Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on October 31, 2013.

Written by Becky Witt

Commissioners Smith and Jones and Chairman Fogleman in attendance.

The hearing for Zissimo’s Bar, 1023 W. 36th Street, was postponed.

1:00 pm cases

Applicant Christine Ferrell
Business Name Jim Dandy’s Tavern, Inc.
Trading As Jim Dandy’s
Address 4810 Curtis Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine and Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request to reopen after being closed for more than 90 days
Hearing notes

The licensee testified that she has owned the location and business for twenty-six years. The establishment closed on April 30, 2013, while she was straightening out some tax issues. Chairman Fogleman noted that she had recently been before the Board for an underage drinking violation, and the licensee added that she was extremely distraught about the violation.

Chairman Fogleman asked, “what is the status of your corporate entity?” The licensee replied, “in good standing.” A quick check of the State Department of Assessments and Taxation showed that the corporation was not in good standing on the date of the hearing and is still not in good standing as of the posting date of this entry.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Curtis Bay
Area demographics 48% White, 36% Black, 4% 2 or more races; 10% Hispanic ethnicity; 40% households have children under age 18; median household income: $33,644; 22% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; no
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore City
Attorney for licensee Mr. Kevin O’Keeffe
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Joann Martin.
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None.
Applicant Vishal Patel & Mariana Basil & Shamir Patel
Business Name Daily Grind Cafe, LLC
Trading As Daily Grind Cafe
Address 1725-27 E. Lombard Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days under the provision of Article 2B section 10-504(d)
Hearing notes

Mr. Maslan noted that the establishment used to be a problem for the neighborhood, but when the orignal transfer was approved, the applicants entered into an MOU with the community association. The licensees testified that they have spent over $800,000 on this project. The applicants have run into problems with zoning, which meant that they had to go back to the architect for revised plans. The electricity was just installed last week, but one sprinkler head needs to be relocated. This should be accomplished within thirty days. The final inspections can’t be done until the fire department signs off on the sprinkler head. They’re 95% complete.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Upper Fells Point
Area demographics 70% White, 8% Black, 5% Asian; 15% Hispanic ethnicity; 11% households have children under age 18; median household income: $69,105; 11% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Attorney for licensee Mr. Gary Maslan
# in support 3
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Inspector Brooks
Result of hearing 60 days’ extension granted
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed Finding 6 of the Audit states that “BLLC did not ensure that license transfers were completed within 180 days of receiving Board approval.” Article 2B § 10-503(d)(4) says that “a transfer of any license shall be completed not more than 180 days after the Board approves the transfer.” The Board asked the Attorney General’s office for an opinion on whether or not the Board had the authority to grant hardship extensions for transfers; the AG’s opinion replied, emphatically, that the Board has no authority to transfer liquor licenses after the 180 days have passed. You can find more information on this issue as well as links to the BLLC’s letter and AG’s opinion here, at http://communitylaw.org/booze-news/180-day-transfer-AG-opinions.
Applicant Collin Scarlett & Paul Locco
Business Name Exit 59 Incorporated
Trading As trade name pending
Address 6820 Eastern Avenue
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days under the provision of Article 2B section 10-504(d)
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski testified, on behalf of the licensee, that they have run into an incredible amount of problems in construction. However, they just have to get their use and occupancy permit taken care of, and they’ll be ready to go.

The licensee present at the hearing, Collin Scarlett, asked for a 180-day extension.

Chairman Fogleman looked through the photographs of the establishment submitted by the licensee and said that the place looks great and that it doesn’t look like the licensees need 180 days. The licensee replied, “I just want to be on the safe side.”

Zoning B-3-1
Neighborhood Eastwood
Area demographics 52% White, 12% Black, 3% Asian; 30% Hispanic ethnicity; 30% households have children under age 18; median household income: $38,987.50; 18% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 6820 Eastern Ave, Baltimore, MD 21224
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? N/A
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident N/A
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing 90 day hardship extension granted.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed Unclear. From the hearing and the docket description, it was impossible to tell whether the applicants had applied for a transfer of ownership or location under Article 2B section 10-503 or whether they were asking for a hardship extension under Article 2B section 10-504. If the applicants had originally filed for a transfer of ownership or location, under 2B section 10-503, their transfer automatically lapses after 180 days and the Board does not have the authority to extend it. If the applicants had filed a new application for a new license, they may have been entitled to request a hardship extension from the Board. The Board’s hearing process made it unclear whether the result of the hearing was legally proper or not.
Applicant Spiros Korologos, Steven Fortinos & Eric Matias
Business Name Alogos, Inc.
Trading As The Horse You Came In On Saloon
Address 1626-28 Thames Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days under the provision of Article 2B section 10-504(d)
Hearing notes

Mr. Peter Prevas reminded the Board that the original application was for an expansion, which has been pending for more than 180 days. The reason for the delay is that BG&E is taking time to deal with the outdated electrical grid in Fells Point.

Zoning B-3-2
Neighborhood Fells Point
Area demographics 70% White, 8% Black, 5% Asian; 15% Hispanic ethnicity; 11% households have children under age 18; median household income: $69,105; 11% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 1626 Thames St, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Peter Prevas
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing 90 days extension granted
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None from the audit. The audit did not mention the many hardship extensions that the Board regularly gives to applicants, though Article 2B of the Maryland Code specifically states: “It is the intent of this subsection that the total time period for which a license may be deemed unexpired … is 180 days if no undue hardship extension is granted and no more than 360 days if an undue hardship extension is granted.” In this case, the Board did not mention how many hardship extensions had already been granted for this location.
Applicant Peter Yaffee
Business Name Food Life Point Baltimore, LLC
Trading As Food Life Point
Address 1200 Steuart Street
Type of License Class “D” Beer & Wine License
Reason for hearing Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days under the provision of Article 2B Section 10-504(d)
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski, on behalf of his client, informed the Board that Food Life Point is a 2 million dollar project, which requires custom equipment and technology. Unfortunately, there have been some complications with the equipment rquired for the establishment.

Chairman Fogleman asked, “How long do you need?” The licensee replied, “180 days.” The Chairman remarked, “we can’t keep it alive forever.”

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Locust Point
Area demographics 90% White, 3% Black, 3% Asian; 3% Hispanic ethnicity; 15% households have children under age 18; median household income: $73,342; 8% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 211 E. Lombard St, Unit #361, Baltimore, MD 21202
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Joann Martin
Result of hearing 180 day hardship extension granted.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision $2 million project; unforeseen problems
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed Unclear. From the hearing and the docket description, it was impossible to tell whether the applicants had applied for a transfer of ownership or location under Article 2B section 10-503 or whether they were asking for a hardship extension under Article 2B section 10-504. If the applicants had originally filed for a transfer of ownership or location, under 2B section 10-503, their transfer automatically lapses after 180 days and the Board does not have the authority to extend it. If the applicants had filed a new application for a new license, they may have been entitled to request a hardship extension from the Board. The Board’s hearing process made it unclear whether the result of the hearing was legally proper or not.
Applicant Jason Ambrose
Business Name Haubert Street 1157, LLC
Trading As trade name pending
Address 1157 Haubert Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership, request for outdoor table service.
Hearing notes

Mr. Craig Schwartz, the attorney for the applicants, informed the Board that his clients had submitted two applications. The first application was to remove Jason Ambrose as a licensee at Salt Restaurant, which would leave Jane Ambrose as the sole licensee at that address. The second application would be to transfer the BD7 license from current licensee Adam Gardener.

Chairman Fogleman asked his staff whether there was any statutory requirement to post a sign when removing a licensee from a license. He added that he was 95% sure that there was no signage required.)

Chairman Fogleman asked Mr. Ambrose to tell the Board about his project. Mr. Ambrose replied that he is planning on doing some renovations to the property. He is going to keep the seating capacity, make improvements to the kitchen, upgrade bathrooms, and change the decor. This new space is smaller than Salt, and the prices will be lower ($8-20). The concept is a neighborhood restaurant serving small plates, focusing on fresh, seasonal, food.

Chairman Fogleman said, “I don’t think Salt has been before the Board in my memory, so you obviously know how to do alcohol management.”

The purchase price for the business was $262,500, including both the BD7 liquor license and the building.

Ms. Ambrose has a 50% interest in the new restaurant, but her responsibility is with Salt.

Regarding the outdoor table service request: the prior licensee did obtain BLLC approval for outdoor seating but didn’t see it through with the zoning board. Mr. Ambrose is interested in having outdoor tables, so he included the request in the application.

Chairman Fogleman read from a letter in the file from Terry Hickey of the Locust Point Civic Association. The association requested the Board to delay its decision until November 13, when Mr. Ambrose will meet with the community.

The Chairman checked the character witness information in the application as well as the LLC’s status with the state.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Locust Point
Area demographics 90% White, 3% Black, 3% Asian; 3% Hispanic ethnicity; 15% households have children under age 18; median household income: $73,342; 8% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 239 S. Washington Street, Baltimore, MD 21231
Attorney for licensee Mr. Craig Schwartz
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Joann Martin. Sign posted on Friday 10/18, checked daily through 10/28.
Result of hearing Approved, subject to meeting with the community association. The Chairman asked the applicant if he would be willing to follow standard outdoor seating guidelines provided by community association, and he said that he would.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision 10-202(a)
Other reasons given for decision None.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None.
Applicant Stephanie Kuzma & Andrea Burkert
Business Name Exile on Broadway, LLC
Trading As Exile
Address 702 S. Broadway
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days under the provision of Article 2B Section 10-504(d)
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski, on behalf of his client, stated that the licensee has had health problems recently; she is asking for a hardship extension of 90 days.

Zoning B-3-2
Neighborhood Fells Point
Area demographics 70% White, 8% Black, 5% Asian; 15% Hispanic ethnicity; 11% households have children under age 18; median household income: $69,105; 11% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? No, the corporate entity “Exile on Broadway, LLC” does not exist, according to an SDAT search. However, “Exile of Broadway, LLC” does exist.
Location of entity’s principal office Exile of Broadway, LLC’s principal office is in Fulton, MD.
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing 90 days hardship extension granted
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed Finding 2 of the Audit states that “BLLC frequently issued licenses without receiving all required documentation from licensees or applicants.” In this case, the corporate entity that the applicant listed on their application did not exist; apparently Board staff did not check this information when they received and approved the application.

2:00 pm cases

Applicant Tonya Williams-Kosh
Business Name Mystic T & M, Inc.
Trading As Mystic Tavern
Address 2949 Frederick Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days under the provision of Article 2B § 10-504(d)
Hearing notes

It was unclear from the hearing exactly what the issue was with this case. It seems as though the licensee was behind on Maryland state taxes (perhaps personal property taxes, since the corporate entity was not (and still is not, as of December 3, 2013) in good standing). The licensee was present and told the Board that she had paid her taxes and presented a letter from the Maryland Comptroller’s office, dated October 29, that the “matter had been drawn to a satisfactory conclusion.”

Zoning M-1-2
Neighborhood Gwynns Falls
Area demographics 8% White, 88% Black, 0% Asian; 1% Hispanic ethnicity; 35% households have children under age 18; median household income: $33,563.10; 18% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; no.
Location of entity’s principal office 2949 Frederick Ave, Baltimore, MD 21229
Attorney for licensee None/unrepresented
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing 1 day extension granted
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed It was hard to tell whether there were issues with this case or not, since the matter was not clearly described in the hearing nor in the docket case description.
Applicant Kamal Toor, Amarjit Singh & Amanulla Niazi
Business Name RKT, LLC
Trading As Brooklyn House
Address 3638 S. Hanover Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership of a Class “BD7” BWL license presentl located at 300 S. Oldham Street to 3638 S. Hanover Street
Hearing notes

This hearing is a continuation of the hearing from October 17, 2013. Inspectors Joann Martin and John Howard testified that they returned to the establishment in question. Ms. Martin determined that the church’s address is 100 E Patapsco Street. She added that the church building is within 300 feet of the proposed establishment. She submitted a certified copy of a plat map to show that the two buildings were within 300 feet of each other. Ms. Martin testified that she had interviewed Mr. Maxwell Roberts, the pastor of the church. She provided photographs of the inside of the church and the church sign.

Mr. Kodenski asked Ms. Martin whether the building had a zoning permit to be used for a church. Ms. Martin replied that the building did not have a permit to be used as a church.

Mr. Kodenski submitted evidence that the building was authorized by the Baltimore City Zoning Administrator to be used as a flower and gift shop, not a church. He also submitted printouts from the website of the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) which shows that the building is listed as a retail store. Mr. Kodenski then submitted SDAT printouts for other area churches that correctly listed the buildings as churches. Chairman Fogleman replied that the SDAT website may not provide dispositive evidence on whether something is a church or not. He added, “We have no authority over a place of worship; we only have authority over liquor licenses.” Kodenski responded, “you have the authority to determine whether it’s a valid church.”

Mr. Kodenski then submitted the SDAT information for the church entity. He pointed out that the principal place of business listed for the church was on East 28th Street, not at 100 E Patapsco Street. He also pointed out that the church corporate entity is not in good standing with the state. Kodenski added, “if it doesn’t walk like a duck and quack like a duck and if it doesn’t have a permit for a duck, it’s not a duck.”

Mr. Kodenski continued, noting that the pastor of the church did not appear at the hearing. (The pastor had was under no legal requirement to attend the hearing.) Kodenski said that the Board should apply the Missing Witness Rule against the pastor. The missing witness rule comes from an 1893 Supreme Court opinion, which states: “[I]f a party has it peculiarly within his power to produce witnesses whose testimony would elucidate the transaction, the fact that he does not do it creates the presumption that the testimony, if produced, would be unfavorable.” In other words, Mr. Kodenski argued that the fact that the pastor did not attend and testify at the hearing creates the presumption that the testimony he would have given would have been unfavorable to the community association. The Board did not respond to Mr. Kodenski’s assertion.

Ms. Hughes provided a copy of Article 2B section 9-204.3 to the Board for their review as they decided this matter. The Commissioners did not appear to have a copy of Article 2B at hand. She argued that “nowhere in the statute does it mention any requirement for what is designated or accepted as a church or a school.” Chairman Fogleman responded, “the test is whether the building is used principally for religious worship.” Ms. Hughes answered that “the church in this case falls within this definition.” Mr. Kodenski objected, pointing out that Ms. Hughes “shouldn’t be testifying on something that she doesn’t know.”

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Brooklyn
Area demographics 48% White, 36% Black, 4% 2 or more races; 10% Hispanic ethnicity; 40% households have children under age 18; median household income: $33,644; 22% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes. However, the LLC was incorporated on October 16, 2013, the day before this hearing. The original hearing for this application was scheduled for June 13, 2013.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore City
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support ~18-20
Attorney for community Ms. Susan Hughes
# of protestants 1
# of inspectors 2
Result of hearing Application to transfer denied; the proposed establishment is within 300 feet of a church.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision Article 2B section 9-204.3
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicant Guiseppa Germano & Domenico Germano & Antonio Germano
Business Name Bafia, Inc.
Trading As La Scala Ristorante Italiano
Address 1012 Eastern Avenue
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days under the provision of Article 2B section 10-504(d)
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski, on behalf of his client, stated that the Board approved his client’s application in February 2013. The client received a minor privilege from the zoning board for outdoor table service. A problem has arisen, however, from the fact that half of the block is zoned for manufacturing (M1 or M2), while the rest of the block is zoned for business (B2). Mr. Kodenski and the licensee have to talk with their city councilman to get the zoning issues worked out.

Zoning M-2-2
Neighborhood Little Italy
Area demographics 58% Black, 29% White, 5% Asian; 7% Hispanic ethnicity; 29% of households have children under age 18
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes
Location of entity’s principal office 1012 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21202
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing 30 days’ extension granted on outdoor tables, 180 days’ extension granted on live entertainment
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision The licensee is going through zoning problems after the Board approved him for live entertainment. “He’s at the mercy of some other agency at this point.”
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed The docket describes this case as a “review of transfer pending for more than 180 days,” but the case is a new application, not a transfer. The Board has the discretion to approve one hardship extension of up to 180 days; therefore, the Board’s decision is probably within its statutory authority.
Applicant Ryan Perlberg
Business Name Shot Tower, LLC
Trading As Willow
Address 811 S. Broadway
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days under the provision of Article 2B section 10-504(d)
Hearing notes

The licensee testified that he didn’t realize that he had to go to zoning to update his use and occupancy permit to include live entertainment, so he is requesting a hardship extension to do so.

The Chairman asked, “So nothing happend after March 7?” (March 7, 2013 is the date that the request was granted by the Board.)

Mr. Kodenski answered that the licensee didn’t realize that he had to update his use and occupancy permit, because he had it as of right. He added, “it hasn’t been that long. He’s at the cusp!”

Zoning B-3-2
Neighborhood Fells Point
Area demographics 70% White, 8% Black, 5% Asian; 15% Hispanic ethnicity; 11% households have children under age 18; median household income: $69,105; 11% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 811 S. Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors
Result of hearing 60 days hardship extension granted
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None. Chairman Fogleman pointed out that this is the reason that they say that all approvals are provisional only.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None.
Applicant George Kritikos
Business Name 36 S. Eutaw, Inc.
Trading As The Goddess
Address 36-38 S. Eutaw Street
Type of License Class BD7 Beer, Wine & Liquor License with Adult Entertainment License
Reason for hearing Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days under the provision of Article 2B Section 10-504(d)
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski, on behalf of his client, told the Board that the applicant is basically done with the project and ready to open. He also told the Board that the licensee’s contractor absconded with money, that the job went from $250,000 to $600,000, and that the licensee has to get a permit to dig the street up in order to finish the job.

Chairman Fogleman asked, “what’s the big deal if you just withdraw your application and resubmit?” He noted that soon it will be five years since the original application was approved.

Zoning B-4-1
Neighborhood Downtown
Area demographics 39% White, 37% Black, 16% Asian, 3 % 2 or more races; 5% Hispanic ethnicity; 9% of households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $38,146; 18% households live below poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 36 S. Eutaw St, Baltimore, MD 21201
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Approved – 29 day extension
Vote tally 2-1
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision Commissioner Jones dissented, saying that 30 days is more than ample time.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None from the audit. The audit did not mention the many hardship extensions that the Board regularly gives to applicants, though Article 2B of the Maryland Code specifically states: “It is the intent of this subsection that the total time period for which a license may be deemed unexpired … is 180 days if no undue hardship extension is granted and no more than 360 days if an undue hardship extension is granted.” In this case, Chairman Fogleman mentioned that the Board had issued enough hardship extensions that it had been five years since the application was originally approved.

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