Hampden merchant sells Republican Club building; seeks liquor license for David's

Back in April, David Morgan said he would be reopening his long-shuttered David's Restaurant and Deli in four to six weeks. He also said that he was taking the Hampden Republican Club building, which he owned, off the market.

But six months later, the eatery's doors at 3626 Falls Road are still closed. And the Republican Club building, 3535 Chestnut Ave., has been sold to a consignment shop owner in the area, Morgan told the Hampden Village Merchants Association on Wednesday, Oct. 10.

Morgan did not elaborate on the sale of the club at the merchants meeting and further details were not immediately available.

Morgan told the merchants he still planned to open the restaurant in the next two or three months, and that he was seeking a letter of support from the association as he applies for a Baltimore City liquor license.

Some merchants were dubious.They agreed to write the letter of support, but only after much debate. One merchant initially made a motion to deny Morgan a letter.

"Because of lack of confidence, I would say at this time we can't be supportive," said Charlotte Murray, owner of the antiques store Charlotte Elliott, on The Avenue.

Murray ultimately joined most members in voting to support a Class B beer, wine and liquor license for Morgan, who currently is only licensed to sell beer and wine at the restaurant.

The association stipulated that its support was contingent upon Morgan agreeing to reopen the restaurant within six months and not sell package goods. Morgan agreed to both caveats.

"Just give me a chance. That's all I ask," Morgan said.

Association member Genny Dill, an insurance agent, noted that Morgan is a longtime resident and business owner in Hampden.

"We've moved other businesses in that had no experience in the neighborhood," said Dill, who is also secretary to the Hampden Community Council.

Morgan, 71, a retired printer, said in April that he fell apart when his wife, Joann, died of ovarian cancer in 2011, and soon after closed David's Restaurant and Deli, which the couple had run since 2006. David's was best known for its two-of-everything breakfast called David's Special. Morgan also started negotiating to sell the Republican Club building.

But Morgan said in April that he had decided not to sell the club and that he planned to reopen the original eatery in May or June of this year. He also said at the time that he had longer-range plans to expand the restaurant into the vacant former Train and Toy World store next door and add a bar in that space.

His plans for the restaurant haven't changed, he told merchants Wednesday.

Benn Ray, president of the merchants association and owner of Atomic Books near David's Restaurant and Deli, said Wednesday he wants a restaurant on the block, and the sooner the better. He said he often sees people try to open the door, thinking the restaurant is open.

Morgan said he decided to sell the club building because he felt like he could no longer keep running it.

"I just couldn't do it," he told the Messenger. "It was too much for me."

Morgan, a member of the Grand Old Party, said in April that he might yet sell the iconic Republican Club building, built in 1936, once home to the Hampden Democratic Club and an Acme food store before he bought it in 1995.

"It's a grand old building," he said, but "a big waste of time" as a Republican club in Baltimore, where registered Democrats far outnumber Republicans.

Morgan said he negotiated with investors who wanted to open a Jewish-style deli there, but that the deal fell through.

He warned at the time that although he took the building off the market, he was still listening to offers.

"Everything has a price," he said.

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