Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on February 6, 2014.

Written by Becky Witt

Chairman Fogleman and Commissioners Smith and Jones in attendance.

1:00pm cases

Applicant Martha Garcia, William Reyes & Gerado Garcia
Business Name Latin Quarters Corporation
Trading As Latin Quarters
Address 646 S. Newkirk Street
Type of License Class “D” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for Hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski requested a postponement, because his clients “had not had an opportunity to meet with the community.” They would like to try to set up a meeting with the community groups and the people who sent in letters containing concerns.

The Board heard testimony from two community members who were present in opposition to the application: Lauren and James Pringle. The Pringles also submitted a letter in opposition to the project. Read the letter here. The Pringles asked that the applicants meet with the Greektown CDC as well as the Greater Greektown Neighborhood Association and two homeowners’ associations in the neighborhood. Chairman Fogleman noted that the Board does not want to force applicants to meet with four different community groups but that they should make an effort to meet both with the CDC and the community association. The file also contained a similar letter protesting the transfer from a Ms. Louisa Germann, which you can read here.

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, Yes
Location of entity’s principal office 646 S. Newkirk Street
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 3 (applicants)
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 2
# of inspectors None
Result of hearing Hearing postponed
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
Applicant Richard Bloom & Nancy Bloom
Business Name RNFB, LLC
Trading As Ethel’s Grill
Address 1615 Sulgrave Avenue
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for Hearing Application for a new Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor restaurant license under the provisions of Rule 2.08 requiring $200,000 in capital investment in restaurant fixtures and facilities and seating capacity for a minimum of 75 people.
Hearing notes

Mr. Ed Bloom, the owner of the business (but not a licensee), provided many letters of support from various members of the Mount Washington community, including the Desert Cafe (a neighboring licensee), the principal of Mount Washington School, the Mount Washington Improvement Association, Mount Washington Tavern, and some other neighbors. He also submitted a contract for work to improve the building with an estimated price of over $200,000, as well as a proposed menu and seating chart showing 116 total seats (including 8 bar seats).

Chairman Fogleman noted that Mr. Richard Bloom did not properly fill out the application section which asks for information on previous employment. Mr. Bloom responded that he is an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Maryland in the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene. The application was amended to include this information.

Mr. Ed Bloom asked for outdoor table permission; they already have a permit from zoning to have outdoor tables.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Mount Washington
Area Demographics 68% White, 23% Black, 4% Asian; 3% Hispanic ethnicity; 23% households have children under age 18; median household income: $76,574; 4% households live below the poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; Yes
Location of entity’s principal office 713 S. Sharp Street
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 3 (two licensees, plus actual owner)
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Jeff Ray
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 11 exhibits, general support from the community. Requisite $200k in capital fixtures, requisite minimum of 75 seats.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed Mr. Ed Bloom appeared to be the real owner and operator of the business, yet he was not an applicant. The Board did not inquire as to why Mr. Ed Bloom was not on the application, and they did not mention Rule 3.01, which states that “every licensee shall be the actual owner and operator of the business conducted on the licensed premises.”
Applicant Jacob Lefenfeld, Ben Lefenfeld & Amy Lefenfeld
Business Name Field, LLC
Trading As La Cuchara
Address 3600 Clipper Mill Road
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for Hearing Application for a new Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor restaurant license under the provisions of Rule 2.08 requiring $200,000 in capital investment in restaurant fixtures and facilities and seating capacity for a minimum of 75 people & request for outdoor table service.
Hearing notes

Mr. Herbert Bergunder, for his clients, the applicants, submitted a capital investment breakdown of $624,000, prepared by their general contractor and approval from the zoning board for outdoor seating, no outdoor bar or outdoor music, with restrictions. The Concerned Citizens of Woodberry sent in an letter in support of the application. The applicants also submitted a business plan. The applicants plan to serve Basque cuisine, which is from northern Spain and southern France. The menu will include tapas, small plates, and entrees. Mr. Ben Lefenfeld submitted a sample seasonal menu for summer and fall, but the menu will change daily. The restaurant will go in the historic Meadow Mill building. There will be 185 total seats, including 40 bar seats, a wood fired grill, and a large open kitchen. Mr. Ben Lefenfeld will be the executive chef; he was previously the executive chef at Petit Louis Bistro. There will be six outdoor tables of four people each, for a total of 24 outdoor seats. The restaurant has already received approval from zoning for outdoor tables. Mr. Jacob Lefenfeld also testified that he will be a manager at the restaurant and will be responsible for alcohol management. He has worked in this capacity in several restaurants before.

Zoning M-2-1
Neighborhood Jones Falls Area
Area Demographics 77% White, 12% Black, 5% Asian; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 18% households have children under age 18; median household income: $54,278
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; Yes
Location of entity’s principal office 36 South Charles Street, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Herbert Bergunder
# in support 3 (applicants)
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Jeff Ray
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 Chairman Fogleman stated that the Board feels “pretty comfortable about this project,” that the restaurant has a good chef in place as well as someone with good alcohol management experience. The applicants have community support and an organized plan, and the Board believes that they will be a fantastic contribution to the community.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicant Kyo Ohk Shin & Lusia Jeun
Business Name Luckychoi, Inc.
Trading As Kim’s Liquor
Address 2863 W. North Avenue
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for Hearing Application to transfer ownership.
Hearing notes

Mr. Shen was the attorney for the two applicants. He also served as their interpreter for the Board’s questions, since neither of the applicants seemed to understand the questions on their own. Ms. Lucia Jeun is a resident of Baltimore City for the last two years and a registered voter. She has been trained in alcohol management. She held a liquor license previously at 2500 E. Biddle Street, at an establishment called M&M Liquor, for two to three years. There was one violation hearing for that establishment while she was a licensee, for sales of alcohol to a minor. Through her attorney/interpreter, she told the Board that she will train her staff to check IDs.

Commissioner Smith asked the two applicants about their plan for trash and loitering issues outside of their establishment. The licensees, through their attorney/translator, told the Board that they will hire available manual laborers to remove trash and debris and they will post “no loitering” signs. If people continue to loiter, the applicants told the Board that they will call the police. Commissioner Smith added that, even if you can’t find someone to clean up the trash, the applicants are still responsible for it. She noted that this area is prone to high traffic and a significant trash problem, and she encouraged the applicants to monitor that situation.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Northwest Community Action
Area Demographics 1% White, 97% Black, 0% Asian; 1% Hispanic ethnicity; 35% households have children under age 18; 26% households below poverty line; median household income: $26,682.89
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; Yes
Location of entity’s principal office 2863 W. North Avenue
Attorney for licensee Mr. Shen
# in support 2 (licensees)
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Jeff Ray
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 or other issues observed None
Applicant Theo Devine & Charles Davis
Business Name Thin Blue Smoke, LLC
Trading As Sully’s Seafood
Address 5514 Belair Road
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for Hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

The applicants submitted an executed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Thin Blue Smoke LLC and the Waltherson Improvement Association, dated January 31, 2014. The applicants plan to continue the carryout seafood establishment that was already there, and to keep the name “Sully’s Seafood.” The previous owner of Sully’s Seafood was shot to death in an apparent robbery in 2012 — for the Sun article on the homicide, click here.

There was a note in the file that the employment history for the two applicants was incomplete, but Mr. Kodenski argued that it was complete. Both applicants had worked for the Baltimore City Public School system for more than ten years. Chairman Fogleman agreed with Mr. Kodenski but noted that it was confusing to the BLLC staff, since most applicants don’t happen to work at the same place. This will be the first time that either applicant has held a liquor license, but they promised to become alcohol management certified.

The details of the transfer of the business were incomplete in the application; Chairman Fogleman requested that the applicants complete this section at the hearing. The applicants are paying $170,000 for both the business and the property, with a $55,000 down payment.

Mr. Mike Hilliard, on behalf of HARBEL Community Organization, testified in support of the application. He told the Board that the applicants are taking over a building which has been vacant, and they’ve done all the right things.

Commissioner Jones noted that he doesn’t live too far away from the proposed establishment, and said, “I hope you abide by what you’ve agreed to.”

Zoning B-3-1
Neighborhood Waltherson
Area Demographics 37% White, 55% Black, 1% Asian; 2% Hispanic ethnicity; 33% households have children under age 18; 5% households below poverty line; median household income: $57,951.01
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; Yes
Location of entity’s principal office 1 Olympic Place, Suite 900, Towson, MD 21204
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 2, including the two licensees and one community leader, Mr. Mike Hilliard of HARBEL
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Michael Hyde
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 or other issues observed The Board did not raise the validity of the license. However, if the homicide of Sully’s Seafood’s owner took place in June 2012, and if the building had been vacant since then, then the license had expired in 2013, under Article 2B section 10-504(d).
Applicant Tahir Farooq
Business Name Farooq Venturs, Inc.
Trading As Broadway Liquors
Address 1645 E. Baltimore Street
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for Hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Mr. Farooq was present on his own behalf; Mr. Jube Ezeala was also present, an attorney representing the seller of the business. Ms. Katherine Benton Jones appeared as a representative of the Douglas Homes community in opposition to the transfer.

Mr. Ezeala informed the Board that the establishment has been in existence for over ten years but that the owner had suffered a stroke and is therefore selling the business due to his health problems.

Mr. Farooq owns several small businesses, inclduing an Exxon gas station and another independent gas station in Baltimore City and County, and he has been a resident in Baltimore City for more than two years. He has not sold alcohol before, but he will go through the alcohol management training. He has sold cigarettes before at his gas stations, so he is familiar with the requirement to check identification. He said that he had tried to contact the president of a nearby community association, but that she has refused to meet with him.

When Ms. Benton Jones was called to testify, she realized that the applicant will be keeping the license on Baltimore Street. She had thought that he was moving the business to Fayette Street. When she realized her mistake, she withdrew her opposition.

Zoning O-R-2
Neighborhood Washington Hill
Area Demographics 58% Black, 29% White, 5% Asian; 7% Hispanic ethnicity; 29% of households have children under age 18; 35% of households live below poverty line; median household income $30,550.74.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; Yes
Location of entity’s principal office 5203 Windsor Mill Road, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 1 – Ms. Katherine Benton Jones
# of inspectors 1 – Karen Brooks
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 Mr. Farooq seems like a serious person.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicant Brian Beaven
Business Name Morning Edition, Inc.
Trading As Morning Edition Cafe
Address 153 N. Patterson Park Avenue
Type of License not included in docket
Reason for Hearing Request for a hardship extension under the provisions of Article 2B Section 10-504(d)
Hearing notes

Mr. Beaven represented himself and informed the Board that both the license and the building are on the market. The original plan was to sell them as a package, and there has been a lot of interest. However, everyone who has viewed the property has only wanted to buy the license, not the building. This is Mr. Beaven’s “first” hardship request.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Patterson Place
Area Demographics No data were available through Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; Yes
Location of entity’s principal office 153 N. Patterson Park Ave., Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing 180-day hardship extension approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision Article 2B section 10-504(d)
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None

2:00pm cases

Applicant Jonathan Parsonnet, Alan Sun & Mark Mumford
Business Name P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Inc.
Trading As P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
Address 600 E. Pratt Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for Hearing Review of transfer pending for more than 180 days under the provision of Article 2B Section 10-504(d).
Hearing notes The Board did not call this case and did not explain why.
Applicant Jason Stevens & Prabhjot Randhawa
Business Name Singh & Stevens, LLC
Trading As Brewer’s Cask
Address 1236 Light Street
Type of License Class “D” 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 Mr. William Grose appeared, on behalf of licensee Jason Stevens. Mr. Grose is the manager of Brewer’s Cask. Chairman Fogleman asked, “why aren’t we doing live entertainment yet?” Mr. Grose could not give him an answer, except to say that he’ll do whatever it takes to get approval. Chairman Fogleman noted that the Board gave approval for live entertainment in June 2013 but that Mr. Grose would have to get approval from city agencies, including the fire department. He added that the licensees already signed an MOU with the community and that if Mr. Grose is “not able to get this thing off the ground, then the Board’s going to have to pretend that we never approved it.”
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; No
Location of entity’s principal office 1236 South Light Street
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing 90 day hardship extension approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision Chairman Fogleman added that the licensees went to the community and worked out an MOU, and that obviously the community supports the business.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicant Connie Torian
Business Name 4559 Reisterstown, Inc.
Trading As Black Satin Lounge
Address 4559 Reisterstown Road
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, informed that Board that the application is to transfer the license from his client’s daughter back to his client. Mr. Torian had been in business for many years but has suffered some bad health and has had a tough time finishing the transfer. In the meantime, the property has sold at tax sale, and Mr. Torian is trying to redeem the property before the foreclosure. Mr. Torian’s son is trying to get a loan to pay off the mortgage. All of these legal issues, including outstanding Personal property returns, would be completed prior to the transfer, according to Mr. Kodenski.
Zoning R-6
Neighborhood Central Park Heights
Area Demographics 2% White, 96% Black, 0% Asian; 1% Hispanic ethnicity; 38% households have children under age 18; 33% households living below the poverty line; median household income: $27,238.61
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; No
Location of entity’s principal office 4559 Reisterstown Road
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 to finish the transfer
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 The Attorney General’s opinion discussed in the October 7, 2013 Booze News post stated that the Board does not have the authority to issue hardship extensions for transfers that take longer than 180 days. However, the Board continues to issue these hardship extensions, which is clearly outside of their statutory authority under Article 2B section 10-503(d)(4). To read more, see the October 7, 2013 post here.
Applicant Kathleen Lyon
Business Name Senator Theatre, LLC
Trading As Senator Theatre
Address 5904 York Road
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 Ms. Lyon was present at the hearing, unrepresented. She informed the Board that, after the original approval, negotiations on a chosen operator for the business fell apart, so they decided to focus on getting the theater opened. She expects to have an agreement next week for a restaurant operator. The build out for the interior will take four months, and then they will be ready to open.
Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Rosebank
Area Demographics 69% Black, 23% White; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 29% households have children under age 18; median household income: $44,853; 6.3% of households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; Yes
Location of entity’s principal office 1711 North Charles Street
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing 180 day hardship extension 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 Robert Wehner & Ronald Pruett
Business Name O&W Company, LLC
Trading As Murphy’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill
Address 5800 York Road
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for Hearing Review of a transfer pending for more an 180 days under the provision of Article 2B Section 10-504(d).
Hearing notes Mr. Kodenski, for his client, informed the Board that Murphy’s lease had expired on one side of York Road, so they moved to the other side. The build out of the new building is taking longer than anticipated, but they are within 60 days of finishing the process.
Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Rosebank
Area Demographics 69% Black, 23% White; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 29% households have children under age 18; median household income: $44,853; 6.3% of households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; Yes
Location of entity’s principal office 2720 Sisson Street
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing 60-day hardship extension 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

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