Plans are underway to reopen the Baltimore Eagle this month.
Plans are underway to reopen the Baltimore Eagle this month. (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

Two men who helped found the Baltimore Eagle, a longtime leather bar in Old Goucher, will be returning to run the latest incarnation of the LGBTQ community mainstay.

Tom Kiple, who opened the Eagle at 2202 N. Charles St. in 1991, will be coming out of retirement to run the Eagle once again, building owner Ian Parrish said. He will be joined by David Lessner, former general manager of the Eagle. Parrish said work on remodeling the building continues, and the Eagle should be open for business sometime this month.

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“It’s really looking good," Parrish said, noting that stories of the Eagle’s halcyon days are flowing as the new/old operators return. “They’re telling stories that I didn’t even know. There’s no ego. It’s been so good to work with [Tom Kiple] and David.”

“The Baltimore Eagle promises an experience ‘as it was in the beginning,'” Lessner said in a news release, “a judgment-free space for all members of the LGBTQ and leather communities.” Several new “experiences and services” are being added, according to the release, including a courtyard bar, pool tables, kitchen and a “full-service leather shop.”

After leaving the Eagle, Kiple moved to Florida and opened what was billed as the world’s largest gay resort, the Suncoast in Tampa.

The Eagle has gone through several incarnations in recent years. After operating from 1991 to 2012, it reopened in 2017, only to close in July 2018 following a dispute between Parrish, who acquired the building in 2012, and his tenants. It reopened to much fanfare this past April, but closed again on Aug. 11, with operators claiming Parrish unduly interfered with their business model and marketing. Parrish has countered that the operators had not paid rent in six months.

The most recent former operators of the Eagle, who left in August, have opened Night Shift 2.0, an LGBTQ night club, on Ponca Street near Canton. Night Shift 2.0 is celebrating its grand opening Friday night.

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