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A Bar Out of the Ordinary

What do you do with an empty rowhouse structurally designed to be a strip club? Paint it dark sensual colors. Add a full front bar. Place a queen-size bed in the back. Throw in some velvet couches, beautiful works of art, and a stage in another room. Then call it Paloma's.

Paloma's is a fairly new bar located on West Eager Street in Mount Vernon, just walking distance from such staples as The Belvedere Hotel and The Washington Monument on Charles and Central Streets. Along with Mount Royal, Mount Vernon is one of the few art districts of Baltimore City. Paloma's fits in perfectly alongside other Mount Vernon bars and clubs including The Hippo, Central Station and Brewer's Art. There is a common thread between these hot spots and bar hoppers are often seen mingling back and forth.

River, the owner who uses just one name, is also an artist and has painted colorful murals all over the walls and windows of the club. Her artistic ability is shown all through its three main rooms by the carefully chosen furniture and objects placed strategically throughout. Each room has its own theme. The vibe of the club changes each time you walk through a different walkway.

Take a Tour

A vibrant mural welcomes the club patron through the window of the front bar. To the left, tables and chairs are usually filled with people socializing and eating food from the menu. Sometimes on Saturday nights there is an after-hours breakfast party in which the kitchen will cook up some good scrambled eggs and bacon. Paloma's may even stay open past 4 in the morning for such a special treat. Beside the tables, two different corridors lead to a completely separate part of Paloma's, both in its style and substance.

The third room situated in the middle of the club has a completely different feel than the rest. Only lit by candles, wall-mounted lamps, and a huge brick fireplace, this is where most people come to relax with their friends and have a drink. There are plush velvet sofas and vintage sculptures on the coffee tables, and the dark lighting creates an extremely intimate atmosphere. The music from the band room never washes out conversations, and this is perfect for those who like to enjoy the music along with socializing. A gallery of artwork is usually shown on the walls featuring different artists from Baltimore.

Eclectic Tastes

Live music is featured almost daily, with musicians ranging from alteremotive rock band Velvetene, to hard rock band Luinissinfes. There are other varieties of music that also play at Paloma's including blues and jazz. Sunday nights are saved for reggae. The room to the left of the bar is where the bands play and it features a medium-sized stage and room for approximately 30 to 50 people to sit at one of its many sofas or tables. A walk to the back of the stage area leads to another room containing a pool table, kitchen set-up, and queen size bed for those who feel comfortable enough to relax with their sweetheart.

Most people who come to Paloma's aren't your run-of-the-mill club hoppers. Sure there are people dressed to paint the town red, but one can also find people in jeans and T-shirts. A big portion of the crowd at Paloma's consists of twenty somethings. Most are college students who attend one of the many universities in Baltimore. People also come in from all of the other Mount Vernon bars to make their rounds.

Go Behind the Scenes

The people who work at Paloma's are all young hipsters. Sarah, one of the bartenders, works at Paloma's and, quite surprisingly, also lives upstairs. She works at Paloma's and bounces her schedule around studying theater at Villa Julie College in Owings Mills, Md. “This is where I live, work, and play. Everything is the same to me”, says Sara. The main bouncer and bartender, Blue, is covered with piercings and tattoos, but would be the last person to scare anybody away. One of the more musically inclined Paloma's bartenders is Jason Fubler. He works the bar on three separate nights during the week and is also guitar player for popular Baltimore based rock band Live Alien Broadcast. The common aura surrounding the people who work at Paloma's is intellectual and artistic. They are all very outgoing and make Paloma's one of the hippest places to go in Mount Vernon.

River is the owner of Paloma's. She bought the space a couple of years ago when the Fabulous Follies, a strip club, went out of business. The space was completely revamped and River added her own special artistic touch. “I want to create a place where people can go and enjoy the arts”, says River. “Paloma's is meant to be a diverse place, and I am glad people can recognize that”. She has successfully created a place for artistic people to go and share their work with others. River feels that there is an extremely wide range of talent in Baltimore, and she wants the whole world to know that.

Born in Morocco, River moved to America and began her search for a place to display her talent. She ended up in Rockville, Md., where she played host to many people at her Rockville studio. First people would come to see her art, and then it became a regular outing with musicians and coffee. River wanted to make that small gathering into a larger reality and began her search for a different and unusual building. After trying places in Chicago and Atlanta, her search ended at the Mount Vernon location because of the building's uniqueness and essential qualities River longed for in her club.

Now a successful bar-slash-club-slash venue, River hopes Paloma's will continue to bring different cultures together. She is especially happy with the results thus far. Paloma's was “designed to be different“, not a place for people to drink, but for people to come out and enjoy the arts. She is constantly changing the look of Paloma's, with a recently added pool table and new set-up in the venue area. Future plans for Paloma's is to create an upstairs bar with Moroccan accents and to continue giving people a relaxing place to socialize and find others with similar interests.

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