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City That Drinks

Eleven Cents

How McDonald’s brought dancers to the Haven Place

Photo: J.M. Giordano, License: N/A

J.M. Giordano

The Haven Place (400 N. Haven St.), in an industrial stretch near Highlandtown, bills itself as a gentlemen’s tavern—meaning it’s a regular dive bar, but that there’s usually a naked woman onstage. Sometimes people pay attention, sometimes they don’t (See “The Naked Truth,” Feature, May 4, 2005).

“We sell drinks, not sex,” owner Charlie Thrasher says. His father had owned the Haven Place since the 1960s. For years, they did a bulk of their business selling $2 lunches to industrial workers.

“When McDonald’s moved in, they could get lunch there for $1.89.” Thrasher says. “Dad used to say that 11 cents would put him out of business. That’s when he thought about getting a dancer,” he says. “We had one girl and she danced all day.” Charlie has been running it for 38 years now, and it still has dancers, but there are no lap dances or pressure to buy expensive drinks (Budweiser is $3).

“We call it Cheers with dancers,” he adds.

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