Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on April 23, 2015.

Written by Becky Witt

11:00 A.M. Docket

I. PROTESTS OF RENEWAL:

DISCLAIMER Community Law Center attorney and Booze News blogger Becky Lundberg Witt represented the community association(s) in this hearing.
Licensees Byoung Wook An & Patrick T. Min
Business Name ACA Liquors, Inc.
Trading As Eric 500
Address 500 E. North Avenue
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

Becky Witt, Community Law Center attorney, represented the Greater Greenmount Community Association and The New Greenmount West Community Association. The two community associations had entered into an agreement with the licensees prior to the hearing, so they withdrew their protest of the renewal of the license. Mr. Lowell Larsson, treasurer of Greater Greenmount Community Association, testified that he looks forward to the licensees reopening and working with them to improve the corner. Mr. Randy Jung testified, on behalf of his cousin, Mr. Byoung Wook An, that his cousin had made some mistakes in the past, but he will do a better job in the future.

Zoning B-2-3
Neighborhood East Baltimore Midway
Area demographics 1% White, 96% Black, 0% Asian; 1% Hispanic ethnicity; 38% households have children under age 18; median household income: $30,821.90.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 2
Attorney for community Becky Lundberg Witt
# 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 None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicant Elizer Neger
Business Name 4919 Belair, Inc.
Trading As Good Fellas Bar and Lounge
Address 4919 Belair Road
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Protest of renewal under the provisions of Article 2B Section 10-301(a)
Hearing notes

Executive Secretary Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth announced that this case and the one below it had been postponed to April 30, because the licensee, applicants, and community members are negotiating an agreement.

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 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. TRANSFERS:

Applicants Uzo Nwosu & Obiefule Uwadineke
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

Executive Secretary Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth announced that this case and the one above it had been postponed to April 30, because the licensee, applicants, and community members are negotiating an agreement.

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 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

1:00 PM Docket

III. PROTESTS OF RENEWAL:

Licensees

The protests of renewal for the business participants in the Irish Stroll were all heard together as a group. The participants were the following bars and restaurants:

DANA D. GALINUS and STEPHEN P. OSMOND, PUB DOG OF FEDERAL HILL, INC, Pub Dog Pizza & Draft House – 20 E. Cross Street – Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License.

WILLIAM A. MCFAUL and JENNIFER A. REDA, 26 E. CROSS, LLC, Stalking Horse at 26 E. Cross Street – Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License.

DOUGLAS ATWELL, CROSS STREET MANAGEMENT,LLC, Bookmakers at 31-33 E. Cross Street – Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License.

HOWARD BARTZ and JENNIFER MCCOMAS, CHARYBDIS, LLC, Ryleigh’s Oyster House at 32 E. Cross Street – Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License.

ERIC LEVITT and PATRICK MORROW, 38 CROSS, LLC, No Way Jose Café at 38 E. Cross Street – Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License – Protest of renewal under the provisions of Article 2B Section 10-301(a)

BRIAN E. ACQUAVELLA, SF LIFE, INC, Blue Agave Restaurant – 1032 Light Street Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License.

JOHN P. DAHLGREN, ROWHOUSE GRILLE, LLC, Rowhouse Bar & Grill – 1400 Light Street – Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License.

NICHOLAS MARSHALL, DANIEL F. PIROG, JR., and ERICKA L. WODKA, PIROG & MARSHALL, INC., Nobles Bar & Grill – 1024 S. Charles Street – Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License.

KENNETH L. HORSMAN, KENZO, LLC, Illusion Magic Bar & Lounge – 1025-27 S. Charles Street – Class “D” Beer, Wine & Liquor License.

LAWRENCE DAVIDOV, FAT LARRY’S, LLC, Fat Larry’s – 1026 S. Charles Street- Class “D” Beer, Wine & Liquor License.

PAUL DOLAWAY, MAGERK’S PUB, INC., MaGerk’s – 1061 S. Charles Street – Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License.

JOHN DURKIN, MICHAEL MASTELLONE, and THOMAS M. MINK, JR., MAD RIVER BALTIMORE, LLC, Mad River Bar & Grille – 1110 S. Charles Street – Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License.

ADAM RATHER and DAVID RATHER, MOTHER’S FEDERAL HILL GRILL, INC, Mother’s Federal Hill at 1113 S. Charles Street – Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License.

GUY T. NAYLOR, C AND R RESTAURANT GROUP, LLC, C & R Pub – 1117 S. Charles Street – Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License.

BRUCE RICHARDSON and MICHAEL WHITE, THE SOBO TACO SPOT, Banditos – 1118 S. Charles Street – Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License.

MARY E. EPISCOPO-MCFAUL, ROPEWALK, INC, Ropewalk – 1209 S. Charles Street – Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License.

HARRY R. MILLER, IV, ABBEY BISTRO, LLC., Abbey Burger Bistro – 1041-43 Marshall Street – Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License.

Business Name See above
Trading As See above
Address See above
Type of License See above
Reason for hearing Protest of renewal under the provisions of Article 2B Section 10-301(a)
Hearing notes

Ms. Betsy Homer told the Commissioners that the signatories to the protest of renewal petitions had withdrawn their petition. The Board voted to renew the license on that basis, but Chairman Ward then Ms. Homer the opportunity to discuss her concerns with respect to alcohol establishments in Federal Hill. Homer said that 6,000-8,000 tickets were sold for the Irish Stroll event, though the fire marshall’s capacity was 3,548 for the 17 participating bars. “That’s a lot of extra people, and I don’t know where they’re supposed to go,” she said. The community has been frustrated with this event and others like it for years. Homer pointed out that the Federal Hill Hospitality Association’s tax exempt status had been revoked by the IRS in late 2014, which may disqualify them from qualifying to host a one-day nonprofit event like the Irish Stroll. She testified that many of the other small businesses had to close early, because people were being rowdy.

Mr. Woolman, for several of the bar owners, objected to Ms. Homer’s statements, because there was no issue before the Board, since they had already agreed to renew the licenses for 2015. Chairman Ward said that he would listen to the issues that the community has. Ward said that bar crawls used to happen on buses and didn’t bother neighbors. He said that the purpose of these events is not to honor Irish culture but to make money.

Ms. Homer pointed out that the one-day event licenses do not have the opportunity for public involvement. Ward responded that the Liquor Board’s system, which used to work, may not work any more.

Zoning B-2-3
Neighborhood Federal Hill
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.
Attorney for licensee Mr. Joseph Woolman
# in support ~25
Attorney for community None
# of protestants
# of inspectors/police officers ~5
Result of hearing Licenses renewed
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 7-101 governs the one-day license application in all counties. Under section 7-101(d), in Baltimore City, a “club, society, or association” may apply for a special one-day license to serve beer, wine and liquor during a “bona fide entertainment.” The code contains almost no specifics on what these terms mean. The state law does not limit one-day licenses to 501(c)(3) charitable associations or to organizations that have valid tax exempt status from the IRS, so the hospitality association’s revoked IRS status would not necessarily have disqualified them from being able to apply. However, fraudulently misrepresenting their status may have been one possible ground of denying the application. Baltimore City’s one-day license application is not available online, but other counties require information like a current EIN, valid tax exempt status and even require the filing of the organization’s bylaws and meeting minutes with the agency. The BLLC for Baltimore City may need to update its forms and procedures to be more in line with the other counties that require more information for their one-day license process. There may also need to be a process by which communities can register a protest of the one-day license.

DISCLAIMER Community Law Center attorney and Booze News blogger Becky Lundberg Witt represented the community association(s) in this hearing.
Licensees Brian Grace & 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
Reason for hearing Protest of renewal under the provisions of Article 2B Section 10-301(a)
Hearing notes

To begin, Ms. Witt set out two arguments against the renewal of the liquor license at 2000 Eastern Avenue. First, she argued that Mr. Grace and Mr. Gunshol are not eligible to be Baltimore City liquor licensees under Article 2B; second, she argued that the licensees have forfeited their liquor license privilege by disturbing the community.

Under Article 2B section 9-101(b), if a liquor license application is made by a corporation, the license will be issued to three of the officers for their use on behalf of the corporation, at least one of whom must have been a registered voter and taxpayer of the county or city and must have resided there for two years. Evidence was submitted to show that Mr. Grace had not lived in Baltimore City for over a decade, and Mr. Gunshol had not lived in Baltimore City since August 2013. However, both licensees had submitted renewal applications to the Board stating that they did live in Baltimore City, though they were registered to vote and had submitted Homestead Applications in other counties.

Mr. Grace testified that he thought he was a Baltimore City resident, because he does rent an apartment in Canton where he stays occasionally. He also testified that he did not know that Mr. Gunshol had moved, and when he became aware of it, he submitted an amended application.

The community association then moved on to argue that the bar has disturbed the public health, safety, and welfare of the surrounding community. One community member testified that the music is loud and unpleasant, and she can hear it in her home. Another testified that he owns the building directly adjacent to the Big Easy, and his tenants often complain of loud music at night. Many letters of opposition to the bar were submitted from various community associations, institutions, and representatives. Mr. Grace testified that he is willing to work with the community and has tried to manage the noise issue. Finally, an affidavit from an agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was submitted regarding drug trafficking done by the former manager of the Big Easy, Richard Mariano, who was arrested while driving a car containing two softball sized packages of cocaine in November 2014. Mr. Grace told the Board that he did not know that Mr. Mariano had been arrested and said that he had fired Mr. Mariano in November.

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 Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Peter Prevas
# in support 1
Attorney for community Becky Witt (see disclaimer above)
# of protestants ~8
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing License renewal denied.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision Article 2B section 9-101(b)
Other reasons given for decision

Chairman Ward said that the renewal application was not sufficient under the law and adopted the community testimony as to the public health and safety of the area. Commissioner Jones agreed; he said that “every community deserves peace” and that the licensees had not done enough supervision. Commissioner Moore concurred; she said that the argument that the licensees did not legally qualify to hold their license was persuasive. She said that Mr. Grace had failed to do anything to vet the background of the manager.

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

Apparently, according to Mr. Prevas, the agency has been in the habit of allowing licensees to join or leave the licenses at renewal time, which is completely contrary to Article 2B section 10-503, which governs transfers of ownership. Allowing licensee ownership to change without a public hearing or even public notice is against the letter and spirit of Article 2B.

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