Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on October 15, 2015.

Written by Becky Witt

Chairman Neil, Commissioner Trotter and (Alternate) Commissioner Jones held hearings on October 15, 2015.

I. Expedited Items (Transfers):

Applicants Daniel Sang, Min Kim & Elizabeth Porter
Business Name CR Market, Inc.
Trading As CR Market
Address 712-14 W. Mosher Street
Type of License Class “A” Beer & Wine License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Mr. Frank Shaulis, on behalf of the applicants, proffered that the store in question was burned during the unrest in April and is now transferring ownership. One of the three applicants was present; Mr. Shaulis told the commisisoners that this person had worked in a liquor store for the past six years, since he got out of college. Chairman Neil asked when the business will reopen; Shaulis replied that it is currently open, though it was closed for some time for renovations. Commissioner Jones asked whether the applicants have contacted the community. Shaulis said that they did, and the groups that they contacted are not taking a position on the transfer.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Upton
Area demographics 92% Black, 4% White; 32% households have children under age 18; median household income: $13,835; 51% 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 0.001%
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

Lawyer as Witness: The attorney for the applicants, Frank Shaulis, signed as a character witness on their behalf. Though this is not a violation of state law or of Liquor Board regulations, to testify in favor of one’s client is a potential conflict of interest for the attorney.

Insufficient Application: According to the information provided in the application, Elizabeth Porter is not an officer of the corporation. This means that she is not eligible to be a licensee, under Article 2B section 9-101(b).

Applicant Jung Baik
Business Name Jen’s Place, Inc.
Trading As Jen’s Place
Address 1503-05 Light Street
Type of License Class “BD-7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer location of a Class “BD-7” BWL license presently located at 1501-05 Light Street to 1503-05 Light Street
Hearing notes

Mr. Jay Yoo represented the applicant for the transfer of ownership of a BD-7 license. The transferor is subdividing his business into a separate restaurant and a lounge. The businesses will be physically divided from each other. The restaurant will operate without a liquor license. Mr. Yoo was not sure whether his client’s alcohol awareness certification had lapsed or not. There is a signed MOU with a community association, whose terms Mr. Yoo proffered that his client accepted as restrictions on the license.

Commissioner Jones asked whether the two businesses will be in two separate buildings or whether there is a way to pass between them. Mr. Yoo replied that there is currently a doorway between, but that will be closed before the businesses separate. Jones reminded the applicant to get a permit to do his construction work.

Chairman Neil, reading the MOU, asked Mr. Yoo whether he drew up the document. Yoo replied that he did. Neil underlined something in the document, then passed it to Yoo and said, “see those things underlined? I want you to discuss it with your client.” Mr. Yoo looked at the document for a while and did not respond. Neil clarified that in one part of the document, a conflict between the signatories calls for a hearing, and in another part it calls for a conference. “It’s duplicitous [sic],” said Neil.

Zoning B-2-3
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? 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 0%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Jay Yoo
# 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

The applicant is not a Baltimore City resident, as required by Article 2B. She does own property in Baltimore City, but the law requires both Baltimore city residency and taxpayer status. Her residential address provided on her application is in Catonsville.

Applicant Georgios Aligeorgas
Business Name Harbor East Venture, LLC
Trading As trade name pending
Address 1010 Aliceanna Street
Type of License Class “BD-7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to change a Class “B” BWL to a Class “BD7”
Hearing notes

Executive Secretary Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth explained that the applicant had previously had a BD-7 tavern license but had downgraded it to a Class B tavern license. He now wants to change it back to a “BD-7.” The applicant was not present at the hearing, so the matter was set aside and presumably postponed.

Zoning B-2-4
Neighborhood Inner Harbor
Area demographics 80% White, 12% Black, 4% Asian. 3% Hispanic ethnicity. 11% households have children under age 18. Median household income: $78,578. 12% 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 50%
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 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

The applicant is requesting to change his Class B restaurant license into a Class BD-7 license. There does not seem to be any support for this change in Article 2B. Executive Secretary Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth told the commissioners that this licensee used to have a BD-7 license but had downgraded or changed it to a Class B. There is a moratorium on creating any new licenses in Baltimore City, with the exception of Class B restaurant licenses. So it is unclear how the licensee would be able to reclaim his former BD-7 license, which he voluntarily gave up.

II. Regular Docket (New applications and hardship extension):

Applicants Christopher Nwaeze & Musibau Shittu
Business Name C and G Group, LLC
Trading As Posh-Mix
Address 8-14 Park Avenue
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 Rule 2.08 requiring $200,000 in capital investment in restaurant fixtures and facilities and seating capacity for a minimum of 75 people
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski represented the two applicants, one of which was present for the hearing. Kodenski explained that there used to be an alcoholic beverages license for a Greek restaurant at this location for “years and years and years” but it had apparently lapsed at some point. The applicants want to open a restaurant with a mixture of West African, Caribbean and American food. Kodenski submitted a copy of the investment appraisal, a floor plan showing 142 seats, a security plan and a public safety plan. Kodenski said that the applicants have been in business for ten or eleven years. The wife of one of the applicants will be the chef for the restaurant. Kodenski said that the applicants would like to “provide the downtown with someplace to go.” They will have live entertainment, including DJs and so forth. The attorney closed by saying that, since the events in April, Baltimore needs something to keep people downtown, and the applicants want to provide that and redevelop a building that has been vacant for one and a half years.

Commissioner Hafey pointed out that the corporate entity is not in good standing. Kodenski replied that his clients had originally filed their application in November of 2014 and had since fallen out of good standing with the State Department of Assessments and Taxation. The attorney said that his clients plan to open in the next two months. There were no letters submitted from any community organization or the Downtown Partnership.

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; no.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes (?) The applicant gives an address that Google Maps does not recognize but may exist in the Brooklyn neighborhood.
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 0%
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

Previous violations: Mr. Shittu and Mr. Nwaeze own two other Class B restaurant licenses in Baltimore City. At each of them – Oxygen Lounge at 10 S. Calvert Street and Taste International at 4315 Curtis Avenue – the licensees have been found responsible for serious violations within the past two years. At Taste International, the licensees were found responsible for violations of Rules 3.12 and 4.18 and their license was suspended for three weeks. At Oxygen Lounge, the licensees were also found responsible for one charge each of Rule 4.18 (illegal conduct) and Rule 3.12 (public health and safety). The commissioners did not mention this. The application, signed and sworn under oath by the applicants, states that they have not been found responsible for violations of alcoholic beverages laws; this is clearly untrue.

Neither Mr. Shittu nor Mr. Nwaeze answered the question on the application form about whether they had been found guilty of gambling laws. Mr. Shittu, the Baltimore City resident, does not have any financial interest in the business.

Applicants Donald Kelly & Justin Dvorkin
Business Name 901 Hamden, LLC
Trading As Trade name pending
Address 901 W. 36th Street
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 Rule 2.08 requiring $200,000 in capital investment in restaurant fixtures and facilities and seating capacity for a minimum of 75 people, requests for live entertainment, outdoor table service and off-premise catering
Hearing notes

This case was postponed.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Hampden
Area demographics 77% White, 12% Black, 5% Asian; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 18% households have children under age 18; median household income: $54,278
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 30%
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 Maria Streb, Paull Daino & Sean Fitzpatrick
Business Name Niki, LLC
Trading As Handlebar Cafe
Address 511 S. Caroline St.
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine, and 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, request for outdoor table service,live entertainment & off-premises catering
Hearing notes

Mr. Joseph Woolman represented the applicants. He told the commissioners that his clients have withdrawn their request for live entertainment, in response to concerns from nearby community members. The applicants are requesting a new Class B restaurant license; Woolman submitted on their behalf a budget showing the proposed $500,000+ budget and an 88-page business plan for a restaurant and bicycle shop. The Handlebar Cafe would be the first bike shop with an alcoholic beverages license in Baltimore, though there are some similar establishments in other cities. The applicants have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Douglass Place Community Association and have worked with Councilman Kraft’s office to address issues.

The building has been rezoned to B-1, which permits restaurants but not taverns. The BMZA has given permission for the building to be conditionally used for a restaurant but restricted its food service hours to end at 10:00pm Monday-Thursday. Friday through Sunday, food service ends at 1:00am. Mr. Woolman explained that it was his interpretation that food service would end at 10:00pm on those days, but alcohol service would continue. Woolman said that there is significant competition for business in the Harbor East area, so his clients would go out of business if they had to completely close at 10:00pm. Young professionals live in that neighborhood, and they eat late.

Ms. Deborah Tempura testified, as an owner of properties in the area, that she understood the decision of the BMZA to be that everything shuts down at 10:00pm. She thought that the concept was wonderful as a cafe, but she is concerned about a “megabar” inside the building, which is large and a former warehouse. She believed that, for a restaurant, alcohol goes with food. The business is not supposed to be a bar, serving alcohol without food. She expressed concern that the emphasis on the bike shop element was decreasing. Her main problem, however, was the inconsistent description of the business over time.

Mr. Dalit Singh also expressed concern that the business had morphed from a bicycle cafe that also sold alcohol to a bar that has an adjunct bike cafe. He agreed with Tempura that alcohol sales should stop when food sales stop, in a real restaurant.

Three Douglass Place Neighborhood Association members testified in favor of the plan. Michael Wright, president of the group, testified that all of his members voted in favor of the proposal. Mr. Seth Barkman also testified in support of a new business in a vacant area. Mr. Jorge Maciel agreed, as a “fit health nut” that the bike cafe was a good idea.

Zoning B-1-2
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, however the corporate name is Niki, Inc., not Niki, LLC.
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. Joseph Woolman
# in support 7
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 2
# 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 Dhruba Onta & Daoud Faddoul
Business Name BDU Nepal, LLC
Trading As Bristol Liquors
Address 507 S. Broadway
Type of License Class “BD-7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer location of a Class “BD-7” BWL license presently located at 507 S. Broadway to 501 S. Broadway
Hearing notes

Mr. Abraham Hurdle represented the applicants, who had brought with them around 50 people in support of their request to transfer the location of their business. Hurdle submitted a drawing of the property, which show 15 bar stools at the new building. The current establishment has 5 bar stools. Hurdle proffered that his clients are qualified and reasonable operators. He submitted 331 signatures on a petition in support of the transfer. He stated that his clients had come to an agreement with several of the local community groups, including the Broadway Businessowners’ Association, the Fells Point West Neighborhood Alliance, and the Fells Point Community Organization. One person, whom Hurdle introduced as a Baltimore County politician, testified that he is an educator with Baltimore public schools and has known the licensee for fifteen years and that he is a wonderful business owner with integrity.

Mr. Hurdle noted that there is an error in the application, which was due to an oversight on Hurdle’s part, he said. The original application had stated that the applicants had no violations on their record, but Mr. Hurdle’s followup letter says that his clients were cited in 2014 for sales of alcohol to a minor and in 2008 “on two occasions” about which Hurdle did not provide any details.

Ms. Joanne Masopust, president of the Fells Point Community Organization, testified that her group had voted to support the transfer at their regular membership meeting on October 13, contingent upon the applicants’ signing an agreed-upon MOU. Masopust said that neither side was entirely happy with the agreement, but that’s how it goes sometimes. She noted that some of the signatures submitted by Mr. Hurdle in support of his clients were illegible, some had no address associated with them, and some were from outside of Baltimore city. Masopust noted that when she gathers signatures for petitions, she always makes sure that people print their names legibly, sign their names, and include an address within a certain radius of the proposed establishment. She opined that people who don’t live in the area really shouldn’t weigh in on the public health, safety and welfare of a community. Masopust stressed that the licensees have agreed to add the conditions of the MOU as conditions on their license and asked the Board to take note of it.

Chairman Neil asked whether there would be security cameras. Hurdle responded that there would be, both inside and outside, which would be stored for 30 days and be made available to the police department.

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
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 1%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Abraham Hurdle
# in support ~50
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.

III. Violations:

Licensees Mustafa Jackson & Brittnay Moore
Business Name Four One Four, LLC
Trading As Kings and Diamonds
Address 414-16 E. Baltimore Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor/Adult Entertainment
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.17(a): Sexual Practices and Obscenity -August 8, 2015- Starting at approximately 9:30 PM, members of the Baltimore City Police Department’s Vice Squad conducted an undercover investigation at the establishment. At approximately 11:30 PM, Det. Gatto, of the Vice Squad, made contact with an individual later identified as Ms.Shadyrra jacobs who was a dancer at the establishment Det. Gatto initiated a conversation with Ms. Jacobs who stated that she would have sexual intercourse with Det. Gatto for $600 outside of the establishment or for $300 if he preferred to have sexual intercourse inside of the establishment.

Violation of Adult Entertainment Rule 9: Codes Compliance -August 8, 2015- Starting at approximately 9:30 PM, members of the Baltimore City Police Department’s Vice Squad conducted an undercover investigation at the establishment At approximately 11:30 PM, Det. Gatto, of the Vice Squad, made contact with an individual later identified as Ms.Shadyrra Jacobs who was a dancer at the establishment. Det. Gatto initiated a conversation with Ms.Jacobs who stated that she would have sexual intercourse with Det. Gatto for $600 outside of the establishment or for $300 if he preferred to have sexual intercourse inside of the establishment.

Violation of Rule 4.17(a): Sexual Practices and Obscenity -August 8, 2015- Starting at approximately 9:30PM, members ofthe Baltimore City Police Department’s Vice Squad conducted an undercover investigation at the establishment. At approximately 11:30 PM, Det. Garrett, of the Vice Squad, entered the establishment and later made contact with an individual later identified as Ms. Cabrina Robinson who was a dancer at the establishment Det. Garrett initiated a conversation with Ms.Jacobs who stated that she would have sexual intercourse with Det. Garrett in the stage area for $200.

Violation of Adult Entertainment: Rule 9 Codes Compliance – August 8, 2015- Starting at approximately 9:30 PM, members of the Baltimore City Police Department’s Vice Squad conducted an undercover investigation at the establishment. At approximately 11:30 PM, Det. Garrett, of the Vice Squad, entered the establishment and later made contact with an individual later identified as Ms. Cabrina Robinson who was a dancer at the establishment Det. Garrett initiated a conversation with Ms. Jacobs who stated that she would have sexual intercourse with Det. Garrett in the stage area for $200.

Hearing notes

These violations were not called or heard.

Zoning B-5-2
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; no.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? N/A
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident N/A
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 (?) The case was not called, and there was no explanation given.
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

There was no explanation given for the failure to call the case.

Licensee Lois Finifter
Business Name M.M. & T., Inc.
Trading As Joe’s Place
Address 6200 Reisterstown Road
Type of License Class “BD-7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.15: Gambling -September 2, 2015/August 15, 2015/July 28, 2015- At approximately 9:00 PM, members of the Baltimore City Police Department’s Vice Squad executed a search and seizure warrant in reference to an undercover illegal gambling investigation where Det. Akinwande and Det. Garrett had previously observed multiple pay outs on video slot gaming machines in the establishment on July 28, 2015 and August 15, 2015. Upon execution of the search and seizure warrant, Baltimore Police recovered: (1) 3 poker machine switches; (2) 3 power packs; (3) Poker machine mother boards; (4) Payout Slips; and (5) U.S. Currency Dollar amount: $3,931.00.

Hearing notes

These violations were not called or heard.

Zoning B-3-1
Neighborhood Reisterstown Station
Area demographics 28% White, 63% Black, 1% Asian; 5% Hispanic ethnicity; 27% households have children under age 18; median household income: $37,372.32; 18% of households living 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? N/A
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident N/A
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

There was no explanation given for the failure to call the case.

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