Grand Central night club in Mount Vernon, a popular gathering place for the gay community, is on the market after more than 25 years in business.
Owner Don Davis is selling the club as he deals with health complications, and because he has had difficulty managing the bar from his home in Texas.
"It wasn't an easy decision," said Davis, 66. "It was something I'd been thinking about for some time."
Davis is asking $1.85 million for the business and the nearly 15,000-square-foot building that houses it. The turn-key sale includes the furniture, equipment, sound system and liquor license. The bar's liquor inventory will be sold separately.
Davis, who now lives in San Antonio, moved out of Baltimore 10 years ago and said he has struggled to manage the business from afar. He hopes to find a new owner for the club who will preserve its current model — it now operates as a pub, lounge and dance club — and be onsite to oversee its operations.
Davis opened the bar at 1001 N. Charles St. as Central Station Pub in 1991, and it was expanded to become Grand Central in 2003.
"It's an alternative club where people are more comfortable to accept gay people. It was more of a melting pot where everyone was welcome," Davis said. "The demographics have changed in the gay community."
The sale of Grand Central comes two years after the Hippo, another cornerstone gay bar in Mount Vernon, closed to be converted to a CVS. Baltimore Pride, the annual festival celebrating the city's LGBT community, also moved from its longtime Mount Vernon home this year, instead centering around Old Goucher.
Because the business is turn-key, Davis said it would make sense for the next owner maintain Grand Central's current model.
"I would like to see someone keep it somewhat the same — I mean it's a thriving business," he said.
He suggested a new owner could also transform the upper floors into apartments, or add a kitchen and convert the dance floor into a restaurant.
"There's a lot of potential with the space," he said.
Davis said he was an active owner-operator — sometimes working 18-hour days — until he moved to Texas. There, he has found it difficult to oversee the bar from 1,600 miles away, and he said the staff became unstructured without his immediate oversight.
"If an owner were to buy it, I think they should be local where at least they can pop in and out," he said.
Davis said he will miss the staff and patrons who supported Grand Central throughout the last few decades.
"I'm going to miss it," he said. "It breaks my heart, it's like my baby."
MORE MIDNIGHT SUN