped by the storied bar after reading the story. Though he complained the joint didn't actually serve Schaefer, despite its name, he was won over by its dollar bill-covered walls. Then he left his own, pictured at right.
He left the best tidbit for last: Sessa's dollar is still up on the wall.