Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on January 30, 2014

Written by Becky Witt

Chairman Fogleman and Commissioner Jones in attendance. Commissioner Smith was not present.

1:00pm cases

Applicant Douglas Atwell
Business Name 31 Cross, LLC
Trading As pending
Address 31-33 E. Cross Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for Hearing Application to transfer ownership, requests for live entertainment and off-premises catering
Hearing notes

The application is for a transfer of ownership, without a transfer of location; there has been a liquor license at this address for some time. Marie Sennett represented the South Baltimore Neighborhood Association and was accompanied by the President of SBNA. The members of SBNA voted 42-0 in favor of adopting the MOU. The community submitted a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the neighborhood and the applicant. Mr. Atwell has withdrawn his live entertainment request. He informed the Board that he has twelve years of bartending and restaurant management experience at Rye, the Waterfront Hotel, and the Red Star Bar and Grill, all in Fell’s Point. He will hire ten or fewer people to start out.

Zoning B-2-3
Neighborhood Federal Hill
Area Demographics 80% White, 12% Black, 4% Asian; 3% Hispanic ethnicity; 11% households have children under age 18; median household income: $78,578.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes, Yes
Location of entity’s principal office 800 North Charles Street, Suite 202M
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community Ms. Marie Sennett
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Joann Martin
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision Article 2B section 10-202(a)
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case None
Applicant Thomas Coyle & Yong Cha Coyle
Business Name Tom Song, LLC
Trading As Half Mile Track Tavern
Address 4108 Frederick Ave
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. Prevas reminded the Board that the applicant had signed an MOU with the community regarding this transfer of ownership on July 25, 2013. The community had originally protested the transfer of this license, because of what Mr. Prevas called a “misunderstanding.” He did not elaborate about what the misunderstanding was. According to his attorney, Mr. Coyle began cleaning up the establishment after the Board approved the transfer, but he suffered a serious back problem for which he required surgery. Mr. Coyle was present at the hearing and walked with a cane. Mr. Prevas requested a six-month hardship extension so that Mr. Coyle can finish fixing up the property and open the business.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Irvington
Area Demographics 8% White, 88% Black, 0% Asian; 1% Hispanic ethnicity; 36% households have children under age 18; 19% households live under the poverty line; median household income: $33,504.32
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; Yes
Location of entity’s principal office 8336 Tally Ho Road, Lutherville, MD 21093
Attorney for licensee Mr. Peter Prevas
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Inspector Jeffrey Ray
Result of hearing Hardship extension approved for six months
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision Extraordinary medical circumstances
Issues raised in audit present in this case None from the audit, but a recent Attorney General opinion held that the Board does not have the statutory authority to grant hardship extensions for transfers that take longer than 180 days. The opinion said that the transfer automatically expires, under the statute, after 180 days. Read more here.
Applicant William Flynn
Business Name Liam Flynn’s Ale House, LLC
Trading As Liam Flynn’s Ale House
Address 22 W. North Avenue
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for Hearing Review of an application pending for more than 180 days under the provision of Article 2B Section 10-504(d)
Hearing notes

William (Liam) Flynn was present with a Mr. Marsh whose relationship to the Ale House was not explained. The Board approved Mr. Flynn for a Class B license in the summer of 2013, and Mr. Flynn is asking for an extension of time. He explained that the business has been having financial problems, and that the sprinkler company did not start work until the day befor the hearing. He also had some construction holdups that were out of his control. He informed the Board that their final inspections were the following day. He submitted a certificate of good standing from the State Department of Assessments and Taxation for Liam Flynn’s Alehouse LLC.

Zoning B-5-2
Neighborhood Charles North
Area Demographics 53% White, 32% Black, 8% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 6% households have children under age 18; median household income: $38,331; 5.5% households live below poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes. The corporate entity had not been in good standing a few days before the hearing, but apparently the licensee remedied the situation and got a certificate of good standing from the State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) before the hearing.
Location of entity’s principal office 22 W. North Avenue, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing 60 day hardship extension granted
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision Extraordinary delays. Need to obtain required inspections.
Issues raised in audit present in this case None from the audit, but a recent Attorney General opinion held that the Board does not have the statutory authority to grant hardship extensions for transfers that take longer than 180 days. The opinion said that the transfer automatically expires, under the statute, after 180 days. Read more here.
Applicant Corey Brown
Business Name Bar 1513, LLC
Trading As Bar 1513
Address 1513 McHenry Street
Type of License Class “D” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for Hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Mr. Brown has already been managing Bar 1513 for almost one year. It’s a neighborhood tavern, and Mr. Brown has extensively improved it. He has had alcohol awareness training, and the bar has not had a violation since he became the manager.

Chairman Fogleman asked about the terms of the lease, and Mr. Shaulis, on behalf of his client, replied that it is a five year lease with a five-year option. The Chairman asked Mr. Brown to amend his application to include the terms of the lease, since the application did not include this information.

Mr. Brown said that he did not meet with the community association, but that he did speak with Mr. Allen Black from the Mount Clare Community Association, and Mr. Black said that there was no community issue with the transfer.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood New Southwest/Mount Clare
Area Demographics
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; Yes
Location of entity’s principal office 1513 McHenry Street
Attorney for licensee Mr. Frank Shaulis
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Jeffrey Ray
Result of hearing Transfer approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision Article 2B section 10-202(a)
Other reasons given for decision The Board is ordering him to disclose fully the terms of the lease in the application. Mr. Brown spoke with leadership at Mount Clare Community Association, there is no opposition in the file, and there is no one at the hearing in support or opposition to the request.
Issues raised in audit present in this case Finding 1 of the Audit stated that the BLLC lacked formal written policies to guide the alcohol licensing process. In this case, the application submitted by the licensee was not complete when a hearing was scheduled. When the Board allows licensees and applicants to amend their applications at the hearing (which is a common practice of the BLLC for Baltimore City), other interested parties are deprived of the opportunity to view a complete, accurate file before the hearing.
Applicant Jasvinder Khatkar & Dilawar Khatkar
Business Name India Rasoi, Inc.
Trading As India Rasoi Restaurant
Address 411 South High Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for Hearing Request to reopen after being closed for more than 90 days under the provisions of Article 2B Section 10-504(d)
Hearing notes Mr. Jorge Eichelberger was present, along with Mr. Dilawar Khatkar; Mr. Khatkar’s wife, Jasvinder, was not. Mr. Eichelberger described himself as the “agent of the property.” The licensees are asking for a hardship extension, because their previous tenant held over for five to six months, then filed bankruptcy, which tied up the building for another two or three months. Mr. Eichelberger told the Board that the Khatkars would be able to reopen the business within six months.
Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Greektown
Area Demographics 52% White, 12% Black, 3% Asian; 30% Hispanic ethnicity; 30% households have children under age 18; median household income: $38,987.50
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; No
Location of entity’s principal office 426 South Macon Street
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Karen Brooks
Result of hearing Approved 180-day hardship extension
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

It is unclear how long this business has been closed. From Mr. Eichelberger’s testimony, it sounds as though there has been no sale of alcohol from anywhere from seven to nine months. Article 2B section 10-504(d) states clearly that a license expires as a matter of law 180 days after the licensee has closed the business or ceased active alcoholic beverages business operations, unless the Board has granted a hardship extension, which would extend the time period to a total of 360 days. The Board in this case granted a 180-day hardship extension, but the Board did not have the authority to grant a hardship extension of more than 360 days from when the licensee closed the business.

The relationship between the licensee and the “tenant” referred to by Mr. Eichelberger is also unclear. BLLC Rule 3.01 states that “every licensee shall be the actual owner and operator of the business conducted on the licensed premises.” Mr. Eichelberger’s testimony seemed to imply that the tenant of the building was operating the restaurant there, not the named licensees.

Applicant Ernesto Zanella-Castillo
Business Name Bar BB Ortiz, LLC
Trading As Bar BB Ortiz
Address 6422 Holabird Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request to add live entertainment
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski informed the Board that the establishment has had a liquor license since Prohibition. When the licensee originally filed his transfer application, he had requested live entertainment, but the Board told him to wait a year. 98% of his clientele is Hispanic, and, according to Mr. Kodenski, the licensee wants to host mariachi bands, karaoke, and other bands appropriate for the space, three or four nights per week. The building is zoned for live entertainment.

Chairman Fogleman noted that the building has no windows and is solid. He also asked the licensee where the nearest neighbors are, and the licensee informed the Board that the building is in an industrial area and that the closest neighbors are behind the building. The building has its own parking lot.

Mr. Kodenski submitted a petition in support of the application for live entertainment. He noted, “I’ve perused it, and ninety percent or more are Hispanic names.” Ms. Susan Hughes, for the Southeastern Police Community Relations Council, objected to the petition, because many of the signatures do not have addresses next to them. She also pointed out that many of the addresses that were present on the petition were extremely far away from the licensed premises; Ms. Hughes argued that the Board should exclude these signatures, because, since the people live so far away, their opinions are irrelevant to the question of public need and desire for live entertainment. Chairman Fogleman replied that the law doesn’t define “public need and desire,” and he overruled Ms. Hughes’ objection.

Mr. Kodenski submitted evidence that the licensee has been involved in the community, including receipts from some charitable donations.

Community associations: Kodenski informed the Board that there is really no community group in the immediate neighborhood. There used to be a Southeastern Improvement Association, but the head of the group, Nancy Granger, passed away recently, and the group has more or less dissolved without her leadership. Ms. Joyce Adamsky was present, from the Southeastern Police Community Relations Council.

Ms. Hughes told the Board that she had tried to work out a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Mr. Kodenski, but that he had not returned her emails. She added that she did not believe that the burden should be on the community to chase the applicant down to negotiate an MOU.

The Board asked Ms. Hughes what would be on the community’s wish list for voluntary license restrictions for an MOU. Ms. Hughes replied that there were several restrictions that the community wants to request: (1) the licensee shall not hire promoters (2) keep doors and windows closed during live entertainment (3) notification to the community of any change of management or ownership (4) keep noise within legal limits (5) be a positive member of the community (6) take immediate action to respond to complaints (7) if the licensee sees illegal activity, including prostitution, fighting, and public drunkenness, that the licensee calls the police department, (8) and specific days and hours of operation. Chairman Fogleman noted that the Board cannot compel a licensee to sign an MOU. The Chairman went through Ms. Hughes’ list of community requests and asked the licensee if he would agree to the restrictions, adding that if the two parties don’t come to some agreement during the hearing, then the Board has to vote up or down on the application.

Ms. Hughes protested that the community association would like to have specifically identified what the remedies would be in case of any noncompliance. The community would have preferred a written MOU with provisions for Liquor Board intervention in case of noncompliance in addition to standing to appeal to the courts. She argued that it is important for everything to be signed and dated. Chairman Fogleman replied, “I disagree with you. The Board has in the past crafted voluntary license restrictions” and added that the Board is not inclined to continue the hearing until a later date.

Ms. Hughes also pointed out that when a person Googles BB Ortiz, the first picture that comes up is an advertisement for live entertainment on the bar’s Facebook page; the implication was that BB Ortiz has already illegally been providing live entertainment. Ms. Hughes noted that the fact that the licensee is already breaking the rules causes concern for the community. The licensee replied, “this is Facebook. Anyone can open a Facebook account.” He denied that he had any control over the Facebook page for his business, but he did not tell the Board who else would have or could have uploaded information to that page. Ms. Hughes moved to add the Facebook printout for BB Ortiz into evidence, but the Board denied the motion, because the licensee denied that he authorized the Facebook page for the bar.

Chairman Fogleman went through the list of all of the license restrictions that Ms. Hughes had requested, and the licensee agreed to all of them. He also agreed that he would end live entertainment at 1:00am on Wednesdays and at 1:30am Thursday through Sunday.

Ms. Hughes added that prostitution is a problem for the community in that area and asked the licensee if he would be willing to report any prostitution or other criminal behavior that he sees outside of his establishment. The licensee refused to report any activity outside of his business, but he said that he would never allow any drug or alcohol use inside his establishment.

Zoning B-3-1
Neighborhood Broening Manor
Area demographics 44% White, 25% Black, 2% 2 or more races; 20% Hispanic ethnicity; 32% households have children under age 18; median household income: $30,864.31; 22% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 6422 Holabird Ave, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community Ms. Susan Hughes of Community Law Center
# of protestants 2
# of inspectors 1 – Edward Owens
Result of hearing Approved, subject to voluntary restrictions, which will be printed on the license.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision Article 2B section 10-202(a)
Other reasons given for decision License restrictions
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None

2:00pm cases

Licensees Dennis Everette & Doewon Yi
Business Name Patterson Wine & Spirits, Inc.
Trading As Apple Tree Liquors
Address 4159 Patterson Avenue
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for Hearing

Violation of Rule 4.15 “No licensee shall allow his premises to be used for the purpose of gambling in any form” (Re: April 29, 2013, Police observed licensee paying off a customer at video poker machine in establishment)

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 statue, law or ordinance or against the public peace, safety, health, welfare, quiet or moral.” (Re: Search and Seizure Warrant executed on May 1, 2013)

Hearing notes Mr. Doewon Yi was present at the hearing and admitted the violation. Baltimore City Police Sergeant Leischer described the case; the police obtained a search warrant from Judge Braverman. They raided the store and confiscated $8,256 which had been illegally obtained by the store via an illegal video gaming device. The licensee testified that the store gave up the machines right away.
Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Greektown
Area Demographics 52% White, 12% Black, 3% Asian; 30% Hispanic ethnicity; 30% households have children under age 18; median household income: $38,987.50
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 4701 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for community N/A
# of protestants N/A
# of inspectors
Result of hearing Chairman Fogleman told the licensee that the Board would merge the two charges for the purposes of sentencing, since both “violations” stem from th same incident. The Board found the licensee guilty of one Rule 4.15 charge and ordered that the licensee pay the $625 fine within 10 days.
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 None.
Licensee Steven Kougl
Business Name Kougl, Inc.
Trading As Club Harem
Address 425 E. Baltimore Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License–Adult Entertainment
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.17(a) “No licensee shall permit or suffer his premises to be used for the purpose of any sexual activity, nor shall any licensee permit or suffer any employee, patron or frequenter to solicit any person for prostitution or other immoral purposes. (Re: April 25, 2013, dancer solicited undercover police officer for sexual intercourse)

Violation of Rule 4.17(b) “No licensee shall permit or suffer any person to appear in any act or other performance with breasts or the lower torso uncovered; not shall any licensee knowingly permit or suffer his premises to be used for the conduct, exhibition or performance of an obscene act or other performance” (Re: April 25, 2013, dancer exposed herself to undercover police officer)

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 statue, law or ordinance or against the public peace, safety, health, welfare, quiet or morals.” (Re: April 25, 2013, dancer solicited undercover police officer for sexual intercourse; dancer exposed herself to undercover police officer)

Hearing notes

The prostitution allegation hearings for Club Harem and for Red Room were called together, because Steven Kougl had a financial interest in both businesses. The licensees requested a postponement so that they could have their hearings before a three-member panel (since Commissioner Smith was not present). The licensees’ attorney did not show up to the hearing. The Board granted the postponement request.

Applicant Erika Pair
Business Name 411 East, LLC
Trading As Red Room
Address 411 E. Baltimore Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License-Adult Entertainment
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.17(a) “No licensee shall permit or suffer his premises to be used for the purpose of any sexual activity, nor shall any licensee permit or suffer any employee, patron or frequenter to solicit any person for prostitution or other immoral purposes. (Re: April 25, 2013, dancer solicited undercover police officer for sexual intercourse)

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 statue, law or ordinance or against the public peace, safety, health, welfare, quiet or morals.” (Re: April 25, 2013, dancer solicited undercover police officer for sexual intercourse)

Hearing notes

The prostitution allegation hearings for Club Harem and for Red Room were called together, because Steven Kougl had a financial interest in both businesses. The licensees requested a postponement so that they could have their hearings before a three-member panel (since Commissioner Smith was not present). The licensees’ attorney did not show up to the hearing. The Board granted the postponement request.

Licensee Yvonne Dornic
Business Name Dornic & Dornic, Inc.
Trading As Ze Mean Bean Café
Address 1739-41 Fleet Street
Type of License Class “B” 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 representative of other governmental agencies whenever any such persons are on official business.” (Re: May 14, 2013, uncooperative with Liquor Board Inspector Brooks)

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 statue, law or ordinance or against the public peace, safety, health, welfare, quiet or morals.” (Re: May 14, 2013, Liquor Board Inspector observed customers with alcoholic beverages when 2013 liquor license had not been picked up

Hearing notes This case was not called by the Commissioners and there was no explanation given for why it was not called (unless the explanation was given before the 1:00 docket began — we arrived just as the first case was starting).

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