Baltimore’s favorite dive bar has sold.
The Mount Royal Tavern, fittingly, has been taken over by artists.
According to a contract submitted with an application to transfer the pub’s liquor license, the price was $800,000. The four new owners include Nicholas Wisniewski and musician Daniel Deacon of Baltimore plus Marlon Ziello and artist Derrick Adams, both of Brooklyn, New York. Together they formed a company called One Distinct, LLC. The LLC is registered to Wisniewski with the address 2239 Kirk Ave., which is the location of an artist-run nonprofit called The Compound.
Deacon, a well-known recording artist and Bolton Hill resident, and Wisniewski did not return requests for comment from The Baltimore Banner. Adams, a visual artist who grew up in Baltimore before moving to Brooklyn, declined to speak about the sale.
With its replica of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling and decades of accumulated grime and charm, the bar at 1204 West Mount Royal Ave., nicknamed “Dirt Church,” opened after Prohibition and has long been a favorite hangout for students at the neighboring Maryland Institute College of Art. (According to an article in The Baltimore Sun, Wisniewski and Ziello both graduated from MICA and co-founded The Compound.) The tavern has received recognition from Esquire Magazine, which called it one of the nation’s best bars in 2016.
The bar has not changed hands in more than 35 years; the seller was listed as Morota Inc., which was formed in 1985. The new owners will go before Baltimore’s board of liquor license commissioners at a hearing sometime on or after April 6, according to a notice posted outside the bar.