Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on July 30, 2015.

Written by Becky Witt

1:00pm docket

I. Expedited items

Applicant Soon Se Jhin & Son Hee Shin
Business Name H & S, Inc.
Trading As Pepper’s Liquors
Address 5440 Reisterstown Rd
Type of License Class BD-7 Beer, Wine & Liquor
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Attorney Hyunjae Shin represented the two applicants. Chairman Neil asked for more information about the licensee who will be present at the establishment during the hours of operation of the business. Mr. Shin replied that the applicant operated a restaurant in Prince George’s County, called Jimmy’s Crab House from 1996-2007. Shin noted that there should be a letter in the file in support of the transfer from the neighborhood association, which the commissioners said was there.

Zoning B-3-1
Neighborhood Woodmere
Area demographics 28% White, 63% Black, 1% Asian, 2% 2 or more races, 6% Hispanic ethnicity; 27% households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $37,372.32; 18% households live below poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? No.
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident/taxpayer 0%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Hyunjae Shin
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision Article 2B section 10-202(a)
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

Neither of the applicants lives in Baltimore City, though one owns property in the city. The applicant who owns property in the city has no pecuniary interest in the business, and will not be involved in the day to day operations.

A couple of the character witness signatures look very similar to each other.

On the application, Soon Se Jhin checked “yes” when asked whether he/she had been found guilty of alcoholic beverage laws violation and wrote in “see attached explanation for previous violation of alcoholic beverages laws,” but the set of documents that the agency provided did not include an attached explanation.

The last time this establishment was inspected was July 14, 2014, over a year before the hearing. Licensees are supposed to be inspected quarterly.

The cost of the business and liquor license was listed in the application as $2 million, not including the property or building. This seems unusually high, though it’s possible that the business has an unusually large inventory. The commissioners did not remark on it. For comparison purposes, the purchase prices for the other businesses on the docket for July 30 were: $25,000; $900,000 (this was for the Hooters in the Inner Harbor), $30,000, and $100,000.

The next three hearings on the docket were postponed and rescheduled for future hearings: Water for Chocolate at 1841 E. Lombard St, C&R Pub at 1117 S. Charles St, and Hooters at 301 Light St.

Applicant Jung Won Ji & Joseph Davis
Business Name Won Won J, Inc.
Trading As Bunny’s Liquors
Address 2217-19 N. Fulton Ave
Type of License Class A Beer, Wine & Liquor
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Mr. David Woo represented the two applicants. Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth told the commissioners that the application is complete, from her perspective. Woo explained that one of the applicants had previously operated a liquor store, from 2006-2013. He also submitted a letter of support from Annie Hall of the Penn North Community Association.

Zoning B-1-2
Neighborhood Penn North
Area demographics 90% Black, 6% White, 1% Hispanic, 0% Asian, 2% two or more races; 28% households have children under age 18; median household income: $28,502.54; 28% households live below the poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes.
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 0%
Attorney for licensee Mr. David Woo
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision Article 2B section 10-202(a)
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

The Baltimore City resident on the application has no pecuniary interest in the business.

Applicants Chuma Chiza & Krystal Peoples
Business Name Chiza’s & Co., Inc.
Trading As Curley’s Liquors
Address 5200 Reisterstown Rd
Type of License Class A Beer, Wine & Liquor
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Mr. David Woo represented the two applicants, who were present. Woo told the Board that the applicant who will be running the store does not have liquor-related experience, but he does have years of retail experience. Chairman Neil took a moment to talk to the applicant to tell him that he has to abide by the rules and to say that he hopes he never sees the applicant in for a violation hearing. The attorney said that there was a letter of support from the community, but it was unclear whether the letter was from a community member on his own behalf or from a group of community members.

Zoning B-3-2
Neighborhood Woodmere
Area demographics 28% White, 63% Black, 1% Asian, 2% 2 or more races, 6% Hispanic ethnicity; 27% households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $37,372.32; 18% households live below poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes.
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 100%
Attorney for licensee Mr. David Woo
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision Article 2B section 10-202(a)
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None

II. Regular Docket.

Applicant Bao Ying Lin
Business Name Yuan Zheng Company
Trading As Gilmor Tavern
Address 300 N. Gilmor St
Type of License Class A Beer, Wine & Liquor
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Mr. Jay Yoo was the attorney for the applicant and explained to the Board that there had been a letter of objection submitted by a community member to the Board. Yoo said that he had made a diligent attempt to contact the letter writer, Ms. Smith, but he had been unable to reach her. He left a voicemail message and contacted her via email as well as contacting the Franklin Square Community Association.

Chairman Neil and the commissioners read the letter from Ms. Smith, and Neil noted that her complaints have to do with the current licensee and the way he has been operating for ten years. He has not been involved with the community and lives in Howard County, not Baltimore City. Commissioner Trotter suggested that the applicant should make further efforts to meet with the community to try to reach an agreement. Commissioner Jones agreed. Chairman Neil told the applicant that, if he can work out an agreement with the community association, he’ll be placed on the consent/expedited docket.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Franklin Square
Area demographics 83% Black, 13% White; 31% households have children under age 18; median household income: $19,183; 38% households live below the poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes.
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 100%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Jay Yoo
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Postponed
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicants Marnell Cooper, Richard Gleave, & Robert Pottberg
Business Name Red Lion Hotels Management, Inc.
Trading As Hotel RL Baltimore Inner Harbor
Address 207 E. Redwood St
Type of License BHM Beer, Wine & Liquor
Reason for hearing Application for a new Class BHM Beer, Wine & Liquor License under Art. 2B section 6-201(d)(2)
Hearing notes

Ms. Leanne Schrecengost represented the applicants, who appeared along with their general manager. There will be 130 guest rooms and facilities to seat over 150 people. The owner has spent over $4.4 million on the project already, well exceeding the $500,000 minimum in the statute. Schrecengost submitted a letter of support from the Downtown Partnership. The hotel will open in August and will have 24-hour valet parking.

Zoning B-4-2
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 Spokane, WA
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes.
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident None of the three applicants has a pecuniary interest in the business.
Attorney for licensee Ms. Leanne Schrecengost
# 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 of the three applicants for the liquor license has a pecuniary interest in the business, which makes the application deficient under Article 2B section 10-103(b)(10).

Applicant Stewart Sachs, Secured Creditor
Business Name Worthington Alternative Capital
Trading As N/A
Address 1501 Covington St
Type of License Class BD-7 Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request for a hardship extension under the provisions of Article 2B section 10-504(d)
Hearing notes

Mr. Paul Cohen appeared, to represent the secured creditor, Mr. Sachs, who was not present. Cohen explained that he was requesting a hardship extension under section 10-504(d). The liquor license was sold to a third party on May 28, who will make an application to transfer within thirty days of the hearing.

Commissioner Trotter asked when the establishment closed their doors. Cohen replied that they closed in March, but the secured party did not find out that the business had closed until April. Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth stated that the Board had received a letter that the business was going into bankruptcy in February. Chairman Neil confirmed with Cohen that the purchaser of the license would apply for a transfer and appear before the Board at a future hearing.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Riverside
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? N/A
Location of entity’s principal office N/A
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? N/A
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident N/A
Attorney for applicant Mr. Paul Cohen
# 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

The commissioners did not inquire into the issue laid out under this section of Article 2B, which is: what is the “undue hardship” that caused the cessation of the business? The commissioners also did not require any evidence to show when the bar stopped operating, though, from its Facebook page, it does appear that the bar was open sometime in March 2015, so the application for the hardship extension was probably timely. The Board’s notes in the file say, “This is the 1st request for Hardship.” There is only one hardship extension allowed in the statute, so this statement is strange.

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