Every great neighborhood boasts at least one quintessential neighborhood watering hole, where newcomers become regulars and strangers become friends. The Laughing Pint, on the southwestern corner of Gough St. and S. Conkling St., gave residents of Highlandtown that sense of community for 13 years.
The party ends this month, however, according to a statement published Wednesday on the bar’s Facebook page.
“We will have a closing party on Saturday the 23rd but will operate until Thanksgiving,” the pinned post read.
Bar owner, musician and artist Shannon Cassidy said Thursday that although the bar was successful, she wanted to give the neighborhood — and herself — the opportunity to try something else.
“I’ve given 13 years to this neighborhood, and I’m really proud of it but I’m also really tired," she said. “And honestly, the right person — I didn’t list it for sale, and in talking to someone else, they were interested and, you know, it’s time to move on.”
While she couldn’t name the “someone else” at present, Cassidy did note that the new owners may take the corner bar in a more upscale direction while keeping its community feel. The Laughing Pint currently has a menu of bar food staples and a happy hour with $2 Natty Boh drafts.
“I’ve invested 13 years of my life here, I have, you know, helped to make this a better neighborhood, and there’s no way I would sell this to someone who I didn’t believe would make it better,” she said. “I think that they’ll focus a little more on foods, you know, maybe it’ll be a little more of a foodie place."
Cassidy also noted that she and her parents, who she described as educators and “silent partners,” “don’t have a bankroll to update [the bar], and it’s time, it needs that.”
Until then, frequent and sporadic customers alike can visit the bar through the end of November, when Cassidy will host a pair of closing events. The first, a closing party on November 23, will feature a champagne toast and live music from Cassidy’s own band, Cancelled Stamps, as well as other unannounced acts. The second will be the last iteration of the bar’s annual “misfit Thanksgiving,” which she described as “a community potluck” for people without other Thanksgiving plans.
“We always do extra turkeys, and the police officers that are working on duty come by and get their turkey dinner,” she said. “That was part of the deal: I needed to make sure that we were here for that day...we eat, drink and have a great time, and then at [around 6 p.m.], we open the bar to the public.”
As for her own future, Cassidy plans to take a step back, focus on creative pursuits and go from there.
“I haven’t really had a vacation in 13 years — I’ve taken small ones, but I haven’t turned my phone off in 13 years,” she said, laughing.
Cassidy also thanked Highlandtown for making The Laughing Pint a beloved and unique institution for residents and visitors to this changing part of East Baltimore.
“It’s been a great experience. I’ve seen people meet their future husbands or wives or spouses," she said. "We’ve had so many firsts here, I’ve served so many first legal drinks, [and] that’s exciting.
"So I’m very proud and a little sad, but I’m really grateful to be a part of what happened in this neighborhood.”