Baltimore nightclub Sonar abruptly shut down Wednesday, but founder Lonnie Fisher said he’s not to blame for not renewing its liquor license.
Club managers made the announcement via Sonar’s Facebook page, saying that Fisher did not renew the club’s liquor license by an April 30 deadline.
But the managers and Fisher disagree over why Sonar closed. Manager Daniel McIntosh has said in published accounts it was Fisher’s responsibility as an owner to renew the license, while Fisher said he isn’t even an owner.
“I don’t own it, nor have I had any say in or control of its operations or finances since I left the business in May of 2007,” Fisher said in an emailed response to questions.
Fisher, who is now special projects manager of the Baltimore Grand Prix, said he was the majority owner when the club opened in 2001. But Fisher said he sold controlling interest in the business in 2007 and then sold his remaining shares to McIntosh in 2009. Fisher said in a statement Thursday that he has spent months since then trying to transfer the liquor license and corporate charter.
Fisher signed the license renewal for the past two years, but after being interrogated by the IRS this year for his affiliation with the club, Fisher decided he would not sign the lease again, he said.
Fisher said he doesn’t know what will happen next with the club, or what McIntosh intends to do with the venue. He said he has not had any conversations with McIntosh since the closing.
“I understand the frustration that he is feeling, but I’m hoping that he’ll realize his best course of action if he wants to remain in the live music business in this city is to focus his energies on the steps he needs to take to reinstate the business properly,” Fisher said.
McIntosh could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Meanwhile, artists that had been scheduled to perform at the club are looking elsewhere to play. Hip hop artist Talib Kweli was to perform Wednesday night at Sonar, but played at Bourbon Street Ballroom & The Quarter Baltimore instead. Psychostick and TheNEWDEAL will also play at Bourbon Street instead.
The club is located at 407 E. Saratoga St. It has three rooms that can be run together or separately for events. Among the three rooms, the venue held more than 1,400 people.