Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on May 8, 2014.

Written by Becky Witt

Commissioner Smith did the first two hearings on her own; Commissioner Jones joined her for the remaining hearings. The Chairman position is still unfilled, but Commissioner Smith is currently acting as Chairperson.

Applicant Michael White & Bruce Richardson
Business Name Sobo Taco Spot, LLC
Trading As Banditos
Address 1118 S. Charles Street
Type of License Class “D” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request for a special amusement license under the provisions of Article 2B Section 8-203
Hearing notes

Commissioner Smith stated that the Board had received and reviewed a request for a postponement in this case from attorney Peter Prevas.

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 1118 S. Charles St, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Peter Prevas
# in support 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Postponement granted.
Vote tally None given.
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 Raj Bommakanti & William Ely
Business Name Radharaj, Inc.
Trading As trade name pending
Address 1615 Eastern Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership & location of a Class “BD7” BWL license presently located at 1709 Fleet Street to 1615 Eastern
Avenue
Hearing notes

Commissioner Smith stated that the Board had received a postponement request from attorney Abraham Hurdle which said that the applicants were traveling out of the country.

Zoning B-2-2
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 16402 Signature Court, Rockville MD 20853
Attorney for licensee Mr. Abraham Hurdle
# in support 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Postponement approved
Vote tally None provided
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

Having finished the postponement requests, Commissioner Smith noted that there were several reconsiderations scheduled for that day. She told the audience that only one person from each side (community and licensee) would be sworn in to testify. She also said that any party opposed to a reconsideration would only be allowed to speak if he or she had submitted a letter of opposition to the reconsideration to the Board at least 72 hours beforehand. This rule does not appear in Article 2B or in the Liquor Board’s Rules and Regulations, and, as far as this blog’s author knows, has never been applied before.

Applicant Barbara Bollack & Dennis Hagan
Business Name Bab’s Inc.
Trading As B.G.’s Pub
Address 617-19 S. Oldham Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request for reconsideration of the Board’s decision of April 10, 2014
Hearing notes

Mr. Melvin Kodenski, for his clients, recounted to the Board that Ms. Bollack had appeared before the Board to request a hardship extension for the license. Click here for the link to the Booze News post on that hearing. During the April 10 hearing, Ms. Bollack had testified that her business had been closed for two years, since March 2012. Mr. Kodenski said that the license in question had been paid for through April 30, 2013. He cited a case called Baines v. Board of Liquor License Commissioners, 640 A.2d 232. Mr. Kodenski stated that the holding of the Baines case is that “the Board can’t take money from somebody and tell them that they don’t have a license.”

Commissioner Smith replied that the license is dead under Article 2B section 10-504 and that Mr. Kodenski could appeal to the Circuit Court if he believes the Board is in error.

After the Board had gone off the record, Mr. Kodenski complained to Commissioner Smith that letters had been submitted to the Board too late for him to review them. He noted that Baltimore County provides the counsel of record and the licensee with a copy of anything that comes into the file, and he asked the Board to consider doing the same in the future.

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 617-19 S. Oldham St.
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 1
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Reconsideration denied
Vote tally Smith & Jones.
Portions of state law cited in decision Article 2B section 10-504
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed In this case, Mr. Kodenski severely misstated the holding of the Baines v. BLLC case — the case held that the Board cannot impose an additional requirement on a licensee which is not authorized by Article 2B. In that particular case, Mary Lou Baines’ bar had been closed for over four years. She asked the Board for permission to reopen the place (which, if granted, would have been in violation of the 180-day rule). The Board replied that, because the bar had been closed for so long, she would have to collect petition signatures from neighbors in favor of reopening. This arbitrary imposition of gathering petition signatures, which is not a requirement found in Article 2B, was what the Court of Special Appeals said was outside of the Board’s authority. The Board in Baines had not even considered whether or not the license was valid under Article 2B section 10-504, so the Court of Special Appeals did not rule on the case from the perspective of the 180-day rule, which was the rule at issue in the 617-19 S. Oldham Street hearing.
(Former) Licensee Cristin Neal Adad
Business Name Club Confetti, Inc.
Trading As Club Confetti
Address 1609 Bank Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request for reconsideration of the Board’s decision of May 30, 2013
Hearing notes

Mr. Gary Maslan, attorney for the secured creditor of the license at 1609 Bank Street, was present with his client, Mr. Adam Salazar.

The Board revoked the license at Club Confetti in May 2013, after many community and police complaints about noise and other serious disturbances. Mr. Maslan argued, however, that the Board had, in other cases, un-revoked licenses in order to allow a secured creditor to sell the license to recoup his or her investment. He presented evidence that Mr. Salazar had a lien on the license and is in debt on the property at 1609 Bank Street. Mr. Salazar filed a security financing statement regarding his interest in the license, which Mr. Maslan provided a copy of to the Board. Maslan reminded the Board that they had allowed the secured creditor to keep a revoked license at Voltage and at a bar on Pulaski Street.

Mr. Maslan may have been referring to the license at 291 S. Pulaski Street, which had a transfer of ownership scheduled at the end of the 2:00 docket, below.

Zoning R-8
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? N/A – request for reconsideration filed by secured creditor
Location of entity’s principal office N/A – secured creditor
Attorney for licensee Mr. Gary Maslan
# in support 1 (secured creditor)
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Reconsideration denied
Vote tally Smith & Jones.
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision Commissioner Smith noted that the original revocation was affirmed by the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, so the Board is barred from re-examining the same issue.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicant Joseph J. Lear, Jr.
Business Name None
Trading As Lears II
Address 3500 O’Donnell Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request for reconsideration of the Board’s decision of April 17, 2014
Hearing notes

Mr. Melvin Kodenski, for his client, reminded the board that at the protest of renewal on April 17, 2014, the licensee, Mr. Lear, had appeared without the benefit of counsel. Mr. Lear has been a licensee at the location for many years, with no problems, according to Mr. Kodenski. Mr. Lear wasn’t prepared for the hearing, because he didn’t realize the seriousness of the potential punishment. Kodenski provided some letters of support from community members, including from people who live next door to the bar. Kodenski argued that the suspension that the Board gave was harsh. He also pointed out that Rule 2.14 states that suspensions must be on consecutive days, whereas the Board had imposed a suspension of 15 Fridays and Saturdays. (Rule 2.14 states, in its entirety: “All orders of the Board shall take effect immediately. Suspensions of license privileges shall be in consecutive days.”)

The Board refused to review Mr. Kodenski’s letters submitted in support of the licensee.

Turning to the protestants’ side, Commissioner Smith noted that she had not received a letter from the community before the hearing in opposition to the motion for reconsideration. Elizabeth Dolin, the community member who orchestrated the hearing for the residents at the protest of renewal on April 17, stated that she had not received notice of the reconsideration motion or hearing. When the Canton Community Association let her know that the suspension would be reconsidered on May 8, Ms. Dolin called the Liquor Board offices to ask them if she needed to do anything to respond, and the Board staff said no. Ms. Kristin Ernst was also present and said that she was notified by CCA on the Sunday before the hearing. Commissioner Smith told Ms. Dolin and Ms. Ernst that they had an “obligation to object to the reconsideration 72 hours in advance.” When Ms. Ernst raised the fact that Board staff had instructed her otherwise, Commissioner Smith replied, “they gave you bad information.” Because they failed to submit a letter 72 hours before the hearing, the community members were not permitted to argue their opposition to the reconsideration.

Kodenski asked, according to Article 2B section 10-402, that the licensee be allowed to pay a fine in lieu of his suspension. He also asked for a stay of the suspension.

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? N/A – no corporate entity
Location of entity’s principal office N/A – no corporate entity
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 2
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing The Board agreed with Mr. Kodenski that the 30-day suspension must be served on consecutive days, not on Fridays and Saturdays. The 30-day suspension must begin on the following day, Friday, May 9. They denied the licensee’s offer to pay a fine in lieu of suspension. The Board said that if Mr. Lear files an appeal, the Board will stay the suspension pending the outcome of the appeal. As of May 10, 2014, no appeal had been filed.
Vote tally Smith & Jones
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

This is the second time that the Board has created a new procedural rule without any advance notice to any of the affected parties. The Board in this case pronounced that a party can not respond to a motion for reconsideration unless they had submitted a letter in opposition to the reconsideration 72 hours in advance. This rule has no basis in Article 2B or in the Board’s Rules and Regulations: it was announced for the very first time at the top of the docket on May 8. According to the community members who wanted to oppose the motion for reconsideration, they had asked Board staff earlier in the week whether there was any such requirement, and Board staff had said no. Presumably, the Board will be codifying these new rules in their updated Rules and Regulations, which they plan to begin working on this summer.

Applicants Hugh Kavanaugh, Nelson Stritehoff & Wayne Haley
Business Name Clifton Pleasure Club, Inc.
Trading As Clifton Pleasure Club
Address 2803 Grindon Avenue
Type of License Class “C” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

The docket listed the following as the reason for the hearing: “Request to reopen after being closed for more than 90 days under the provisions of Article 2B section 10-504(d).” Article 2B section 10-504(d) does not contain any such provision.

Rather, Article 2B section 10-301(j)(4) is the relevant provision, which states: “Notwithstanding any other provision of this article, and except where extenuating circumstances exist, before a licensed premises in Baltimore City that has been closed for at least 3 consecutive months may be reopened: (i) The Board of Liquor License Commissioners shall hold a public hearing; and (ii) The licensee shall obtain approval from the Board of Liquor License Commissioners to reopen.”

Hearing notes

Mr. Melvin Kodenski, for his clients, informed the Board that the Clifton Pleasure Club had requested long ago to reopen. The hearing was originally scheduled for last week, but the Board “had some question about the community group” in Lauraville. The club members met with Lauraville Improvement Association board members on Tuesday of this week and had some discussions about reopening the club.

The Lauraville Improvement Association had two representatives present at the hearing in opposition to the request to reopen: Jody Landers, former 3rd District City Councilman, and the President of LIA.

Mr. Hugh Kavanaugh testified on behalf of the club that he is a 35-year member and has been the treasurer for 10 years. The club has been at this location since 1966 and has been in existence for over 100 years. The club members are aging, and they need new members. They have meals together and watch football games. They have never had a complaint from the Liquor Board or the Police, Fire, or Health Departments or the Lauraville Improvement Association. Mr. Kavanaugh said that until the club members started to try to reopen the club, he had never even heard of the Lauraville Improvement Association (Mr. Kavanaugh lives in Baltimore County.). There are only four houses nearby and a graveyard next door, “so we’re not exactly waking anybody up.”

Mr. Landers asked Mr. Kavanaugh how long the license has been in disuse. Mr. Kavanaugh replied that it had been longer than a year. The club members have listed the property for sale. Mr. Landers asked, “When did you discover that the liquor license had expired?” Mr. Kodenski objected to the question, and Commissioner Smith sustained the objection.

Ms. Amelia Reitz testified about the Tuesday meeting with LIA: there were 28 people at the meeting, with very short notice. Three of the 28 were from LIA, the rest were business owners on Harford Rd. She said that the new members have been trying to get lists of specific concerns to understand where people were coming from in their opposition to the club reopening. Mr. Landry provided a list of specific restrictions that LIA was asking for, and the new members agreed to them. She had thought that LIA and the new members had come to an understanding regarding the license. Mr. Landers replied that Ms. Reitz is not a member of the club, a community member, or an officer of the club. He raised the question of how she can testify on behalf of an organization of which she is not a member. He pointed out that the club is currently exclusively a men’s club. He asked Ms. Reitz, “Are you currently a member of an officer?” She responded that she is a prospective member. He asked, “Has Mr. Kavanaugh authorized you to represent the group?” She replied that he has not. Mr. Landers said, “therein lies the crux of the problem.” Commissioner Smith asked, “Is that a question?” and Mr. Landers laughed, “it is a big question!”

City Councilman Curran testified next about the meeting held that week. He noted that there is an issue with parking and that the capacity is 145 people. He pointed out the enthusiasm of the business owners in the area. Mr. Landers asked, “were you aware that LIA wasn’t invited to bring community members to the meeting?” Councilman Curran repled that he was not aware.

In his closing statement, Mr. Landers reiterated that he opposes the request to reopen. The club is moribund, and the building is suffering from years of delayed maintenance and neglect. It’s been closed for a year. It’s been closed for a year. No one in the community is suffering (from the lack of the club), because the club had never had a connection to the community. The community never had a particular issue with the club, because it was a very remote operation of a lot of seniors: they didn’t have big events and there weren’t any wild parties going on. He pointed out that the club is undemocratic, since the charter specifies that only men can be members. He submitted the Form 990 filing for the club from 2012 (the Form 990 is the tax return for nonprofit organizations). He argued that the 990 shows the club’s shoddy recordkeeping and administration. The resident agent on record is David Doeller, who has been deceased since December 11, 2011. Mr. Kodenski, to clarify, asked Mr. Landers whether Mr. David Doeller is on the liquor license, and Mr. Landers replied that he was not.

Mr. Kodenski in his closing statement reiterated that this group has been there for a long time. As a courtesy, when the Board asked, they did agree to meet with LIA. The members have been requesting for months to reopen. He concluded, visibly frustrated, that “the Lauraville Improvement association is not the be-all and end-all of anything!”

Zoning R-4
Neighborhood Lauraville
Area demographics 36% White, 58% Black, 1% Asian; 2% Hispanic ethnicity; 32% households have children under age 18; 5% households below poverty line; median household income: $58,085.61
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 2803 Grindon Ave, Baltimore, MD 21214
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support ~10
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 2
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Request to reopen approved
Vote tally Smith & Jones
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision Commissioner Smith explained that the hearing was not a public transfer hearing; therefore, she said, the Board would not consider the public need and desire for the license. Since the hearing was a request to reopen, she said that the Board would make its decision “based on whether or not there has been significant cause for operations to cease and whether there is a viable opportunity for the licensee to reopen.” She concluded, “the Board has found that the licensees has met that burden and the Board will allow them to reopen.”
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed It is not entirely clear why the Board applied such a narrow standard to their review of the applicants’ request to reopen. The statute, cited above, does not limit the Board’s discretion at all. Rather, the statute states: “Notwithstanding any other provision of this article, and except where extenuating circumstances exist, before a licensed premises in Baltimore City that has been closed for at least 3 consecutive months may be reopened: (i) The Board of Liquor License Commissioners shall hold a public hearing; and (ii) The licensee shall obtain approval from the Board of Liquor License Commissioners to reopen.” The statute does not specify which factors the Board should consider at the public hearing, and it certainly doesn’t prevent the Board from considering public need and accommodation for the license. It would seem logical that the Board should consider issues like public need and accommodation when a licensee has been closed for more than ninety days.
Applicants Stefan Popescu & Daniel Murphy
Business Name Gough Street Liquor, LLC
Trading As Cockey’s Fells Point
Address 1901 Gough Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request to add outdoor table service
Hearing notes

Mr. Cockey was present at the hearing, on behalf of the two licensee applicants. He submitted a BMZA order granting outdoor table service under six conditions. Mr. Cockey agreed that all of the conditions agreed upon between the licensees and the Fells Prospect Community Association would become license restrictions on the liquor license at this address. The conditions include that the licensees will have no more than six tables outside, with no more than eighteen patrons and that they will stop serving outside by 10PM.

Commissioner Jones reminded Mr. Cockey that the sidewalk must remain clear for pedestrian use. Mr. Cockey agreed.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Upper Fells Point
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 1306 S. Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21230
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Karen Brooks
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Smith & Jones
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 Angeline Devine & Lucia Sperato
Business Name Crab Pot, Inc.
Trading As Crab Pot
Address Lexington Market
Type of License Class “D” Beer & Wine License
Reason for hearing Request for a hardship extension under the provisions of Article 2B Section 10-504(d)
Hearing notes

Inspector Jeffrey Ray testified that the Crab Pot has been closed since December 2013. He testified that he inspected the establishment twice between July and December 2013.

Mr. Paul Devine, husband of licensee Angeline Devine, and the former full-time manager and operator of the business testified that, in fact, the Crab Pot had been closed since June 29, 2013. He had submitted a letter to the Board on April 11, 2014, requesting a 180-day hardship extension.

Commissioner Smith asked, “are you sure that you’ve been closed since June 29, 2013?

After a pause, Mr. Devine said that he was not sure. After another pause, he said, “I don’t want to put myself in jeopardy,” noting that the license is the only asset that he has and he needs the opportunity to sell it.

Commissioner Smith said, “Our own agent’s testimony is that location was closed on or about Dec 2013. We would like to give you an opportunity to clarify the record for us. We cannot have conflicting dates.”

After another very long pause, Mr. Devine replied, “I guess we’ll go with what the inspector said.”

Commissioner Smith asked, “can you tell us why you are in need of this hardship extension?” Mr. Devine replied that he and his wife have left their rented space because they were unable to pay the bills. He has an opportunity to sell the license to a place on Monroe Street, in the next few months.

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 Lexington Market, Baltimore, MD (Zip code is listed as: 00000 on SDAT)
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Jeffrey Ray
Result of hearing Hardship extension approved
Vote tally Smith & Jones
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision Commissioner Smith reviewed Inspector Ray’s testimony that the establishment closed in December 2013. She informed the licensee that he must file another hardship extension in ninety days to keep his license valid.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed Commissioner Smith’s requirement that the licensee file an additional hardship extension in 90 days is not found in Article 2B. In fact, the statute provides for one hardship extension, not two.

2:00 pm cases

Applicant Mary McFaul & Anne McFaul
Business Name Ropewalk, Inc.
Trading As Ropewalk Tavern
Address 1209 S. Charles Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request to add live entertainment
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski, for his clients, presented a Memorandum of Understanding negotiated with the South Baltimore Improvement Committee, dba South Baltimore Neighborhood Association. Mr. Michael Murphy represented the South Baltimore Improvement Committee and signed the MOU at the hearing.

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 1209 S Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21230
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 4
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Joann Martin
Result of hearing Approved, subject to the conditions in the MOU
Vote tally Smith & Jones
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 Lillian Driver
Business Name None provided
Trading As Lil’s Place
Address 1909 N. Pulaski 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 Mrs. Driver and her daughter, told the Board that he thinks that the licensee is before the Board prematurely. The business closed on March 8, 2014, when there was a fire in the building next door. The fire caused the closure of the premises, since they have to make repairs. Since they’ve only been closed for two months, Mr. Kodenski proposed that they withdraw their hardship extension request and come back in another four months, if necessary. The Commissioners agreed to the withdrawal of the hardship extension request.

Zoning R-7
Neighborhood Mondawmin
Area demographics 1% White, 96% Black, 0% Asian; 1% Hispanic ethnicity; 30% households have children under age 18; median household income: $38,912.3; 12.8% households live below the poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? No corporate entity provided.
Location of entity’s principal office No corporate entity provided.
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Withdrawal of hardship extension request approved
Vote tally Smith & Jones
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 Gary Morse & Debbie Brown
Business Name Catherine’s Pub, LLC
Trading As Delia Foley’s Pub
Address 1439 S. Charles Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request to add live entertainment
Hearing notes

On behalf of his clients, Mr. Kodenski submitted a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) negotiated with the South Baltimore Improvement Committee. The licensees intend to add live entertainment on the first floor, as they already have live entertainment on the second floor.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood South Baltimore
Area demographics 90% White, 3% Black, 3% Asian; 3% Hispanic ethnicity; 15% households have children under age 18; median household income: $73,342; 8% households live below the poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes
Location of entity’s principal office 1439 S. Charles St, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Joann Martin
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Smith & Jones
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 Jason Gelber, Contract Purchaser
Business Name N/A
Trading As N/A
Address 4825 Belair Road
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request for a hardship extension under the provisions of Article 2B Section 10-504(d)
Hearing notes

The licensee was present on his own behalf and requested a postponement to collect more documentation about when the premises had closed. He has never operated the establishment; rather, he is the contract purchaser on the license. He purchased the license about a year ago, in May 2013. The licensee does not have any contracts to sell the license or any significant leads. Liquor Board Inspector Michael Hyde testified that the licensed premises have been closed since May 2013.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Frankford
Area demographics 15% White, 79% Black, 2% Asian; 2% Hispanic ethnicity; 35% households have children under age 18; 15% households below poverty line; median household income: $39,144.11
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? N/A
Location of entity’s principal office N/A
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Inspector Michael Hyde
Result of hearing Postponement granted
Vote tally Smith & Jones
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision Postponement request granted to give the contract purchaser time to gather all documents necessary for the Board to make its decision.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed It’s not clear what documents would be necessary for the Board to make its decision. The contract purchaser and the inspector both testify that the premises have been closed since May 2013. Since apparently the contract purchaser hasn’t submitted a hardship extension within 180 days, his license is expired.
Applicant Santina Cricchio, Guido DeFranco & Maria DeFranco
Business Name Caesar’s Den, Inc.
Trading As Caesar’s Den Restaurant
Address 223-25 S. High Street
Type of License Class “B” 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. Guido DeFranco and Mrs. Maria DeFranco were present for the hearing, without counsel. They ceased to operate on October 2, 2013, and they submitted their hardship extension request on March 24, 2014. They are trying to sell the building, but they have health issues and other difficulties. There are a few prospective buyers, but nothing concrete.

Zoning B-3-2
Neighborhood Little Italy
Area demographics 58% Black, 29% White, 5% Asian; 7% Hispanic ethnicity; 29% of households have children under age 18; Average household income: $30,550.74; 35% households below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes
Location of entity’s principal office 223-25 S. High St, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Michael Hyde
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Smith & Jones
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
DISCLAIMER Community Law Center Staff Attorney and Booze News blogger Becky Lundberg Witt represented the community organization in this case.
Applicant Von Hunter
Business Name Hunter’s Hide Out, Inc.
Trading As Hunter’s Hide Out
Address 291 S. Pulaski Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Mr. Shawn Harby appeared with his client, Mr. Von Hunter. Mr. Harby and Ms. Witt, for the Carrollton Ridge Community Association, jointly presented an MOU which they had previousy negotiated. Mr. Harby told the Board that the MOU mostly contained “good neighbor” provisions including items like installing security cameras, cooperating with the Baltimore City Police, and picking up trash.

Ms. Witt added that the community was originally concerned about this location re-opening; the establishment has a bit of a checkered past, including a homicide in 2012. However, the community association was very impressed with Mr. Hunter’s presentation to their group and therefore decided to support the transfer of ownership under the restrictions of the MOU. She added that the community is cautiously optimistic about the project. Mr. Hunter has agreed to do a few extra things to assist the community, such as pass out community newsletters and do trash cleanups throughout the neighborhood.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Carrollton Ridge
Area demographics 17% White, 76% Black, 1% Asian; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 36% households have children under age 18; median household income: $28,513.80; 30% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 291 S Pulaski Street, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Shawn Harby
# in support 3
Attorney for community Ms. Becky Lundberg Witt, Staff Attorney at Community Law Center
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1
Result of hearing Approved, subject to conditions in the MOU
Vote tally Smith & Jones.
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 revoked the license at 291 S. Pulaski Street in late 2012 following a homicide inside the bar. The Booze News post from June 27, 2013 provides more background – Christina Schoppert wrote:

“In December 2012, the Liquor Board unanimously revoked this license, following a shooting at the establishment and a Liquor Board finding that the licensee was guilty of violating 2 provisions of state law and 6 Liquor Board rules. After a letter six days later from the licensee’s attorney (the same attorney who appeared at this hearing) asking that the Board “reconsider” its decision because his clients would “suffer irreparable financial harm and injury through the loss in value of the license,” it appears that the Board un-revoked the license. This author did not see any documentation of the Board’s decision on the reconsideration in the license file, but assumes that the Board reversed its decision, based on the fact that the license is still in existence.”

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