Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on March 26, 2015.

Written by Becky Witt

11:00 a.m. cases

I. New Applications, transfers and amendments:

Applicants Hong‐Qing Shi & Yu–Feng Jiang
Business Name V & A Mini Market, Inc.
Trading As Mack’s Deli
Address 1301 Bayard Street
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Mr. Gary Maslan appeared, for the second time, with his clients, the applicants, as well as the current licensees. The Board did not hear any testimony from either the applicants or the current licensees. The Board had originally heard this case on March 12, 2015 but rescheduled its decision for March 26 because the current licensees were not present at the hearing.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Washington Village/Pigtown
Area demographics BNIA did not have demographic information available for this neighborhood.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore City
Attorney for licensee Mr. Gary Maslan
# in support 5
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 Jin Zhou Shi & Chang Xu Sun
Business Name Michael’s Super Market, Inc.
Trading As Slater’s Market
Address 5123 Park Heights Avenue
Type of License Class “A” Beer & Wine License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Mr. Abraham Hurdle represented the licensees, again in a continued hearing previously heard on March 12, 2015. The Board had previously been concerned at the lack of any response from the community of Park Heights and asked the applicants to try reaching out to the community groups. Mr. Hurdle told the Board that since the prior hearing, he had contacted all nine community associations listed in the Baltimore City Community Association Directory. Many of those groups no longer maintained a valid phone number, but he reached a few of them. His clients met with the Pimlico Merchants’ Association, which had some suggestions for the applicants regarding facade improvements and general responsibility. The current licensees were not present at the hearing, because they had moved to Korea and were no longer available. Commissioner Moore thanked Hurdle for doing exactly what the Board had asked him to do and providing the needed information.

Zoning B-2-2
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 Baltimore City
Attorney for licensee Mr. Abraham Hurdle
# 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
Applicant Shaffin Jetha
Business Name MVH Baltimore Hotel, LLC
Trading As Hotel Indigo Baltimore‐Mt. Vernon
Address 24 W. Franklin Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor (Hotel‐Motel) License
Reason for hearing Application for a new Class “BHM” BWL under the provisions of Article 2B §6‐201(d)(2) requiring a minimum of no less than 100 rooms, a dining room with facilities for preparing and serving meals for at least 125 persons at one seating and capital investment of $500,000, request for live entertainment and outdoor table service
Hearing notes

Ms. Caroline Hecker and Mr. Justin Williams, of Rosenberg Martin Greenberg LLP, represented the applicant, Mr. Shaffin Jetha, who was present. Mr. Jason Curtis, president of the Mount Vernon Belvedere Association, will be the general manager of the hotel. Tom Yeager, of Downtown Partnership, was present in support of the new license but did not testify. Mr. Tom Hamrick, the hotel’s food and beverage manager, also appeared.

Chairman Ward asked where the patrons will park. The applicants responded that there are 36 spaces on the property, and they have entered into an agreement to use spaces in the city-owned parking garage across the street from the hotel.

Ms. Hecker proffered that the building was originally occupied by Baltimore’s first YMCA. It will have 162 guest rooms, as well as meeting and banquet space, a restaurant and bar. Hotel Indigo is a boutique line of hotels in the InterContinental Hotel brand. It will have a club-like feel. The hotel will open in May 2015 and will serve alcoholic beverages throughout the building. The bar will be open until 1:45am, but the kitchen will close at 10 or 11pm. The project will cost around $20 million, total, and $5 million has been spent already. They will offer live entertainment, mostly for private events, like weddings. The applicant submitted many letters of support from community and other organizations and from Councilman Eric Costello.

Chairman Ward noted that he founded the Mount Vernon Belvedere Association, in order to defeat an urban renewal plan that would have eliminated many historic buildings in that neighborhood. Commissioner Moore said that she approves of Mr. Curtis’s hiring as general manager, though she is Facebook friends with Curtis, and they have differing views on many things.

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; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Caroline Hecker and Justin Williams, Rosenberg Martin Greenberg LLP
# 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
Applicant Bhaveshkumar Patel
Business Name Mesva, Inc.
Trading As New Food Way
Address 1501 Broening Highway
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Mr. Frank Shaulis represented the applicant at the hearing. Shaulis submitted a letter from a nearby community association, which he believed to be a letter of support. He proffered, for his client, that the applicant has completed the alcohol awareness course, as required by law and has read the Rules and Regulations of the Liquor Board. There are over twenty parking places in the lot on the property.

Commissioner Moore noted that she can’t read the names of the people who signed the character witness section of the application. Shaulis responded that the first signature is his, and he named the second two. Shaulis had to provide a replacement character witness, because one of the three on the original application was not actually registered to vote.

Zoning B-3-1
Neighborhood Broening Manor
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 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 None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicants Christopher Petrie, Patrick McCarthy & William McCarthy
Business Name CRP Restaurant Investments, Inc.
Trading As Lighthouse Tavern
Address 1224‐26 S. Clinton Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request to add outdoor table service
Hearing notes

Former Liquor Board Chairman Stephan Fogleman represented the three applicants, two of whom were present at the hearing. Fogleman proffered that there was support from the community for the request to add outdoor table service and that the BMZA had already given permission for the outdoor tables on February 10, 2015. There is no written decision from the BMZA because the agency is going through staff transition. There will be restrictions on the outdoor tables, including a prohibition on an outdoor bar or outdoor music. All patrons should be seated for dining and served by waitstaff. Fogleman submitted a letter of support signed by Mr. Dan Tracy of the Canton Community Association.

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 Crofton, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Stephan Fogleman
# 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
Applicants Jose Hernandez & Maria Veliz
Business Name None provided in docket
Trading As Los Catrachos Restaurant
Address 5101 Eastern Avenue
Type of License Class “D” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership and location of a Class “D”BWL license presently located at 40 N. Streeper Street to 5101 Eastern Avenue
Hearing notes The hearing was not called; the applicant is still working on an agreement with the community and the hearing will be rescheduled for a later date.
Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Greektown
Area demographics 52% White, 12% Black, 3% Asian; 30% Hispanic ethnicity; 30% households have children under age 18; median household income: $38,987.50.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? No corporate entity provided in docket
Location of entity’s principal office No corporate entity provided in docket
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 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
Applicants Brian Beers, Frank Costello & Corey Farley
Business Name Smashburger Acquisition‐Maryland, LLC
Trading As Smashburger #1437
Address 616 S. Broadway
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application for a new Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor restaurant license under the provisions of Article 2B Section 6‐201(d)(vii) $500,000 in capital investment in restaurant fixtures and facilities and seating capacity for a minimum of 75 people
Hearing notes

Ms. Leanne Schrecengost represented the three applicants, one of whom (Frank Costello) was present for the hearing. The restaurant will have seating for 78 people, with no bar. It will be open from 10am to 10pm daily. They’ve budgeted that the project will cost $634,000, and they’ve already spent $216,000. The applicants project that only 2-3% of their sales will come from alcohol. The applicants had not yet met with the Fells Point Residents Association (FPRA) or the Fells Point Community Organization (FPCO), but both organizations were aware of the transfer hearing and were taking no position (neither in favor nor opposed) on the transfer.

Commissioner Moore asked for a description of the restaurant. Schrecengost replied that the restaurant is “fast casual,” which means ordering from a paper menu at a cashier, then taking a seat and having food brought out to customers. Moore said that she was asking because, in Baltimore City, fast food restaurants are not eligible to hold liquor licenses. Costello elaborated that the only similarity between fast food and fast casual is ordering at a cashier. The food is provided on plates with stainless steel cutlery and trays. The food is cooked to order, and employees check in on tables. There is no drive-through, but they do carryout.

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; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Dover, DE
Attorney for licensee Ms. Leanne Schrecengost
# 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 None
Applicants Uzo Nwosu & Michelle York
Business Name Uzo, LLC
Trading As Goodfellas Lounge
Address 4919 Belair Road
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes The case was not called.
Zoning B-3-1
Neighborhood Frankford
Area demographics 15% White, 79% Black, 2% Asian; 2% Hispanic ethnicity; 35% households have children under age 18; 15% households below poverty line; median household income: $39,144.11
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 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 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 If a case will not be heard, an announcement that it has been rescheduled or withdrawn from the docket would be helpful.

II. Hardship Extension Requests

Applicants Jason Sanchez, Nina Kasniunas & Antoine Gruver
Business Name Sanchez Gruver Restaurants, LLC
Trading As The Fork and Wrench
Address 2320‐22 Boston Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request for a hardship extension under the provisions of Article 2B Section 10‐504(d)
Hearing notes The case was not called.
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 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 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 If a case will not be heard, an announcement that it has been rescheduled or withdrawn from the docket would be helpful.
Applicant Robert Cockey
Business Name Omerta, LLC
Trading As Cockey’s Butchers Hill
Address 32 N. Chester Street
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 The case was not called.
Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Butcher’s Hill
Area demographics 70% White, 8% Black, 5% Asian; 15% Hispanic ethnicity; 11% households have children under age 18; median household income: $69,105; 11% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 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 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 If a case will not be heard, an announcement that it has been rescheduled or withdrawn from the docket would be helpful.

1:00 p.m. cases

III. Violations

Licensee Solomon Belay
Business Name Five Seasons, LLC
Trading As Five Seasons
Address 828‐30 Guilford Avenue
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 3.12: Public Welfare – February 24, 2015 – At approximately 12:02 am the Baltimore Police Department responded to the establishment known as “Five Seasons,” which is located at 828‐830 Guilford Avenue, for a report of an aggravated assault. When the officer arrived at the scene he found a victim lying by the bar that appeared bloodied and injured. The police officer was able to obtain the victim’s identification. The victim stated that he had gotten into a physical altercation with another patron at the bar and was stabbed during the altercation. When medical personnel arrived at the scene they removed the victim’s shirt and the officer observed two puncture wounds to the victim’s back and a laceration in the back of the victim’s head. Medical personnel transported the victim to Johns Hopkins Hospital where he was pronounced dead at approximately 1:17am.

Violation of Rule 4.18: Illegal Conduct – February 24, 2015 – At approximately 12:02 am the Baltimore Police Department responded to the establishment known as “Five Seasons,” which is located at 828‐830 Guilford Avenue, for a report of an aggravated assault. When the officer arrived at the scene he found a victim lying by the bar that appeared bloodied and injured. The police officer was able to obtain the victim’s identification. The victim stated that he had gotten into a physical altercation with another patron at the bar and was stabbed during the altercation. When medical personnel arrived at the scene they removed the victim’s shirt and the officer observed two puncture wounds to the victim’s back and a laceration in the back of the victim’s head. Medical personnel transported the victim to Johns Hopkins Hospital where he was pronounced dead at approximately 1:17am.

Violation of Rule 3.02: Cooperation ‐ February 24, 2015 – At approximately 12:02 am the Baltimore Police Department responded to the establishment known as “Five Seasons,” which is located at 828‐830 Guilford Avenue, for a report of an aggravated assault. When the officer arrived at the scene he found a victim lying by the bar that appeared bloodied and injured. After surveying the scene, the police officer determined this was a serious incident and that the District Detective Unit should be contacted to investigate this matter. As per protocol, the officer began to secure the scene so as to maintain evidence. At this time the licensee and the licensee’s son started cleaning the crime scene and tainting evidence. At this time the officer told the licensee and his son to cease and desist, but they continued. The officer had to tell the licensee and his son several times to stop cleaning the crime scene before they stopped.

Hearing notes

Mr. Thomas Akras told the Board that there was no proof of service in the file. Mr. Abraham Hurdle, standing in for the licensee at the Five Seasons, told the commissioners that the owner had told him that he had not received service of the hearing. Executive Secretary Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth said that the owner did receive notice of the hearing by certified mail.

The Board postponed the case.

Zoning B-5-1
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? No; no. The LLC listed in the docket is forfeited by the state of Maryland.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Abraham Hurdle
# in support 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
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

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