Tommy’s Downtown Tavern is the toehold Pigtown needs


A while ago I had heard through the grapevine (probably via @casey18cc and @carolott, who live within eyeshot) that Tommy’s Downtown Tavern (839 W Cross St, Pigtown) was for sale and was reminded again by reading it over on that Tom Fox is trying to sell the property to the “right person,” someone who would foster the relationships he’s built with his surrounding community over the past three years and continue to nurture them going forward, someone who’s “Not all about the money.”

And while it may be wishful thinking, who knows, one thing is for certain: Pigtown needs all the Tommy’s Downtown Taverns it can get. Its friendly atmosphere, reasonable prices and jovial staffers are the kind that will give cause to residents of Pigtown to actually want to leave their homes but not, say, cross the bridge over to “FED HILL” and actually stick around and talk with one another.

Pigtown has been “on the rise” and “up and coming” since I can remember – specifically, 2003 when I moved to the city, and at a certain point it became a running joke with all the fits and starts seen in even the most lucrative areas of Baltimore (like “FED HILL!”). Particularly when the economy crashed and huge developments ceased city wide, leaving the little neighborhood that could on the west side of Russell Street left twisting in the wind.

But things are certainly different right now, aren’t they. Federal Hill and Locust Point are virtually at carrying capacity as far as I’m concerned, areas previously thought completely resistant to revitalization like Remington and “Upper Patterson Park” (what the hell does that even mean?) are flipping like crazy, and Highlandtown is chugging right along to being one of the best hoods in the Baltimore area. Again. Whether it’s just another bubble at work or a true rennaissance, I’m saying it right now,


Tommy’s is a perfect corner bar for Pigtown’s needs and Pigtown Mainstreet is doing its damnedest to bring good, solid businesses to the area. Art galleries, chicken n’ waffle joints (seriously, how many of them are there in “FED HILL?”), event venues like Mobtown Ballroom, Pigtown is just *barely* on the precipice of turning the corner and becoming the next success story, and it deserves to be. At this point it seems inevitable but the question really is “how long?” As I increasingly see more of my own associates taking up residence there it seems more appealing.

And that’s really all it takes, isn’t it? A Tommy’s, and a bunch of friends to meet there? Folks may see Pigtown as dicey but I’ve live in “SOUTH FED HILL” in an area that four years ago featured roving gangs and open air drug markets on the corner of Heath and Marshall, Christ, look at it now – full blown luxury apartment complexes on Wells and mixed used developments being thrown into the air with alarming speed, gourmet pizza restaurants out the wazoo, and more on the way (and 75% fewer open air drug markets. Nothing is perfect.). As with all the house flippers in that area learned even throughout the great recession, “If you build it, they will come.” At least, enough of them to get things rolling, from what I’ve seen.

So keep at it, Pigtown! And hey, serious investor, if you’re reading: Tommy’s is a great bar with great patrons and you should look into purchasing it. It might be a few years more until Pigtown truly realizes its “up and coming status” but one thing’s for damn sure, it is CHEAP AS SHIT TO BUY A HOUSE THERE.

16 thoughts on “Tommy’s Downtown Tavern is the toehold Pigtown needs

  1. Pigtown has another decade or so before it manages any sort of worthwhile gentrification. Tommy’s closed because he couldn’t make any money there. Why would someone want to buy a bar that can’t make money?

    1. First, Tommy’s is open, was just there this past Saturday munching on Mini Corn Dogs, it’s just for sale is all – Tommy’s motivations for selling are his own and if you take him at his word it’s just about moving on and he seems genuinely interested in preserving the atmosphere he’s built on that corner for the past few years.

      Honestly I don’t know why anyone would ever want to own a bar in the first place in this city – it’s certainly not to “make money” (ask virtually any bar owner about that) – but getting back to this “ten years” notion, again, four-five years ago “SOUTH FED HILL” was still pretty much a pit and shit is reaching a breaking point for people looking for a new neighborhood with affordable houses for purchase and great potential. IMO, that neighborhood is Pigtown.

      1. I can’t tell any real changes in Pigtown from when I worked there in 2009 to 2013. There are changes but they are so incremental as to almost be invisible.

        As to South Fed Hill, I’m not sure but it isn’t exactly adjacent to Fed Hill? Pigtown has bigger barrier to being thought of as a supplement to a bigger neighborhood.

        I don’t think it will never happen but the fact that it’s been a joke for ten years says something about its viability.

        As for Tommy’s, you are right that we don’t know why he’s selling. However, I disagree with him about what the neighborhood needs. I think it needs people who ARE all about the money. That’s what leads to the places succeeding and showing people that businesses can be built and thrivish there.

          1. Has business picked up there quite a bit in the past year and a half? I confess to only knowing that the place was on the verge of closing in the spring of 2012.

  2. As a former Pigtown resident, I always lamented the fact that there was never a place conveniently close to congregate, and, unfortunately, Tommy’s came at a time just as I was leaving the neighborhood. (Marriage and the suburbs beckoned; it’s all my lovely wife’s fault.) I should note, though, that I still own my home there.

    That said, Evan’s comments are spot on. “South Fed Hill” or South Baltimore, as we knew it, had some of the same issues Pigtown had. The benefit there, of course, was it is relatively confined as opposed to Pigtown’s “borders,” for lack of a better term.

    That said, I would gladly swing by a meetup at Tommy’s for old-time’s sake.

  3. “Upper Patterson Park” is a term that sleazy property investors use when they are trying to sell or rent properties that are located in transitional/teetering neighborhoods such as McElderry Park, Ellwood Park, or Middle East. These were the same investors who were marketing Patterson Park and Highlandtown as “Upper Canton” before these neighborhoods became desirable.

  4. I grew up in the neighborhood and it has definitely changed for the better. I get the feeling it will change more in the way of Hampden than Fed Hill.

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