Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on December 17, 2015.

Written by Becky Witt

Note: The writer of this Booze News post was not present at the December 17, 2015 hearing for the Board of Liquor License Commissioners. This Booze News post was created by watching the video of the set of hearings which was posted to YouTube from CharmTV Citizens’ Hub.

I. Board Adoption – Rules and Regulations

1. Adoption of revised Rules and Regulation for Alcoholic Beverages

2. Adoption of revised Rules and Regulation for Adult Entertainment

Mr. Stanley Fine, Chair of the Rules and Regulations Committee, testified briefly about the Rules and Regulations Committee’s process. He began by thanking the members of the committee, community representatives, and BLLC staff for their hard work over the nine meetings. Mr. Neil interrupted Fine’s presentation to thank him for his service as the chairperson. Neil told Fine that he believes that Fine is one of the best trial attorneys in Baltimore City; Neil acknowledged that Fine’s job as Chair was difficult, “like herding cats.”

Executive Secretary mentioned a few places in which the Board had amended the rules and regulations since the previous set of hearings, in response to comments and suggestions received from the public.

The Board then voted to approve both sets of new rules and regulations: for alcoholic beverages and for adult entertainment.

II. Expedited Items (Transfers):

Applicants Sam Chang & Ashley Rodriquez
Business Name Sambar Baltimore, LLC
Trading As Trade name pending
Address 101 W. Fayette Street
Type of License Class “BHM” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership, request for outdoor table service
Hearing notes

Ms. Caroline Hecker, of Rosenberg Martin Greenberg LLP, represented the applicants for the hotel license, who appeared with their general manager, Mr. Webster. Chang recently acquired the former Baltimore Harbor Hotel, which consists of two hotel towers and is in current operation. The license covers both towers. Mr. Webster is the current hotel manager, who has an excellent relationship with the Downtown Partnership. Mr. Chang is a national hotel developer. Rodriguez is the qualifying Baltimore City licensee. She will not be involved in the operation of the hotel but does have experience in the alcoholic beverage industry.

Commissioner Hafey noted that the application states that Mr. Chang owns a 100% interest in the business, and Ms. Rodriguez does not have an ownership interest. Executive Secretary Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth told Ms. Hecker that the application will have to be amended and updated with Ms. Rodriguez’s financial interest in the business, since she is required to have one under state law.

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 Baltimore, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes.
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 0%
Attorney for licensee Ms. Caroline Hecker
# 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

Completeness: Article 2B section 10-202(a)(4)(iii), part of the 2014 legislative reform bill, requires that the Board or its designee examine each application to ensure that it is complete. Only after the application is complete may the agency schedule a public hearing. If the applicant wishes to amend his/her application, s/he may do so up to 15 days before the hearing. If the applicant amends the application after that point, the hearing must be pushed back to 15 days after the last amendment of the application.

Pecuniary Interest: Article 2B section 10-103 requires that the applicants certify on their application that they have a pecuniary interest in the business.

Applicants Peter Sullivan & Joshua Sullivan
Business Name Post Prohibition, LLC
Trading As Wet City
Address 223-25 W. Chase Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Mr. Frank Boozer represented the applicants, both present. Boozer explained that his clients will specialize in “fine crafted” drinks that were popular around the turn of the century or during Prohibition; they will not be serving “Bud Lights.” Some of his ingredients take months of preparation, said Boozer. The attorney went over Joshua’s experience in the alcoholic beverages industry. Peter, on the other hand, has little connection to the business. Boozer submitted some renderings of the proposed space. The brothers’ father is purchasing the building. The attorney proffered, after questioning from Commissioner Trotter, that the financing for the transfer of the license ($70,000) will be paid in cash from the brothers’ savings.

Commissioner Trotter requested a copy of the operating agreement for the LLC. Boozer responded that he would draw one up and submit it to the Board.

Commissioner Hafey asked whether there would a carryout area. Mr. Josh Sullivan answered that it would be a storage area for bottles and cans, not a package goods sale area.

Mr. Josh Sullivan also testified that there will be around 5 bartenders, but he will be there managing the business.

Executive Secretary Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth asked whether the applicants will provide a menu; the applicants replied that they would.

Zoning B-5-1
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; 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. Frank Boozer
# 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 James William DiPino, Jr
Business Name Pull the Trigger, Inc.
Trading As C & R Pub
Address 1117 S. Charles Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership and outdoor table service
Hearing notes

Mr. Peter Prevas represented the applicant, who was present. He began by thanking the commissioners for fitting in the hearing, because the sellers were putting pressure on his client, the buyer of the license, to complete the deal by the end of the year. Prevas explained that Mr. DiPino is the “licensee” (the applicant for the license) and Mr. Michael McDevitt, who was not a listed applicant, is the “sole owner” of the LLC and is personally providing the financing for the $900,000 purchase of the existing business. DiPino and McDevitt have also entered into a lease agreement for the use of the building. The applicants plan to leave the existing business name and business as-is for several months, but will eventually transition to a Southern menu and will rebrand the business. Since the existing owner did an expensive renovation of the kitchen, they intend to use it for off-site catering as well as on-site sales.

The commissioners pointed out that the applicant has to have a pecuniary interest in the business, which he does not have, according to the application and Mr. Prevas’s proffered information. Prevas replied that he would be happy to amend the application to reflect a small interest.

Prevas added that there was nothing to impede Mr. McDevitt from being a licensee on the license. McDevitt had thought that he was not allowed to be on the license, which is not the case, since he lives in Annapolis, not Baltimore City. Prevas implied that the amended application would then also add Mr. McDevitt as a licensee.

The applicant(s) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the South Baltimore Neighborhood Association, which was made part of the record and which the Board attached as conditions and restrictions on the license.

The Executive Secretary reiterated that the license is a restaurant license, and, as such, there is a 50% annual food sales requirement, which, in the past, former licensees have not met.

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.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes (though it is an LLC, not a corporation).
Location of entity’s principal office Washington, DC
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 0%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Peter Prevas
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved, subject to the applicant’s revision of the application
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 corporate entity in the docket was incorrect: the correct name of the organization is “Pull the Trigger, LLC,” not “Pull the Trigger, Inc.”

Completeness: Article 2B section 10-202(a)(4)(iii), part of the 2014 legislative reform bill, requires that the Board or its designee examine each application to ensure that it is complete. Only after the application is complete may the agency schedule a public hearing. If the applicant wishes to amend his/her application, s/he may do so up to 15 days before the hearing. If the applicant amends the application after that point, the hearing must be pushed back to 15 days after the last amendment of the application. In this case, the proposed amendment, adding a new applicant, is quite significant.

Pecuniary Interest: Article 2B section 10-103 requires that the applicants certify on their application that they have a pecuniary interest in the business.

Applicants Maria Alvarado & Aura Celina Sanchez
Business Name Los Amigos Bar & Restaurant, Inc.
Trading As Los Amigos
Address 5506 Harford Road
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Mr. Paul Schuman represented the two applicants for the license, both present. Ms. Alvarado will be the primary operator, with 99.5% ownership in the business, and Ms. Sanchez will be a 0.5% owner, as the Baltimore City resident. Alvarado, according to her attorney, is currently already operating under a management agreement with the current licensee. Schuman proffered that the business has been around for years as a staple of the community and that the applicants would like to become more involved in the community, perhaps by sponsoring a Little League team.

Commissioner Hafey did not see the zoning approval for live entertainment in the file; Executive Secretary Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth suggested that the Board approve the transfer, subject to the use and occupancy permit.

Mr. Mike Hilliard testified on behalf of HARBEL Community Association, an umbrella community organization representing neighborhoods along the Harford and Belair Road corridors, that the applicants have failed to contact the Hamilton Hills Neighborhood Association to present their business plan. Hilliard said that his organization and Hamilton Hills had requested a postponement to give the applicants time to meet with the community organizations. Hilliard explained that the current owners of the business transition their business from a Mexican restaurant with a bar by day to a nightclub attracting significant numbers of people at night, which concerns the neighbors. The neighbors would like to meet the prospective owners in order to see if they could reach a written agreement about possible restrictions on the license to address community concerns.

Mr. Schuman responded that he had come into the case late and was not aware that his clients had not yet met with the community.

Chairman Neil suggested that the hearing be postponed until after the applicants meet with the Hamilton Hills Neighborhood Association. After a brief meeting with his clients, off the record, Mr. Schuman agreed to the postponement request.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Hamilton Hills
Area demographics 37% White, 55% Black, 1% Asian; 2% Hispanic ethnicity; 33% households have children under age 18; 5% households below poverty line; median household income: $57,951.01
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 0.5%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Paul Schuman
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 1
# 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

Mr. Schuman stated that he was unaware that his clients had not met with the community. However, the publicly posted documents for this hearing contained a letter from HARBEL and a letter from Hamilton Hills, both raising the issue that the applicants had not responded to their attempts to contact them.

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