Gunning's Crab House has escaped the claws of public auction.
The owners of the South Baltimore landmark at 3901 S. Hanover St. reached an agreement with their mortgage holder yesterday and averted an auction that was scheduled next week for the property.
That means Gunning's will not be forced to close next week and will continue to sell its award-winning crab cakes and fried pepper rings covered with powdered sugar.
"I'm very happy. This is wonderful news," said Edward Gunning, who started the crab house with his dad 22 years ago.
Laurel Federal Savings Bank agreed yesterday to accept installments through the summer from the Gunning family to pay off its $160,000 mortgage, Gunning's lawyer, Howard Heneson, said.
Being open through the summer months is crucial for the crab house's survival, Mr. Heneson said, because it is the busiest time of year.
"We're looking for a good season," he said. "They'll be out on that corner selling crabs and having lots of parties."
But Mr. Gunning knows that the crab house, which was a favorite hangout of Danny DeVito's during the filming of the movie "Tin Men," isn't out of the woods yet. Gunning's Crab House filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March.
Its success hinges on the sale of its Ocean City property, which burned in 1989 and was left inoperable. Mr. Heneson said that offers have been made on the 3/4 -acre tract of land on Coastal Highway and he is optimistic about its sale. The proceeds would go a long way toward satisfying creditors.
Meanwhile, Gunning's neighbors on Hanover Street have offered money and services to help out. "The customers are really wonderful," Mr. Gunning said.