Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on November 14, 2013

Written by Becky Witt

Chairman Fogleman and Commissioners Smith and Jones present.

1:00 p.m. cases

Applicant Erika Robinson
Business Name Whispering Wind, LLC
Trading As Whispering Wind
Address 2711 E. Fayette St.
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership, requests to add second floor for business and live entertainment
Hearing notes

The applicant, unrepresented, testified that she has had no prior alcohol management experience at all, but that running a bar was just something that she always wanted to do. Chairman Fogleman asked whether the licensee was familiar with the local community association. Ms. Robinson testified that she spoke with a representative from the Patterson Park Community Association about her request for live entertainment/karaoke but not about the request to expand the establishment to use the second floor of the building.

Chairman Fogleman questioned the applicant further about her live entertainment request. Ms. Robinson testified that she has asked for permission for karaoke, a DJ and dancing. The applicant has also asked for permission to use the second floor of the building for part of the establishment. She told the board that the capacity for the first floor is 25 and the capacity for the second floor is around 30 people. She does not yet have zoning approval to use the second floor. The applicant is planning to manage the bar herself and to hire a day manager. The day manager who she is planning to hire has no management experience and no prior bar or restaurant experience. The current licensee, Mr. Cosell, will be acting as a mentor while she gets the business started. Commissioner Smith asked, “is it fair to say that [Mr. Cosell] is temporarily your daytime manager?” Ms. Robinson replied, “yes, he’s there.”

The applicant paid $30,000 total for both the business and the real estate. Chairman Fogleman asked Ms. Robinson to submit an amended application to provide details about the real property purchase (i.e., the purchase price, financing information, etc.) which was missing from the application.

Chairman Fogleman checked the character witness information as well as the good standing of the applicant’s corporate entity.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Patterson Park
Area demographics BNIA did not have demographics available for Patterson Park.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 2771 E. Fayette St, Baltimore, MD 21224
Attorney for licensee None.
# in support 1
Attorney for community None.
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Agent John Howard standing in for Inspector Edward Owens. Sign posted on October 7, stayed for full 10 days.
Result of hearing Application granted.
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 None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed
Applicant Jason Curtis
Business Name 120 East Lombard Street, LLC
Trading As Brookshire Suites Baltimore
Address 120 E Lombard St.
Type of License – Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License (Hotel-Motel)
Reason for hearing Application for a new Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor hotel license under the provisions of Article 2B §6-201(d)(2) requiring a minimum of no less than 100 rooms, a dining room with facilities for preparing and serving meals for at least 125 persons at one seating and capital investment of $500,000; application also includes a request for live entertainment
Hearing notes

Mr. Prevas, on behalf of his client, informed the board that the hotel, due to its debts, had been placed into receivership, and the receiver auctioned the property. 120 East Lombard Street, LLC purchased the property at auction for $7.8 million and is now requesting a new hotel liquor license. The old liquor license which was attached to the hotel was “laden with debt” and “wasn’t worth saving.” Mr. Prevas submitted a floor plan of the hotel and its restaurant facilities. The hotel will serve breakfast seven days per week for its guests, and the owners have plans to expand to create a carryout breakfast option in the lobby. He also submitted a capital investment breakdown to show compliance with the provisions of Article 2B §6-201(d)(2). The applicant also provided letters in favor of the development written by neighboring businesses, Councilman William Cole, and some neighborhood groups, including the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore. Tom Yeager, Executive Vice President of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, was present at the hearing in support of the project.

Chairman Fogleman asked the applicant to amend a form to include more financial details on the project. He also noticed that two of the character witnesses’ names did not match the names on the Board of Elections’ voter rolls. Mr. Prevas provided further information to show that the character witnesses were, in fact, registered to vote (They had signed under their middle names but were registered to vote under their legal names.).

Chairman Fogleman added, “there’s one little thing. It’s not so little to some. Tell me what’s going on with the LLC.” Mr. Prevas explained that there was some confusion with filing the annual Personal Property Return; the LLC is a Delaware LLC, which is able to do business in Maryland, and there was a mixup with the identification number of the LLC. Mr. Prevas promised that the matter would soon be resolved, if it wasn’t already.

Zoning B-5-2
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, it is a Delaware corporation; unclear if in good standing.
Location of entity’s principal office Unclear from Delaware Division of Corporations website.
Attorney for licensee Mr. Peter Prevas
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Agent John Howard – posted October 7.
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 Applicant has spent his whole career in hotel management. The character witnesses check out. Issue with LLC is pending. There has been an outpouring of local support. Mr. Curtis and business are an asset to the community. Mr. Curtis has exceeded the requisite investment, at $549,000.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None.
Applicant Diana Kafouros
Business Name All Stars Bar and Grill, Inc.
Trading As All Stars Bar & Grill
Address 34 S. Eutaw Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request to remove restriction-“No sale of package goods” from license
Hearing notes

Mr. Prevas, on behalf of his client, informed the Board that the restriction in question (“no sale of package goods”) was placed on the license in 1993. There was no Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or agreement with a community association. According to Mr. Kodenski, there is nothing in the file that indicates how the restriction came about. Ms. Kafouros has been the licensee at this address since 2009. She met with Tom Yeager, Executive Vice President of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore; she entered into an MOU with the Downtown Partnership which removes the “no sale of packaged goods” restriction. The MOU adds other restrictions: that the licensee is not allowed to sell individual beers or miniatures, or wine less than .75 liters. The store is not allowed to sell any kind of packaged alcohol that is meant for immediate consumption. Mr. Prevas submitted a petition in support of the new agreement with signatures.

Chairman Fogleman noted that All Stars Bar and Grill is in good standing with the State Department of Assessments and Taxation.

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 34 S. Eutaw St, Baltimore, MD 21201
Attorney for licensee Mr. Peter Prevas
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
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 MOU with the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None.

2:00 p.m. cases

Licensee Xianting Cao & Ron Smith
Business Name Castle Seafood, Inc.
Trading As Castle Seafood Restaurant
Address 3720 Potee Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Violation of Rule 4.20(a) “No licensee shall make any installation or alteration on a licensed on a licensed premises or change the manner in which alcoholic beverages are dispensed without prior approval of the Board” (Re: on October 3, 2013 Inspector Joann Martin observed a separate package goods store without approval from the Board)
Hearing notes

The licensee appeared, unrepresented. He informed the Board that his attorney, Mr. Frank Shaulis, was in court and could not be present at the hearing. The licensee did not ask for a postponement or elaborate further. Chairman Fogleman asked, “Have you retained Mr. Shaulis?” The licensee replied that he had not. Chairman Fogleman responded, “Have you retained him in the past?” The licensee replied that he had retained Mr. Shaulis for every Liquor Board hearing he had ever been to.

Result of hearing Postponed
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision Frank Shaulis is the licensee’s counsel of choice, and Mr. Shaulis is unavailable.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicant Barbara Anderson & Anderson Davis
Business Name 1201 North Potomac, LLC
Trading As Jack’s Place
Address 1201 N. Potomac Street
Type of License Class BD7 “Beer, Wine & Liquor License”
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

The president of Berea Neighborhood Association, Mr. Julius Henson, appeared on behalf of his organization to protest the transfer of ownership of the license.

Mr. Kodenski, for the applicant, informed the Board that the address in question has had a liquor license since 1934, which is when Prohibition was repealed. The current licensee, Mr. Doyle Farnsworth, has been operating in the building for 19 years. The applicant, Mr. Anderson Davis, testified as to his experience with many bars and restaurants throughout his career. Within a two-block radius of the proposed establishment Mr. Davis owns eighteen properties. The hours of operation of the establishment will be 7AM-midnight. Most of the emphasis for this restaurant will be on food, and he testified that he wants to make the place a cornerstone of the community. He submitted a proposed menu to the Board. Mr. Davis plans to do some repair to the building, mostly cosmetic, and to install security cameras which will be available to the Baltimore City police at any time. Mr. Davis had lived in East Baltimore “all of his life, up until 10 years ago” and has met with the local community associations. Mr. Kodenski provided the Board with a petition in favor of the ownership transfer, signed by more than 200 people. Mr. Davis plans to employ six people. Mr. Kodenski submitted some photographs of the inside of the bar.

Mr. Julius Henson objected to the admission of the petition, because he noted that many of the names on the petition were written in the same handwriting. He also pointed out that the character witnesses on the application do not live in the Berea neighborhood. The applicant correctly replied that the law does not require the character witnesses to live in the community.

Chairman Fogleman, looking at the petition, noted, “it does appear to me that many of the addresses look like they’re in similar handwriting,” adding, “I’m not an expert.” The applicant insisted that the signatories filled in their names individually, and that he sent people door to door to collect the signatures.

Mr. James Brown, the person hired to be the chef at the new establishment, testified that he gathered signatures door-to-door. He told the Board that people in the neighborhood who do not drive desperately need a dining experience other than the ones present, which serve chicken wings and other unhealthy foods. Another community member, in favor of the application, testified that she couldn’t think of another food establishment convenient to the neighborhood; community members against the application began to contradict her from the audience. Chairman Fogleman interrupted them, saying “It’s not the Price is Right; she can’t take suggestions from the audience.” Several other community members testified in favor of the transfer.

Mr. Henson, on behalf of the community association, presented a six-page petition with 108 signatures against the transfer application. He also submitted a letter from City Councilman Branch in support of the community association’s position. Mr. Kodenski pointed out that the community association’s petition doesn’t provide a reason why the community is against the transfer. Mr. Henson called a handful of community witnesses to testify in opposition to the transfer. Community members complained of problems with trash and debris. The establishment is located on a one-way street, and the community was concerned about increased car traffic. The witnesses were also concerned about foot traffic up and down the alley behind the establishment. Another witness testified that she had lived in her home in Berea since 1956. There are parking issues, and problems with people leaving liquor bottles at the front of people’s homes. She said, “we don’t want any food establishments… There are ways of getting food. We want to shut down every bar in the city and send them to the strip malls.” The pastor of a local church testified that the community is “surrounded in bars. Where there’s drinking, there’s drunkenness. Folks act crazy.” Some of the protestants stated that they had never seen the people in favor of the establishment before, hinting that they did not live in the community. Mr. Henson concluded that the protestants “believe that the community has the right to self-determination” and asked the Board to deny the transfer.

Zoning R-7
Neighborhood Berea
Area demographics 1% White, 96% Black, 0% Asian, 1% 2 or more races; 1% Hispanic ethnicity; 35% of households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $26,431.68; 21% households live below poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Nottingham, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support ~20
Attorney for community None.
# of protestants ~20
# of inspectors 1 – Inspector Michael Hyde.
Result of hearing Application approved
Vote tally 2-1 (Jones dissenting)
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

Chairman Fogleman, for himself and Commissioner Smith, stated that the applicant is not asking to expand the premises or to add live entertainment, dancing, or music, but is simply trying to take over a small narrow bar in a rowhouse on N. Potomac St. Mr. Davis possesses the requisite experience to operate the bar. The Board sees that there is both public opposition and public support. The Board doesn’t place greater weight on the opinions of a homeowner than a renter. Mr. Davis submitted a repair list to make improvements to the bar, including security cameras, fixing bathrooms, and updating flooring. It appears that Mr. Davis wants to improve the premises. The license has been at this address since 1934. The Board heard a lot of general arguments against alcohol and chicken boxes, but the protestants did not connect all that trash to this particular address. These are common problems in dense residential neighborhoods with rowhouses. The Chairman concluded that the Board is concerned about the situation, but it would rather have a responsible licensee in the property than for the property to be empty.

Commissioner Jones, in dissent, added that both sides put on a pretty good case. He said that people who live in a neighborhood for a long period of time have proven their devotion to the community. They are a foundation for the community. He did not elaborate more on why he voted to oppose the transfer.

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicant Nkiambi Lema
Business Name Lema Systems, LLC
Trading As Club Ikapi
Address 219 W. Pratt Street
Type of License Class “D” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Violation of Rule 3.02 “Licensees shall cooperate with representatives of the Board, members of the Police Department, Health Department, Building Engineer’s office, Grand Jury and representatives of other governmental agencies whenever any such persons are on official business.” (Re: August 11, 2013, using second floor of establishment after being told that they did not have authroization to use second floor on August 5, 2013.) Violation of Rule 4.18 “No licensee shall commit or allow the commission on his premises of any act which shall be contrary to any federal, state or local statute, law or ordinance or against the public peace, safety, health, welfare, quiet or morals.” August 5, 2013 (Re: providing adult entertainment without permission from the board – strippers on the second floor of establishment and using the second floor of the establishment without authorization from the Board) and on August 11, 2013 (Re: using the second floor of the establishment without permission from the Board.).
Hearing notes

Mr. Peter Prevas, on behalf of his clients, stated that the licensees will admit to the Rule 3.02 violation and one violation of Rule 4.18 for the August 8 incident.

Agent Donald Fitzgerald, formerly of the Liquor Board, testified that on August 5, 2013, the Baltimore Police Vice unit sent undercover officers into the establsihment. The police informed Mr. Fitzgerald by telephone that there were strippers inside the establishment, though the business did not have a valid adult entertainment license. Mr. Fitzgerald provided some photographs to the Board. There were dollar bills on the floor, and, he added, “unfortunately, there was a bag of condoms upstairs.” The dancers were not employees of the licensed establishment; there were no employee records for them or for the security staff.

There was another incident on August 11, but the police officer who was present at the establishment on that date did not appear for the Liquor Board hearing because he was not summonsed.

Chairman Fogleman said to the licensee, “you’ve got convictions and charges piling up now. It’s not appearing like your son or your manager are acting like serious businessmen. Should the Board see you here in the future for these kinds of violations, you may not have a liquor license.” In response, the licensee started to disagree with the police officers about the bag of condoms that they allegedly found, and Chairman Fogleman interrupted him to exclaim, “We’re talking about breasts, exposed breasts!”

Zoning B-5-1
Neighborhood Downtown West
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 228 E. 25th Street, Baltimore, MD 21218
Attorney for licensee Mr. Peter Prevas
# in support 5
Attorney for community N/A
# of protestants N/A
# of inspectors 1 – Inspector Fitzgerald
Result of hearing Guilty of violation of Rule 3.02. Guilty of violation of Rule 4.18 – adult entertainment conducted w/out license. The Board dismissed the August 11 charge of a violation of Rule 4.18.
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.

Comments are closed.

Disclaimer: While the author makes every effort to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information on this blog, the accuracy of some information is subject to change and cannot be guaranteed. Neither the author nor the publisher is responsible for any errors or omissions. All information in this blog is provided “as-is,” with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness, or of the results obtained from the use of this information, and without warranty of any kind, express or implied. This blog is not intended to do harm to, defame, libel, or malign any religious or ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual, or government entity. In no event will the author, her employer, or the publisher be liable to you or anyone else for any action taken in reliance on the information in this blog or for any consequential, special or similar damages incurred, even if advised of the possibility of such damages.

The materials contained on this website have been prepared by Community Law Center, Inc. for informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.

Copyright: Text, photos and other materials found on this website are the property of CLC, except where otherwise noted. Such materials may not be reproduced without CLC’s written prior consent.