Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on June 26, 2014.

Written by Becky Witt

The Liquor Board has been on hiatus since May 15, 2014. Since then, new Executive Secretary Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth has begun in her position, formerly held by Mr. Samuel Daniels, and the Board has advertised to fill the vacant Deputy Executive Secretary position formerly held by Jane Schroeder.

In addition, Governor O’Malley has appointed retired Judge Thomas Ward as Chairman of the Board, replacing Stephan Fogleman, and he has replaced Commissioner Elizabeth Smith with local attorney Dana Petersen Moore. The alternate commissioner position created by the 2014 liquor reform legislation has not been filled.

The docket for June 26, 2014 is organized by category of type of case and is divided into four time slots: 1:00pm, 2:30pm, 3:30pm, and 5:00pm.

The Liquor Board commissioners came out from their conference room and began hearings at 1:00pm precisely. (Previously, hearings had rarely begun before 1:15pm.) New Chairman Thomas Ward introduced all of the people behind the bench: himself, Commissioner Harvey Jones, new Commissioner Dana Moore, the court reporter, new Executive Secretary Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth, and office assistant Ramsey White. Chairman Ward also announced that, with the new commissioners, there will be changes from past procedures. The Chairman explained, “this is not the Circuit Court of Baltimore City. This is a hearing commission to take the testimony and opinions of the general public.” Therefore, the rules of evidence will be relaxed, and attorneys will not be able to make objections. Rather, the commissioners will make determinations of what evidence is reasonable to consider.

He added that “somewhere along the line, the 200 foot rule appeared. That’s out the window. People have the right to give their opinions without measuring how many feet they live from the licensed premises.”

Chairman Ward stated that the Board would not change policies for cases that had already happened. He told the audience that the next hearing would be in two weeks; the Board will not meet next Thursday, due to the July 4th holiday. In the future, hearings will begin at 11:00am. He said that the BLLC staff will try to notify everyone if the case is postponed, but that interested parties should make sure that their names and phone numbers are on record with the BLLC. He concluded by saying that the Board will hear the short cases (like postponements) first and schedule the longer hearings later in the afternoon.

The Board then heard all of the postponement requests first, no matter when they were scheduled on the docket. The cases are listed below, in the order called by the Board, not in the order provided in the docket.

The Board did not announce vote tallies for any of the hearings, so we will assume that the votes were unanimous.

Postponements

Licensee Elizer Neger
Business Name 4919 Belair, Inc.
Trading As Good Fellas Lounge
Address 4919 Belair Road
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Two motions, listed separately on the docket but heard together: motion to reconsider the Board’s decision of April 25, 2013 & motion to reconsider the Board’s decision of April 24, 2014.
Hearing notes

Mr. Melvin Kodenski, on behalf of the licensee, his client, requested a postponement of the two hearings scheduled. Mr. Neger is out of town.

Mr. Clifford Silbiger, attorney for the community organizations and members, objected to the postponement request. He explained that the April 25, 2013 decision had been appealed to the Circuit Court; the Court is remanding the case to the Board, but the judge in question has not yet signed the order. As for the 2014 reconsideration, Mr. Silbiger argued that Mr. Neger doesn’t have to be present in order for the Board to rule on Mr. Silbiger’s motion. The only issue in question, according to his motion, is whether the so-called 200-foot rule should apply.

Judge Ward responded to Mr. Silbiger that he’s already won on the 200-foot rule. He told both parties that the licensee has the right to be present at the hearing. Ward added, “it’s all one case. If the Board acted illegally, it’s all part of the mix, and we’ll talk about it when it comes back.”

Zoning B-3-1
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? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 4919 Belair Rd, Baltimore, MD 21206
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 0
Attorney for community Mr. Clifford Silbiger
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of 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 or other issues observed None
Applicants Nimesh Shah & Jigna Patel
Business Name Reema Enterprises, Inc.
Trading As trade name pending
Address 4419-B York Road
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership & location of a Class “A” BWL license presently located at 5518 Hillen Road to 4419-B York Road
Hearing notes Mr. Kodenski appeared on behalf of his client; there were no others present to testify. The postponement request had been made by a community group and the councilmember for the district. Kodenski did not object to the postponement. Judge Ward told Mr. Kodenski to work with the community groups to agree on a date and get back to the Board.
Zoning B-3-2
Neighborhood Wilson Park
Area demographics 5% White, 91% Black, 0% Asian; 1% Hispanic ethnicity; 34% households have children under age 18; 18% households below poverty line; median household income: $38,396.20
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 4419 York Rd, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of 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 or other issues observed None
Applicant Natalie diFrancesco
Business Name Pig & Rooster Smokehouse, LLC
Trading As The Pig & Rooster Smokehouse
Address 3242 Foster Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership, request for outdoor table service
Hearing notes Mr. Kodenski made the postponement request on behalf of the applicant, who was out of town. Since there was no opposition, the postponement was granted.
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 3242 Foster Ave, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of 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 or other issues observed None
Applicants Robert Cockey & Decoursey Wilson
Business Name Omerta, LLC
Trading As Cockey’s Butchers Hill
Address 32 N. Chester Street
Type of License Class “D” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership, requests for live entertainment, off-premises catering & outdoor table service
Hearing notes

The community association requested a postponement, in order to come to an agreement with the applicant. Mr. Kodenski, attorney for the applicants, was the only person present when the case was called early, because it wasn’t scheduled until 3:30.

The case was re-called at 4:00pm, when the community representative and the applicant had arrived. The applicant objected to the community’s postponement request, because it was “late.” The applicant stated that he met with the land use committee of the community group but that they couldn’t reach an agreement on a few points, including the timing of deliveries and outdoor seating hours.

Judge Ward instructed the applicant to meet again with the group to work out an agreement and said that the hearing should be rescheduled for July 17.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Butcher’s Hill
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 32 N Chester St, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Kodenski
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 1
# of inspectors 0
Result of 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 or other issues observed None
Applicants Jason Sanchez, Antoine Gruver & Nina Kasniunas
Business Name Union Wharf Restaurant, LLC
Trading As trade name pending
Address 915 S. Wolfe 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 Article 2B Section 6-201 (d) (vii) $500,000 in capital investment in restaurant fixtures and facilities and seating capacity for a minimum of 75 people; requests for outdoor table service & off-premises catering
Hearing notes

Ms. Caroline Hecker, of Rosenberg Martin Greenberg, appeared on behalf of the applicants. She requested a postponement, because the applicants would like more time to address some community concerns. The Board granted the postponement.

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 2322 Boston St, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Ms. Caroline Hecker, Rosenberg Martin Greenberg
# in support 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of 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 or other issues observed None

Previous Docket Items

Applicant Alfredo Vazquez
Business Name El Palacio Latino, Inc.
Trading As trade name pending
Address 35 N. Potomac Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor
Reason for hearing Request to transfer ownership & location from a Class “BD7” BWL license presently located at 105 S. Conkling Street to 35 N. Potomac Street
Hearing notes

DECISION PHASE ONLY

For a description of what happened at the four-hour factfinding portion of this hearing, which was held on May 15, 2014, please see the Booze News post.

Mr. Kodenski argued that the current Board could not make a decision on the 35 N. Potomac St case, because the current Board, with two new Commissioners, has not heard the evidence presented. He told the Board that it would have to re-hear the entire case in order to make a decision.

Patrick Lundberg, Vice President of the Patterson Park Neighborhood Association, objected to the idea of re-hearing the case. Visibly frustrated, he reminded the Board that PPNA, with dozens of community members, had appeared on May 1, 2014, ready for their hearing. Mr. Kodenski had requested and was granted a last-minute postponement (read more here). The hearing had been rescheduled for May 15, and the community members had all appeared a second time to protest the transfer (read about the evidence presented at the second hearing here). Mr. Lundberg argued that it was too heavy a burden for the community to have to come back a third time and re-present all of the evidence.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Patterson Park
Area demographics BNIA did not have census data for the Patterson Park North and East neighborhood.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; no.
Location of entity’s principal office 35 N. Potomac St, Baltimore, MD 21224
Attorney for applicant Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 1
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Postponed
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Judge Ward explained that the new Board members have seen none of the evidence and heard none of the witnesses, so they do not have the power to issue a decision in this case. Commissioner Moore agreed, adding, to Mr. Lundberg, “it doesn’t mean that your position will not prevail; it means that we need to hear the testimony. My preference is to hear the testimony, and I appreciate what that means to you.” Chairman Ward apologized, “I can’t help it, Sir, I’ve only been a commissioner for five days.”

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Licensee Lenny Sierra
Business Name Sierra, Inc.
Trading As trade name pending
Address 3907-23 E. Lombard Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request for reconsideration of the Board’s decision of May 1, 2014
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski had asked for a reconsideration; he argued that the Board had made the wrong decision, because there was already live entertainment at that address under the current licensee. Kodenski added, “They’ve had live entertainment there for 50 years. I’ve had parties there. My cousin’s place is on the corner.” Kodenski informed the Board that without the live entertainment, the deal had fallen apart, and that the current licensee is continuing to run the place.

Mr. Kevin Bernhard, board member of the Highlandtown Community Association, testified that Mr. Sierra’s original request to HCA was just to run a catering hall, for weddings, etc., but that the project had later ballooned into a much different business. Kodenski responded that the plan was always to run a catering hall, restaurant, bar and tavern, and to rent out private rooms. Bernhard further testified that HCA had asked Mr. Sierra to provide the organization with his business plan and a summary of his experience on May 21 and on June 16 and had received no response.

Judge Ward told Mr. Kodenski, “why don’t you ask your client why he never responded?” Kodenski replied that Mr. Sierra did not have to respond to the community, because the Board doesn’t require a business plan. Kodenski reiterated that Mr. Sierra “wasn’t asking for anything new that wasn’t there before.”

Zoning B-3-2
Neighborhood Baltimore Highlands
Area demographics 52% White, 12% Black, 3% Asian, 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 3907-23 E. Lombard St., Baltimore, MD 21224
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 1
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Postponed to see if applicant and community groups can come to an agreement
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
Licensee Hugh Kavanaugh, Nelson Stritehoff & Wayne Haley
Business Name Clifton Pleasure Club, Inc
Trading As none provided in docket
Address 2803 Grindon Avenue
Type of License Class “C” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Motion to reconsider the Board’s decision of May 8, 2014.
Hearing notes

Mr. Landers, representing the Lauraville Improvement Association, had submitted the motion to reconsider, because the neighborhood association was not given any opportunity to place restrictions on the license when the Board gave the club permission to reopen on May 8. Mr. Landers explained that the club has been very inactive over the past ten years. The club members decided to revive the club, and told the Lauraville group several different stories. At first, the club members said that they were going to sell the club, but, Mr. Landers noted, you cannot sell a nonprofit organization. Then the club members said that a new group of people would take over the assets of the club. Mr. Landers said that the Lauraville group had concerns about the club reopening that they would like to address through license restrictions; the building is in the middle of a residential community, with no off-street parking. Landers also pointed out that, though the club had received a hardship extension, they had not shown any kind of hardship. Their tax return from 2012 showed over $200,000 in cash.

Mr. Kodenski, for his clients, objected to the reconsideration. He added that Mr. Landers is not a member of the community, to which Mr. Landers loudly objected.

Judge Ward noted, “it doesn’t seem that, if you two talked, you would be that far apart. … [The community is] a little worried that there is a license here that might explode. [They] want some limitations and guidelines … to make sure that whatever you do, you don’t upset the neighborhood.” Judge Ward pointed out that Mr. Kavanaugh, one of the licensees, lives in Reisterstown.

Ward asked Kavanaugh, “what is your opposition to guidelines” or restrictions on the license? Kavanaugh replied, “I don’t want them putting restrictions on operations. There’s never been a problem there. I don’t know why they’re pushing the issue.” Landers piped in that the club is talking about adding up to 200 new members, which will have a significant impact on the surrounding neighborhood, especially when the club has been inactive for more than a decade. Kodenski mentioned that the club will be bound by the Rules and Regulations of the Liquor Board.

Ward asked the licensees if they were willing or not willing to meet and work out the issues with the neighborhood. Kodenski said that his clients didn’t want any restrictions, which would create a “hybrid license.” Ward remarked that the neighborhood “might not be asking for much.” Kavanaugh replied that the licensees had already talked to them and reiterated that the (men only) club has been in existence for 100 years and at one point in history did have 200 members.

Judge Ward then said that the Board will make its decision and that both sides will be notified of it.

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 ~5
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 1
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing No decision made.
Vote tally N/A
Portions of state law cited in decision N/A
Other reasons given for decision N/A
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None

Hardship Extensions

Applicant J. William Ruppert, III
Business Name LL Charles, LLC
Trading As Joey B’s Bar & Grille
Address 1015-19 S. Charles Street
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

Mr. Kodenski appeared on behalf of his client and proffered that the establishment closed on December 19, 2013 due to the poor health of the licensee. The licensee has serious heart and kidney issues and wants to sell the license.

Judge Ward checked to make sure that the application for a hardship extension was filed within the first 180 days of being closed.

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 9654A Belair Rd, Baltimore, MD 21236
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing 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 Jose Hernandez
Business Name none provided
Trading As Las Marias Restaurant
Address 40 N. Streeper Street
Type of License Class “D” Beer & Wine License
Reason for hearing Request for a hardship extension under the provision of Article 2B Section 10-504(d)
Hearing notes

Mr. Hernandez appeared on his own behalf. His establishment closed in January, and he is looking for another building to move into.

The Board granted the hardship extension, since it was filed in a timely manner; however, Judge Ward warned Mr. Hernandez that he would have only 180 days to open or sell or transfer the license. Mr. Hernandez asked what will happen if he cannot find a buyer within 180 days. Judge Ward responded that, in that case, the license will expire.

Judge Ward elaborated that the public policy of the City of Baltimore has been to reduce the number of licenses in the city. He said that this business of automatic hardship extensions is not going to keep going on. “People are going to have to stop shopping around. Open it, transfer it, sell it, or lose it.”

Ward then looked through the file before him, and said to Mr. Hernandez that the neighborhood has been complaining about loud music. Mr. Hernandez said that this is true, but that the Liquor Board inspectors had never found anything wrong. Hernandez offered that the community had also complained about fighting. Ward noted complaints in the file from a Baltimore City councilmember and the Patterson Park Neighborhood Association. Hernandez explained, “they’re just trying to put me out of business.”

Commissioner Moore chimed in to say, “you’ve gotten your extension. Move quickly to sell license and to move it to another location.”

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Patterson Park
Area demographics BNIA did not have census data for the Patterson Park North and East neighborhood.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? none provided
Location of entity’s principal office N/A
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing 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 Tracye Stafford & Monica Blakney-Mercer
Business Name Redwood Partners, LLC
Trading As Dubai Night Club
Address 202 E. Redwood Street
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 licensees did not show up to the hearing, though they had submitted a hardship extension request dated April 30, 2014.

Zoning B-4-2
Neighborhood Downtown
Area demographics 39% White, 37% Black, 16% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 5% Hispanic ethnicity; 9% of households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $38,146; 18% households live below poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? No, the corporate entity does not exist. Redwood Partners, LLC was forfeited by the state of Maryland for failure to file Personal Property Returns.
Location of entity’s principal office 200 E Redwood St, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Denied
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

2:30 pm cases

Amendments to Current Licenses

Applicant Stephanie Kuzma & Andrea Burkert
Business Name Exile on Broadway, LLC
Trading As Exile
Address 702 S. Broadway
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request to add live entertainment
Hearing notes

Joanne Masopust, for the Fells Point Community Organization (FPCO), appeared for her organization. She explained to the Board that FPCO had met with the applicant to create a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), but they had some disagreements which they couldn’t resolve. The main issue was that FPCO wanted the applicant to include the details of her proposed security plan in the MOU; instead, Ms. Kuzma wanted more general language in the MOU about providing “adequate security.” Kuzma explained that she didn’t want to be required to have three security people on, for example, a Sunday afternoon when they might be having a musical event.

Judge Ward asked, “you couldn’t work this out between you?” Ms. Masopust replied, “I would love to.” Judge Ward replied, “take a ten minute break, and come back when you have an agreement.” Commissioner Moore added that both sides should think of security in terms of the number of people inside.

The two sides came to an agreement regarding the security in the hallway and returned with a signed MOU. The Board then granted the live entertainment request, under the provisions of the voluntary agreement.

Zoning B-3-2
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? Exile on Broadway, LLC does not exist, but Exile of Broadway, LLC does.
Location of entity’s principal office 7409 Trappe St, Fulton, MD 20759
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 1
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Approved, subject to voluntary restrictions
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 Jacqueline McCusker
Business Name Pizza Ole, Inc.
Trading As Nacho Mama’s
Address 2907-11 O’Donnell Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to add outdoor table service
Hearing notes

Mr. Stanley Fine, of Rosenberg Martin Greenberg, for the applicant, explained that the Canton Community Association had approved this request for outdoor table service, subject to guidelines which would require the tables to be brought inside at 10pm. There are six other restaurants in the area which have received zoning and Liquor Board approval without a time limit; the applicant does not want to be held to the time limit if none of her neighbors has one.

Judge Ward asked, “these are all partially residential neighborhoods, and after midnight, you want the right to have people outside drinking and talking?” Mr. Fine replied that the square where the restaurant is located is commercial.

Judge Ward asked about the restaurant’s operating hours. Mr. Fine replied that the establishment is open from 11am to 2am, but that they rarely have tables outside after 12am. Judge Ward asked whether the applicant could live with a midnight restriction on the outdoor tables, and she replied that midnight would be okay.

Commissioner Moore asked, “the community association doesn’t enforce those outdoor table service guidelines, do they?” Mr. Fine replied that it does not. Moore followed up that “closing at 9pm would just be horrible for you, wouldn’t it?” The applicant replied that it would. (The guidelines, as described by Mr. Fine, actually require a 10pm cutoff, not 9pm.)

Commissioner Jones asked, “did you discuss this with the community association?” Mr. Fine answered that he had informed CCA that they would contest the guidelines.

Zoning B-2-2
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 2911 O’Donnell St, Baltimore, MD 21224
Attorney for licensee Mr. Stanley Fine, Rosenberg Martin Greenberg
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Granted, subject to the Canton Community Association guidelines, except that the establishment agrees to bring in the outdoor tables at midnight/12am.
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
Applicants Rosemary Crivello & Joseph Crivello
Business Name Donna’s Charles Village, LLC
Trading As Donna’s
Address 3101 St. Paul Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request to modify restriction “No liquor service after 10 pm on weekdays (Sunday-Thursday) and midnight on weekends” to “No liquor service after midnight on weekdays (Sunday-Thursday) and 1 am on weekends”
Hearing notes

The licensees and the community association members submitted an updated Memorandum of Understanding with the modified restriction in it. Sharon Guida, chair of the Charles Village Civic Association’s Land Use Committee, represented CVCA.

Zoning B-1-3
Neighborhood Charles Village
Area demographics 44% White, 35% Black, 3% 2 or more races, 13% Asian, 5% Hispanic ethnicity; 11% households have children under age 18; median household income: $30,130.79; 14% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes
Location of entity’s principal office 800 N. Charles St. Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support ~5
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing 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 Nidia Sierra
Business Name Bernia, Inc.
Trading As Honey’s Lounge
Address 1722-24 Gough Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Review of renovation plans approved by the Board on March 23, 2013
Hearing notes

Judge Ward asked Ms. Sierra whether she had completed her renovations of her building. Ms. Sierra replied that she had. Liquor Board Inspector Joann Martin testified that, per her last inspection on June 24, 2014, the renovations had been completed according to the plans.

Commissioner Jones asked, “was the work done under a permit?” and Ms. Sierra replied that it had.

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; no.
Location of entity’s principal office 1722 Gough St, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Joann Martin
Result of hearing 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

3:30pm cases

Transfers

Applicants Hyun Joo Kim, Chong Sam Kim & Seung Ok Baik
Business Name H & H 8793, Inc.
Trading As Yesteryears Liquors
Address 212-14 N. Highland Avenue
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Mr. Jay Yoo, attorney for the applicants, appeared with his clients. There was no opposition in the file or in person.

Zoning B-3-2
Neighborhood Ellwood Park/Monument
Area demographics 3% White, 90% Black, 1% Asian. 4% Hispanic ethnicity. 51% households have children under age 18. Median household income: $33,352.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 214 N Highland Ave, Baltimore, MD 21224
Attorney for licensee Mr. Jay Yoo
# in support 3
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Granted
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 Kathleen Willabus
Business Name Redhills Holdings, LLC
Trading As Orem Liquors & Groceries
Address 2300 Orem Avenue
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Ms. Barbara Anderson-Dandy was present at the hearing on behalf of the New Auchenteroly Terrace Association. She informed the Board about the history of the establishment: that her organization had protested renewal of the license in April (read more about that hearing here). The Board suspended this license for six months, but, in the meantime, the licensees have appealed the decision to Circuit Court, case number 24-C-14002410. (According to Maryland Judiciary Casesearch, as of June 30, 2014, the trial is scheduled for September 3, 2014.) The circuit court judge has issued a “stay” (which means that the suspension will not go into effect until the appeal is decided). In the interim, the current licensee, Andre Willabus, has applied to transfer the ownership of the license to his daughter, Kathleen Willabus. Ms. Anderson-Dandy explained to the Board that the community’s concerns remain the same: lack of communication with the community, excessive loitering, open air drug sales and drunkenness, selling loose cigarettes, and selling to minors. The community also asked the licensee to participate in community cleanups and to occasionally attend community meetings to receive updates and respond to community concerns; Mr. Willabus has not complied. Ms. Anderson-Dandy concluded by asking the Board to deny the transfer of ownership until the appeal is decided and that the Board monitor the establishment. It has been a nuisance store since 2000 and is located in the center of a historic residential community.

The applicants for the transfer of ownership did not appear at all at the hearing.

Judge Ward said, “I think the commissioners agree with me that we should deny the transfer.” He added, “What else do you want the Liquor Board to do?” Ward told Ms. Anderson-Dandy that she should be in contact with the Liquor Board and that she should request inspectors to come out to the establishment.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Parkview/Woodbrook
Area demographics 6% White, 90% Black, 0% Asian; 1% Hispanic ethnicity; 28% households have children under age 18; median household income: $28,502.54; 28% of households living below the poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; no.
Location of entity’s principal office 810 S. Caton Ave. Baltimore, MD 21229
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 1
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Denied
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 William Hughes
Business Name Barracuda, LLC
Trading As Cuda’s
Address 1230 E. Fort Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Hearing notes

Mr. Peter Prevas appeared, with the applicant. The LLC will remain the owner of the license, but the ownership within the LLC has changed: Mr. Hughes is now the 100% sole owner of the LLC. There was no opposition in the file or present at the hearing.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Locust Point Industrial Area
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; no.
Location of entity’s principal office 1230 E Fort Ave, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Peter Prevas
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Granted.
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 Randy Coffren
Business Name FLOS, LLC
Trading As trade name pending
Address 418 S. Clinton Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership, request to add outdoor table service
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski submitted a letter of support from the Highlandtown Community Association and described the establishment as an Old Irish pub.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Highlandtown
Area demographics 66% White, 9% Black, 3% Asian; 19% Hispanic ethnicity, 17% households have children under age 18; median household income: $60,484; 15% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 418 S. Clinton St, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Granted
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 Sung Koo Kang, Yeun Im Yang & Mi Cha Park
Business Name GLOF, Inc.
Trading As Oxford Tavern
Address 1741 W. North Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Mr. Hyun Jae Shin, attorney for applicants, was present, with his clients. There was no opposition from community members, either in the file or in person. Mr. Shin submitted the applicants’ alcohol awareness certificates.

Zoning B-2-3
Neighborhood Sandtown-Winchester
Area demographics 1% White, 96% Black, 0% Asian; 0% Hispanic ethnicity; 73% households have children under age 18; median household income: $23,974
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 1741 W. North Ave. Baltimore, MD 21217
Attorney for licensee Mr. Hyun Jae Shin
# in support 3
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Granted
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
Applicants Matthew Cahill & Jeffrey Cahill
Business Name MAC Hospitality, LLC
Trading As Liquorice
Address 801 E. Fort Avenue
Type of License Class “D” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership, request to add outdoor table service
Hearing notes

Mr. Thomas Looney and Mr. Jeffrey Cahill were present at the hearing. They submitted a petition in favor of outdoor tables with the signatures of 119 neighbors. They agree to remove the outdoor tables at 10pm during the week and 11pm on weekends.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Riverside
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 poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes. (The real name of the corporate entity is MAC Hospitality Group, LLC.)
Location of entity’s principal office 132 Spa Drive, Annapolis, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicant Lawrence Davidov
Business Name Fat Larry’s, LLC
Trading As Fat Larry’s
Address 1026 S. Charles Street
Type of License Class “D” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership & location of a Class “D” BWL license presently located at 1400 Light Street to 1026 S. Charles Street; requests for outdoor table service & off-premises catering
Hearing notes

When the postponements were called at the beginning of the docket, Eric Costello, President of the Federal Hill Neighborhood Association, came forward. He explained to the board that the community association has a deal on about 99% of the issues with the applicant. He asked for a few weeks to work out the details. The applicant was not present at this time; the Board postponed the hearing for four weeks.

However, when the applicant appeared for his hearing, which was scheduled at 3:30pm, the Board re-called the case. The applicant, Lawrence Davidov, was represented by Mr. Frank Shaulis. Eric Costello was also present, for FHNA. The sticking point between the two groups was that FHNA requested a 50-50 food-alcohol sales ratio. Mr. Davidov was willing to agree to the ratio but wanted to report his annual food and alcohol sales to the community association; FHNA wanted Mr. Davidov to be required to report it to the Liquor Board.

Mr. Davidov went through some other issues that he and FHNA had had (that had been resolved): the organization had wanted him to agree to keep his floor plan, not to move his kitchens or to do anything to increase capacity. Mr. Davidov insisted, “It’s my business, and where I put my kitchens is my business.”

Judge Ward, after hearing these arguments a few times, said, “why don’t you stop talking about the kitchens? It’s not an issue.” He also reminded the applicant that a liquor license is a license, not a right, and that the Board may set limitations on the license.

Mr. Davidov explained that he had agreed to most of the restrictions in the agreement, but that he had backed out of the agreement after he hired a lawyer. Judge Ward said, “oh, so it’s all his fault” (referring to Mr. Shaulis). Mr. Davidov said that the license for which he’s applying does not require a certain food-alcohol ratio or any reporting. He said that he has petitions in support from neighbors and business owners, reiterating, “it’s my business. I’m the VP of the business association and active with charities. It’s just to the point where, it’s my business. I want control of my business.”

In response, Mr. Costello pointed out that there are thirty-four licenses with a capacity of 5,075 individuals within eight square blocks of the proposed establishment.

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 2705 Jeremy Ct, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Frank Shaulis
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 1
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Approved, subject to all the conditions and restrictions in the Memorandum of Understanding. The 50/50 rule applies, but Mr. Davidov does not have to report his sales unless the community complains.
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

In the BLLC v. Fells Point Cafe, Inc. case, the Court of Appeals of Maryland held that the Board of Liquor License Commissioners does not have the authority to impose restrictions on a license without the consent of the licensee. Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) are enforceable, because MOU restrictions are voluntarily assumed by the licensee. In this case, however, no MOU was ever signed by both parties, because they could not agree on certain terms. In his testimony, Mr. Davidov made clear that he had completely backed out of the agreement. Therefore, the Board’s imposition of the restrictions from the MOU onto the licensee was probably outside of its authority under Article 2B.

Applicant Sergio Colon
Business Name none provided in docket
Trading As Restaurante Don Pancho
Address 4707 Eastern Avenue
Type of License Class “D” Beer & Wine License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership & location from a “D” BW license presently located at 717 S. Broadway to 4707 Eastern Avenue
Hearing notes

Ms. Kim Brooks, representing the Greater Greektown Neighborhood Alliance, and Ms. Lori Rivieri from the Greektown Community Development Corporation were present at the hearing in strong opposition to the transfer of ownership.

Mr. Peter Prevas requestd a postponement; he told the Board that he did not know that this matter was on the docket, because he “was brought in later on.” He “was unaware of community opposition.”

Judge Ward noted that there had been five letters of strong opposition in the file since June 9, so why should he get a postponement? Prevas replied that he would like the opportunity to meet with the community groups and to discuss their opposition.

The community leaders present were given the opportunity to object to the postponement, but did not object.

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? None provided in docket
Location of entity’s principal office No entity provided in docket
Attorney for licensee Mr. Peter Prevas
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 2
# of inspectors 0
Result of 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 or other issues observed None

5:00 pm cases

New Licenses

Applicants Lambros Grigoropoulas, Theodore Zenohristos & Dimitri Mashouitis
Business Name DTI Baltimore, LLC
Trading As Cava Mezze
Address 1100 Fleet 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 Article 2B Section 6-201 (d) (vii) $500,000 in capital investment in restaurant fixtures and facilities and seating capacity for a minimum of 75 people; request for off-premises catering
Hearing notes

Ms. Caroline Hecker, from Rosenberg Martin Greenberg, represented the applicants, and proffered information on the project on behalf of her clients. They will be serving Greek tapas cuisine on the ground floor of Hyatt Place hotel. It’s currently under construction but will contain 106 indoor seats, 15 seats at the bar, and 22 outdoor seats at 11 outdoor tables. The restaurant will not be in a residential area; they plan to stop seating people outside by around 11pm, and they would prefer not to have an absolute limit on outdoor tables at 12am. The $900,000 capital investment for this restaurant exceeds the $500,000 required by the statute and the restaurant will easily satisfy the food requirement of at least 51% of total sales.

The applicants have met with community groups including the Fells Point Residents Association and a Little Italy community association. Ms. Hecker submitted a petition with 107 signatures in favor of the project. Commissioner Moore, looking through the petition, pointed out that about 35 of the signatories are members of the Rosenberg Martin Greenberg law firm. Hecker responded that they are potential customers, since the prospective business is near the firm’s offices. (The restaurant is one mile away from the Rosenberg Martin Greenberg offices.) Moore followed up to note that many more of the signatories listed 417 E. Fayette Street as their address, which is a city government building. Hecker explained, “we work closely with them,” and her staff had circulated a petition at the building while they were there. Moore replied, “it is not persuasive for me to have a petition signed by members of law firm” when they could get signatures from community residents. “For me, it lessens the application,” Moore said. Hecker replied, “I appreciate that.”

Judge Ward said to the applicants and their counsel, “it’s time to start trying to find [a Class B restaurant] license” to buy instead of applying for a new license. “It’s a violation of the public policy of the city of Baltimore to grant new licenses.” Ms. Hecker replied, “I don’t believe it is.” Judge Ward said that he testified back in the late 1960s about the issue to the City Council, which issued an official resolution that there are too many liquor licenses in Baltimore and that they should be reduced. He said, that licensees “buy a million dollars worth of interior decorations to save $50,000 on a license.” Ms. Hecker pointed out that the law does allow new Class B licenses. Judge Ward responded that the public policy against granting new licenses is also the law.

Zoning B-2-4
Neighborhood Inner Harbor
Area demographics 80% White, 12% Black, 4% Asian. 3% Hispanic ethnicity. 11% households have children under age 18. Median household income: $78,578. 12% households live below poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 5640 Nicholson Ln, Suite 211, Rockville, MD 20852
Attorney for applicants Ms. Caroline Hecker, Rosenberg Martin Greenberg
# in support 3
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing 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

The Board has never before mentioned the public policy of Baltimore City not to issue new licenses.

Applicant Joseph Brzuchalski
Business Name Management, Inc.
Trading As Patapsco Flea Market
Address 3301 Annapolis Road
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor Arena License
Reason for hearing Application for a new Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor restaurant license under the provisions of Article 2B section 6-201(d)(xi) $1,000,000 in capital investment with seating capacity of 1,000 people; request for live entertainment and off-premises catering.
Hearing notes

Judge Ward asked the applicant, “why don’t you buy a license that’s available on the market? We’re inundated with people who can’t sell their licenses.” He explained, “We can upgrade and downgrade licenses. You can ask us to give you what you want. You also remove a license that’s out there. We have a policy that licenses should be reduced. I’ve noticed that all these licenses start from scratch.” Ward went on to say that Baltimore City has had a moratorium for more than fifty years on new licenses and has had an express public policy to reduce the number of licenses, which has just been ignored.

Executive Secretary Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth informed Ward that the arena license is a special class of license that is only issued to large venues like Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium.

The applicant submitted a capital investment breakdown of $3.3 million for the property, which includes a flea market, bingo arena, and farmers’ market area. The property takes up a whole city block. The applicant also submitted letters of support from contiguous business owners, community members, and community organizations.

Zoning B-2-1
Neighborhood Cherry Hill
Area demographics 80% White, 12% Black, 4% Asian. 3% Hispanic ethnicity. 11% households have children under age 18. Median household income: $78,578. 12% households live below poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; no.
Location of entity’s principal office 190 W. Pasadena Rd, Millersville, MD 21108
Attorney for licensee 1
# in support ~10
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing 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

Violations

The two scheduled violations hearings on the docket were not called or heard.

Priscilla Thompson & Thomas Thompson, K’s Korner, Inc. T/a K’s Korner, 2300 Sidney Avenue – Class “D” Beer, Wine & Liquor License –

Violation of Rule 3.12 “Licensees shall operate their establishments in such a manner as to avoid disturbing the peace, safety, health, quiet, and general welfare of the community.” (Re: September 25, 2013 Liquor Board Inspector observed a large crowd loitering in front of the 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 morals.” (Re: September 25, 2013, Liquor Board Inspector observed patrons dancing and DJ playing music-providing live entertainment without permission from the board; Liquor Board Inspector observed patrons smoking inside establishment)

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