Royal Farms

Shifting times for Laurel's neighborhood bars

Shifting times for Laurel's neighborhood bars

Outside the old Starting Gate Bar & Lounge on Laurel Fort Meade Road, a hand-scrawled “Closing Sale” sign, spray-painted across the weathered roof teases passing motorists with the promise of mementos and relics. On a front entrance to the brick building, a smaller sign proclaims the place “Open,” but that part of the building has been locked up for months.

A little more than three miles northwest, on the other side of the Laurel Park racetrack in Howard County, Bottom of the Bay Seafood, another long-standing mom-and-pop establishment, stands in disrepair after closing its doors last fall.

Starting Gate Liquors, which operated under separate ownership in the west corner...