Longtime hangout headed for auction

Restaurant: High-powered politicians once gathered at the Fells Point landmark, which had Victorian decor and two fireplaces.

April 25, 2001|By Meredith Cohn | Meredith Cohn,SUN STAFF

The Waterfront Hotel Restaurant, a Fells Point institution once known as a gathering place for politicians and showplace for artists, is slated for auction next month to pay off its owners' debt, according to court records.

The foreclosure comes months after the doors were locked at the three-story brick building at 1710 Thames St., where stools are still piled on tables and bottles of liquor remain in place at the bar.

The former owners, Chester Tokarski and Gene Raynor, said in court documents that the new owners owe them $467,553.63 in mortgage payments. The two sold the popular business and building in March 1999.

The new owners, David and Charles Burman, agreed to a sale price of $500,000 - in monthly installments of $6,333.80 - but stopped making payments in January, according to documents filed with the Circuit Court of Baltimore.

Tokarski and Raynor won the right from the court last month to foreclose on the Burmans and auction the property. The building and its liquor license are scheduled for sale at 2 p.m. May 7.

Kenneth Pezzulla, the attorney for the former owners, said the sale could be canceled or postponed if arrangements can be made with the Burmans, who could not be reached for comment.

"Their position is simply that they want to be paid," Pezzulla said. "They have no desire to take the restaurant back. We think this will generate interest from the public because of the historic importance to it."

In the meantime, interest and charges continue to mount, Pezzulla said.

Pezzulla said the former owners had operated the restaurant and bar successfully for years. Raynor, a former chief of the city and state election boards and ally of William Donald Schaefer, ex-Baltimore mayor and governor and now Maryland comptroller, drew a high-powered crowd.

State land records show Raynor and Tokarski had owned the property since 1979.

The Waterfront Hotel Restaurant, which kept its name even though the hotel had long since closed, had a bar on the first floor and a dining room named for former Fells Point resident Charles F. Morrison on the second floor. Neighbors said they believe Burman family members were living on the third floor.

The place offered Victorian decor, two fireplaces, white table clothes and continental meals, with some dishes prepared at the table. The building even served as a backdrop for the NBC television drama "Homicide."

"It's a shame," said one Fells Point resident who did not want to be identified by name. "It used to be the most popular bar around. It just faded away to nothing."

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