Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on April 9, 2015.

Written by Becky Witt

11:00 a.m. cases

I. New Applications, Transfers and amendments:

Applicant Jose Ribadeneira
Business Name Latin Palace-Uno, Inc.
Trading As Latin Palace
Address 509-13 S Broadway
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request to remove restrictions-“No live entertainment in restaurant café theater area except live theatrical performance after 7 pm, no adult entertainment allowed, no form of live entertainment/dancing to general public on premise, non-club member not allowed on premises unless accompanied by a club member, food percentage must be 40%”
Hearing notes

Mr. Mondell Powell, a neighbor whose home abuts the Latin Palace, testified that, after the last hearing for this establishment, for a few months, he did not have any issues with loud noise and other nuisances. Mr. Ribadeneira asked if he could hold two special events: a wedding and a fundraiser. On March 12, they held the fundraiser, with live bands, and the speaker system was reconfigured to be as loud as it was before. Mr. Powell spoke with Ribadeneira and told him that there was an issue. The licensee told Mr. Powell that there were at least three live bands playing and that the speakers had been moved onto the stage. On at least two other Sundays, Mr. Powell and his partner have experienced the same issues with loud noise. Mr. Ribadeneira said that he could do another sound check, but they haven’t been able to find time to meet yet. Powell said that he doesn’t have any confidence that Mr. Ribadeneira will adhere to the agreement, since he has already broken it, and he would like to enjoy peace and quiet in his home.

Mr. John Pica, Ribadeneira’s attorney, asked Powell, “in what way do you believe this is a violation of the agreement?” Mr. Powell responded that Ribadeneira had told him specifically that he was using a promoter for his events, which is against the MOU, and he’s hosting live bands, also against the MOU.

Ribadeneira testified that he hasn’t ever used an outside promoter for his events; rather, the promoter, Mr. Herman Garcia, is an employee who also does plumbing and electrical work. He said that the speakers were moved on March 12 for 45 minutes, but the problem was corrected. The noise is a “minor thing” that can be resolved and is just a matter of putting things back. He guaranteed the commissioners that the speakers would be returned to the correct location and that his staff would be carefully instructed not to move them. Commissioner Moore asked whether Mr. Garcia was on Mr. Ribadeneira’s payroll; the licensee responded that he was not. Moore expressed concern that the licensee had hired an independent promoter, which was expressly prohibited by the agreement. She was also concerned about the movement of speakers and excessive noise. Under questioning from Mr. Pica, Mr. Ribadeneira explained that he will solve the noise issues and follow the agreement.

Commissioner Jones asked what Mr. Ribadeneira would do if there was a community complaint: to whom would they complain, how, and what would be the timeframe to address the complaint? Mr. Ribadeneira could not answer the question.

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 Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. John Pica
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 2
# of inspectors/police officers 1
Result of hearing Denied.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Chairman Ward told the licensee that he was making a joke of the Liquor Board by coming back over and over with the same complaints. Ward was dissatisfied with Ribadeneira’s explanations and guarantees. Commissioner Jones agreed but said that the licensee can reapply to have the restriction removed in the future. Commissioner Moore also agreed; she said that the licensee was given the opportunity to operate within the restrictions of the MOU agreement, but he didn’t comply, because it was inconvenient for him. She noted that it must be difficult for him, but what else is the Board supposed to do when every opportunity is given, and with every opportunity given, the licensee is in breach?

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicants Ben Zabkowski & Michael Joseph
Business Name 3529 S. Hanover, LLC
Trading As Southside
Address 3525-27 S. Hanover Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership of a Class “BD7” BWL license presently located at 5-7 W. Patapsco Avenue to 3525-27 S. Hanover Street
Hearing notes

Mr. Melvin Kodenski represented the applicants, who were present but did not testify. Kodenski told the Board that the applicants had met with the community and everyone’s in favor of the transfer. He couldn’t remember the name of the community or community association, but he remembered that Pat Wills was the head of the group, and they had met with her. Mr. Zabkowski is a former licensee at this establishment, he’s been off the license for three or four years, but was previously a licensee at this location for ten years. They are transferring the location about a half block from its current location.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Brooklyn
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? No; no. The corporation is forfeited, according to SDAT.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 3
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 10-202(a)(4)(iv) states that an application must be complete before a hearing is scheduled; this transfer application could not have been complete, because the corporate entity was forfeited, and a certificate of good standing is required as an attached document to the application.
Applicants Pensiri Rungrujiphaisal & David Cahill
Business Name P & T Company, LLC
Trading As Mayuree Thai Tavern
Address 2318 Fleet Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Mr. Melvin Kodenski represented the applicants, who were present. The transferor was also at the hearing, along with other supporters. Kodenski pointed out that the Canton Community Association had submitted a letter of support for the transfer. Ms. Pensiri Rungrujiphaisal will operate a Thai restaurant at the location with her family. Mr. Cahill is the “city resident” required by the application, who will assist the transferee.

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? No; no. SDAT does not show a corporation registered in Maryland called P & T Company, LLC
Location of entity’s principal office N/A
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 7
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

Rule 3.01 states that every licensee must be the actual owner and operator of the business conducted on the licensed premises. In this case, Mr. Cahill, who is the Baltimore City property owner, will have little to do with the business, since he lives in Virginia.

Applicant Justin Sharovy
Business Name Pie 360, LLC
Trading As Pie 360
Address 3731 Boston Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Mr. Melvin Kodenski represented the one applicant, with no community opposition. Kodenski explained to the Board that the transfer of ownership was for an existing license in the new Canton Crossing shopping center. The license was previously used by an Italian restaurant which went out of business, and, according to Kodenski, was higher-end than the area could support. The licensee met with the Canton Community Association, which submitted a letter of support for the file.

Commissioner Moore asked where the transferor was; Kodenski responded that he went out of business and was not present. Chairman Ward said that he was opposed to the transfer if the transferor was not present, following Administrative Decision #2. Kodenski pointed out that the Board had made an exception in the past for a transferor who had moved to Korea. Ward and Moore replied that, first, the attorney had received clearance from the Board ahead of time, and, second, Mr. Kodenski had not proven that the transferor was unavailable.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Canton Industrial Area
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 Sparks, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
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
Applicants Jones Montgomery & Sanamdeep Singh
Business Name Desi Aug, LLC
Trading As Corky’s Liquor
Address 5404-06 York Road
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Mr. Bruce Covahey represented the applicants in their transfer of ownership of a Class A package goods license. According to Covahey, his clients will make improvements to the buildng and have met with Councilman Bill Henry and the York Road Partnership and entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the community. Mr. Montgomery is a 1% owner of the business and a Baltimore City property owner, as required by law.

Commissioner Moore pointed out that, on one page of the application, Mr. Montgomery testified that he had not previously held a license, but, on another page, he testified that he had. Mr. Covahey apologized for the inconsistency and said that Mr. Montgomery had, in fact, owned an interest in the Corky’s license previously.

Councilman Henry then stated that the community and the licensee intended that five of the conditions in the MOU become conditions of the liquor license. He read those five conditions into the record, which state that (1) the business will not be open before 9am nor close later than midnight; (2) there will be a minimum of 3 employees present at all times that the business is open; (3) the business will not sell single-serve beers if other establishments have ended sale of those items; (4) 40s, shorties, and miniatures will cease to be sold by June 30, 2016 if other establishments have ended the sale of those items; and (5) the security vestibule will be phased out by June 2017.

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? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Parkville, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Bruce Covahey
# in support 3
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 Kyle Kessenich & Vanna Belton
Business Name Flavor, LLC
Trading As Mid Town BBQ & Brew
Address 15 E. Centre Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Transfer of ownership, request to add live entertainment & off-premises catering
Hearing notes

Mr. Melvin Kodenski represented the applicants. The applicants would like to host small functions, which would include DJs and dancing. Mr. Steve Johnson, of the Mount Vernon Belvedere Association (MVBA), testified that his community group had no objections to the transfer; neither did Tom Yeager of the Downtown Partnership, who had worked with the applicants in the past.

Zoning B-4-1
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? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Cockeysville, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# 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
Applicant George Vasiliades
Business Name Sip and Bite, Inc.
Trading As Trade name pending
Address 2200 Boston Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership.
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski represented the applicants in the transfer of ownership (not location); he told the commissioners that the license has been at the location “forever” – Mr. George Vasiliades used to be a licensee there, before it was transferred to his Anthony Vasiliades. Now the license is being transferred back to George.

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, but the corporate entity is Sip and Bite Restaurant, Inc.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# 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 Gurmit Singh & Gurdeep Singh
Business Name Son-Son, Inc.
Trading As Son Son Tavern & Liquor Store
Address 308 N. Eutaw Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership, request to remove restriction -“NO OFF PREMISES SALE OF MINIATURES, FORTIFIED WINES, OR SINGLE CONTAINERS OF BEER”
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski represented the applicants. The same corporation will run the business, but they are adding Mr. Gurdeep Singh as a half owner. The applicants have already withdrawn their request to remove the restriction on the license, which just leaves the transfer of ownership.

Zoning B-4-1
Neighborhood Downtown
Area demographics 39% White, 37% Black, 16% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 5% Hispanic ethnicity; 9% of households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $38,146; 18% households live below poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 3
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved (transfer of ownership only)
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 John Stein & Ronald Burr, Jr.
Business Name Stay Thirsty, LLC
Trading As World of Beer
Address 1724 Whetstone Way
Type of License Class “B” Beer & Wine License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership, request to add live entertainment and outdoor table service
Hearing notes

Mr. Justin Williams, of Rosenberg Martin Greenberg, represented the licensees in their transfer of ownership. The applicants were present but did not testify. Mr. Williams corrected the record: the licensees already have permission for live entertainment and outdoor tables, and the license is a Class D tavern license, not a Class B restaurant license. The principal owner of the location is planning to open a new restaurant in Towson, so he is divesting himself of his interest in this license and the LLC that is associated with the license.

Zoning B-2-2
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 poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Edgewater, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Justin Williams, Rosenberg Martin Greenberg
# in support ~4
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 00pm
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicant Nidia Sierra
Business Name Bernia, Inc.
Trading As Honey’s Lounge
Address 1722-24 Gough Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request to add interior wall to premises
Hearing notes

Executive Secretary Michelle Bailey Hedgepeth announced that the hearing would be postponed because the licensee needed additional time to meet with the community association.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Upper Fells Point
Area demographics 53% White, 32% Black, 8% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 6% households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $38,331; 5.5 % households live below poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 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 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. Review of a transfer/amendment pending for more than 180 days

Applicants 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 Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

This hearing was a continuation of the March 12, 2015 hearing. Mr. Kodenski appeared on behalf of the Parrishes, who were present with about eleven community members in support of the transfer. Mr. Kodenski had submitted a memorandum containing his argument regarding Article 2B section 10-503(d) to the Commissioners for their review.

Chairman Ward noted first that Mr. Kodenski had asked Commissioner Moore to recuse herself due to a conflict of interest. Kodenski explained that he normally doesn’t follow blogs, but someone sent him a link to Commissioner Moore’s recent comment on the Baltimore Brew, which he thought might disqualify her from participating in the decision on this case. He also pointed out that she had previously been the President of the Charles Village Civic Association, a group that was opposing the transfer.

Commissioner Moore replied that she did not discuss the Eagle case in the comments of the Brew at all; rather, she talked about the 200-foot rule, which was the first administrative order issued by Chairman Ward. She said that she didn’t get into any discussion of the Eagle or Charles Village or the Parrishes. Moore explained that she reads almost everything that anyone writes about the Liquor Board, in the City Paper, the Brew or anywhere else. She concluded by saying that she has no bias or preconceived notions about the case, and, after giving the matter a lot of thought, she decided not to recuse herself. The Board then voted on the issues, and all three commissioners voted that Commissioner Moore should not have to recuse herself.

To the substance of Article 2B section 10-503(d), Kodenski argued, from his memorandum, that it would not make sense to interpret the law so that transfers expire after 180 days. He pointed out that it may be difficult to get a use and occupancy permit within that time and to deny the completion of the transfer on that basis would be unfair.

Chairman Ward responded that when the legislature uses the word “shall” it is almost always mandatory. In the case that Kodenski cited in his brief, the issue was a 30-day rule regarding appeals that conflicted with another rule. When the statute has conflicting language, then it can be interpreted in a way that makes sense, but it doesn’t change the nature of the word “shall.” Ward admitted that the Board had been inconsistent in the past about applying the 180-day rule, but, since the Crossbar hearing, when Senator Della testified about legislative intent, the Board had consistently applied it. Kodenski then pointed out that there are two 180-day rules, one in section 10-504, regarding businesses that have been closed and one in section 10-503, regarding transfers. Senator Della was testifying about 10-504, while Kodenski was arguing about the rule in 10-503.

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 Glen Arm, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support ~12
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Transfer has expired
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision Article 2B section 10-503(d)
Other reasons given for decision

Chairman Ward agreed with Kodenski that there is “no question” that the 180-day transfer rule is unfair. The law was passed in 2001, in days when the government “acted more promptly.” However, the Board’s responsibility, according to Ward, is to enforce the law as written, not to change the code by dictum. Paying the annual renewal fee is not going to decide the issue of whether or not the licensee has complied with the law. Moore and Jones concurred.

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

Though the current set of commissioners did give multiple unlawful hardship extensions to various licensees and transferees early in their tenure, since former Senator George Della’s testimony explaining the rule during the Crossbar hearing, the Board has consistently applied both 180 day rules, in sections 10-503 and 10-504.

1:00pm cases

III. Protests of Renewal:

Licensee Alexander Wolde
Business Name A & D, LLC
Trading As Midtown Liquors
Address 17 W. Biddle Street
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Protest of renewal under the provisions of Article 2B Section 10-301(a)
Hearing notes

Mr. David Placher, a community member in the area of the bar, presented the case to the Board to protest the renewal of the license. Mr. Steve Johnson from the Mount Vernon Belvedere Association was also present but did not testify on behalf of the association. Mr. Placher asserted five reasons that he was protesting the renewal: (1) perjury, (2) failure to abate housing code violations, (3) failure to make other repairs, (4) failure to resolve issues in a timely manner, and (5) failure to meet community standards. Chairman Ward noted that his staff had taken updated photos the morning of the hearing, which show what the building looks like as of that date. Mr. Placher agreed that the photos were accurate and said that he had also taken photos that morning.

Regarding the perjury charge, Placher reminded the commissioners that the licensee had testified repeatedly in a previous hearing that he did not own the building, so he could not make necessary repairs. However, the licensee does own the building, albeit through an LLC that he owns. Placher said that the licensee’s renewal application shows that he uses the second floor to store alcohol, though he previously testified that he does not use the second floor for his licensed business. Third, the application states that the licensee is a Baltimore City resident, but Mr. Placher said that the licensee had told him directly that he lives in Baltimore County.

Placher testified that the windows of the building are frosted, without CHAP approval. There is also a broken window which has not been fixed. There are signs on the doors and windows that should not be there. Chairman Ward asked if there were any other issues from the earlier hearing which have not been corrected. Placher responded that there are also bricks missing from the front door area. There is also a broken neon light outside.

The community member then submitted photos of a similar store in the same CHAP district that does comply with regulations; he submitted the photos to show what Midtown Liquors should look like.

Commissioner Moore told Mr. Placher that she was struggling to understand how the commissioners could not renew a license because of housing code violations. She said that it was clear that there have been violations, but she didn’t understand how they could fail to renew a liquor license for CHAP violations. Mr. Placher replied that the licensee is in violation of Rule 4.18 which prohibits illegal conduct.

Mr. Bergunder responded that the licensee has hired an architect and has come up with plans to renovate the premises, which have been approved by MVBA. Bergunder explained that Mr. Wolde had become the owner of the LLC who owns the business after the previous owner disappeared and perhaps moved back to Africa. Over several years, Wolde came to an agreement to acquire the entity from the former owner’s wife, and he became the owner of the property during the summer of 2014. Commissioner Moore expressed irritation that Mr. Wolde had told the Board that he was not the owner of the property when he was before them for the prior hearing on January 29.

Bergunder argued, for his client, that Mr. Placher’s complaints did not relate to the operation of Wolde’s establishment, which is what the law requires for a protest of renewal. Rather, the code violations relate to the building. Chairman Ward disagreed and said that the CHAP violations were related to the operation of the business. The attorney then objected to the petition, stating that four of the signatories did not live in the immediate vicinity of the store; Ward dismissed that objection. The licensee’s counsel then submitted a petition on Mr. Wolde’s behalf in favor of the business, mostly signed by customers of the store.

One community member testified in favor of Mr. Wolde’s business. He testified that the store is an asset to the community; he knows what time it opens and closes every day, and the store employees treat customers well.

Zoning B-4-2
Neighborhood Mid-Town Belvedere
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 Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Herbert Bergunder
# in support ~6
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 1
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing License renewed
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Chairman Ward said there wasn’t enough evidence to deny Mr. Wolde his renewal. He thanked Mr. Placher for coming to the Board to express his concerns, but they were not sufficient to deny the renewal. He told the licensee that he will have to complete the work that he has promised to do. Commissioner Jones agreed; he is familiar with the permitting process, and it’s not always user-friendly. He agreed with Ward that Mr. Wolde will have to actually follow through on his plans. Commissioner Moore agreed with Jones and Ward that there was not enough evidence to deny the renewal. She pointed out that the licensee had lied in January when he said that he didn’t own the property, because the Board had used his testimony to make their decision.

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

Article 2B section 10-301 protest of renewal section of the Code does not give a great deal of guidance to the Board regarding whether to approve or deny the renewal of a license. In all other counties in Maryland, the Board may consider all of the factors that it considers in an original application: (1) the public need and desire for the license, (2) the number and location of existing licensees and the potential effect on existing licensees of the license applied for, (3) the potential commonality or uniqueness of the services and products to be offered by the applicant’s business, (4) and the impact on the general health, safety, and welfare of the community, including issues relating to crime, traffic conditions, parking, or convenience. However, in Baltimore City, the Board may only hear evidence regarding “specific complaint[s] as to the operation of the licensee’s establishments.”

DISCLAIMER Community Law Center attorney and Booze News writer Becky Witt represented the community in this case.
Licensees Jeffrey Evans & Jaime Schuster
Business Name Ben & Tim, Inc.
Trading As Favorites Pub
Address 5804 York Road
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Protest of renewal under the provisions of Article 2B Section 10-301(a)
Hearing notes

Mr. Melvin Kodenski, for his client, the licensee, made a number of preliminary objections, for the record. First, he objected to the petitions because he said they were not submitted by March 31, as required by the statute. All of the petitions were stamped in on or before March 31. He also said that the petitions were not specific enough and that they were undated. The community’s attorney proferred that the petition signatures were gathered in 2015 and that the allegations were specific enough under the law.

Ms. Witt [see disclaimer above] began by submitting a series of letters, petitions, and other documents, including a fire department report, a Loyola University incident report, and a map showing the signatories’ locations in relation to the bar to the commissioners for their review. Mr. Kodenski objected to many of the documents as hearsay, and the Chairman overruled his objections.

The community then testified regarding their experience with Favorites Pub. Councilman Bill Henry and President Chris Forrest of the York Road Partnership both testified that they had received many community complaints about Favorites patrons over the years and had met with the licensee to try to address those complaints; they both testified that Mr. Evans had been cordial but had not made any noticeable changes to his business model.

Community members then testified about the noise, public vomiting, urinating and intoxication, and property damage experienced by themselves and their neighbors as a result of Favorites patrons walking through in the middle of the night. The neighbors all testified that they had noticed a significant improvement after the bar’s license was suspended on January 22.

Baltimore Police Detective Abraham Gatto, of the Vice Unit, testified that he had monitored the York Road corridor after the January 22 suspension to see what other bar would pick up the underage drinker market, and none of the other bars have done so, to his knowledge. He told the Board that, in January, the Baltimore City Police Department, Loyola University, and the community had all come together to address a common problem, “and it got dealt with … and the cancer is gone.” He told the commissioners that, if they renew the license, it will only help the licensee, but it will hurt the community.

Robert Maglia, Investigator in the Loyola Police Department, testified that the number of alcohol-related incidents had gone down significantly since the October 25 raid at Favorites. He testified that the closure of Favorites has been a benefit to the health and safety of the Loyola community.

Turning to the licensee’s case, Mr. Evans, licensee at Favorites since 2000, testified that he hasn’t received many community complaints over the years, except for CraigsFest, which is a festival that his bar used to host twice a year. He testified that the students who walk through Homeland and cause problems may be from any of the other bars on York Road. He believed that he had a great relationship with the Baltimore City Police Department before the incidents in 2014. Evans said that he had proposed to shut down, renovate, rename and reopen the business, with an emphasis on serving food and with an aim to please the community. Evans testified that his employees do not over-serve customers and suggested that they may drink heavily before they arrive. He also said that his customers have really good fake IDs.

Mr. Steven Brennan, owner of the property and secured creditor on the license, then testified that he had never received any notice of community complaints about Favorites Pub. He said that he has experience in turning around restaurants and making them profitable assets to the community.

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; no.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 2
Attorney for community Ms. Becky Lundberg Witt, Community Law Center
# of protestants 35
# of inspectors/police officers 1
Result of hearing Renewal denied
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Chairman Ward used the record from the January 22 hearing as well as the community testimony and community association letters about issues at the bar as the basis for his decision not to renew the license. He specifically excluded any evidence from Twitter or from any anonymous sources. He believed that times have quieted since the bar was closed.

Commissioner Jones agreed. He said that Mr. Evans was giving more weight to his own income than to the health and safety of the community. Commissioner Moore agreed with her fellow commissioners; she found particularly compelling the testimony of one community member who trained herself to go to bed after 3am so that she would not be awakened.

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

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