Midnight Sun Wesley Case covers the city's after-hours scene

'A heart-wrenching decision': Mount Washington's Nickel Taphouse has closed

The Nickel Taphouse, a restaurant and bar in Mount Washington, has closed.

The establishment announced the news on its social media accounts Tuesday. The last day of operation was Sunday, said owner Robbin Haas.

Haas called it “a heart-wrenching decision” to close the Nickel Taphouse, which opened in November 2013, but that lack of sales ultimately led to the closure.

“It came down to a financial business decision,” Haas said on Thursday. “You have to take the emotions out of it.”

The location at 1604 Kelly Ave. was not conducive to foot traffic, he said, which made the Nickel Taphouse more of a “destination restaurant,” though it was never meant to be one.

“You didn’t drive by and go, ‘There it is,’” said Haas, who’s also a partner of the restaurants Birroteca (one near Hampden and the other in Bel Air) and Encantada inside the American Visionary Art Museum in Federal Hill. “It was out of sight and out of mind, which made it kind of difficult.”

Before the Nickel Taphouse, the restaurant’s space housed Blue Sage, the Falls and Freda’s Kitchen. The Nickel Taphouse was known for its American take on gastropub fare and its large bar that served as a focal point.

Fans of the Mount Washington establishment expressed disappointment to the news, with some wishing they would have known ahead of time the restaurant was coming to an end. Haas said the diners during the last dinner service were not aware it was the restaurant’s final night. When the Nickel Taphouse closed for Columbus Day, Haas and his team made the decision not to reopen.

“When is the right time?” Haas said. “It’s never easy when something like this happens.”

Haas said he was able to place the majority of Nickel Taphouse staff members in positions at his other restaurants, which mattered most to him. Now, he will focus on Birroteca and Encantada, restaurants that are doing well and that he hopes will be “around the Baltimore landscape for years to come,” he said.

He’s also keeping his eyes open to new opportunities for another restaurant in the city, though nothing is imminent.

“I still think Baltimore is a great city, and there’s lots of stuff this town is still missing,” Haas said. “You never close a door.”

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