Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on November 20, 2014.

Written by Becky Witt

11:00 a.m. cases

I. Transfers and Amendments

Applicants Rupendra Luitel, Shekhar Karki, and Bibek Gautam
Business Name BS and R, LLC
Trading As Waverly Tavern
Address 3801 Old York Road
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Mr. Boozer, for his clients, explained to the Board that the application before them is a transfer of ownership only (not a transfer of location). Boozer’s clients plan to run the Waverly Tavern in exactly the same manner as the current licensees. Boozer said that he had discussed the transfer with Councilman Bill Henry and Councilman Robert Curran. Boozer said that a community association had approved the transfer of ownership. Councilman Curran was present for the hearing in support of the transfer, but he did not testify.

Mr. Shekhar Karki testified that the three of the applicants will be working seven days a week at the operation, from 10am to 2am. He told the Commissioners that he will run the ID scanner for every customer, for both on-sale and off-sale alcoholic purchases.

Dana asked “what hours will the tavern be open?” Karki replied, “10am-2am.” Mr. Karki said that the on-sale and off-sale portions will be open at the same time.

Zoning R-6
Neighborhood Waverly
Area demographics 79% Black, 15% White; 29% households have children under age 18; median household income: $38,733; 18% households live below the poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes, yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 3801 Old York Rd, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Frank Boozer
# in support 4
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
Applicants Bishnu Kshetri and Monika Kc
Business Name BK, LLC
Trading As Corky’s Liquors
Address 5406 York Road
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership.
Hearing notes

Ms. Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth, Executive Secretary of the BLLC, announced that the application to transfer ownership had been withdrawn by the applicant.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Homeland
Area demographics 12% Black, 75% White; 7% Asian; 3% Hispanic; 2% Two or more races; 23% households have children under age 18; median household income: $80,903.82
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? No, there is no BK, LLC. There is a B & K, LLC, but it was forfeited by the state. There is also a BK Corporation and a BK Inc., but neither seems tied to this address or to the licensee.
Location of entity’s principal office No corporate entity exists.
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing N/A – application was withdrawn.
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 None
Applicants William Ely and Raj Bommakanti
Business Name Radharaj, Inc.
Trading As Trade name pending.
Address 1615 Eastern Avenue
Type of License Class BD7
Reason for hearing Application to transfer location of Class BD7 License, presently located at 1709 Fleet Street to 1615 Eastern Avenue.
Hearing notes

Ms. Bailey-Hedgepeth announced that the Board had granted the licensee’s request for a postponement, and the case will be re-called on December 11, 2014. When Chairman Ward asked why the licensee requested the postponement, Bailey-Hedgepeth replied that Mr. Bommakanti could not be present at the hearing for some reason and also needed to hire an attorney, because his case is a complicated matter.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood 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 16402 Signature Ct, Rockville, MD 20853
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Postponed
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 None
Applicants Sponaugle, Casimira, and Fouts
Business Name Angel
Trading As Trade name pending.
Address 162 N. Ellwood Street.
Type of License Class BD7
Reason for hearing Application to transfer location of a Class BD7 license, presently located at 137-39 N. Belnord Avenue to 162 N. Ellwood Street; request for outdoor table service and live entertainment.
Hearing notes

Ms. Bailey-Hedgepeth announced that the hearing is postponed, because a zoning issue has arisen that needs to be taken care of before the Board of Municipal Zoning Appeals (BMZA) before the Liquor Board hears the case.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Patterson Park Neighborhood
Area demographics BNIA did not have demographic information for this neighborhood.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? The docket states that the corporate entity is “Angel” but without the full corporate name it is difficult to tell whether this company does, in fact, exist.
Location of entity’s principal office No full corporate name provided.
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Postponed
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 None
Applicant Yenys Silva and Thomas Hamrick
Business Name Carolinas Tex-Mex Restaurant, LLC
Trading As Carolina’s Tex-Mex Restaurant
Address 505 S. Broadway
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request to add outdoor table service and live entertainment; request to remove restriction of “no bar” from the license.
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski reminded the Commissioners that the licensees at this address had just been before the Board because they had a bar installed on the second floor of the establishment; the liquor license stated that they could not have a bar inside. Kodenski said that the licensees have met with the community about the issue, and they have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the community associations. The community groups have agreed to let the licensees request to remove the restriction from their license, under the conditions laid out in the agreement. Kodenski said that the BMZA has given the licensee permission to add outdoor table service and live entertainment. The attorney added that Fells Point Community Organization President Joanne Masopust had asked him to tell the Board that the community has not had any problems with this restaurant in the past. Kodenski said, “I usually don’t get these from Ms. Masopust.”

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood 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? No, no.
Location of entity’s principal office Does not exist.
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# 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

II. Hardship Extension

Applicant Jose Hernandez
Business Name Not Given
Trading As Las Marias Restaurant
Address 40 N. Streeper Street
Type of License Class D License
Reason for hearing Request for a hardship extension under the provisions of Article 2B Section 10-504(d).
Hearing notes

The licensee was not present for the hearing, and the Board decided to continue with the proceeding anyway. Chairman Ward said that the Board’s new ruling, as of January 15, 2015, is that the licensee must be present for any hearing, unless they have a very good reason for a postponement.

Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth told the Commissioners that on August 15, 2014, a Liquor Board staff member told Mr. Hernandez that his hardship extension request on June 26, 2014 had been denied. The licensee argued with the Liquor Board staff and said that it had been approved. On Monday, September 29, 2014, Ms. Bailey-Hedgepeth met with the licensee after having obtained a copy of the transcript of the June 26 hearing, which did show that the Board had approved a hardship extension through the end of December. The Executive Secretary proposed that the Board should grant Mr. Hernandez an extra 45 days to transfer the license, because Hernandez was unable to transfer his license between August 15 and September 29, as he had planned to do.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Patterson Park Neighborhood
Area demographics BNIA did not have demographic information for this neighborhood.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes, no.
Location of entity’s principal office 40 N. Streeper, Baltimore, MD 21224
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 0
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

Article 2B section 10-504(d) states:

“(3) The licensee or other appropriate interested parties may make a written request to the Board for an extension of the life of the license due to undue hardship, for a time period of no more than a cumulative period of 360 days after the date of closing or cessation of alcoholic beverages business operations of the business for which the license is held.

(4) After a hearing conducted on the extension request, 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.

(5) It is the intent of this subsection that the total time period for which a license may be deemed unexpired under paragraph (2) of this subsection is 180 days if no undue hardship extension is granted, and no more than 360 days if an undue hardship extension has been granted.”

The Board, in this case, acted outside of its statutory authority by granting more than 360 days from when the bar closed. The statute did not give the Board the discretion to add additional time to the hardship extension period, even if the staff members did make a mistake in telling Mr. Hernandez that his hardship extension request had been denied.

III. Transfer Pending for more than 180 Days

Applicant Peter Yaffee
Business Name Food Life Point Baltimore, LLC
Trading As Food Life Point
Address 1200 Steuart Street, #C1B
Type of License Class “D” Beer & Wine License
Reason for hearing Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days.
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski explained to the Board that the Maryland legislature had amended Article 2B specifically to allow the transfer of the license into Silo Point. The project is governed by a Planned Unit Development (PUD). Peter Yaffe was the tenant who was going to operate the business, but the project fell through, and the owner of the building had to evict Mr. Yaffe, which took a lot of time and money. The owner has already invested $300,000-400,000 in the space. Mr. Turner, who was present on behalf of the owner of the building, has filed an amended application to transfer the license to himself.

Turner explained the concept of the business: it will be an upscale grocer/deli, like a Dean and Deluca. They will sell breads, cheeses, wines, and fresh prepared items from a grab-and-go deli. They will also sell fresh flours and milks.

Commissioner Jones said, “tell me why this license isn’t dead.” Kodenski explained that there is a pending transfer for the license, which means that Article 2B section 10-504(d) does not apply. Rather, Article 2B section 10-503(d) applies, which also contains a 180-day rule Moore pointed out that Article 2B section 10-503(d) says that “a transfer of any license shall be completed not more than 180 days after the Board approves the transfer.” This particular transfer has been pending more than two years. Kodenski responded that the Wolford case says that this section of the code is not mandatory; therefore, the Board has the discretion to choose to give additional time to the applicant. Mr. Kodenski did not provide the Board with a copy of the “Wolford case” or elaborate about the facts of that case and how they apply to the case before the Board. Commissioner Moore pointed out that an Attorney General’s opinion says that 10-503(d) is mandatory. Kodenski responded that the document that Moore is referring to is not an Attorney General’s official opinion but is rather a letter from one of the Assistant Attorney Generals. He said that there is an Attorney General specifically assigned to Liquor Board issues, who did not write the letter that Moore was referencing. He also said that the letter contradicts the Wolford case, and that a Court of Appeals case would trump an Attorney General’s letter. Chairman Ward said, “this whole area [of the law] has to be looked at by the legislature, but we’re obligated to carry out the law as it is.”

Mr. Turner closed by telling the Board that he only needs 180 days to open. The owners of the building just wrested back control of the space back from Mr. Yaffe, and they will try to find a new tenant right away. He showed the space to prospective tenants three times in the past week and the space is “halfway built out.”

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, no.
Location of entity’s principal office 211 East Lombard St, Unit #361, Baltimore, MD 21202
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Hardship extension 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

For more on the 180 day transfer rule, see Booze News’s previous post.

1:00 pm cases

IV. Violations

Licensees Myong Friley and Brian Knight
Business Name AZ Plus, Inc.
Trading As Cocky Lou’s
Address 2101-03 E. North Avenue
Type of License Class BD7
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”—October 16, 2014—Police officer refused service in the bar area, was told that the bar was closed because the bartender was sick, package goods were being sold while bar area was closed

Hearing notes

Mr. Thomas Akras, newly hired Deputy Executive Secretary of the Liquor Board, represented the Board during the hearing; from now on, Mr. Akras will represent the Board and “prosecute” violation of the law on behalf of the Liquor Board.

Baltimore Police Detective Akinwande testified that on October 16, 2014, he was undercover in a “BD-7 investigation. He attempted to enter the bar area, and the clerk told him that the bar was closed. Akinwande asked why the bar was closed, and the clerk replied that the bartender was sick that day. At that point, Akinwande called Detectives Greenhill and Gatto, who entered the establishment and notified the owner of the violation of Rule 5.03. Detective Greenhill corroborated Akinwande’s testimony.

Licensee Brian Knight cross-examined Akinwande, who reaffirmed his testimony. Akinwande added that there wasn’t anybody drinking outside of the bar or loitering on the night in question. Greenhill said that there were no patrons or employees in the bar section of the tavern when they entered.

Mr. Jiang Ji then testified that he had been working at the tavern for about a week. He acknowledged that Akinwande had entered and asked to use the bar area. Ji said that he told Akinwande that the bartender is sick but that he would call her, and she would come right back. Ji said that Akinwande left the bar and called his other two police officers rather than waiting for the bartender.

Mr. Knight then testified that the officer had misinterpreted what Mr. Ji had told him. Knight argued that the bar was, in fact, open. He said that all of the employees work both sides of the establishment when they’re on duty. Knight submitted contact information for two regular patrons who can testify that the bar is usually open. Under questioning from Commissioner Moore, Mr. Knight said that he is usually at the establishment only about once or twice a month.

Zoning R-7
Neighborhood Broadway East
Area demographics 1% White, 96% Black, 0% Asian, 1% 2 or more races; 1% Hispanic ethnicity; 35% of households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $26,431.68; 21% households live below poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes, no.
Location of entity’s principal office 2101-03 E. North Ave, Baltimore, MD 21213
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 3
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 3
Result of hearing Responsible. $1,000 fine, 1 week suspension.
Vote tally Unanimous.
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Chairman Ward noted that this case is evidence of “the same type of activity we find frequently in Baltimore City,” in which packaged goods are the main source of income in a BD-7 tavern establishment. Ward said that the evidence is clear that at the time of the police officer’s arrival, the bar was closed. According to Ward, there was no question that the charge is sustained. Ward pointed out that the establishment has been found responsible for three serious charges in the past. The Chairman suggested that the establishment be suspended for two days and pay a fine of $1,000.

Commissioner Moore agreed with the Chairman’s finding of responsibility. She noted that this is the second time that the licensees were fined for failure to operate as a tavern. On July 28, 2011, the licensees were found responsible for a gambling violation, failure to operate as a tavern, and sales to a minor. Because of this history, Moore thought that the suspension in this case should be at least one week and a $4,000 fine. Commissioner Jones suggested a one-week suspension and a $1,000 fine. The other two commissioners agreed with this compromise.

For the previous violation of failure to operate as a tavern, Commissioner Moore pointed out that the licensees were only fined $100 in 2011 under the previous Board.

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Licensees Un Taek Sim and Do Ja Han
Business Name Edmondson Group, LLC
Trading As Uptown Bar
Address 1901 Edmondson 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” — October 17, 2014 — Police officer refused service in the bar area, officer was advised that no bartender was on duty when package department was open and operating

Hearing notes

Baltimore City Police Detective Akinwande testified that, on October 17, 2014, at 10:30pm, he and his fellow police detectives engaged in a “BD-7 check.” Akinwande waited in line to talk to a clerk and then asked to use the bar area of the tavern. He was told that the bar area was not open, because there was no bartender on duty. The licensees were both present in the store at the time. Akinwande then left the establishment and notified Detectives Gatto and Greenhill of the violation. Under cross-examination, Detective Akinwande said that the bar and the packaged good areas of the establishment were separated by a door. Akinwande didn’t try the door to see if it was locked; rather, he asked if he could enter, and the licensees told him that he could not. Akinwande said that there were a few people in the package goods section at the time, but he didn’t remember exactly how many. Detective Abraham Gatto corroborated Akinwande’s testimony. Gatto said that the licensees were cooperative after they had been told of the violation.

Mr. Yong Song testified that he was working that night at Uptown Bar, taking care of customers and organizing the stock. Mr. Song said that the bartender had gone out on his lunch break when Akinwande entered the bar. Song said that he asked Akinwande if he could wait thirty minutes for the bartender to come back, but Akinwande walked out. Song testified that he called out after Akinwande, but the police officer did not hear him. Song added that the reason that he himself couldn’t serve the officer was because he was pulling out stock through the trap door that was open in the floor, and it wasn’t safe for customers to be in that part of the store.

Mr. Un Taek Sim, one of the two licensees, testified that he was in the back of the establishment at the time, and he could have served Akinwande. Commissioner Moore asked, “if, in fact, either one of you was available to serve a drink, why didn’t you?” Mr. Song repeated that he had tried to call Akinwande back, but he didn’t hear him. Akinwande just walked out. Moore replied, “because the violation had already been committed.”

In closure, Mr. Kodenski argued that the interaction between the police and the licensees happened too quickly, “badda bing badda boom.” He said that this case was a “de minimis”-type situation and asked for the Board to treat it that way.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Midtown-Edmondson
Area demographics 97% Black, 35% households have children under age 18; median household income: $23,565; 37% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes, yes.
Location of entity’s principal office #300 201 W Padonia Rd; Timonium, MD 21093
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 3
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 2
Result of hearing Responsible for violation. 1-day suspension, $500 fine.
Vote tally Unanimous.
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Chairman Ward stated that he believed that the licensees were responsible for the charges, though there were some extenuating circumstances. During the time that police officers arrived, it was not being operated as a bar. Ward told the licensees that the law is clear: in a BD-7 tavern, the bar must be serviced by a bartender and made available to the public at all times. He suggested a $500 fine without a suspension.

Commissioner Jones agreed that the charges had been proven. Jones said that if the licensees had the intent to serve Detective Akinwande, they would have served him. Though the trap door was open, they could have closed the door and attended to the customer. Jones said that there was a clear decision to violate the law. Jones suggested a one-day suspension and a $500 fine. Commissioner Moore agreed with Commissioner Jones.

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicant In Tae Kil and Gum Ja Kil
Business Name J and T Liquors, Inc.
Trading As Wylie Liquors
Address 3101-03 Wylie 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” — October 17, 2014 — Officer was refused bar service when entered the establishment while package good section was open.

Hearing notes

The licensees admitted to the charges, so Mr. Thomas Akras read a statement of the facts provided by the police officers into evidence. According to Detective Akinwande, he entered the bar in plainclothes and asked to use the bar area. Mr. Kim told him that the bar area was closed. The licensees have been in business for 17 years with two prior violations for serving alcohol to minors in 2008.

Zoning R-6
Neighborhood Central Park Heights
Area demographics 2% White, 96% Black, 0% Asian; 1% Hispanic ethnicity; 38% households have children under age 18; 33% households living below the poverty line; median household income: $27,238.61.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes, yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 3101-03 Wylie Ave, Baltimore, MD 21215
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 3
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 2
Result of hearing Responsible. $1,000 fine, no suspension.
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 Yong Doo Park & Myon Nam Kim
Business Name Myongnam, Inc.
Trading As M & M Lounge
Address 2500 E. Biddle Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor
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” — October 16, 2014 — Officer was told bar was closed while package area was in operation.
Hearing notes

The licensee appeared, without counsel, and with a friend to interpret the hearing.

Baltimore Police Detective Akinwande testified that, on October 16, 2014, he entered the tavern and asked to use the bar area. The clerk did not seem to understand his question. Akinwande said that he asked again and gestured to the bar door. The clerk responded that the bar was closed. Akinwande then left the bar and notified the officers. Akinwande added that he has been to this bar before, and there is only one bar stool in the room. It is not a fully functional bar. Detective Gatto corroborated Akinwande’s testimony.

The licensee testified on her own behalf, through a translator. She said that she didn’t recognize either Akinwande or Gatto and that neither of them were at her establishment. She has been a licensee for six years. She said that there are six bar stools in the bar and she serves alcohol from the bar. She explained that her customers are mostly old ladies, and it was late at night when Akinwande came in, and she was afraid of him. Under more questioning from the commissioners, she explained further that there had been shootings in the area at night lately, so she has been afraid.

Many community members then testified in general that the bar is a problem. Ms. Yvonne Fitzgerald, from the Berea Community Association, testified that loitering customers consume alcohol outside in the front and on the side of the bar. The establishment draws crime and constant police presence. Fitzgerald pointed out that the licensee was afraid because she heard gunshots outside, but that is what the community experiences every day, too. Community members see litter, trash, rats, traffic, and drug activity. The licensee replied that she pays someone to pick up trash outside of her store.

Mr. James Brown, member of the Berea East Side Community Association, echoed Ms. Fitzgerald’s testimony. He said that the tavern’s bar section is never open. Next door to the bar, a building has collapsed, and is filling up with waist-high garbage. There are rats and an awful smell. The establishment is open 7 days a week, for 20 hours a day. He said that there is constant hanging out, drinking, and drug activity around and inside the establishment. Mr. James Bull agreed with Brown and Fitzgerald in his testimony. Community member Richard McCoy agreed and told the Board that the corner, because of the establishment, has been a “hot spot” for the Eastern District Police. Police Detective LC Greenhill testified that he agrees with Mr. McCoy; over the past seven years, the bar has been problematic for the community, and the police have received many complaints. A representative from Councilman Warren Branch’s office said that he had tried to go to the store and talk to the licensee, and she had not been cooperative. He said that he had been in the bar area before, and it was very dusty, with only one or two availalbe seats. It seemed like a storage area at the time.

The licensee testified that the trash is not hers, it’s her neighbor’s, and that she keeps the bar area open. She says that the trash in the rear is not her responsibility.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Berea
Area demographics 1% White, 96% Black, 0% Asian, 1% 2 or more races; 1% Hispanic ethnicity; 35% of households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $26,431.68; 21% households live below poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 2500 Biddle St, Baltimore, MD 21213
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants ~10
# of inspectors/police officers 2
Result of hearing Responsible for violation. 3 month suspension, $1,000 fine.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Chairman Ward said that it was obvious that the licensee is responsible for the charge. With respect to punishment for the violation, the Board has to take into consideration both past violations and community input. In this case, said Ward, the community testimony is terrible. He told the licensee that her bar is out of control. Ward said that this was a very serious case, and the licensee needs to be sent a message. He suggested a suspension of three months and a fine of $1,000.

Commissioner Moore agreed with the finding of responsibility. She told the licensee that she is operating her bar in a way that is harmful to the community. She has made it difficult for her neighbors to live peacefully. The licensee has also consistently blamed other people for the problems and said it’s not her responsibility to clean her establishment. Moore agreed with the punishment suggested by the Chairman.

Commissioner Jones agreed that the evidence against the licensee was overwhelming, and he agreed with the other two commissioners in their punishment.

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Licensees Stephanie Oh and Lisa Randolph
Business Name SNS Liquor Corporation
Trading As SNS Liquor
Address 2135 E. North Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 5.03(a): Class BD7 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” — October 16, 2014 — Licensee did not allow police officer entry after Identification was provided; October 31, 2014 — Inspectors found bar area not open when the package section was in operation; November 6, 2014 — Inspectors found establishment still not cooperating with the charges on found on October 31, 2014

Hearing notes The case was not called.
Zoning R-7
Neighborhood Broadway East
Area demographics 1% White, 96% Black, 0% Asian, 1% 2 or more races; 1% Hispanic ethnicity; 35% of households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $26,431.68; 21% households live below poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes, no.
Location of entity’s principal office 2135 E. North Ave, Baltimore, MD 21213
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 N/A
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 The case was not called, though it was on the docket.
Licensee Laura Chirichella
Business Name T and M Wash Blvd, Inc.
Trading As Smiley’s Tavern
Address 2522 Washington Bouelvard
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 3.06: Sanitation and Safety- “Licensees shall operate their establishments at all times in accordance with the requirements of the Health Department of Baltimore City, the Building Code of Baltimore City, and the rules and regulations of the Fire Department of Baltimore City”—October 31, 2014—Inspector found restrooms dirty and not ready for public use, sinks not ready for tavern use

Violation of Rule 3.07: Restroom Facilities – Licensees shall provide on the licensed premises separate toilet facilities for each sex. All the rest rooms shall be entirely enclosed and separate and apart from rooms where food or drink is stored or served. In all rest rooms containing more than one toilet, each toilet shall be installed in a separate enclosure. All rest rooms shall be adequately lighted. All rest rooms shall contain ventilation ducts where an outside window is not present. All restrooms shall be regularly clean. Walls, floors and equipment must be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition at all times. Rest rooms must be cleaned at least once daily with intermittent cleaning as necessary during the time premises are open to the public—October 31, 2014—Inspector found facilities dirty and not ready for public use.

Violation of Rule 4.18: Illegal Conduct – “licensee shall … not allow any act contrary to federal, state and local statute” — October 31, 2014 — Trader’s License not renewed for the year of 2014.

Hearing notes

Mr. Miles Terry appeared on behalf of the licensee and admitted to the facts presented by the Liquor Board inspectors in their reports. When asked his relationship to the licensee, Mr. Terry replied, “she’s my wife, technically.” Mr. Tom Akras, Deputy Executive Director, told the Board that, on September 30, 2014, Inspector Joann Martin conducted an inspection at the establishment and found that the licensee lacked valid trader’s license and the bathrooms were in unsanitary condition. When she returned, the violations had not been abated. She returned a second time with the Chief Inspector, and they took photographs of the condition of the premises. When the Liquor Board staff returned to the establishment the second time, there was some work being done in the men’s bathroom, but the licensee did not have the proper permits to do the work.

Mr. Terry told the Board that he and his wife are shutting down the business, permanently. “We are done,” he said. He said that he needs to find out exactly what he needs to do to shut down the business. Commissioner Moore asked whether he means that he is going to sell or transfer the license, and Mr. Terry said that he did not plan to do so. Chairman Ward said that he would send out an inspector that afternoon to pick up the license for the establishment.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Morrell Park
Area demographics 48% White, 36% Black, 4% 2 or more races; 10% Hispanic ethnicity; 40% households have children under age 18; median household income: $33,644; 22% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes, no.
Location of entity’s principal office 2522 Washington Blvd, Baltimore, MD 21230
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 1
# of inspectors/police officers 1
Result of hearing Licensee voluntarily gave up license.
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
Licensee Maura Smith
Business Name Chesapeake Consulting Crew, Inc.
Trading As Coburn’s
Address 2921 O’Donnell Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

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.” — October 25, 2014 — failure to produce and display a valid liquor license.

Hearing notes

The licensee did not appear for the hearing. Mr. Akras suggested that the Board bring the charge back in a future hearing.

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 8263 Riverside Dr., Pasadena, MD 21122
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing N/A
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 It was unclear why the licensee did not appear or why the Board decided to dismiss the charges for that day. In other situations, the Board has proceeded with the hearing when a licensee did not show up (if the licensee was properly notified of the hearing).
Licensees Brian Grace and Paul Gunshol
Business Name Fireball Entertainment, Inc.
Trading As The Big Easy Cabaret
Address 2000 Eastern Avenue
Type of License Class “D” Beer, Wine & Liquor License/Adult Entertainment License
Reason for hearing

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” — September 21, 2014 — Fight occurred in the club moved outside and participants was found with weapons.

Violation of Rule 3.02: Cooperation — “Licensees shall cooperate with representative of the Board, members of the Police Department, Health Department, Building Engineer’s office, Grand Jury and representatives of other governmental agencies whenever any such persons are on official business.” — September 21, 2014 — Manager contradicted statement from bouncer and tried to conceal the fight started in the establishment.

Hearing notes

Baltimore Police Officer Juan Minaya testified that he has worked as an officer for seven years. On September 21, 2014, a man on a bicycle approached him in his squad car and told Officer Minaya that some people were being assaulted with a baseball bat in front of The Big Easy Cabaret. When Minaya arrived at the scene, a couple blocks away, he saw a crowd of around 10-15 people, scattering, about half a block up from the Big Easy. Minaya asked the bouncer what happened; the bouncer replied that a fight broke out inside the Big Easy in a private party on the second floor and spilled outside onto the sidewalk and street. When the people came outside, the guy with the baseball bat came along and was hitting people. Minaya said that a couple of the patrons who had been detained did not have a shirt on, one had a torn shirt, and there were other minor injuries, like scratches and bruises. Mr. Richard Marino came outside to talk to Minaya and said that no fight had occurred inside the bar and that everything had happened outside. Mr. Akras, for the Board, moved into evidence the police report on the incident, which had been written by Officer Gardener, who was not present at the hearing. [Mr. Prevas objected to the admissibility of the report, because there are statements in the report attributed to non-police officers without a name attached to the statements. Prevas said that he has had no opportunity to subpoena those witnesses. Chairman Ward overruled Prevas’s objection.] As the detained individuals were released, they opened their car door, and a police officer saw a gun case inside the car. The officer opened the case, and there was a gun inside, so the police arrested the individual to whom the gun belonged. Prevas argued that there was no connection between the illegal gun and the bar. Mr. Akras responded that the gun was recovered because the police were responding to the Big Easy. The car with the gun was about a half block away from the Big Easy.

Under cross-examination by Mr. Prevas, Minaya testified that the man on the bicycle had alerted him to a commotion in front of the Big Easy, not inside the building. Minaya did not see any active fighting, but people seemed to be pulling their friends away from a fight that had just broken up. The person with the baseball bat had never entered the premises.

Ms. Chrissy Anderson, President-Elect of the Fells Prospect Community Association, testified next, on behalf of Mr. Victor Corbin, outgoing President of FPCA. Mr. Prevas objected to the community testimony, because it was not directly related to the incident that caused the violation of the law. The Chairman overruled Prevas’s objection. Ms. Anderson testified that the community organization has received many complaints about the Big Easy, including noise complaints, violation of the Memorandum of Understanding, illegal signs in front of the building, etc. Prevas objected again, suggesting that it would be more appropriate to hear from community members after the Board’s finding of responsibility. Ward replied, “well, Mr. Prevas, I got the job [of Liquor Board Chairman], not you.”

Mr. Robert Burch, owner of the property next door to the Big Easy, at 2002 Eastern Avenue testified that his tenants in the building did not complain the evening of the fight but often do complain of loud music. Ms. Marianne Ferguson, who lives a half block from the Big Easy, testified that on the night of the fight, she arrived home at midnight from work and had to walk by the club. She observed several people standing outside, smoking marijuana. She told the Board that she often hears noise from people congregating outside the Big Easy, and this isn’t the first time a fight has broken out inside the club. She has lived in the neighborhood for twenty years, and she felt that the club has definitely disturbed her peace and safety and has caused her to fear for the safety of herself and her family.

Mr. Prevas was frustrated by the community testimony, and he told the Board, “if we were in a trial, I’d ask for a mistrial.” He said that he acknowledged that he was participating in an administrative hearing, not a trial in court, but he said that his client is still entitled to a fair hearing. Ward disagreed strongly with Prevas’s remarks and told him that he was being insulting. Ward said, “you know better than to make remarks like that. You should restrain yourself from making those kind of remarks. It’s improper. I like all the lawyers here. I think they all do a pretty good job. I respect you for your thoroughness. It’s not proper conduct. You’re a member of the bar, and you know better.”

Mr. Akras submitted an email from a neighbor who saw the fight from inside her home. The neighbor said that fifteen to twenty people were involved, and one person was knocked unconscious and carried away by a friend. She saw the police come to the establishment and sit people along the curb. The neighbor wrote in her letter that she feels unsafe because of what she saw.

Mr. Prevas began his case by making a motion to dismiss all of the charges, which was denied.

Mr. Richard Marino, manager at the Big Easy since August 15, 2014, testified first. He was present at the bar on September 21, the night in question. There was a private birthday party on the second floor and general patrons on first floor. Three bartenders worked that night: two on the first floor and one on the second. There were two security guards, one at the door and the other patrolling the bar. There were also seven dancers working that night. The bar was busy, but not overcrowded. Marino did not know how many people were in the bar, and he also did not know the capacity of the building. Marino testified that there was no fight inside the bar. Normally, his staff uses the side door of the business to let patrons out at closing time. They close the second floor first, then the first floor. Marino said that all of the patrons had left before there was any commotion outside. A police officer knocked on the door after 1:00am. There were employees inside the bar, but no patrons. Marino said that the building does have security cameras, but the tapes are reused every ten days. Marino said that the bouncer at the time was not at the hearing, because he only works occasionally, as needed. Commissioner Moore asked whether Mr. Ramos was fired because he had told the police officer that the fight began inside the bar. Marino replied that Ramos has not been fired. He also testified that there was no damage inside the bar. The manager said that he is in constant contact with the neighbors who live next door.

Ms. Christina Hamilton testified that she was working as a bartender, part time, on the night of September 21. She did not observe a fight that night, or any altercation, scuffling, or raising of voices. Ms. Megan Fisher, another bartender working that night, said the same thing as Ms. Hamilton.

Mr. Brian Grace, the owner of the bar, told the Board that he purchased the business in early 2013 and used to be the operator. He has never had any incidents before this one. Mr. Grace works full-time for the Washington DC fire department, and he lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, so he no longer runs the bar. On questioning from Commissioner Moore, Mr. Grace said that he goes to the Big Easy “as little as possible” but usually one or two times per week. His home is one hour from the bar, and the bar is one hour to DC, where he works. Grace said that turnover is high at the bar, and he doesn’t know who Mr. Jose Ramos, the security guard, is.

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? Yes, yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 1600 Shore Rd, Baltimore, MD 21220
Attorney for licensee Mr. Peter Prevas
# in support ~6
Attorney for community None
# of protestants ~8
# of inspectors/police officers 1
Result of hearing Responsible for violations. 2 month suspension, $2,000 fine.
Vote tally Unanimous.
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Chairman Ward noted that there is a lot of conflicting evidence in this case, but he finds the testimony of the police officers credible and believes that a violent incident began inside the bar. Ward reminded the licensees that a bar is responsible for the conduct of its customers, inside and outside of the building. He found it particularly upsetting that the gun was found in the car parked right outside and found it surprising that the manager would not have known about the gun. Ward wondered what in the world Mr. Grace is doing running a strip bar in a residential area and said that he would need to impose a significant punishment to make sure an incident like this doesn’t happen again.

Commissioner Moore agreed with Ward that it is remarkable that such a significant event to the neighbors would not be experienced at all by the manager or bartenders. She pointed out that it was suspicious that Mr. Ramos is not present at the hearing. She pointed out that the owner of the bar doesn’t live in Baltimore, which is a “cocktail for disaster.”

Commissioner Jones agreed with Ward and Moore. He found it strange that fifteen to twenty people engaged in an “invisible fight” which “only one side could see.” He told Mr. Marino that neighbors shouldn’t have to call him to tell him that they can’t sleep because of the noise.

After hearing from the commissioners, Mr. Prevas submitted an objection that he was not given the opportunity to make a closing statement to the Board. Ward retorted, “I don’t recall you asking [for time to make a closing statement]. Maybe [your clients will] sue you for negligence.”

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Licensees Cuneyt Ozturk and Sudhir Trivedi
Business Name Ozturk, Inc.
Trading As Bosphorus
Address 5716 York Road
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Violation of Rule 4.01: 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” – October 23, 2014 — police observed underage patrons with alcoholic beverages.
Hearing notes

Baltimore Police Detective Abraham Gatto testified that he was working undercover on October 23, 2014, at 11:00pm, investigating complaints regarding liquor establishments on the York Road Corridor serving alcohol to underage college students. He and Detective Akinwande went inside Bosphorus, which is a hookah lounge and restaurant. The officers noticed three groups of very young people as they entered. Detective Gatto went up to the bar and saw four young women sitting there with drinks. Three of the women had club soda in front of them, but one of them had a mixed alcoholic beverage. Gatto asked the women for identification. At first, none of them said anything. Then the woman with the mixed drink tried to get up and leave the restaurant; Gatto stopped her from leaving and asked her again for identification. She had no ID with her, except her Loyola University ID, with a photo and her name but no date of birth. The woman was 18 years old. The other young people in the restaurant were also Loyola students, and some of them did not even have their student IDs with them. Gatto explained that his investigation with Akinwande took a long time in trying to get the truth out of all the students. Two other underage students at a different table had also purchased alcoholic drinks from the licensee at the bar. Gatto told the Board that the licensee was cooperative, but he thought that the violation was significant, given the number of underage students inside without any ID. Detective Akinwande corroborated Gatto’s report but did not add to it.

Loyola University Campus Police Officer Robert Maglia testified that Loyola tries very hard to keep its underage students out of the bars on York Road. He told the commissioners that he had received information from students that Bosphorus regularly serves underage students, and Loyola passed that information along to the Liquor Board and to the police.

Mr. Cuneyt Ozturk testified that he had checked the IDs of the students when they came in and ordered drinks. He was confused about how they showed him ID and then told the officers that they didn’t have ID. Ozturk said that he wished that he had scanned the IDs so that he wouldn’t have gotten in trouble. Since then, he has increased security at the door to check IDs.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Rosebank
Area demographics 69% Black, 23% White; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 29% households have children under age 18; median household income: $44,853; 6.3% of households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes, yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 5716 York Rd, Baltimore, MD 21212
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 2
Result of hearing Responsible for violation. 1 month suspension. $500 fine.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Commissioner Jones concurred with Chairman Ward’s suggested punishment of one month closure and a $500 fine. Jones pointed out that he lives in the area, so the licensee should “take good care.”

Commissioner Moore added that a university stands in loco parentis for their students, and if something bad happens to a student, the university is responsible. She told the licensee that everyone knows that the liquor establishments on York Road sell alcohol to underage students, but she was very concerned that in this case there were many underage students inside. She said that the idea of so many underage students drinking at Bosphorus was “frightening.” She told Mr. Ozturk that the corrective measures that he had taken with security were “a day late and a dollar short.”

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

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