The Midway’s Final Evening: The Block’s Only Non-Strip Club Bar Closes After Decades-Long Run
by Ron Cassie
Published September 21 in Baltimore Magazine
Excerpt: “I started working when I was 15. Came from a poor family and quit school to help out,” says 71-year-old Walter Hardesty, by way of explaining why tonight is his last shift at the Midway, the one bar on this stretch—halfway, appropriately, between Commerce and Gay streets—without a stripper pole and stage. “My first job on The Block was washing dishes across the street at Crazy John’s. Then I became a line cook. Eventually I started tending bar. My knees just can’t take standing up all night anymore. By the time I leave [after cleaning up and counting the money], it’ll be 6 or 7 in the morning.”
Crazy John’s is still across the street, serving scrapple, eggs, burgers, and fries all night on the weekends. The iconic Midway, however, is being retired this late summer evening along with Hardesty, who became irreplaceable over his decades-long career here.
Dive bars may be nice places to visit, but working at one can take its toll. Owner Jim Brandt, whose mother, Vicki, tended bar at the Midway for 35 years, currently pulls the day shift. He says he’s had enough, too. “I’ve got my own health issues,” he shrugs. “I’m ready to sell it.”