Tiki Barge under fire, rallies support

03/03/2011 Update Update: The liquor board hearing is being monitored in this new post

Chances are pretty high that if you’re living anywhere within 20 miles of Baltimore City, you’ve hear of Tiki Barge (500 Harborview Dr., Inner Harbor). Midnight Sun’s best new bar(ge) of 2010, the pool-barge turned pool-bar-barge situated at the end of Harborview Marina’s pier created a tremendous amount of buzz last summer, when it quietly opened one weekday and immediately exploded in popularity, attracting visitors from far and wide.

And how could it not? As far as waterside pool bars go, Tiki Barge is pretty much the only game in town. Weekends at Tiki Barge over last summer were a constantly packed nonstop pool party, replete with a mixture of Jersey Shore types, moms with kids in strollers, and retirees getting some sun/poolside reading during Baltimore’s oft-times sweltering summers. Love it or hate it, Tiki Barge was a massive success in its first season and owner Bud Craven deserves credit for bringing a bit of unique flavor to the city’s bar scene.

But as with everything else, especially in a city of bars that are deemed too close for comfort for residents, the Tiki Barge has received word of protest – presumably from residents of Harborview and boat enthusiasts – which may put Tiki Barge in danger of not returning this season. As with all protests, these things are handled by the liquor board to establish whether the complaints are valid (their hearing is scheduled for March 3rd), whether or not to take action against the business. Literally hundreds of these complaints are levied and dealt with against bars across the city, but in this case Tiki Barge has taken a rather unprecedented move and has started rallying its fans and patrons to support them.

To whit, they’ve started a Facebook Event, “Support the Tiki Barge,” and an online petition has been created by others in an effort to give voice to the highest fandom that a bar seems to have generated in quite a long time, at least in my memory.

At the end of the day this reaction by the business means one of a few things. One, The Tiki Barge has received a great deal of protest from some people with a lot of clout, especially the wealthiest of citizens (and a city council member) who reside in Harboview who don’t want the unwashed masses passing through their precious real estate and offending their eyes and ears – giving Tiki Barge reason for concern, especially given the power of clout in Baltimore and its way of greasing the wheels goes. Two, this is a limited to minor complaint volleyed by a few people, and it’ll be settled nicely and quietly, meaning Tiki Barge kinda sorta overreacted by clarion-calling its patrons to support them in the matter. My best estimate, the whole thing will be settled nicely and quietly and Tiki Barge will return this summer. If not, come March 3rd there will be some supremely angry bar-and-pool goers in this town.

Are you a fan of Tiki Barge? Do you hate Tiki Barge? Discuss.

(photo via http://tikibargebaltimore.com/)

Update: more details @ Midnight Sun

03/03/2011 Update Update: The liquor board hearing is being monitored in this new post

30 thoughts on “Tiki Barge under fire, rallies support

  1. Oh yes support I will because I planned on checking this place out this summer…never made it there last year but saw pelenty of pics posted on FB…

  2. i like it but it has it’s drawbacks.

    It’s way too small for the amount of people that show up. Once it fills up there is a lovely film of suntan lotion and god knows what else on top.

    The mandatory pool evacuation when the lifeguard goes on break is stupid.

    I get the no drinks over the water, but they are a bit crazy about it.

    there is always the Merritt Pool(s) as well, but it’s way more expensive to get in, etc. they are much nicer though.

  3. Evan, when you say you think it will be settled nicely and quietly, what’s your prediction on the outcome? Just a stern warning or something of that nature?

    Any indication (other than just the address) that Ms. Rikki is involved in the complaint?

    1. There probably won’t be a warning or anything of that sort, this process is essentially akin to when the Federal Hill Neighborhood Association guy complained about Illusions for being disruptive and it was dismissed pretty quickly.

      However, I think some promises will be made on the part of Bud et al to control the noise, level of crowd, etc. in order to appease the residents. Shuttering them completely is a bit extreme, considering the amount of revenue they’re bringing into the system. Also considering the level of transgression it takes for places to get shuttered – like, people getting stabbed at Club Ultralounge for one – I highly doubt Tiki Barge would get that treatment, unless Ms. Councilman is involved (which I doubt) or others with an extreme level of influence.

      1. I politely disagree. The current hearing is in regards to the liquor license being held by Harborview (which covers Sorso, Tabrizi’s, and now the Tiki Barge). The original license did not include the Tiki Barge, and when the license was revised it was stated that the home owners association approved the license change to include the Tiki Barge. Unfortunately, this never happened. There was never a meeting of the HOA to approve the Tiki Barge. As it states right now, the March 3rd meeting is trying get the liquor license reverted back to the original license to only include Tabrizi’s and Sorso Cafe. Therefore when the license is up for renewal and they want to add the Tiki Barge, a more formal hearing will be conducted where people can voice their concerns (if this was just done in the first place this might never had been a problem).

        The issue is not with the Tiki Barge as a business, but the way it was approved an opened. Any bar in Baltimore that apply’s for a license is required to have a public hearing where neighbors can voice concerns. This just never happened here, and instead of trying to work with the neighbors, the owner just decided to give the neighborhood association a big FU.

        1. gotta be honest with you, I opened a place without having a public hearing. Spark9576, I have to disagree with you. The liquor board does take into account the voices of the neighborhood associations but you don’t need to have a meeting beforehand.

          1. The original license request never stated the Tiki Barge. When the addendum was added, the request stated a “small bar at the pool where residents can get a drink/sandwich while swimming”. Even though you didn’t have a public hearing, you most likely had a notice and someone could have called for a public hearing. This did not happen here, they tried to push the bar through under the existing liquor license at Harborview. I just say let the chips fall and let people voice their concerns, and the Board will decide…

  4. As someone who is close to this situation I would like to clarify a few things. First of all this has nothing to do with a “city council member” or “some people with a lot of clout”. It does have everything to do with a handful (14 people total) of husbands and wives that reside at Harborview led by a man named David Wallace and helped out by Joel Dewey, a trial attorney with DLA Piper who no longer lives at Harborview but insists that he can’t sell his house at Harborview because of the Tiki Barge! This is about a few stuffy people that think that they actually represent the over 1,000 people who live at Harborview. Well, they don’t. Mr. Wallace would like to see Harborview become a nursing home as he gets older and is worried about his expensive boat, and his cohort Mr. Dewey actually wants people to believe that he and his wife moved because of the Tiki Barge, and that he can’t sell his house because of it as well. The reality is that he can’t sell his house because it is way overpriced compared to any other house in the neighborhood. Not the Tike Barge’s fault that he bought at the height of the market…..but hey, why not blame the Tiki Barge…..after all, trial attorneys do need something to fight about right?! So these 14 nursing home wannabes filed a petition that is absolutely baseless and is wasting everyone’s time. The Tiki Barge has done everything in it’s power to appease these peoples’ concerns, in an effort to be a good neighbor, but the day after management met with them and did everything they asked, they still mounted their crusade. They are not credible and certainly don’t act neighborly or in good faith. These folks actually complained that they didn’t want to see young people! And Joe Grigg and his wife, two of the other petitioners said he and his wife were offended by a couple that were in the middle of a romantic moment. You know, if you don’t like it there, go somewhere else. That is what is so nice about living in this country…..freedom of choice! And so what it all really comes down to is a few people who are prudes, are probably jealous of people who are actually having fun and are generally unhappy in their lives unless they are fighting someone. As for why the Tiki Barge mounted a support campaign……it is because they are tired of bullies like these pushing people around. This is one of the best things to come to Baltimore in a long time, and if they don’t like it, they should. The Tiki Barge is a class act, has obeyed all laws and there has not been a single incident reported to prove otherwise. The Tiki Barge has put on additional security, including off duty police officers, at the request of these people, spent 10’s of thousands of dollars to put individual security gates on each dock and even limits hours to 11 PM on weekdays and midnight on weekends out of respect for the community. Oh, and one more thing……the Tiki Barge is 1,300 feet from the nearest residence…….you can’t hear anything. So, to conclude, this is just a case of some older people who prefer not to be around younger people (kinda discriminatory) and don’t know how to have fun, except to hassle people that are……these people should move to a senior living facility…..wonder what they’ll complain about there…….

    1. Matt, you are so off base and wrong you probably couldn’t find your way out of a one-way car wash. The tiki-barge did not install the gates that the marina, the Marina owners installed the gates (Which the slip-holders technically pay for). There have been numerous police reports against the barge from last summer. The petition is more than 14 people long and is highly supported by the community. Also, the fact that you’ve named so many people in your post but don’t provide your name shows how much of a spineless coward you are.

      Get your facts straight, and prepare to drink somewhere else this summer, as this place WILL be closed…

      1. Wait, lemme get this straight. “Matt” is a coward for not providing his name, according to “SJF.” That’s fucking comedy gold.

        And isn’t the Tiki Barge itself a slipholder?

        And PS. 1.4% does not constitute “highly supported.” Whether you are talking about bras or public petitions.

        1. I didn’t call anyone out in my post, so why would I provide my name. The Tiki Barge is NOT a Slip Holder. They are a privately funded business that does not pay for upkeep at Harborview. I hate to burst everyone’s bubble, but I’ve seen the petition to the liquor board an it is several hundred pages long with multiple examples of violation of the housing code at Harborview, and signed by WAY more than 14 people who are RESIDENTS of Harborview. People seem to forget that the issue isn’t having a TIiki Barge in Baltimore, it’s about the location. It is a bar that was opened in a private neighborhood WITHOUT any public hearing beforehand. They used the existing liquor license at Harborview and did not file for a new license (at one point their kitchen was closed down due to the fact they didn’t file for a separate kitchen license).

          Bud is definitely a visionary in business, but he’s cut a lot of legal corners and red-tape and it’s plain pissed the people off who paid a lot of money to live in a quiet secluded neighborhood….

          At any rate, March 3rd will be an interesting day, and I would be prepared to start drinking somewhere else this summer…

          1. Actually yes, a quiet secluded neighborhood in downtown Baltimore. Take a look at a map and the location of Harborview. The Harborview neighborhood has always been a quiet secluded place. I’ve lived there for 8 years… So please try again Katy H.

          2. I would argue that the reason it’s been quiet and secluded has more to do with the fact that up until last summer, there was no reason for anyone other than residents to go there (and don’t try telling me the restaurants there are a draw, they aren’t). Now suddenly groups of people are coming through, shellshock ensues (apologies to WWI veterans with actual shellshock for the analogy), not that this has anything to do with whether or not the Barge’s existence is legal in the first place…

    2. I think the problem here is a handful of @$$holes that are getting too drunk, misbehaving and ruining harborview for both the residents and the patrons of the tiki barge. The majority, well behaved, fun loving folks need to police the jerks and make the tiki barge fun for all. Then, the complaints will go away and everyone will be happy. Simple.

  5. Hmmm, 14 people out of an entire condo building? That’s just silly. Hope that adds up to their complaints not getting a lot of traction.

  6. Actually, it’s not just one condo building….Harborview has 4 different projects with over 1,000 people living there…..so 14 people thinking they represent the community is a joke!

  7. I remember seeing pictures of the place when it first opened last year and they were of all older people sitting at the bar enjoying themselves. Then I heard that a bunch of 20 somethings were starting to go there. I didn’t think that it was going to mix well, it’s a shame. The Timi Barge is going to stay open after they make a few changes to appease the 14. Unfortunately this probably cost the owners 10k+ in legal fees.

  8. I am hereby recommissioning the Lightship Chesapeake to repel the Tiki attackers and restore peace to the seas. Marauders and thieves, the lot!

  9. Th’ tiki barge be me favorite spiced grog port in th’ harbor. i be assemblin’ a crew to commandeer th’ constellation ‘n save th’ harbor. join me to save th’ tiki barrrrrge or swab th’ decks ye divvys! it be kookoo bananas to me that anyone would inquiry th’ barrrge, it be a safe ‘n a ruckas place to parrrty in th’ harbor.

  10. All I can say is Good Luck TIki Barge!!! I hope to make it up there from NC to make this a destination for me and my family. It is sad that a few want to make someone’s business disappear when so many are having fun. So how if at all can people like SJF find a resolve for what looks like a great attraction. Can you say, we will share revenue with the homeowners to lower their HOA fees or is everyone at a dead end. From the outside looking in, I wish we had something like the tiki barge in my backyard in North Carolina. Young, Old, Pretty, Ugly or just fun people need to have fun places to play. Why can’t we just get along. I promise to be there this summer so I hope Tiki Barge you are successful in your March 3 meeting. Good Luck and I hope Harborview people you can just get along. By the way, send me some prices of your places for sale and maybe I move there just so I can park my 35ft boat there.


    1. Scott, Unfortunately the Tiki Barge is not a family friendly place. This is one of the reasons people are complaining. The Barge used to be the private pool for the condo, town-homes, and marina. It was a great place to relax on a weekend. Now there’s way too many people, and not a place to bring children. Again, the big concern is not with having a Tiki Barge, the concern is the current location. They can move the barge off of the Harborview back lot (near Havana’s) and that would solve 80% of the issues the neighbors have.

      1. So let’s see, you’re suggesting that a business be moved somewhere that is another private property and under the control of another property owner? I guess with that type of stupid suggestion I guess one could easily ask why don’t you just move? And you say I “couldn’t find my way out of a one way car wash”? Might want to rethink that one……..

  11. if it weren’t for the excessively long traffic lights that came with Harborview, I doubt many would have slowed down long enough to discover the Tiki Barge. Just sayin…
    That may a stretch, but consider that the presence of the new ‘quiet,secluded community’ comes with disadvantages for rest of us too.

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