March 9, 2021

Ex-Baltimore business rep blames city, not pandemic, after closing Inner Harbor bar

A representative for the company that owns Dick’s Last Resort said the recent closure of the brash restaurant and bar’s Baltimore location had less to do with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic than with the city itself.

Downtown Baltimore is a complete hellhole dumpster fire of violence and danger. Nobody in their right mind would operate a business there.””,”additional_properties”:{“comments”:1/83/8,”inline_comments”:1/83/83/4,”_id”:”QQHBMJG6YVHW3NK7GUGJJ2P7FY

Ryan Carlson, director of operations for Deja Vu Services, Inc.

“Downtown Baltimore is a complete hellhole dumpster fire of violence and danger,” Ryan Carlson, director of operations for Deja Vu Services, Inc., wrote in an email to the Baltimore Sun. “Nobody in their right mind would operate a business there.”

In addition to Dick’s Last Resort, the Las Vegas-based Deja Vu operates about 200 strip clubs in 40 states and six countries. Among those locations is Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club at 409 E. Baltimore St.

City Councilman Eric Costello, who represents Baltimore’s 11th District where the Dick’s Last Resort was located at 621 E. Pratt St., said in a phone interview that he found Carlson’s statement “ironic” given the restaurant’s pride in its generally rude service.

“I find the narrative explanation from a company that runs strip clubs and prides itself on having poor customer service as a joke to be quite ironic,” Costello said. “… [The Hustler Club’s] employees and clientele contribute to quality of life issues in the downtown central business district. Perhaps, they’re interested in taking another look in the mirror and reflecting on the way they run a business in our downtown and our city.”

Carlson’s statement aligns with the spirit of Dick’s Last Resort, which is known for its servers jokingly being rude and obnoxious toward customers, often giving guests large paper hats featuring a joke mocking the wearer written in black marker. The restaurant lists nine locations on its website, including Las Vegas, Dallas and Nashville. The Baltimore location had been open for 10 years in the downtown Power Plant.

A spokeswoman for The Cordish Companies, which manages the Power Plant, said in a statement Wednesday that the restaurant suffered from decreased visitation because of the pandemic. Like the Power Plant Barnes & Noble that closed last month, significant rent concessions were offered to the tenants, who declined, Cari Furman said.

Laurie Schwartz, president of the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, pointed out the bar operated in the city for a decade, “so they must have been profitable until the pandemic hit.

“Like too many other local and national retailers, they are closing as a result of the pandemic,” she continued in an email. “Their whole business model is around insulting customers. And now I guess they’re just extending that business model to insult cities as well. Their whole concept is to be obnoxious and their statement about Baltimore couldn’t be any more obnoxious.”

Costello noted that the hospitality industry is the third-largest job sector in Baltimore and that the city has worked to support those workers throughout the pandemic, which began in March.

“It’s frustrating to hear,” Costello said of Carlson’s comment. “Baltimore City certainly has our fair share of challenges, but that also to me sounds like deflection and trying to blame the challenges that everyone is facing across the city and across the country related to COVID to something that is not the cause of it.”

This article will be updated.

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