"It's really been an important part of the lacrosse community," he said, "because it's a positive gathering place for people that are extremely passionate about the sport."
Although he sold the tavern four years ago, Bauer was still shocked by the news.
"It becomes sadder as the day goes by," Bauer said. "I was there for 28 and a half years, so almost half of my life. I think it's sad for the community as well because there are a lot of memories there."
Frisch said the tavern has "very good insurance" and he had already spoken to contractors about rebuilding.
"Absolutely we will rebuild as quickly as possible," he said. "We're looking at a lot of work, and being back for the Preakness may be a stretch, but we'll be back."
For a neighborhood that in recent years has suffered flood damage and road and bridge construction that restricted customer access, the temporary loss of the tavern is another blow, said Mustapha Snoussi, owner of the nearby Crepe Du Jour restaurant across Sulgrave Avenue from the tavern.
"We just had a successful block party last week, and the mood was good. Today we have lost the Mount Washington Tavern, a landmark. You cannot be more sad," he said.
Koula Savvakis, president of the Mount Washington Village Merchants Association and owner of DK Salon across the street from the tavern, predicted the fire would hurt other stores. "We all feed on each other as businesses," she said.
Standing on the sidewalk as the sun went down, Frisch fielded phone calls and best wishes, comforted staff and was comforted by regulars.
"The frustrating part is waiting," he said. "Reopening can't happen soon enough."
Sun reporter Mary Gail Hare, Larry Perl of the Baltimore Messenger and Sun intern Christopher Eckard contributed to this article.