Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on November 7, 2013

Written by Becky Witt

Chairman Fogleman and Commissioners Smith and Jones in attendance. (Commissioner Smith was absent for the first hearing but was present for all of the rest of the hearings.)

1:00 p.m. cases

Applicant Charles Gjerde, Carrie Podles & John Burke
Business Name Papi’s Tacos, LLC
Trading As Papi’s
Address 1703-05 Aliceanna Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership; request for outdoor table service
Hearing notes

All three licensees were present, unrepresented by counsel. The concept for the new restaurant is a fun casual Mexican restaurant, serving street fare and upscale bar food. The renovations are mostly decorative. The licensees submitted a menu and a brief overview of their business plan. They also submitted letters from surrounding neighbors regarding the outside patio. The licensees have already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Fells Point Residents Association and the Fells Point Community Organization.

Chairman Fogleman checked the good standing of the licensees’ LLC and checked the property ownership and voter registration for the character witnesses in the application.

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 1703 Aliceanna Street, Baltimore, MD 21231
Attorney for licensee None/unrepresented
# in support 3
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Inspector Karen Brooks
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous (Fogleman & Jones in favor; Smith absent)
Portions of state law cited in decision MD Code Article 2B § 10-202(a) (“Before approving an application and issuing a license, the board shall consider: 1) The public need and desire for the license; 2) The number and location of existing licensees and the potential effect on existing licensees of the license applied for; 3) The potential commonality or uniqueness of the services and products to be offered by the applicant’s business; 4) The impact on the general health, safety, and welfare of the community, including issues relating to crime, traffic conditions, parking, or convenience; and 5) Any other necessary factors as determined by the board.”)
Other reasons given for decision None.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None.
Applicant Jose Ruiz & Javier Liberato
Business Name Mi Tierra, LLC
Trading As Pollo Kampestre
Address 2201 W. Patapsco Avenue
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request to add live entertainment
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski, on behalf of his client, stated that the licensee had received permission from the BMZA to do live entertainment, in the form of Latin music, and had entered into voluntary restrictions on the live entertainment in the zoning resolution. The live entertainment will only take place from Friday to Sunday and during restricted hours. The licensee submitted a petition in support of live entertainment. He is planning to hire six to seven security personnel.

The Lakeland Coalition submitted a letter opposing the live entertainment request, but no one from the group showed up to the hearing in person; the letter enclosed a petition against the request as well as a list of police calls for service to the restaurant’s address. Mr. Kodenski objected to the documents, stating that there was no way to authenticate the police calls for service, and that the letter and petition came in too late to be considered by the Board. (The community association’s documents were received by the Board on November 6, the day before the hearing.) Mr. Kodenski added that to accept the documents would be “an absolute outrage.” The Board received the documents into evidence over Mr. Kodenski’s objections.

Commissioners Smith asked whether the Liquor Board had received any 311 complaints regarding this address. Inspector Martin answered that the Board hadn’t ever received complaints.

Zoning B-2-1
Neighborhood Lakeland
Area demographics N/A (BNIA does not have census data for this neighborhood)
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes
Location of entity’s principal office 1703 Aliceanna St, Baltimore, MD 21231
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 1 – representative from City Council President Jack Young’s office
# of inspectors 1 – Joann Martin
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision MD Code Article 2B § 10-202(a) (“Before approving an application and issuing a license, the board shall consider: 1) The public need and desire for the license; 2) The number and location of existing licensees and the potential effect on existing licensees of the license applied for; 3) The potential commonality or uniqueness of the services and products to be offered by the applicant’s business; 4) The impact on the general health, safety, and welfare of the community, including issues relating to crime, traffic conditions, parking, or convenience; and 5) Any other necessary factors as determined by the board.”)
Other reasons given for decision This restaurant is located in a big shopping center. Baltimore County is next door. The distance between any residences and the establishment is significant. There are six pages of service calls between 2009-2013. 84 calls in 2013 (through September 13), mostly disorderlies. No one from the community is present to talk about any of the allegations from personal experience. The community submitted a letter in which they told the Board that they didn’t show up because the Board won’t help them anyway. The Board urges the licensee to attend a meeting of the Lakeland Coalition and to communicate with the community.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None.
Applicant Anthony Ogbuokiri
Business Name UJU Investments, Inc.
Trading As Trade Name Pending
Address 1213 Edmondson Avenue
Type of License Class “D” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership and location of a class “D” BWL license presently located at 214 W. Mulberry Street to 1213 Edmondson Avenue; request to add live entertainment
Hearing notes

The licensee has purchased the property and has met with the community on several occasions. He intends to create a jazz lounge at the location. The hours of operation will be Thursday-Saturday, 8PM-12AM. The community submitted a letter expressing their lack of support of the project, which mentioned that, when they tried to contact the applicant, his voicemail box was full. The licensee responded by stating that he promises to get in contact with the community association.

Commissioner Smith pointed out that the prospective establishment is located in the area with the highest rate of crime in Baltimore City and noted that she is concerned about “criminal elements and the potential for underage drinking.” The applicant promised to provide security and surveillance cameras, as well as to check in regularly with local police. He said that he will “aggressively card young people.”

Adding to Commissioner Smith’s line of questioning, Commissioner Jones asked, “have you ever lived in the area or socialized in the neighborhood?” The applicant responded that he hadn’t really done so. Jones followed up, “What are you doing to help crime in the neighborhood?” The applicant responded that he will gladly and willingly become part of the community.

The current licensee, Mr. Alexander Martick, stated that his parents had one of the first liquor licenses after the repeal of Prohibition and noted that he was born in June 1928.

Chairman Fogleman looked at the applicant’s business entity and noted that it was a valid Delaware corporation.

Zoning B-1-2
Neighborhood Harlem Park
Area demographics 1% White, 96% Black, 0% Asian; 0% Hispanic ethnicity; 73% households have children under age 18; median household income: $23,974
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes, but it is a Delaware corporation.
Location of entity’s principal office Wilmington, DE
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Inspector Ray
Result of hearing License transfer approved; live entertainment question to be postponed for three months. Licensee must go back to the community, and the Board will revisit the question within 90 days.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision MD Code Article 2B § 10-202(a) (“Before approving an application and issuing a license, the board shall consider: 1) The public need and desire for the license; 2) The number and location of existing licensees and the potential effect on existing licensees of the license applied for; 3) The potential commonality or uniqueness of the services and products to be offered by the applicant’s business; 4) The impact on the general health, safety, and welfare of the community, including issues relating to crime, traffic conditions, parking, or convenience; and 5) Any other necessary factors as determined by the board.”)
Other reasons given for decision The community association’s letter was anti-alcohol but was not very specific. “Generally, vacants cause more trouble than a nightclub does.”
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

The Three Deaths and Three Resurrections of the Liquor License at 214 W. Mulberry Street

The license for which the Board approved a transfer of ownership and location is a dead license under Article 2B section 10-504(d). In fact, the license has died and been resurrected by the Board three different times.

First Death: February 29, 2009 Martick’s has been closed, by its own admission, since August 2008. Scans of the first page of every Martick’s license renewal application from 2010 to 2013 can be viewed here. Article 2B section 10-504(d)(2) states very plainly that “180 days after the holder of any license issued under the provision of this article has closed the business or ceased active alcoholic beverages business operations … the license shall expire.” 180 days after August 31, 2008 is February 27, 2009: the first death of the liquor license.

First Resurrection: January 10, 2010 On January 10, 2010, the Board held a hardship extension hearing for the license at 214 W Mulberry Street. This hardship extension hearing was held 317 days after the license had expired by operation of law. The Board granted the licensee a 180-day extension from the date of the hearing.

Second Death: July 6, 2010 180 days after the hardship extension hearing, on July 6, 2010, the license died a second death when the owners of the license failed to reopen the establishment or transfer the license elsewhere.

Second Resurrection: March 2, 2011 On March 2, 2011, 243 days after the license’s second death, Board staff held a private conference to transfer the license from the estate of Morris Martick to Morris’s brother, Alexander Martick. Presumably, the license was revived somehow at this conference, though no notes of what happened during that meeting exist in the file.

Third Death: August 29, 2011 180 days after the transfer and resurrection of the license, the license died a final time, on August 29, 2011.

Third Resurrection: November 7, 2013 The final resurrection of the license occurred at the November 7, 2013 hearing, at which the Board approved a transfer of the license to the new address.

Applicant Suvannee Prammawat
Business Name Ban Thai, Inc.
Trading As Banthai Restaurant
Address 340 N. Charles Street
Type of License Class “D” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request for a hardship extension under the provisions of Article 2B Section 10-504(d)
Hearing notes Mr. Kodenski, on behalf of his client, stated that the licensee is in Thailand, caring for her aging father. This is a first hardship request, according to Mr. Kodenski.
Zoning B-4-2
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 Wheaton, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors N/A
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 Richard Cohen-Contract Purchaser
Business Name N/A
Trading As N/A
Address 2002 Greenmount Avenue
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request for a hardship extension under the provisions of Article 2B Section 10-504(d)
Hearing notes Mr. Kodenski spoke on behalf of his client, telling the Board that this is a first hardship extension request. There are a few prospective purchasers interested in the license, and his client would like 180 more days.
Zoning B-3-2
Neighborhood Barclay
Area demographics 43% White, 35% Black, 13% Asian; 5% Hispanic ethnicity; 11% households have children under age 18; median household income: $31,659.00; 14% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? N/A
Location of entity’s principal office N/A
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 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors N/A
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision Request was timely filed.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None

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