With its building on the auction block, Glen Burnie's hottest nightclub is in danger of having its plug pulled and its music stopped.
L.A.'s Restaurant and Bar, which became an overnight success last winter, is still drawing scores of twentysomething couples to dance the night away. But the property now is up for sale to the highest bidder.
The owner of the one-story building and surrounding grounds, GlenBurnie Realty Inc., defaulted on its loan on the property in May 1990 and filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11, which allows businesses to reorganize. A federal judge dismissed the bankruptcy claim last month, allowing the creditor to foreclose on the site.
The Resolution Trust Corp., a federal agency handling the assetsof insolvent savings and loans, took over the loan when Baltimore Federal Financial collapsed in April 1990. With the property no longer in bankruptcy, an auction has been scheduled for Nov. 4, said Karen Zale, general counsel for Financial Conservatory Inc., which manages some RTC assets.
John and David Vogelsang, who signed a 10-year lease and turned the building into a popular nightspot and eatery in January, hope to survive the shuffle. The brothers from South Baltimore said business is thriving at L.A.'s, a three-level mix of a casual restaurant, a sports bar and a polished 800-square-foot dance floor.
"Hopefully, whoever buys the property has to honor my lease," said David Vogelsang, 39,who used to own Something Special, a restaurant in the Howard House Hotel on Howard Street in Baltimore. "L.A.'s is as strong now as it'sever been, and we're making all our rent payments."
But the club's future could be shaky, because the next buyer doesn't have to honorthe lease, Zale said.
"There is a real question whether their lease will survive the foreclosure sale," she said. "In Maryland, leasesgenerally do not survive foreclosure sales."
The Vogelsang brothers are looking at alternate sites and considering bidding on the property, though they're still holding out the hope of keeping their 10-year lease with the next owner.
"When we got involved, we didn't know there would be problems with the owner," David Vogelsang said. "Wespent a lot of time, a lot of money, a lot of effort here. This is one of the unfortunate things that can happen, and now everyone thinkswe're folding up shop."
Sandwiched between a Dunkin' Donuts and aSizzler in the7100 block of Ritchie Highway, L.A.'s is a homemade club. From its palm tree logo to the downstairs beer bar, it was planned, designed and crafted by the Vogelsangs, who created a Miami Vice look in a former Beefsteak Charlie's.
The club became a quick hit. Young people from around the Glen Burnie area came to dance to Top 40music, eat nachos and drink beer. The dinner crowd is still sparse, but couples line up weekend nights to dance at L.A.'s.