After shutting down for what was to be a week’s renovations, Mike Naessens has chosen to close Eulogy Belgian Tavern for good after 15 years at 136 Chestnut St. in Old City.
In short, he’s concerned for his safety.
Over a two-year span, Naessans said Friday, three employees at the bar — known for its collection of 400 beers and its quirky decor — became caught up in drug or criminal charges and either walked off the job or were fired. Naessans said he worked with prosecutors on all three cases, which he said prompted threats from the people involved and no police protection.
Naessans said one employee, fired after submitting a false résumé, was growing marijuana in Kensington. Naessans filed an affidavit in the case detailing the threats he said he received.
A second employee, who Naessans said also struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, was fired and charged after stealing checks from Eulogy.
Most recently, Naessans said. a female employee who was a heroin user stole nearly $5,000 and Naessans’ gun from the bar. The employee and her boyfriend were released on bail, Naessans said.
“I just got tired of this,” he said. “More and more, people you try to get in for interviews, you can tell they’re on something, and it’s just not worth it anymore. You’ve got a vetting process, but not too many people are applying as it is, and when you do get them in, your sense is it’s going to be a problem, but you need a warm body, and then, sure enough, it causes chaos.”
Naessens, a certified public accountant, said he had moved out of state and would return to the finance world.
Job Itzkowitz, head of the Old City District, said his group has had no complaints about drug dealing in Old City. The most recent issue he’s heard of is people trying to use counterfeit bills at bars and restaurants.
“Old City is not the Old City of five or six years ago, which was a nightclub scene, with public drunkenness, nuisance behavior,” Itzkowitz said. “Old City has really turned around and has become a prime destination for diners, residents, tech residents — it’s really a thriving neighborhood, and I don’t recognize the neighborhood that Mike described.”
Naessans’ beer collection — heavy on imports from his ancestral home of Belgium — was one of the best in the city, the better to wash down frites. Its “coffin room” was a must-stop for seekers of the macabre. (Interested in a coffin or any of the other furnishings? Keep an eye on www.AuctionNation.com. It will be open for bidding from Monday through Aug. 30.) Berkshire Hathaway will get the real estate listing, Naessens said. He said the name will not be sold, as he wants a clean break.
Naessens wrote on Facebook, “Thanks for 15 incredible fun filled years. No idea yet what’s next, I’m in no rush, I have enough bottle beers still in inventory for a year of liquid sustenance. It’s best to close out proud of all my current and former employees and watch the dozens who have go[ne] on to do their own places thrive.”