Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on October 23, 2014.

Written by Becky Witt

Hearings began at 11:06am. All three commissioners were present.

11:00 a.m. cases

I. Transfers and amendments

Applicant Shawn Connor
Business Name ISK, LLC
Trading As CC Lounge
Address 4923 Reisterstown Road
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Former Liquor Board Chairman Stephan Fogleman represented the applicant for the transfer of ownership. He told the Board that Ms. Connor is the niece of the current owner of the license, Clarence White. He submitted a petition for the Commissioners’ perusal, signed by 200 residents, including the bishop of the local church.

Chairman Ward asked, “you’re within the 180 day period?” Fogleman replied, “yes.” Along the same lines, Commissioner Moore asked, “when was [the bar] last open?” Fogleman replied, “April 30, 2014.” He said that Mr. White is 79 years old and that he had completed the licensing year, which runs May 1 – April 30 each year. The business has been closed since April 30.

Zoning R-6
Neighborhood Langston Hughes
Area demographics 2% White, 96% Black, 0% Asian; 1% Hispanic ethnicity; 38% households have children under age 18; 33% households living below the poverty line; median household income: $27,238.61
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? No. SDAT does not show an “ISK, LLC.” There is an ISK, Inc., but that corporate entity does not seem to be related to this business.
Location of entity’s principal office May not exist.
Attorney for licensee Mr. Stephan Fogleman
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 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

Perhaps the corporate entity was mis-entered on the docket, but the entity provided does not seem to exist, which would make this application incomplete.

Applicant Dale Watkins
Business Name None provided in docket
Trading As Lil’s Place
Address 1909 N. Pulaski Street
Type of License Class “D” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Mr. Melvin Kodenski represented the applicant, Dale Watkins. Ms. Watkins is the daughter of the current licensee, Lillian Driver, who, Kodenski explained, is in poor health. According to the attorney, the liquor license at 1909 N. Pulaski Street is Ms. Driver’s sole asset, which she has owned since 1989. Ms. Watkins “has operated the place at various times” but has recently worked as a realtor. There was a fire in March 8, 2014, and Ms. Driver has since made substantial investments in the building, including new windows and doors. Ms. Watkins and Ms. Driver plan to invest additional funds in the building. Ms. Watkins will be the full time operator of the 6-day license. She had tried to get the upstairs of the building approved by the BMZA for another business, a barber shop, but the fire got in the way. Kodenski told the Board that Ms. Watkins “is familiar with people in the neighborhood” because the establishment was a “neighborhood bar.” Ms. Watkins chimed in that it was “like Cheers.” Kodenski submitted letters of support of the transfer.

Chairman Ward noted that the file showed that Lil’s Place had been closed for two years, shown by eight inspectors’ visits. Ward said that last time this license came before the board, the Commissioners had agreed to give Ms. Driver a hardship extension, on a 2-1 vote (Ward dissenting). Ward said that now Ms. Watkins was coming to the Board within that hardship extension time period, to request a transfer.

Mr. Kodenski argued that Ms. Driver operated the bar in the evening. If the inspectors came in during the day, the bar would have been closed. He pointed out that there was no letter to the licensee indicating to her that the Liquor Board’s inspectors had been there. Chairman Ward asked, “you’re saying that the inspectors’ results are inaccurate?” Kodenski replied, “they’re not definite.”

Chairman Ward continued with the hearing, saying that the Board made a split decision permitting the license to continue. There was no motion for reconsideration or any appeal to the Court. Commissioner Moore asked Ms. Watkins whether she had any receipts that show any sales in 2012 or 2013. Mr. Kodenski responded that there are none left because of the fire. Ms. Watkins answered that she may have some receipts in her office from 2012, but anything after the fire was destroyed. Commissioner Moore asked, “when do you believe was the last day that the license was used?” Watkins responded that the bar was open on the day of the fire, March 8, 2014. Watkins said that her mother would open the bar for a few hours every day, just to make a couple dollars.

The Board then gave the community representatives present an opportunity to cross-examine Ms. Watkins. Ms. Adeline Hutchinson, president of the Robert W Coleman Community Organization, asked Ms. Watkins whether she had contacted any community organization about the transfer. Watkins replied that she was “not privy to any association within that community.” She had never heard of the Robert Coleman organization. Ms. Hutchinson then asked whether there were patrons of the bar in March 2014. Ms. Watkins replied that there were. Dr. Marvin Cheatham, president of the Matthew A Hensen Neighborhood Association and representative of the Alliance of Rosemont Community Organizations (ARCO), asked whether Ms. Watkins was aware that her mother had testified that she intended to reopen, not transfer the license. Ms. Watkins was not aware of that.

Ms. Adeline Hutchinson then testified in opposition. She told the Board that this bar has been closed for the past three years. Hutchinson submitted petitions of opposition from 25 residents in the area and a letter of opposition from the Robert Coleman Elementary School. She told the Board that children from the elementary school walk past this business on their way home. She also submitted a letter of opposition from her community organization and from the Greater Mondawmin Coordinating Council, which represents nine community organizations within the Greater Mondawmin community. Within 25-50 feet of the bar, the community plans to build a garden in a vacant lot through a grant from the Parks and People Foundation. She said that the community plans to involve the neighborhood children in planting fruit trees, shrubs, and other flowering trees. She told the Board that the area groups are “trying to change the community altogether” and that “the bar does not fit into the scheme of things.” She said that there were already many liquor stores and bars nearby; “we have enough. Anybody want to buy beer, wine, we got enough places,” she said.

Mr. Kodenski cross-examined Ms. Hutchinson. He asked her when the last time was that she was inside Lil’s Place. She replied that it had been more than seven years. Ms. Hutchinson did not know Ms. Watkins or Ms. Driver. Kodenski asked why there aren’t more signatures on her petition of opposition from people who live on Pulaski Street. Hutchinson replied that very few houses are occupied on that section of Pulaski Street. Kodenski asked for the minutes of the organization’s meeting when they voted to oppose the transfer, but Ms. Hutchinson did not have them. Her group has 35 members.

Dr. Marvin Cheatham testified next in opposition. He has been a resident of the area since 1950. He testified that ARCO had voted the previous week to support the Matthew A Hensen and Robert Coleman organizations in their opposition. Dr. Cheatham was present on August 21, when Ms. Driver had received her hardship extension, and he had indicated to her that she needed to contact the community association. Dr. Cheatham told the Board, as he has done many times before, that his organization decided last fall to oppose any transfer or extension of any liquor license in their area. They believe that they have too many licenses in their community, perhaps more than any other community. Chairman Ward pointed out that the harbor area has more liquor licenses; Dr. Cheatham agreed, but noted that his community is residential, not commercial. Cheatham said, “we will say for certain that Lil’s bar has not been open for two years.” He argued that there is a clear connection between violent crime and liquor stores; he said that there had been a major shootout nearby. He said that you can tell where the liquor stores are, because if you look for RIP balloons and stuffed animals memorializing people who have been killed, there is almost always a liquor store within a block or so. He pointed out that Ms. Driver cannot substantiate that she has been in business and that Ms. Watkins has not come to the neighborhood association. Ms. Watkins admitted that she doesn’t know who the community leaders are.

Under cross-examination by Kodenski, Dr. Cheatham said that he had never been inside the establishment or talked to Ms. Driver. His group has not had a meeting specifically to discuss Lil’s Place; rather, his group voted to oppose all liquor establishments. Cheatham admitted that the establishment is technically one block outside of his organization’s boundaries.

Commissioner Moore asked both Dr. Cheatham and Ms. Hutchinson how they know that the bar has been closed for years. Dr. Cheatham replied that he walks all over his community and he frequents the hardware store near the bar. Cheatham said, “you can physically see whether the bar’s open or closed.” Cheatham was also a political candidate in June, so he walked throughout the district extensively, mornings, afternoons and evenings. Kodenski asked whether he walks by every day; Cheatham replied that he did not walk by every day, but he did walk by at least once a week. He estimated that he’s walked by Lil’s Place “maybe 1,000 times.” Ms. Hutchinson noted that she also walks her neighborhood, and that she lives two blocks away. She walks by at least three to four times per week.

Commissioner Jones asked both Ms. Hutchinson and Dr. Cheatham if either one of them knew anything negative about the character of Ms. Watkins, the applicant? Neither of the community representatives knew anything about Ms. Watkins, either positive or negative.

Mr. Kodenski closed his argument by saying that the transfer of ownership is for an existing establishment, not a liquor store. The licensee has owned the license since 1989 and is not in good health. She has had a fire in her building, and the liquor license is her only asset. The community members did not have anything negative to say about the applicant. Kodenski argued that the Board is bound by its decision to give Ms. Driver a hardship extension in August. Kodenski closed by saying that the Baines case says that if the Board has renewed a liquor license, the Board cannot “go back unless [the Board] want[s] to give [the licensee] their money back.” (This is not an accurate description of the holding of the Baines case.)

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? None provided
Location of entity’s principal office None provided
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 2
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Denied
Vote tally 2-1, Jones dissenting
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Chairman Ward spoke first. He said that the licensee had come previously before this Board on whether or not the license had expired. On August 21, the Board voted 2-1 to allow an additional 180 days. Ward said, “this Board has legally permitted her another 180 days.” Ward noted that, “just for the record, I find credible all the testimony that this bar has been closed at least three years.” He said that the only issue before the Board on that day is whether or not this transfer of ownership is the proper and the best thing for the community. He concluded, “I am persuaded that it is not, and on that issue I vote no.”

Commissioner Jones said that, to him, a transfer of ownership is solely based on the character of the person receiving the license. Since neither of the community residents testified about the character of Ms. Watkins, he voted in favor of the transfer.

Commissioner Moore voted no on the transfer. Moore said to the applicant that when the commissioners were deciding the hardship extension request in August, they “had a set of information that was not at all complete.” She had since received the complete information from the file, and if she had had that information on August 21, she would not have voted in favor of the hardship extension. She went through each of the eight inspectors’ reports which were linked on the Booze News post for that day, showing that the inspector had not been able to catch the bar open in the past two years. Moore noted that there was no discussion in any of the previous hearings regarding the last use of the license. She said, “all these facts were not presented to old Board or this Board.” She concluded that, for all of these reasons, plus the testimony from the community member witnesses, she voted no.

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

First, the Commissioners have full access to the Board’s files, including all of their employees’ reports inside, and should have all relevant documents before them as they make their decision. Second, the Board does have the authority to reconsider cases in which they believe they have made the wrong decision. Maryland’s Court of Appeals, in Calvert County Zoning Commission v. Howlin Realty Management, Inc. held that: “An agency … may reconsider an action previously taken and come to a different conclusion upon a showing that the original action was the product of fraud, surprise, mistake, or inadvertence, or that some new or different factual situation exists that justifies the different conclusion. What is not permitted is a “mere change of mind” on the part of the agency.” The commissioners themselves have referred to the possibility of changing their minds later based on updated information. For exmaple, on October 2, during the hearing for Delia Foley’s Pub, “Chairman Ward responded that if the Board approves something based on inaccurate information, the Board will ‘bring it right back’ for another hearing.” Third, the Chairman misspoke when he said that “this Board has legally permitted [the licensee] another 180 days” for a hardship extension. If the license expired before the fire, which was the reason for the hardship extension, the granting of that extension was not “legal,” because it was beyond the authority granted to the Board under Article 2B section 10-504(d).

Applicant Michael Buscher
Business Name 27 Cross Associates, LLC
Trading As Crazy Lil’s
Address 27 E. Cross Street
Type of License Class “D” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership (change corporate name)
Hearing notes The case was not called.
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? No.
Location of entity’s principal office Does not exist.
Attorney for licensee N/A
# in support N/A
Attorney for community N/A
# of protestants N/A
# of inspectors/police officers N/A
Result of hearing Not called
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 N/A
Applicant David Hitchner
Business Name Chasers, LLC
Trading As trade name pending
Address 2501 Fleet Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes The hearing was not called.
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 720 S. Milton Ave., Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee N/A
# in support N/A
Attorney for community N/A
# of protestants N/A
# of inspectors/police officers N/A
Result of hearing Not held
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 N/A

II. Hardship Extensions.

Applicant Adam Pashkevich
Business Name ADPASH, Inc.
Trading As Standard Deli
Address 501 St. Paul Street
Type of License Class “A” 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. Frank Shaulis represented the applicant, who was requesting “another” extension. The business’s last Liquor Board inspection was November 6, 2013, at which point the owners were selling off their inventory and their store was open. The Board received the “first” hardship extension request by fax on September 17, 2014. The licensee testified that he was open in April 2014. They filed for the renewal of their license at the regular renewal time and have not had an inspection of their business since that date.

Commissioner Moore asked the licensee whether he had any sales receipts showing any sales or transactions after November 6, 2013. The licensee replied that he did not have any receipts with him. Moore asked, “when did you finish the sale of your stock?” Pashkevich replied that he finished his sales sometimes in April 2014.

Zoning B-4-2
Neighborhood Mount Vernon
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 501 St. Paul St, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Frank Shaulis
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision Chairman Ward said that, unless he’s wrong, the licensee is within the 180-day period of the statute. The Board noted that they have been “hampered by incomplete information, because of [their] staff.”
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

Article 2B section 10-504(d)(4) states: “on a finding that undue hardship currently exists causing the closing or cessation of business operations, the Board may grant an extension of the life of the license for a time period not to exceed 360 days as defined in paragraphs (3) and (5) of this subsection.” The Board did not hear any evidence about any hardship at all, due or undue, and the Commissioners did not hear anything to suggest that such hardship caused the store to close. The Board is continuing a policy begun by previous Boards of approving “undue hardship” extensions with no explanation of any hardship at all.

Applicant James Collins, Contract Purchaser
Business Name N/A
Trading As N/A
Address 39 S. Arlington Avenue
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

Mr. David Keller represented Mr. Collins. Collins had asked for a hardship extension in April, but Liquor Board staff lost the request. Mr. Collins testified that the “folks that have been interested [in the license] are not the kind that the community wants” but that the “kind that the community wants is not interested in investing in the City.” Mr. Collins intends to open the business himself, as a beer and sausage establishment. He knows that it will be important to keep the noise level down so as not to disturb the residents. Mr. Collins has been a liquor licensee before and lives about three blocks from the licensed property. He plans to open in May 2015. Commissioner Jones asked whether Collins has the support of the community, and Mr. Collins replied that he believes so.

Chairman Ward said that the law says that his 180-day hardship extension time period begins on October 9, 2014, the day of his hardship extension request. Ward pointed out that Mr. Collins had testified he would be open in May and asked “is that within the 180 day time period?” Collins responded that he would open earlier, then, within the 180 day period. Commissioner Jones asked the name of the community association in the area, and Mr. Collins replied that it was the Hollins Roundhouse Association.

Commissioner Moore went through the timeline of the process one more time. The license was last used on October 27, 2013. In April, the licensee submitted a hardship extension request, which was not found by Liquor Board staff until October 9, 2014. Moore said, assuming that the Board had acted when it should have, the hardship extension would have expired October 23, 2014, which is the day of the hearing. Mr. Collins had submitted an application to transfer ownership of the license that morning. Moore concluded, “we essentially are conforming the record to the reality of what’s happened.”

After the Haubert Street case was heard, the Board came back to this case and corrected themselves, given their decision on the tolling provisions of Article 2B section 10-504(d)(5). Commissioner Moore said that, “given the tolling provisions of 10-504(d)(5),” the licensee has an additional six months, because of the inaction of the Board.

Zoning B-2-3
Neighborhood Hollins Market
Area demographics 83% Black, 13% White; 31% households have children under age 18; median household income: $19.183; 38% households live below the poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? N/A
Location of entity’s principal office N/A
Attorney for licensee Mr. David Keller
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
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

Article 2B section 10-504(d)(4) states: “on a finding that undue hardship currently exists causing the closing or cessation of business operations, the Board may grant an extension of the life of the license for a time period not to exceed 360 days as defined in paragraphs (3) and (5) of this subsection.” The Board did not hear any evidence about any hardship at all, due or undue, and the Commissioners did not hear anything to suggest that such hardship caused the store to close. The Board is continuing a policy begun by previous Boards of approving “undue hardship” extensions with no explanation of any hardship at all.

For a discussion of the tolling provisions in Article 2B section 10-504(d)(5), see the “issues raised” section of the Haubert Street case below.

III. Request to reopen.

Applicants Young Soo Hwang & Jung Ja Hwang
Business Name None provided in docket
Trading As J & H Liquors
Address 2104 Frederick Avenue
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request to reopen after being closed for more than 90 days
Hearing notes

Mr. David Woo represented the two licensees, who are mother and son. Both of the licensees have been sick, so the business has been closed since early June. The son is now able to reopen the store, so he is requesting Board permission. (Article 2B section 10-301(j)(4) requires that a licensee get permission to reopen if the business has been closed over 90 days.) The Chairman did not understand what the licensees were asking for.

Commissioner Jones asked whether the Board or the licensee had any records to show definitively when store was closed. The Board staff did not have any records except that a neighbor had complained in September that the establishment was closed.

Zoning B-3-2
Neighborhood Boyd-Booth
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? N/A
Location of entity’s principal office N/A
Attorney for licensee Mr. David Woo
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 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.

IV. Transfers/amendments pending for more than 180 days:

Licensee Jason Ambrose
Business Name Haubert Street 1157, LLC
Trading As trade name pending
Address 1157 Haubert Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days
Hearing notes

Mr. Craig Schwartz represented the applicant/licensee. Chairman Ward noted that the licensee’s request for a hardship extension was submitted to the Board on or around April 23, 2014, but was not processed by Liquor Board staff. The applicant had continued to keep in touch with the Board by sending in updates on the construction process. Mr. Schwartz explained that the restaurant is not open now, but it is near completion. The applicant has spent over $500,000 renovating the property. He is requesting an extension until December 31, 2014. Commissioner Moore confirmed with the applicant that he had been approved by the Board for a transfer of a license on October 31, 2013.

Mr. Schwartz argued that, under Article 2B section 10-504(d)(5), because the Board did not act on the hardship extension request, the 180-day time period was “tolled.” He concluded that, because the time was tolled between April 23, 2014 and the date of the hearing, October 23, 2014, there would be “sufficient time remaining well beyond December 31.”

After Mr. Schwartz pointed out his interpretation of the tolling provision in the code, the Commissioners went back to a previous case to give a new conclusion, in light of their new understanding of the law.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Locust Point
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 239 S. Washington St, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Craig Schwartz
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision Article 2B section 10-504(d)
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

Article 2B section 10-504(d)(5) says that the 180-day “time period begins at the earlier of the closing of the business or cessation of alcoholic beverages business, and shall be tolled only upon the filing of an application or [hardship extension] request … the expiration period to begin running again, cumulatively to the time period before the filing of the application or request, upon the occurrence of the later to occur of the following events: (i) Final action of the Board granting or denying a request authorized by paragraph (3) of this subsection; (ii) Final action of the Board denying an application described under paragraph (2)(i) or (ii) of this subsection; or (iii) Final judgment of the appellate court when judicial review of the Board’s action on an application or request authorized by paragraph (2) or (3) of this subsection has been sought, or on dismissal of a petition for judicial review.

Admittedly, the above section is not clear. Mr. Schwartz read aloud the section of the law that said “the time period … shall be tolled” upon the filing of the hardship extension request, but the attorney did not read the rest of the section, including that the expiration period begins running again cumulatively to the time period before the filing of the application or request.

Licensees Ian Parrish & Charles Parrish
Business Name Baltimore Eagle, LLC
Trading As Baltimore Eagle
Address 2022 N. Charles Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days
Hearing notes

Mr. Melvin Kodenski represented the applicants. Mr. Alan Mlinarchik, of the Charles North Community Association and Sharon Guida from the Charles Village Civic Association were also present, with their 12th district City Councilmember, Carl Stokes. Mr. Kodenski asked for a postponement so that the applicants can meet with the community to give a progress report on the project, “to let ’em know all the things they’ve been doing.”

The Commissioners agreed to the postponement, and Commissioner Moore made clear that the Board was not yet ruling on the validity of the transfer. Kodenski replied, “it’s not a 10-504 situation. It’s a 10-503 situation.”

Zoning B-2-3
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 5839 Glen Arm Rd, Glen Arm, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 2
# of inspectors/police officers 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
Licensees Jason Stevens & Prabhjot Randhawa
Business Name Singh & Stevens, LLC
Trading As Brewer’s Cask
Address 1236 Light Street
Type of License Class “D” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days
Hearing notes

There were two people present on behalf of the licensees, who were out of the country. Bill and Elle Grose are the managers at the establishment. They told the Board that the only missing document to complete the transfer was the updated use and occupancy permit, which they submitted to the Board in May 2014. Ward said, “that’s it. So we don’t even have to vote on it.”

Zoning B-2-3
Neighborhood Federal Hill
Area demographics 80% White, 12% Black, 4% Asian; 3% Hispanic ethnicity; 11% households have children under age 18; median household income: $78,578.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; no.
Location of entity’s principal office 1236 S. Light St, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing No action needed
Vote tally None
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 corporate entity for this application was not in good standing; the Commissioners did not mention this. It is unclear whether a Certificate of Good Standing is a required document for an application for live entertainment; if it is, then the application was probably not complete.
Applicant Kevin Young
Business Name Touch Down, LLC
Trading As Touch Down
Address 1171-3 W. Hamburg Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days
Hearing notes The case was postponed until November 6, 2014.
Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Washington Village/Pigtown
Area demographics BNIA did not show demographic information for Washington Village/Pigtown.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; no.
Location of entity’s principal office 1171-3 W. Hamburg St, Baltimore MD
Attorney for licensee N/A
# in support N/A
Attorney for community N/A
# of protestants N/A
# of inspectors/police officers N/A
Result of hearing Postponed
Vote tally None taken
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

1:00 pm cases

V. Violations

Licensees Kenrick Goden & Innis Goden
Business Name Elite Lounge, LLC
Trading As Elite Lounge
Address 1571 Ridgely Street
Type of License Class “D” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.05(a): Prohibited Hours – “No licensee shall permit a person to consume alcoholic beverages on the licensed premises during hours when such sales are prohibited by law — September 27, 2014 — Liquor Board personnel observed patrons in possession of and consuming alcoholic beverages.

Violation of Rule 4.20(b): Alterations – “No licensee shall make installations or alterations on the licensed premises until a permit therefore has been obtained from the Bureau of Buildings of Baltimore City, and until the approval of the Fire Department and Health Department of Baltimore City has been secured, where said approval is required.” — September 27, 2014 — Liquor Board personnel observed use of the second floor of establishment without Liquor Board or Zoning approval.

Violation of Article 2B Section 11‐304(d)(2): “In Baltimore City, a licensed premises shall cease all operations, including the serving of alcoholic beverages or food and providing entertainment at the closing hour for that class of licensed premises specified in this article.” — September 27, 2014 — Liquor Board personnel observed approximately 16 individuals inside establishment after closing time for a Class D liquor license.

Violation of Rule 4.18: Illegal Conduct. “No licensee shall commit or allow the commission on his premises of any act which shall be contrary to any federal, state or local statute, law or ordinance or against the public peace, safety, health, welfare, quiet or morals.” — September 27, 2014 — the owner/manager was unable to produce a 2014 Traders License.

Hearing notes

Liquor Board Inspectors Mark Fosler and Tom Karanikolis were present for the hearing, with Baltimore Police Detective LC Greenhill. The licensee was also present, unrepresented by an attorney.

Inspector Fosler testified first. The licensee has a Class D tavern license, which requires closure at 1am, and the licensee was only approved for use of the first floor of the building. When the inspector entered the building at 1:06am, the security was still working the door. Fosler observed thirteen patrons on the first floor; six of the thirteen were consuming or had beverages in front of them. On the second floor, there were three patrons, one of whom had an alcoholic beverage. There was a DJ playing on the second floor. Fosler located the owner/manager, Kenrick Goden, and told him that he was operating after hours and that the use of the second floor was not approved. Police Detective LC Greenhill arrived at that point and asked for business records. Mr. Goden could not locate his 2014 trader’s license. The establishment’s use and occupancy permit specified that they were allowed to use the first floor only. The inspectors left the establishment at 2am. Inspector Tom Karanikolis corroborated Fosler’s testimony but did not add to it. Detective LC Greenhill also corroborated the testimony and noted that Mr. Goden was cooperative with the inspectors and police.

Mr. Kenrick Goden apologized to the Board, explaining that he was a new licensee. He submitted all of his documentation to the Board, including certifications, his articles of incorporation, the establishment’s liquor license, and a 2014 trader’s license. He explained that the second floor of the building is for employees only, not patrons, and said that he did not have a DJ playing upstairs. The Commissioners brought back Inspector Fosler to clarify, and Fosler insisted that there was a DJ upstairs, standing behind a turntable, playing music. Goden responded that his daughter was playing music but she is not a DJ. Fosler added that there is a flight of steps up to the second floor, with no door and no security denying access to patrons. There were also drinks upstairs, so it seemed to Fosler as though the licensee was using the second floor to serve customers. Goden reiterated that the upstairs was a space for his employees, not customers. Commissioner Moore told Goden, “if you were using it for your second floor, just say it. Sometimes the simplest explanation is the right explanation.” Goden stuck to his explanation that the second floor was not in use by customers.

Zoning M-2-3
Neighborhood Carroll-Camden Industrial Area
Area demographics BNIA did not have demographic information for this area.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 10830 Olde Woods Way, Columbia, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 2
Result of hearing Responsible for all violations. $1,200 fine.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Commissioner Moore did not believe Mr. Goden’s testimony that his second floor was for employees only. She said, “if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.” Chairman Ward agreed with Moore, saying “I adopt the duck testimony.” He told Goden that the way that he is using the second floor of his business is violating his liquor license. He noted that Mr. Goden did seem to have a good attitude and he has only been open for three months. Ward suggested a $400 fine for each charge, and he suspended the fine for the traders’ license violation, which brought the total to $1,200.

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Licensee Nicolas Ramos
Business Name None provided in docket
Trading As Arcos Restaurant
Address 129 S. Broadway
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.02: Inebriates & Drug Addicts – “No licensee shall furnish alcoholic beverages to any person under the influence of alcohol or narcotic drugs or who is disorderly in manner or to any person known to be a habitual drunkard or user of narcotic drugs — November 23, 2014 — Police officer observed that patrons exiting Arcos were highly intoxicated.

Violation of Rule 3.12: Public Welfare – “Licensees shall operate their establishments in such a manner as to avoid disturbing the peace, safety, health, quiet and general welfare of the community.” — November 23, 2014 — Police officer was advised by Arcos patrons of a fight inside establishment. Four police officers were required to prevent further fights and disperse highly intoxicated crowd.

Violation of Rule 4.18: Illegal Conduct – “No licensee shall commit or allow the commission on his premises of any act which shall be contrary to any federal, state or local statute, law or ordinance or against the public peace, safety, health, welfare, quiet or morals” — May 7, 2014 — Liquor Board personnel observed bar open and selling alcoholic beverages without a valid liquor license.

Hearing notes

The police officer who brought the first two charges did not appear for the hearing; therefore, Executive Secretary Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth announced at the beginning of the hearing that the Board would withdraw the first two charges and go forward with the third.

Mr. Gary Maslan represented the licensee and admitted the violation on behalf of his client. On May 7, 2014, the establishment was open and selling alcohol without a valid license. Maslan told the Board that Mr. Ramos is the past president of the Hispanic Businessowners Association and has hosted charitable fundraisers over the years at his restaurant. He is active in his community. A “financial matter” caused him to be open on May 7. When Mr. Ramos renewed his liquor license, he was under a substantial sales tax liability. He negotiated a payment plan for the tax liability with the Comptroller’s office but had not figured out that payment plan before he renewed his license. Maslan noted that the violation was around Cinco de Mayo time, which is a “traditional Hispanic celebratory time, and his restaurant was a popular institution for not only the Hispanic community but also the non-Hispanic people.” Mr. Ramos apologized for his decision. Currently, his restaurant is closed, because there is an issue with the Health Department which he is trying to address. Mr. Ramos has health issues but is hoping to reopen in the near future.

Chairman Ward pointed out that the licensee had been found guilty of some records-related violations in the past. Commissioner Moore asked, “when did the restaurant close?” The licensee responded that it had been two months.

Zoning B-2-2
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? N/A
Location of entity’s principal office N/A
Attorney for licensee Mr. Gary Maslan
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 1
Result of hearing Responsible for violation. $1,500 fine.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Commissioner Ward asked Mr. Maslan, “would he rather be closed than fined? He’s already closed. Seems like he’s broke!” Moore disagreed with this suggestion, pointing out that if he’s already closed, there is no sanction for closing him. Moore said, “I don’t think that we should impose a closure. That’s no penalty to [Mr. Ramos] whatsoever. That’s what you already have.” The Commissioners settled on a $1,500 fine.

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Licensees Woo Taik Lee, Jong Ho Lee & Hyun Jung Lee
Business Name Hyun’s Liquors, Inc.
Trading As Penn Liquor
Address 1041 Greenmount Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 5.03(a): Class BD7 – “The holder of a Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor license must operate as an on-premise consumption establishment with on premise service at a bar, tables or other suitable furniture. Package goods, if sold, must be sold over a bar and not in a separate package goods store department, and/or section unless otherwise previously approved pursuant to subsection (2) of this rule. A separate package goods store, department and/or section is defined as an area within the licensed premises which has as its primary activity the sale of package goods and in which no on premise consumption regularly takes place.” — March 5, 2014 — Police officer found tavern portion closed when package goods portion was open, police officer was refused entry into tavern.

Violation of Rule 5.03(a): Class BD7 – “The holder of a Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor license must operate as an on-premise consumption establishment with on premise service at a bar, tables or other suitable furniture. Package goods, if sold, must be sold over a bar and not in a separate package goods store department, and/or section unless otherwise previously approved pursuant to subsection (2) of this rule. A separate package goods store, department and/or section is defined as an area within the licensed premises which has as its primary activity the sale of package goods and in which no on premise consumption regularly takes place.” – June 18, 2014 — Liquor Board Inspector found tavern portion closed when package good portion was open

Hearing notes

Former Chairman Stephan Fogleman represented the licensees in this hearing. Police Detectives Greenhill and Akinwande were present to testify about the March 5, 2014 charge, and Inspectors John Howard and Wendell Wright were present to testify about the June 2014 charges.

On March 5, 2014, Detective LC Greenhill testified that Detective Akinwande entered the bar in plainclothes and asked to use the bar area. Mr. Lee told Akinwande that the bar area was closed. Akinwande then left the bar and re-entered with Detective LC Greenhill. When Greenhill was allowed to enter the tavern side of the establishment, it was empty. Fogleman asked Greenhill whether he was actually present when the conversation took place between Akinwande and Lee. Greenhill said that he was not. Detective Akinwande testified next and corroborated Detective Greenhill’s account.

Liquor Board Inspector John Howard testified that on June 18, 2014, he was training Inspector Wendell Wright on how to do a routine inspection in a BD7 investigation. Inspector Wright went in to the bar and requested entry to the tavern area but was denied. Wright exited the establishment, and then re-entered with Inspector John Howard to do the routine inspection. Howard informed the licensee that, when the packaged goods section was open, the tavern section also had to be open. Inspector Wendell Wright corroborated Inspector Hoard’s account.

Mr. Fogleman told the Board that Mr. Lee “has been a very vigilant licensee when it comes to preventing underage sales.” Because Mr. Lee’s customers are all over the age of 40 years, Mr. Lee believed that Detective Akinwande looked like he was under 21. Lee claims that he told Akinwande the bar was closed, in order to not have an underage person in the tavern. Lee has never been cited for any Liquor Board violations in his nine years in business. Fogleman told the Board that Mr. Lee had been assaulted on Christmas Day when he refused to sell alcohol to someone without identification. On the second date, June 2014, Mr. Lee’s father was working, and Mr. Lee had not provided proper instructions to his father. Since that time, Fogleman has explained the Rules to Lee.

The former chairman noted that the Board is in the process of beginning to revise its Rules and Regulations. He said that “these rules have been around for 50-60 years,” and argued that Rule 5.03 is “not very clear” in its use of the word “habitually.” (The rule defines “tavern” as “an establishment where alcoholic beverages are habitually sold for on-premises consumption…”) Fogleman submitted the Black’s Law Dictionary definition of “habitually,” which defines the word to mean “customarily or by frequent practice.” The Board interprets Rule 5.03 to mean that the tavern section of a BD-7 licensed establishment must always, not just sometimes, be open for business when the liquor store portion is open. Fogleman reiterated that the licensee has never been cited by the Board in his nine years in business. He submitted a printout of the establishment’s Facebook page, which showed, according to the attorney, that he is actively trying to market the bar for bar customers and not for off-premises consumption. He sometimes has six or seven patrons during Ravens games. Mr. Lee brought in a patron to testify that the tavern area is usually open.

Zoning B-3-3
Neighborhood Johnston Square
Area demographics 2% White, 96% Black, 0% Asian, 1% 2 or more races; 1% Hispanic ethnicity; 34% of households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $21,224; 29% households live below poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 1041 Greenmount Ave, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Stephan Fogleman
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 4
Result of hearing Responsible for both violations. $800 fine.
Vote tally Unanimous.
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Chairman Ward said that the licensee has to realize that he violated the law, but he lowered the fine due to the licensee’s lack of previous violations.

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

Former Chairman Fogleman argued during this case that the Liquor Board’s Rules and Regulations are archaic and confusing, which is true. However, the Chairman presided over the agency for seven years and chose not to update and improve the Rules at any point during that time.

Licensee Rory Yanes
Business Name Compadres‐1, LLC
Trading As El Antro
Address 4020 E. Lombard Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.05(a): Prohibited hours: “No licensee shall permit any person to consume alcohol beverages on premises during hours prohibited by law” – July 26, 2014 – Liquor Board personnel and police observed patrons consuming alcoholic beverages after 2:00 am.

Violation of Article 2B Section 11-304(d)(2): In Baltimore City, a licensed premises shall cease all operations, including the serving of alcoholic beverages or food and providing entertainment at the closing hour for that class of licensed premises specified in this article” — July 26, 2014 — Liquor Board personnel and police observed individuals in the bar area with alcoholic beverages after 2:00 am

Hearing notes

Inspector Mark Fosler testified that he arrived at the bar on July 26, 2014, at 2:30am with Officer Todd Brown and Tom Karanikolis. The front door was locked, but the side rear door was ajar. Fosler entered the establishment with Brown and Karanikolis and saw eleven individuals inside. There were seven people drinking: five people with beverages in cups and two drinking from beer bottles. One woman who was in the bar told the inspectors and police that she was the wife of the security guard on duty. There were five other women there who did not work there and did not have relationships with the employees. Police Officer Todd Brown and Inspector Tom Karanikolis corroborated Fosler’s testimony.

Mr. Brian Everett represented the licensee, who was not present. Mr. Fernando Arce testified that he used to be the licensee at this establishment. He testified that he had closed the bar for the night at 2:00am and put the cups and bottles in the trash. The containers on the bar were “an oversight.” The security guard then testified that his wife, mother-in-law, his wife’s sisters and two employees were present. His mother-in-law had had a bachelorette party nearby, and they were waiting for the security guard so that he could drive them home. The side door was open so that the employees could take out the trash. The security guard reiterated that the women in the bar were waiting for a ride from him, not drinking; he said, “they were already partying the majority of the night.”

Chairman Ward pointed out that the licensee has had two violations in the past three years: one underage drinking violation and a failure to keep employee records, both with $1,500 fines. Commissioner Moore asked the men, “who is Rory Yanes?” They replied that he is the owner of the building. Moore asked where Mr. Yanes was that day, and they replied that he is in Boston. Moore said that her personal preference is that licensees be present for hearings. Ward agreed and said that he had issued a regulation, which will become effective in a month or so, which will require the licensee to be present for any and all hearings.

Mr. Everett, admitted that his client’s record was not very good. He noted that the Board had recently issued a $700 fine for a similar case at 3230 E. Fairmount, and, “in the spirit of stare decisis,” Mr. Everett asked for a fine for this violation. Everett said that the women in the bar that night were relatives of the security guard who, for their safety, decided to stay in the bar. Everett argued that the licensee knew that he’s not allowed to serve alcohol after 2am, and he didn’t. Everett suggested that the women may have taken containers with alcoholic beverages off the bar and consumed them.

Zoning M-3
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 4020 E Lombard St, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Brian Everett
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 3
Result of hearing Responsible for both violations. $1,000 fine.
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
Licensees William Matricciani, Donna Matricciani & George Divel III
Business Name Weidog, LLC
Trading As Playbook
Address 6700 German Hill Road
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.18: Illegal Conduct – “Licensee shall… not allow any act contrary to federal, state and local statute.” June 8, 2014 – Officer observed patron exiting establishment with an open container.

Violation of Rule 4.18: Illegal Conduct. “Licensee shall… not allow any act contrary to federal, state and local statute.” – July 12, 2014 – Live Entertainment without board permission, no Traders License or Alcohol Awareness Certificate available. Also, Officer found that bar had admitted 14 year old.

Violation of Rule 3.02: Cooperation – “Licensee shall cooperate with representatives of the Board” – July 12, 2014 – Inspector observed bartender using buzzer as warning for Police/Inspector entering facility.

Violation of Rule 4.01(a): Sale to Minors – “No licensee shall sell or furnish alcoholic beverages to any person under twenty‐one (21) years of age or to any person with the knowledge that such person is purchasing or acquiring such beverages for consumption by any person under twenty-one (21) years of age” – July 13, 2014 – Police observed an underage patron (DOB 06/21/95) and she admitted to police that she was served alcohol.

Violation of Rule 4.01(a): Sale to Minors – “No licensee shall sell or furnish alcoholic beverages to any person under twenty – one (21) years of age or to any person with the knowledge that such person is purchasing or acquiring such beverages for consumption by any person under twenty-one (21) years of age” – September 6, 2014 – Inspector and Police observed an underage intoxicated patron (DOB 03/19/95) and he admitted to police/inspectors that he was served alcohol.

Violation of Rule 3.12: Public Welfare. “Licensee shall operate their establishment in such a manner as to avoid disturbing the peace, safety, health, quiet, and general welfare of the community.” September 6, 2014 – Inspectors and Police observed groups of patrons leaving the establishment loudly and being disruptive to area residents.

Hearing notes

Mr. Peter Prevas represented the licensees and there were roughly ten people present in support of the establishment. On the other side of the bench, there were six inspectors and police officers to testify about the various violations (Lieutenant William Colburn, Officer Todd Brown, Inspector Tom Karanikolis, Inspector Mark Fosler, Officer Sanni and Sergeant Schaeffer.

Baltimore Police Sergeant Schaeffer testified that on June 8, 2014, he was observing crowd activity and traffic across the street from Playbook. While he was watching, a patron exited Playbook with an open bottle of Corona and walked across the street. Sergeant Schaeffer stopped the patron and asked him where he got it. The patron replied that he had just bought it at the Playbook. Schaeffer issued a civil citation to the patron for carrying an open container of alcohol in public. Mr. Prevas cross-examined Schaeffer about his view of the door and where the Corona was; Schaeffer responded that he could see the front door from where he was standing, and the Corona was in the patron’s hand.

Baltimore Police Officer Sanni testified next. First, he corroborated Schaeffer’s testimony from June 8, 2014 about the patron with the Corona. He continued to give testimony about July 13, 2014: at 1:40am, he went inside Playbook for a routine bar check. He and a fellow officer saw a young woman who appeared to be too young to be there. The officers stopped her and asked her for ID. She produced ID with a date of birth of June 21, 1995, which means she was 19 years old. The young woman said that she had been served alcohol and was not asked for ID. Sanni then testified about an incident on July 12, 2014. Officers were called to Playbook due to a fight. During the investigation for that incident, Sanni and a fellow officer saw another very young woman in the bar, who had successfully made it through security in the company of other young women. When the police asked her for ID, they discovered that she was 14 years old, with a date of birth of June 20, 2000. The police took her home, because she was in violation of the Baltimore City youth curfew. On cross-examination, Sanni said that he did not see the 19-year-old woman with alcohol in her hand, but she had admitted to the police that she had been served alcohol.

Lieutenant William Colburn then testified about the events of July 12, 2014. He had gone to the establishment with Inspector Michael Hyde, Officer Todd Brown, and Inspector Tom Karanikolis, after receiving numerous community complaints about the activities at the location. Lieutenant Colburn issued violations for live entertainment without permission from the Board, lack of alcohol awareness certificate, and lack of a trader’s license. Colburn also testified about September 6, 2014. He had gone to Playbook to investigate complaints and observed an individual at closing time who was being nearly carried by friends to a nearby car from Playbook. The individual was so intoxicated that he could not support his own weight. The patron was 19 years old at the time, with a date of birth of March 19, 1995, and he testified that he had been drinking inside Playbook. Prevas cross-examined Colburn about where the 19 year old was in relation to the bar. Colburn clarified that he was in the block adjacent to the bar, a bit further east. The young man’s friends’ car was parked on Bethlehem. Colburn did not see the man exit the bar, and there was no alcohol on him at the time.

Inspector Tom Karanikolis testified about the July 12, 2014 visit, which he made with police officers and Inspector Hyde. Karanikolis went into the bar first, in plainclothes. He saw a DJ speaking in Spanish and people on the dance floor, but nobody was dancing when Karanikolis was there. Moments later, a loud buzzer went off, and everyone in the room turned and looked toward the door as the uniformed police walked in. Under cross-examination, Karanikolis described the buzzer sound as a loud horn noise, “like at a basketball game.”

Police Officer Todd Brown testified next. Brown corroborated Karanikolis’s testimony. Brown said that the room was set up as a dance floor, with tables and chairs pushed to the side. Brown could hear loud music coming from inside the establishment.

Liquor Board Inspector Mark Fosler testified last. He said that on September 6, 2014, he saw several large groups leaving the bar, numbering between six and eighteen individuals, who were very loud and disruptive as they made their way through the community. One group of around twelve individuals gathered around a nearby vehicle playing music very loudly. Six of the individuals were shouting as they walked through the neighboring streets. Under cross-examination, Fosler clarified that he witnessed this behavior between 1:45 and 2:20am. He also said that the individuals playing loud music from the car were within clear sight of the bar, and no employee standing at the front door approached the patrons.

The licensees then put on their case in their defense against the violations.

Mr. Joel Alejandro Amador testified through an interpreter that he was the patron who received the citation for the open container on June 8. Amador said that he was inside the bar and stole one of the bottles of Corona. He put it in his pants, and, once he was outside, he pulled the bottle out. He testified that the security guards did not see him steal the bottle. Mr. Roberto Arias, head of security for Playbook, testified that he did not know that Mr. Amador left with an open container. Arias said that the security team uses a flashlight to make sure that people don’t take alcohol outside. Arias said that there is no buzzer system. Arias said that Playbook tells their customers to get in their cars and keep walking. They walk around the whole block, grabbing bottles and tell people to move along. Mr. Fernando Toruno, an employee of Playbook, said that there is no buzzer system. Toruno agreed that there was a DJ.

Commissioner Jones asked whether Playbook has any video cameras. Toruno said that they do, but there isn’t anybody looking at the cameras in real time.

Ms. Jeannette Alvarez testified that the 19-year-old woman mentioned above is her daughter. She was at the Playbook with her daughter and her daughter’s husband; they arrived around 1:15-1:20am. Ms. Alvarez testified that she (not her daughter) had had one Corona, but she said that her daughter was not drinking that night. Commissioner Moore pointed out that Ms. Alvarez’s daughter had told the officers that she was drinking.

Mr. William Mattricini, one of the three licensees testified that he knows that Playbook has had issues with community; he said that he has tried to hire security and be mindful of the peace of the neighbors. He admitted responsibility for the trader’s license issue and said that there is no buzzer system.

To sum up his case, Prevas told the Board that his client should not be held responsible for any of the violations except the trader’s license issue. He pointed out that the patron with the open container had hidden the bottle from security. Prevas then argued that there is no liquor board rule or statute that defines “live entertainment,” so his client cannot be guilty of violating the law.

Mr. Prevas went through the bar’s history with the Liquor Board. The bar reopened after some financial and health problems of the owners in 2011. The community protested the renewal of the license in 2012, but the Board renewed the license after issuing a fine. The community association protested the renewal of the license again in 2014. The Board renewed the license again but issued a suspension of four weekends in a row. The licensees appealed that suspension, because the Liquor Board’s rules and regulations state that suspensions must run for consecutive days. Prevas said that the suspension was “vacated” for this reason and was never served.

Prevas concluded by saying that the owners do not want to fight with the community association, but they would like the opportunity to have live entertainment. Prevas said that sometimes people start to dance, and the licensees can’t control that. He said that this place does not want to exist at odds with neighbors all the time. Lieutenant Colburn testified that he had talked to the owners about the problems and suggested that if they could get through six to twelve months without a violation or incident, the community association might be more willing to agree to have some live entertainment at Playbook. Colburn said that he has yet to see a six month period without a problem at Playbook, though.

Community members were allowed to testify about their concerns. Ms. Joyce Adamski, President of the Southeast Police Community Relations Council, said that she receives phone calls from people who live nearby saying that Playbook and its patrons disturb them with loud noise at night. Ms. Edie Schumann, from the Graceland Park Improvement Association, agreed with Adamski. She said that when Playbook originally re-opened, the owners said that it was going to be an upscale sports bar. She said, “it is anything but an upscale sports bar.” Schumann reminded the Board of the bar’s history of violations and said that the “trend is disturbing to the community, and it’s not getting better.” Ms. Debbie Ritter corroborated Schumann and Adamski’s testimony.

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 6700 German Hill Road, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Peter Prevas
# in support ~10
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 5
# of inspectors/police officers 6
Result of hearing Responsible for all charges except the buzzer violation. $3,000 fine and 6 week suspension.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Chairman Ward said that all of the charges were easily substantiated except for the buzzer charge. Ward pointed out that Playbook’s own staff testified that they had a DJ, which they did not have zoning or Liquor Board permission to do. Ward said that he believed both the testimony of the police and the testimony of the mother of the 19-year-old girl, noting “I’m not sure the mother knows what the daughter was doing.” He also found the owners responsible for sales to minors, reiterating that “bar owners are responsible for the conduct of their patrons.” Ward said to the licensees, “I understand it’s tough” and suggested that the “solution may be more management.” He concluded, “I don’t know what, it’s not my problem.” Ward said that the most serious charge of all was the disturbance to the neighborhood of the large groups of drunk, loud people roaming around.

Chairman Ward said that the Board is “not in favor of having [suspensions and revocations] upset or reversed by the Circuit Court.” The Board is the agency that hears the testimony from the community members, and the commissioners are trying to “stop illegal conduct which makes it impossible to live in the communities next to bars.” Prevas replied that he assumes that his motion for a stay of the suspension is denied? Ward replied, “yes, it certainly is.”

Commissioner Moore said that she would prefer to close Playbook for eight weeks, not six. She pointed out that the Board had closed Latin Palace for eight weeks for a similar violation. Ward replied, “well, Latin Palace was really outrageous.” Moore told the licensees that “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” She spoke to one of the people in support of the licensee, saying that she recognized him from an earlier hearing on a different bar, which was closed down. She said, “there’s something going on here. you’re here for two bars that we’re going to close.” She told all of the licensees that neighbors shouldn’t have to live with what they’re experiencing, and the police shouldn’t have to put so much of their enforcement power on this bar. She concluded by saying that “there is something systemically wrong with this place,” which she finds “disturbing.”

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None

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