The Manor, one of Baltimore’s largest gay establishments, now under new management

The restaurant and bar, which opened in 2019, was one of the city’s most popular gay establishments. It hosted weekly drag brunches and regularly brought in contestants from TV’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

Published 8/21/2023 4:30 p.m. EDT, Updated 9/5/2023 11:18 a.m. EDT

The Manor in Mt Vernon on June 12, 2023

The Manor, an upscale gay-owned bar and restaurant in Mount Vernon, has been acquired and will reopen under new management in the coming weeks. It is unclear who the new managers of the business are, however, and whether or not it will remain gay-owned and operated.

The restaurant and nightclub has been “temporarily closed” since shortly before Christmas due to damage from broken pipes.

“After nearly four wonderful and fruitful years, it is now time for Robert and I to move on to our next chapter,” co-owner Josh Persing, who ran the business with his partner Robert Gay, wrote in a Facebook message Monday. “Know that we are extremely proud of what we accomplished here, and while this marks the end of an era for us, it is also a new beginning for The Manor so that it can continue to flourish as it has for so many years.”

Neither Persing nor Gay could immediately be reached for additional comment.

The Manor, which opened in 2019, was one of the city’s most popular gay establishments. It hosted weekly drag brunches and regularly brought in contestants from “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” the TV reality show.

The Manor was also one of two of the city’s largest gay bars and venues — Central is the other — that remained shuttered for Pride Week activities in June.

Central, which has gone through a handful of concept changes in the past year, recently posted that the establishment was looking for a new business partner. No reopening date has been announced for it.

The absence of what many call “safe spaces” for LGBTQ members comes as they and their rights are under attack by many conservative politicians, activists and commentators.

“To patrons who became friends, and friends who became family, it is you who we thank, you who made us a success. You welcomed us into this community, you gave us your trust and your love. You shared your holidays, your celebrations, your good days and bad. You made us a part of your important moments and your everyday routine. You made us a safe harbor and a home. We may have opened our doors to you, but you opened your hearts to us, and we are forever grateful,” the message reads.

Jackie Abeel, who was a loyal patron, said she was saddened to learn of the change in management.

“The Manor was my favorite LGBTQ+ space. Not only did I meet most of my friends in Baltimore there, but I also got to experience some of the most fun nights of my life there. I still held onto hope from December after the water main break and speaking with Rob and Josh that it would reopen as the same place we knew and loved,” she said.

Abeel, a 33-year-old lesbian, said she is concerned about the space’s future.

“This is not only devastating for all of us regulars, but the LGBTQ+ community in Baltimore as a whole, as we see another place close down in the neighborhood with already limited options for the community as is,” she said. “The Manor felt safe and welcoming, it’s a place I’ve talked about endlessly with so many people and it’s going to take time to process that the place we know and love is dead and gone.”

The owners of Sweet Spot, a popular gay dance party, said their concept probably wouldn’t exist without The Manor. ”They gave us the opportunity to create and grow our queer pop dance party. We’ve made so many friends and had the opportunity to work with incredible performers and DJs over the past two years and we’re sad to see The Manor, as a queer bar, close,” said Andre Cawley, who co-owns Sweet Spot with his husband, Christopher Uhl. Sweet Spot, Cawley said, “will continue to seek new venues to create intentional queer spaces in Baltimore City.”

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