In Her Tomb by the Sounding Seas: RIP, Annabel Lee Tavern

UPDATE: Due to new investors dismayed at the restaurant's closing, it seems The Annabel Lee is going to re-open. Story here.

May 26, 2017 — It was half past midnight, raining and thundering pleasantly, and I was in my study, putting off bedtime by hitting random bookmarks in my browser, hoping to almighty Dee Snyder that one of those pages would refresh with something interesting enough to keep me away from the terrors of the pillow for a little while longer. One of those bookmarks was my Facebook feed, and it had, in fact, refreshed with news. Bad news.

There, neatly lined up in that same algorithm-filtered column full of Trump GIFs and horribly targeted suggested posts, was a short, humble, text-only announcement from the Annabel Lee Tavern, an Edgar Allan Poe-themed restaurant in Baltimore. After 10 years in business, it was closing permanently, right after the Memorial Day weekend.

I only visited the restaurant once, many and many a year ago in 2013 with Lindsey, to chronicle the place in my book Poe-Land: The Hallowed Haunts of Edgar Allan Poe. The tavern was an atmospheric little eatery, probably the most Poe-esque of all the Poe-themed restaurants that are out there (yes, Poe-themed restaurants are a thingI’ve eaten at more than half a dozen of them). Most Poe restaurants are only lightly or kitchily Poe-themed, like Edgar’s CafĂ© in Manhattan or Poe’s Tavern on Sullivan's Island in South Carolina, respectively. Still cool, of course, but of a much different vibe than the Annabel Lee Tavern.

The Annabel Lee, with its purple and black walls covered in stenciled quotes from that master of the English language—including an inaccurately attributed but glorious quote about drinking ale—seemed the most like a place at which Poe would pull up a bar stool. Like, they really seemed to get the Poe aesthetic. And they should get it, honestly. They were, after all, only three miles from Poe’s actual grave.

Despite being such a tiny restaurant, mausoleum-sized almost, with only a smattering of tables and a small polished plank of a bar, it was Poe-full. They even used to hire local Poe performer David Keltz (yes, Poe performers are a thing I've interviewed more than half a dozen of them, including David) to recite Poe's poems and stories among the tables while people dined.

I take small consolation that the restaurant will live on in Poe-Land, although it’s one more thing that is turning the book into a history book instead of a contemporary travelogue. Somehow, three photos of the place ended up in Poe-Land due to generous editors, and here they are along with a few more, mostly exteriors and shots of what was directly in front of me on the bar because the place was pretty crowded and I get weird about taking photos when people can see me taking photos.

RIP, Annabel Lee. Again.

I will always remember the Edgar Allan Pate.