Papi’s Tacos in Fells Point closed temporarily after part of its building collapses

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Papi’s Tacos in Fells Point will likely be closed for “weeks, if not months,” after part of its building collapsed into the neighboring alley Sunday morning, owner Charlie Gjerde said.

No injuries were reported as a result of the wall collapse at 1703 Aliceanna St., said Baltimore City Fire Department spokesperson Blair Adams, but the building has been condemned.


Tenants in the apartments above the Mexican restaurant were forced to temporarily relocate, said Thomas Atkins of Butchers Hill, who owns the property.

Workers inside Papi’s heard one of the walls cave in shortly before 11 a.m., Gjerde said, and left behind prepped tacos, quesadillas and more to evacuate.

Bricks and insulation tumbled into the alley beside Papi's Tacos in Fells Point when a wall on the side of the building collapsed Sunday morning.

From a storage closet that houses the building’s HVAC system, Gjerde could see straight into the alley. The wall that was once there had disappeared. Painted bricks and tufts of insulation were heaped in the narrow alley where they’d tumbled during the chaos.

Building inspectors were on the scene Sunday morning to determine the cause of the collapse, Adams said.

The wall that fell was not load-bearing, said Atkins, who added he was hopeful the repairs would be completed quickly.

“We’re going to try and move as fast as we can with permits,” he said.

Atkins, who purchased the building decades ago, said he hadn’t noticed any issues with the building of late. Property records show it was built in 1920. Back when the space was occupied by the bar J.A. Murphy’s, a structural support beam in the basement needed repairs, he said. The issue came up when the bar was featured on the television show “Bar Rescue” in 2012. However, it involved the other building — which was long ago connected to 1703 Aliceanna St. — and didn’t initially seem connected to Sunday’s collapse, Atkins said.

Gjerde said he can still access about half the restaurant, but critical items like the walk-in refrigerator are inaccessible. With power turned off in the building, the food inside is likely to expire, he said.

Many of the employees will be transferred to the other Papi’s locations in Hampden and Towson, Gjerde said. In the meantime, the business is still reeling from the incident, coupled with the yearlong impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Gjerde said.

“Basically everyone’s texting: ‘What could possibly happen next?’ ” Gjerde said with a laugh. “We opened Papi’s Towson three days ago, so maybe the universe only wants us to have two Papi’s.”


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As Gjerde stood outside the restaurant, a fellow business owner approached to offer aid. Maybe Papi’s could sell tacos from their storefront nearby, they suggested. Dog walkers and other passersby marveled at the interlaced strings of caution tape blocking the front entrance.

“We were just here last night,” one said. “Whoa,” said another.

Caution tape blocked the front entrance of Papi's Tacos in Fells Point Sunday morning after a wall on the side of the building collapsed, sending debris into the alley beside it.