The Elephant, a Mount Vernon restaurant in a storied location, is closing amid financial and legal problems, its owners said Thursday.
“It’s been a wonderful journey,” Mallory Staley said Thursday. “It’s a sad chapter that we have to close to the public, but it’s really been one great ride for three years.”
Staley and co-owner Steven Rivelis are working to sell the historic mansion, which they spent two years restoring before the restaurant’s 2016 opening.
They will continue to run their catering company, Sascha’s, as well as the cafe at Center Stage. The mansion will still be available for private events before it sells.
Located at 924 N. Charles St., the building housed the Brass Elephant for nearly 30 years until it closed in 2009. It later became home to the Museum Restaurant & Lounge.
Built in the mid-19th century, the building was once a private mansion before it transitioned to a furniture store and then a dining destination. The space fell into disrepair after the Brass Elephant closed, and Rivelis and his wife, Linda Brown Rivelis, poured millions into its restoration.
Ahead of the Elephant’s opening in July 2016, its latest owners outfitted the space with a modern color palette and fresh fixtures, all while honoring its original architectural details.
Staley says the owners funded the restoration with a loan from friends and family after banks refused to lend to them. But one of those investors sued them in federal court for repayment.
Last year, James Hickman sued the Rivelises and their LLCs, VSOP and the Pincus Restaurant Group, for breach of contract in federal court. According to online records, Hickman is seeking $900,000, the amount he says he has invested in the restaurant. Neither Hickman nor his attorney could be reached for comment.
The building, which has intricate woodwork by Lockwood de Forest, was appraised at $1.6 million, not including its Tiffany stained-glass artwork, according to the suit. The owners invested more than $3.5 million in the renovation and restaurant, the suit says.
Rivelis purchased the building in 2015 for $550,000, state property records show. It’s now listed for $2.9 million.
Baltimore Sun reporter Sarah Meehan contributed to this article.