Back in April, the owners of Ryleigh's Oyster in Federal Hill announced plans for a German biergarten at 12-18 E. Cross Street. Crossbar Der Biergarten would replace the former home of Turners/Billabong and expand next door into what was Lanasa Produce. The bar would feature a $100,000 kitchen, historical architectural elements, and have permanent picnic style seating, akin to an authentic German beer hall.
"If you go around the country in places like New York City, San Francisco, and Philadelphia, you will find great German biergartens in neighborhoods just like Federal Hill," owner Brian McComas said at a community meeting. "We take a lot of pride in Ryleigh's and will do the same at Crossbar. If Crossbar has a negative impact, it will affect us at Ryleigh's as well."
Since the announcement, Federal Hill residents have already predicted that negative impact, saying that the last thing Federal Hill needs is another "mega-bar." In an opinion piece published yesterday on Baltimore Brew, Federal Hill resident Diana Sugg wrote, "In the last several years, as many bars in Federal Hill have expanded, these [drunken] scenes have become routine. Families wake up to find cigarette butts, half-eaten pieces of pizza, and other trash on their stoops."
Sugg went on to list some facts: "Over the last decade, even though the number of liquor licenses in the immediate vicinity of the Cross Street Market has stayed the same (34), the capacity of these bars has grown from a maximum of 3,751 potential drinkers in 2003, to 5,025 in 2013—a 34 percent increase."
This writer and other residents feel that Crossbar is the latest example of this mega-bar trend. The Federal Hill Neighborhood Association is leading the opposition to Crossbar, with the support of four other neighborhoods: Federal Hill South, Otterbein, Sharp-Leadenhall, and South Baltimore. More than 400 residents have signed petitions against the Crossbar proposal.
The group will be heard before the Baltimore City Board of Liquor License Commissioners this Thursday afternoon.