Idle Hour Launches Crowdfunding Campaign, Plans Its Comeback

| March 26, 2015 | 0 Comments
Photo of Idle Hour's front door.  Photo courtesy of their Indiegogo campaign.

Photo of Idle Hour’s front door. Photo courtesy of their Indiegogo campaign.

When Idle Hour owners Randal Etheridge and Brendan Finnerty discovered right after Christmas that the wall behind their Riverside bar was beginning to buckle, a wall that is attached to the adjacent rowhome they also own, they immediately closed the bar indefinitely and were faced with some tough decisions. With repairs likely to be expensive and tedious, they were faced with a decision of whether to sell their bar and real estate, relocate Idle Hour, or fix the issue.

It was the South Baltimore community that made this tough decision an easy one for the owners. “The neighborhood basically decided not to let us close,” said Finnerty.

Etheridge and Finnerty received an outpouring of support from the community. This included donations from homeowners located within a block of their bar and beyond, neighborhood architects offering to help out, two successful fundraising events, and countless words of encouragement.

“If you had talked to me two months ago, I was very down as this hit us really hard and fast. We never thought we’d have to shut down our baby,” said Finnerty. “To have everyone reach out and encourage us has been amazing.”

Idle Hour is moving forward with a plan to make the repairs and the owners are hoping they can reopen by the bar’s 12th birthday in August. They are estimating between the construction work and covering the two mortgages and expenses through the summer that it will cost them around $80,000. They will be acquiring a $40,000 loan, but are hoping to raise another $40,000 through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. They have received no help from their insurance company.

Launched earlier this week, the campaign in nearing $10,000 in donations. In exchange for those donations, contributors can receive incentives such as stickers, an invite to the grand opening, t-shirts, a mixed CD, artwork, a bottle of Chartreuse, their own signature cocktail, an Idle Hour Night at their house, and, for a $5,000 donation, Idle Hour’s well-known front door which is covered in stickers.

Whether they reach their full fundraising goal or not, the duo still plans on moving forward to reopen Idle Hour. In the chance they raise more money that $40,000, they will look into converting the second floor of Idle Hour into an event space and overflow area for busy weekend crowds.

“We probably should have launched a crowdfunding campaign sooner, but first we really wanted to make sure we it was something we could fix and have time to talk to our bank,” said Finnerty.

In nearly 12 years of existence, Idle Hour has developed a strong local following and have received awards from Baltimore publications. Etheridge and Finnerty are “huge” music fans and that is what the place was built on according to Finnerty. There is always a record player hooked up so they can play vinyl and or a CD player going. Throughout the week patrons can hear playlists from the staff, DJs and fellow bar patrons.

Idle Hour also features local artwork on its walls and is well-known for its endless bottles of Chartreuse, a French liqueur. “People used to call it a dive bar, but we don’t think that gives it credence,” said Finnerty. “We think of it as a neighborhood corner bar and there aren’t many left. Corner bars are an institution.”

The owners have seen the neighborhood change significantly since opening in Riverside. “There used to be a lot of drugs around and now homes around us are selling for $600,000,” said Finnerty. “We’ve always run a clean and strong business and try to be a good partner in the neighborhood.”

Living without Idle Hour has been tough for both the owners and members of the community. “What really got me was, you think of it as a bar and you don’t really realize how much of an impact it has. We’ve talked to a lot of people around SoBo who were really sad about this,” said Finnerty. “We’ve really created a community.”

Idle Hour is now focused on getting that feeling of community back.

“We’re really encouraged and we are really thankful that everyone wants us to be around. Going from feeling like you lost everything to everyone encouraging you and moving forward, it’s just been amazing,” said Finnerty.

Save The Idle Hour Indiegogo Campaign

About the Author:

Creator of SouthBmore.com and resident of SoBo. Graduate of Towson University and owner of Incept Multimedia, a full service video production company. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover and "bar food" foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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