Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on April 3, 2014.

Written by Becky Witt

Chairman Fogleman and Commissioners Smith and Jones in attendance. The Chairman opened up the docket for the day by saying that it’s been an honor and a privilege to serve on the Board and that he will miss working for the Board very much.

Four of the seven cases on the 1:00pm docket and two of the six cases on the 2:00pm docket were postponed, but the cases were not called and the postponements were not mentioned by the Board.

1:00pm cases

Applicant David Tobash
Business Name Soldi Fossa, LLC
Trading As The Chausser
Address 3326-28 Foster Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for Hearing Request to add outdoor table service.
Hearing notes

Mr. Tobash appeared on his own behalf, unrepresented by counsel. He reported that he met with Canton Community Association and submitted a letter of support from CCA, dated March 20, 2014. Mr. Tobash also submitted a cover letter with a diagram showing the dimensions of restaurant, outdoor seating specifications, and a petition of support with signatures from people living in the neighborhood. Total outdoor seating will include seven tables with approximately 21 to 24 seats. The establishment is scheduled for a hearing before the Board of Municipal Zoning Appeals on Tuesday, April 8, 2014. The primary purpose of the outdoor seating will be for the service of food.

Chairman Fogleman noted that, when Mr. Tobash had applied for the liquor license, the Board had told him to demonstrate that he could run a good business before applying for outdoor table service. Chairman Fogleman asked Mr. Tobash whether there had been any problems in the past year, and Mr. Tobash replied that there had not.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Canton
Area Demographics 86% White, 4% Black, 3% Asian; 5% Hispanic ethnicity; 9% households have children under age 18; median household income: $82,130.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; Yes
Location of entity’s principal office 3328 Foster Ave, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee None/unrepresented
# in support 1 (licensee)
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0 – it was unclear why an inspector was not called to testify that the property was properly posted.
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 In the Decision Phase, Chairman Fogleman stated that the bar is successful and flourishing within the community. He said that the Board had no problem with outdoor seating, subject to a decision by the Zoning Board.
Issues raised in audit present in this case None
Applicant Russell Schaeffer, Jr.
Business Name Island House, Inc.
Trading As Island House Bar & Grill
Address 4330 E. Lombard Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for Hearing Application to transfer ownership from a secured creditor, request for live entertainment.
Hearing notes

Mr. Shaeffer appeared, represented by Mr. Mel Kodenski. Mr. Kodenski explained to the Board that Mr. Shaeffer has owned 4330 E. Lombard Street for ten years, and he has been involved in other businesses and has held liquor licenses in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. He testified that he has never been before the Board for any violation. The last time he was on a liquor license was August 2013, in Baltimore County. Mr. Shaeffer met with the community, although, according to him, not many people live in the area.

Chairman Fogleman asked Mr. Shaeffer to clarify the purchase price of the business, listed on the Applicant’s Interview Form. Mr. Shaeffer explained that he already owned the building and that he forgave a $85,000 debt in exchange for the business. Chairman Fogleman directed the applicant to amend the application, showing the $85,000 as the purchase price of the business.

Mr. Shaeffer is employed by the City of Baltimore for 911. He will be the full time manager of the business. Live entertainment at the bar will include a DJ, dancing, and an occasional three-piece band. The bar’s capacity is 118 people.

Zoning M-3
Neighborhood Kresson
Area Demographics 52% White, 12% Black, 2% 2 or more races; 30% Hispanic ethnicity; 30% households have children under age 18; median household income: $39,874.02; 18% households live below the poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; Yes
Location of entity’s principal office 4330 E Lombard St, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0 – no inspector was called to testify regarding the posting of the property
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
Applicants Dilbag Singh & George Mooney
Business Name 6701 Holabird, Inc.
Trading As Bill’s Cafe
Address 6701-03 Holabird Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for Hearing Application to transfer ownership.
Hearing notes

The applicants appeared, represented by Mr. Mel Kodenski. A row of people were sworn in to testify in support of the applicants.

Joyce Adamski, President of the Southeastern District Police Community Relations Council, appeared and requested a postponement. She said that the applicants never came to the community and, considering the history of the premises, the SDPCRC would like to meet with the applicants and learn of their intentions for the establishment. Mr. Kodenski objected to the postponement because the witnesses were there to testify and because the decision is time sensitive. Ms. Adamski reiterated that she wanted to meet with the applicants as soon as possible. Chairman Fogleman pointed out that the Board is anticipating against protest of renewal season, which is time-consuming. He said that the best timing would be to reschedule for next week. Ms. Adamski said that she could make it work to meet with the applicants in advance of the hearing next Thursday.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Graceland Park
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 6701 Holabird Ave, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support ~20
Attorney for community None
# of protestants ~8
# of inspectors None
Result of hearing Postponed until next week
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 liquor license at Bill’s Cafe was revoked by the Board on November 21, 2013; Bill’s Cafe employees had been consistently selling drugs from inside of the establishment. For the November 21, 2013 Booze News post on the hearing at which Bill’s Cafe’s license was revoked, click here.

You can also watch the video of the hearing on YouTube:

It is unclear how or why the Board accepted an application for a transfer of ownership of a license that the Board, under no uncertain terms, according to the decision shown in the video above, had revoked. The Chairman had voted to let Mr. Trintis keep the license in order to sell it to another licensee, but, as he said in the video, he was in the minority. Commissioners Smith and Jones voted to revoke the license, due to the severity of the charges.

2:00pm cases

Applicant Lorraine Parrish
Business Name Industrial Holdings, LLC
Trading As Industrial Holdings
Address 33 W. North Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for Hearing Transfer of ownership and location of a Class “BD7” Beer, Wine, & Liquor License presently located at 438 E. Biddle Street to 33 W. North Avenue.
Hearing notes Mr. Kodenski requested a postponement, because this transfer was subject to a bill in the legislature. The bill is being held up in the Rules Committee. There were no questions from Commissioners, and the hearing was postponed.
Applicant Tonney Crews, Frances Crews, & Jennifer Lilly
Business Name TFCJ, LLC
Trading As Marchionda’s
Address 7133-35 Harford Road
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for Hearing Request to add outdoor table service.
Hearing notes

Mr. and Mrs. Crews appeared, unrepresented by counsel. In their application, the licensees are asking for twenty outdoor tables to be located in a fenced area behind the establishment. The licensees also asked for five tables in the front of the property, under awnings. The proposal has already been approved by the Board of Municipal Zoning Appeals. The applicants submitted a drawing on the back of the Applicant’s Interview form, which showed the 40 by 40 foot back area with twenty seats and the five tables in front, each able to seat two.

Mr. and Mrs. Crews have been in business for nine months without any violations. They spoke with the North Harford Road Community Association, and the group decided to neither support nor oppose the request. Mr. Crews added that he spoke to the neighbors who live behind the property and received no negative feedback and confirmed that management will monitor the noise outside.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood North Harford Road
Area Demographics 40% White, 53% Black, 1% Asian, 2% 2 or more races; 3% Hispanic ethnicity; 32% households have children under age 18; median household income: $51,208.29; 9% households live below poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; Yes
Location of entity’s principal office 7135 Harford Road, Parkville, MD 21234
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 2 (applicants)
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Agent John Howard, on behalf of Inspector Michael Hyde
Result of hearing Approved, subject to BMZA approval
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision Article 2B section 10-202(a)
Other reasons given for decision Chairman Fogleman observed that there were no protestants present and no letters in the file.
Issues raised in audit present in this case None
Applicant Mary Al-Khatib, Christa Kilduff, & Melanie Thomas
Business Name Red Emma’s, LLC
Trading As Red Emma’s Bookstop Coffeehouse
Address 30 W. North 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

The three applicants appeared, unrepresented by counsel. Chairman Fogleman noted that there was a letter in the file from Councilman Carl Stokes, saying that he has spoken with neighbors and nearby businesses and supports Red Emma’s endeavor. Chairman Fogleman also identified the applicants’ other exhibits in the file: a cover letter, a capital investment breakdown showing approximately $247,000 spent in renovations, a professionally-rendered seating chart with Certificate of Occupany, sales projections, alcohol awareness certification, and a number of letters of support.

Chairman Fogleman asked Ms. Al-Khatib to explain what Red Emma’s was trying to do. She explained that Red Emma’s has been open at its new location on W. North Avenue for five months. She said that the restaurant would like to start selling local beer and organic wine as a small part of its offerings. The applicants only expect to sell alcohol on the premises from 5:00 pm to 12:00 am on Wednesday through Sunday. Ms. Al-Khatib pointed out that there may be occasion to serve liquor, for example, at Sunday brunches.

Commissioner Smith asked about the average cost of alcohol, which Ms. Al-Khatib explained would be $5.00 per beer and $5.00-10.00 per glass of wine. Commissioner Smith asked if the establishment is near a substance abuse recovery center. Ms. Al-Khatib answered that there are two methodone clinics nearby. In response to this question, she then explained the concept of their Tuesday “Dry Day.” On Tuesdays, Red Emma’s will not sell alcohol, in accordance with discussions the applicants had with community members from the public housing building behind the establishment and nearby Project PLASE. Ms. Al-Khatib also explained that, while the applicants may consider off-site catering in the future, it has no plans to sell alcohol for carry-out.

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
Location of entity’s principal office 800 St Paul St, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 3 (applicants)
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Agent John Howard
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 noted that the Board has never received an application for an establishment that will be open without serving alcohol. The Chairman also noted that the products for sale (including vegetarian and vegan food, along with local beer and organic wine) at Red Emma’s are certainly unique (which is one of the factors under Article 2B section 10-202(a).
Issues raised in audit present in this case None
Applicant Diane Fava
Business Name Trinacria Cafe, LLC
Trading As Trinacria Cafe
Address 111 W. Centre Street
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. Will Bauer represented Mr. and Mrs. Fava, as a consultant. The restaurant has been in the Favas’ family for a generation. Mr. Bauer stated that he will help ease the Favas in the transition to become liquor license holders. He introduced exhibits showing the capital investment for the business, a letter of introduction, letters of support from the Downtown Baltimore Partnership and the Mount Vernon Belvedere Association, a sample menu, and a seating chart of 92 seats.

Mr. Johnson of the MVBA appeared to speak in support of the applicants. Mr. Johnson said that he checked with property manager of the building, who is also in support. MVBA negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding with the Favas to restrict the hours of sale. Tom Yeager of the Downtown Baltimore Partnership also spoke in support.

Mrs. Fava testified that she is currently employed at the restaurant and sells wine to go. She testified that she has never had a liquor violation and that she will continue to be alcohol awareness certified.

Voluntary license restrictions: The Favas have agreed to restrict the hours of sale, based on negotiations with the MVBA and the Downtown Partnership. They will not sell alcoholic beverages after 10:00pm, Sunday through Thursday, or after 12:00am on Fridays and Saturdays.

The real property information on the Applicants’ Interview Form was incomplete, and Commissioner Smith asked for clarification. The equipment was purchased for $50,000 and renovations are ongoing now. Mr. Bauer corrected the form, and Mrs. Fava initialed the change.

Zoning B-4-2
Neighborhood Mount Vernon
Area Demographics 52% White, 32% Black, 7% Asian; 3% Hispanic ethnicity; 6% households have children under age 18; median household income: $35,393.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; Yes
Location of entity’s principal office 111 West Centre St, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 3
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Agent John Howard
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

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