While the property is for sale, The Elephant and Sascha’s are here to stay!
Four years ago, under the auspices of VSOP, LLC [Very Special Older Properties], we embarked on a journey to save one of Baltimore’s iconic buildings – 924 N Charles Street — and in it open a globally inspired fine dining restaurant – The Elephant – owned and operated by The Pincus Restaurant Group.<!–more–>
VSOP invested over $3 million of its own money, along with “gap” funding from friends and family, to complete a total renovation of this historic Mt Vernon mansion, as the building was in such disrepair that no bank would provide a mortgage at the front end of this endeavor.
These friends and family loans were made with the understanding and expectation that once the building was fully renovated and the restaurant was in full operation, VSOP would obtain a traditional bank loan to pay them back.
So for the past two years, since the completion of the 22 month renovation and the opening of The Elephant, we approached a number of lending institutions, both small and large, with the desire to secure a traditional bank loan to repay the friends and family who helped support the rebuilding and re-opening of this grand mid-town home and restaurant.
Unfortunately, we discovered a very discouraging and disheartening situation: Banks are unwilling to invest in properties that house restaurants and banks are unwilling to invest in Baltimore City.
Without even looking at our financials, nine banks told us that they will not make a loan for a restaurant, especially in Baltimore City. And as one of the banks straight out stated upon turning down our loan request:
“ … and then there is the matter of downtown … people just aren’t going there … it’s a downward trend.”
Dan Rodricks, of The Baltimore Sun, drew attention in “A taste of what could make the city great” to the difficulty we have been experiencing in trying to secure a traditional bank loan. Lorraine Mirabella, in The Sunday Sun, soon after echoed this in “Small business lending dips.”
Both articles highlight the significant issues that are hindering the sustainability of small business, the attraction of new businesses as well as the overall economic growth and prosperity in Baltimore City.
This critical economic and small business crisis was also addressed this week in hearings by the Baltinore City Council thanks to the leadership of Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke.
Unfortunately, we have run out of time. After two years, our friends and family members who loaned us the “gap” funds deserve to be paid back. So having not been able to secure a bank loan in a timely manner, VSOP has decided to sell this magnificent building in order to raise the funds needed to honor our promise to pay back those who fronted the critical funds to complete the renovation and launch the opening of The Elephant.
Our iconic property at 924 N Charles Street was listed yesterday at $2.9m by Creig Northrop Realtors
HOWEVER, while the property is for sale by VSOP … The Pincus Restaurant Group will continue to own and operate The Elephant, along with Sascha’s catering and the Café at Center Stage, at its current location, just with a different landlord once the building is sold.
Having recently been named “Maryland’s Favorite New Restaurant,” we look forward to continuing to create many more magical culinary experiences for you and all others who come to the Elephant, have their catering needs served by Sascha’s, and enjoy a pre-theater meal at the Center Stage Café.
Thank you for your ongoing support!
– The Pincus Restaurant Group
Mallory Staley, Co-Owner
Linda Brown Rivelis, Co-Owner
Steven Rivelis, Co-Owner