Another one bites the dust: Bill’s Lighthouse Inn sold

Signaling the further death-knell of working class enclaves in South Baltimore, Bill’s Lighthouse Inn (1741 Light Street, Riverside), the storied and longstanding neighborhood bar has been sold to a group known as Velocity Cafe. Bill’s went up for auction in December, but owner Adele Wedemeyer rejected the $475,000 bid for the sizable property, opting to go the Craigslist route and hope for more money.

And it would seem the tactic paid off, with the new owners soon taking over the bar/restaurant, liquor license, furnishings and application for outdoor seating – plus that cute little lighthouse on the awning.

According to the internet, Cafe Velocity was a neighborhood coffee shop in Santa Monica that closed recently, a far cry in premise and execution from a restaurant known primarily for its crab cakes and neighborhood retirees unironically drinking canned PBR, but there’s no word as of yet whether the new owners will change anything other than the decor. The interior of Bill’s could use some updating, as it’s your quintessential Old Baltimore neighborhood establishment – drop ceiling, wood paneling with tiled floors and mirrors all over the place – but aside from that the operation runs a very successful carryout business and has a fiercely loyal customer base, so a complete overhaul would more than likely be a loss for the community. (but that’s just my opinion)

In an area of Baltimore where working class roots are slowly but surely being pushed to the margin and gentrified out of existence, it’s sad to see a place like Bill’s go. Any joint that has impromptu 50/50 raffles, video poker machines (which were very recently confiscated in a heavily armed raid by law enforcement), $2 drafts and overstuffed soft crab sandwiches for less than 10 bucks is a welcome bit of awesomeness, the kind of thing that makes Baltimore great. Whether or not new ownership can embrace and capitalize on that awesomeness, well, let’s hope so. In the meantime, stop by Bill’s while you can and enjoy some Keno and a basket of fried shrimp. You’ll be glad you did.

*…and if the new owners didn’t do their homework with regard to that part of the neighborhood, they’re in for a rude awakening

BIG OL’ UPDATE: As it turns out, the new owners of Bill’s are none other than two folks that go by Marla Streb and Mark Fitzgerald. Interestingly, Marla Streb is an accomplished mountain biking champion with an MS in Molecular Biology, who hails from and lives in (presumably) Baltimore, so that’s a plus. I’ll try to get a hold of her and ask her about her plans for Bill’s.

19 thoughts on “Another one bites the dust: Bill’s Lighthouse Inn sold

  1. The interior and equipment could use some updating especially the restrooms but the food and clientele must stay…especially the shrimp and crabcakes. I have eaten at Nicks by the bridge and there is no comparison…Lighthouse beats them out. A coffee house / cafe would never make it in this block.

  2. I grew up just 4 doors away from the Lighthouse, and everytime I come to town, I like to pop in.I hope they don’t change too much, it has always been the place to go, and I wouldn’t want to see that change:)

  3. I grew up in Baltimore and the Lighthouse was a great place to go and see old friends that you haven’t seen in along time….hopefully they don’t change the place too much….my mother like there crabs…

  4. I have many wonderful memories, both as a child and an adult, at Bill’s. Great times as both a customer and employee. I hope that the new owners will Value BOTH, old as well as new customers. That they will appreciate all patrons not just a select few. Its sad to see a place thats been a part of your life for so long close its doors. I wish the new owners much luck n success.

  5. Well rumor has it that the SBFBer’s will have an event before the close and transfer of licence so when you see something posted on FB come on by. This will give all the past loyal customers a chance to reminisce. I stopped by yesterday not knowing they are closed on Monday to find the doors locked and the Notice of transfer in the window.

  6. It ain’t over till the fat lady sings…the South Baltimore Facebookers will hold an event on 3/4 at this location.

  7. My parents r Bill & Jackie Wedemeyer the REAL owners of the Lighthouse !! RIP to them both …the lighthouse has not been the same since my dad passed away so with that said I really wish the new owners Good Luck and i hope they can surive in the Sbmore bar/restraunt buisness ..My parents ran that bar and carryout well with famliy recipes and good memories i grew up there had so many good times it breaks my heart to see what has happend to the lighthouse !! I would like to thank everyone who gave me a great memory ! When everyone goes there for the final drink or crabcake please take a minute and remember the true owners who r no longer with us !!!!!

    1. My husband and I were born and raised in South Baltimore, even thou we have been gone for a long time. Before we left every friday night Our family went to the Lighthouse. Back then we used to get a dozen or crabs, pound of shrimp and a pitcher of beer for $20.00. My husband and I would eat the crabs and the kids  would eat the shrimp. Bill & Jackie were the best. I did not know they were gone, so sorry for that, but to see it taken over by someone who may or not keep it the same would be a very sad thing. Please new owners please take some good advise. PLEASE LEAVE IT THE WAY IT IS!!! New updates fine. As far as good food and good company better leave it like that. For the sake of all.  Thank  You Mary Manner.

  8. I agree with Kristie, totally. After Jackie passed away I felt her loss each time I went there. The place lost its attraction to me when Bill was no longer there. Here is a toast to Bill & Jackie, together again. Love you guys.

  9. FYI – settlement was supposed to be this morning and it did not happen (again).  does not look like the sale is going to go through.

    1. No John it cartainly doesn’t look like it will go through. This ‘transaction’ was kinda like Brett Farve’s retirement…the Lighthouse:  it’s’s, it’s’s isn’t.  Wonder how this deal was sabotogged/destroyed by the present ‘owner’ (by default) like everything else was destroyed that Jackie & Bill worked so hard for…hmmm…guess we will never know!

      1. I heard that Adele finally paid all the money she owed her step daughter Kristy from Bill’s will, and then on the same day broke a contract to sell the lighthouse to that biker girl, sold The Lighthouse to herself, then flipped again to JBL, who is leasing the bar to three stooges from Turkey!
        Saw that the transfer of the liquor license is scheduled for 3/8.
        I wonder if it will get approved now with the owner of JBl Jeremy landsman on his way to jail for drug trafficking! Check out the city paper this week.
        Adele deserves whatever she gets.

  10. The best stuff crabs around Baltimore. Me n my family use to go to the carryout every Saturday to get stuffed crabs n stuffed jumbo shrimp. Bug lose for South Baltimore.

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