Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on June 30, 2016.

Written by Becky Witt

10:00 a.m.

I. Regular Items (Hardships, Transfers and Expansions):

Applicant Myoung Ouk Kim
Business Name Kim Sink Enterprises
Trading As Club Paradise
Address 1300 Laurens Street
Type of License Class “BD-7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request to add live entertainment with dancing.
Hearing notes

Ms. Kim represented herself before the board and was joined by her husband, Mr. Larry Sink. Kim told the commissioners that she has been to a lot of community meetings in the area and has tried to clean up her property. Community members told her the history of her establishment: famous musicians used to play there, and the community does not have any other location to hear live music. Kim said that the community members she talked to specifically asked her to apply for live entertainment permission. She has had the license for around a year and a half. She plans to have live entertainment once or twice a week and has hired an entertainment company to bring in and promote bands.

Commissioner Greenfield applauded the owners for working with the community and listening to them. He asked the licensee whether she will have a security plan to deal with any additional traffic on live entertainment nights. Ms. Kim said that she would be working with the police on those nights. She said that the block where her business is located is commercial-only, not residential. Any noise made inside the building doesn’t disturb anyone living nearby. Commissioners Moore and Greenfield found this answer unsatisfactory and pressed the applicant on creating a security plan. Mr. Sink explained that the live entertainment issue will be a learning experience and that he and his wife are sensitive to the security issue.

Commissioner Moore was concerned by the absence of any written letter of support from individuals or organizations. The applicant did submit a petition, but Moore noted that many of the signatures look very similar. She emphasized that the issue of security is the licensee’s responsibility, not the Baltimore City Police Department’s. After more questioning from the commissioners, Kim and Sink explained that the entertainment company they had hired had promised to provide security.

Zoning B-3-2
Neighborhood Sandtown-Winchester
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? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Clinton, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 50%
Attorney for licensee None
# 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

Commissioner Greenfield voted in favor of the application, citing its community support and interest. He cautioned the applicants to make sure to address issues of traffic, sanitation, and safety. He pointed out that the licensees have no violations on their record in the 18 months they’ve owned the license.

Commissioner Moore was more ambivalent. She said that the licensee had met the minimum requirement for approval, but she does have concerns. She was surprised that there was no opposition present, and she was concerned about the execution of the licensee’s plans.

Chairman Matricciani also voted to approve the application, with the admonition that the licensee would have to monitor the situation closely to make sure they don’t end up back before the Board with violations.

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

Article 2B section 9-101(b) states that an application made for a corporation shall be applied for by and issued to three officers of the corporation, except when there are fewer than three officers. In that case, the license shall be applied for by all officers or directors. According to the application, Ms. Kim and Mr. Sink are co-owners at 50% each, and both are officers of the corporation, but only one of the two applied for the live entertainment. Also, Mr. Sink is a character witness signatory for Ms. Kim, though he is her spouse and has a financial interest in the business, which seems to be a conflict.

Applicant Trupti Patel
Business Name Yashaskaram Limited Liability Company
Trading As Trade name pending
Address 4420 Pennington Avenue
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership.
Hearing notes

Mr. Abraham Hurdle represented the applicant. Ms. Patel is the daughter of the current owner and operator of the business, and the current owner will be retaining a significant interest in the entity. Hurdle pointed out that there were some issues with the application document: for example, one of the character witnesses said that they had known Ms. Patel for 68 years, but she is not 68 years old. The correct amount of time is 17 years, not 68.

The business will not change with the change in ownership, said Hurdle. Ms. Patel is the current owner’s daughter, and the current owner will be retaining an interest in the entity. Hurdle explained that it was a mistake and that the character witness has known Ms. Patel since 1999. The license contains a pre-existing restriction, which forbids the establishment from selling fortified wines or singles. Hurdle argued that this restriction, which some previous licensee presumably agreed to, would put the business at a disadvantage. Mr. Douglas Paige noted that the application does not request the removal of the restriction, so the licensee would have to apply for that in the future; it cannot be removed at this hearing, since no notice was given to the community.

Ms. Patel testified that she works at the business currently, with her brother, Monday through Friday, 6am to 9am. She currently has another job, but she will switch to running the store full time when it is transferred.

Commissioner Moore asked whether the store sells other goods, including food, besides alcohol. Ms. Patel replied that it does. Moore asked whether minors are allowed to go into the area in which alcohol is sold. The applicant replied that they would have to come with their parents. Moore responded that there might be an issue with having minors in the store at all.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Curtis Bay
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? 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 33%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Abraham Hurdle
# 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 None
Applicant Wilhelmina Watnoski
Business Name WJT, Inc.
Trading As Walt’s Inn
Address 3201 O’Donnell Street
Type of License Class “BD-7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request to add live entertainment.
Hearing notes

Former Liquor Board Chairman Stephan Fogleman represented the applicant in her request to add live entertainment permission to her license. Her bar has hosted karaoke for years without live entertainment permission, and a Liquor Board inspector cited the establishment for providing live entertainment without permission. The licensee testified that people love doing it, and she has won awards for “best karoke.” The licensee has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Canton Community Association, and she submitted a petition with 554 signatures in favor of the application.

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? 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 Former Liquor Board Chairman Stephan Fogleman
# 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

The sole licensee at this establishment is not a Baltimore City resident, as required by Article 2B section 9-101(b); she states on her application that she lives in Dundalk.

The 2013 and 2016 Legislative Audits of the Baltimore City Liquor Board both found significant deficiencies in the inspection process. The Board did not, in either audit, have comprehensive written policies and procedures to guide inspections, which led to inadequate and uneven enforcement. This can help explain why inspectors probably noticed that there was live entertainment at this establishment for years, without permission, and did not write any citations. Uneven and inadequate expectations harm community members and licensees.

Applicants Tina Brady, David Cangialosi & Kathy Ann Brady
Business Name David and Dad’s, Inc.
Trading As David and Dad’s
Address 115 N. Charles 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 Article 2B Section 9-204.1(f)(ii) $700,000 in capital investment in restaurant fixtures and facilities and seating capacity that exceeds 75 people, average daily receipts from the sale of food that are at least 65% of total daily receipts; requests for off premise catering and delivery of alcoholic beverages.

Hearing notes

Ms. Caroline Hecker and Mr. Justin Williams, of Rosenberg Martin Greenberg, represented the applicants. Hecker explained that the property at 115 N. Charles Street is a historic building which escaped the Fire of 1904. The currently existing business, begun 22 years ago, is relocating from 334 N. Charles to 115. David Cangialosi is the primary operator; Tina Brady is the required Baltimore City resident. The new building provides 4,500 square feet of seating area, with more than 100 seats, and they will be investing over one million dollars into the project. Hecker submitted a letter of support from 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.
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 0%
Attorney for licensee Ms. Caroline Hecker, Mr. Justin Williams, Rosenberg Martin Greenberg
# 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

The Baltimore City resident applicant for this license does not have any pecuniary interest in the business. The Board’s most recent policy has been to require all applicants to have some non-zero pecuniary interest in the establishment, but that does not seem to have been followed here.

Applicant Lindsay Stander
Business Name 930 Charles Associates
Trading As Trade name pending
Address 930 N. Charles Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership, requests for off­premise catering, and delivery of alcoholic beverages.
Hearing notes

Mr. Abraham Hurdle, for his client, the applicant, testified that this transfer application relates to an unusual situation. The business is currently the Red Maple, which recently closed. This transfer before the board, however, is not for an applicant who plans to operate a liquor licensed business. Rather, the applicant is planning to hold the license briefly and then transfer it to another business, which will be opening in the fall. The Mount Vernon Belvedere Association (MVBA) is negotiating an MOU with that second applicant, operating as Sangria. Eric Evans, from MVBA, testified briefly that the community’s main concerns relate to how the location will handle live entertainment.

Commissioner Moore said that she was “utterly confused” about why the applicant was before the Board, since they don’t plan to operate the business but rather just hold onto the license for another business. Hurdle explained that the current licensee at the Red Maple, Mr. Leonard Clark, has to transfer the license out of his name, because he has an application in for another license at Belvedere Square. Hurdle explained that the applicant, Ms. Stander, will just babysit the license for a few months and then transfer it to Sangria.

Commissioner Moore then asked the applicant to tell the Board about herself. She testified that she is 31, has lived in Baltimore for over five years, and is a registered voter. She does not have alcohol management experience, but she will not be serving alcohol when the license is transferred to her. She works for the property management company that runs the building.

Commissioner Greenfield asked why Mr. Clark didn’t transfer his license straight to Sangria. Hurdle explained that the lease agreement with Sangria was only finalized very recently and this arrangement had to do with the deadlines in the sale of the business and license.

Zoning B-4-2
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 Pikesville, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes; yes.
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 100%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Abraham Hurdle
# in support 3
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally 2-1 (Moore dissenting)
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Commissioner Moore stated that she was not satisfied that the applicant had shown that she is qualified to be a licensee.

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

The legal situation surrounding this case is a bit strange, since the applicant testified that she never intends to operate the business and will merely transfer it to a new owner. However, the Board must evaluate the application as though it were a real application made by a real applicant who plans to operate a real business. There is no provision in the Alcoholic Beverages Article that would cover this situation, other than treating the applicant as a legitimate applicant.

Applicants Claudia Levitas & Barbara Barr
Business Name HOA Maryland Restaurant Holder, LLC
Trading As Hooters
Address 301 Light Street – Harborplace
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer location of a Class “B” BWL license presently located at 301 Light Street, 2nd Floor to 301 Light Street, 1st Floor, request for outdoor table service and live entertainment.
Hearing notes

The applicants were joined by their attorney, Ms. Leanne Schrecengost, who proffered that the business has been in operation since 1990, but they are moving into a smaller space in the same building. She withdrew the request for live entertainment, because they no longer use that part of their license.

Zoning B-5-1
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 Atlanta, GA
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes.
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 0%
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

The Baltimore City resident applicant for this license does not have any pecuniary interest in the business. The Board’s most recent policy has been to require all applicants to have some non-zero pecuniary interest in the establishment, but that does not seem to have been followed here.

1:00 p.m.

III. Violations:

Licensees Ronald Furman & William Hard
Business Name Betor Corporation
Trading As Max’s On Broadway
Address 731-37 S. Broadway
Type of License Class “BD-7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 3.08(a): Sanitation and Safety – January 17,2016 – At approximately 12:20 am, the Baltimore City Fire Department (BCFD) and BLLC conducted an investigation into the establishment. BCFD Inspector Hineline conducted a routine fire inspection of the premises. Inspector Hineline observed two (2) marked exit doors facing South Broadway Street that had been locked and blocked by stools and chairs. Inspector Hineline issued a citation to the establishment.

Hearing notes

Former Liquor Board Chairman Fogleman moved to dismiss the charges against his clients. He argued that charging licensees for violation other state or city law is a “radical policy departure from decades of agency policy.” When Mr. Fogleman was chair, the only time that these “piggybacking” charges would be brought is if a police officer conducted an inspection of an establishment and found a violation. He pointed out that the fire inspector had already issued a violation and a fine. He suggested that the Board was adopting this new policy in order to, perhaps unfairly or artificially, inflate their numbers of violations and fines. He noted that the policy was not technically double jeopardy under the Constitution, but “it sure feels like it.” He concluded by reiterating that the violation does reflect “a change of policy, and it may not be a welcome one.” Chairman Matricciani responded that the jurisdictions of the Liquor Board and the Fire Department are different. Deputy Executive Secretary Thomas Akras testified briefly that the Rules and Regulations update committee had wanted to ensure that licensees who broke other law that related to public health and safety could be brought in for a Liquor Board violation as well. Matricciani concluded that the fact that the licensees have already been fined by the Fire Department could be taken into account when determining their fine, if any, from the Liquor Board. He denied the motion.

At that point, the licensee admitted to the violation. Fogleman explained that the doors were locked in order to keep customers from getting into the bar without being carded. The Chairman noted that we’ve all heard of stories where patrons are trapped inside for lack of adequate emergency exits, so it is a very serious concern. The licensee testified that he has changed his policies and procedures and plans to replace the doors.

Mr. Fogleman then, in mitigation, submitted an article that he had written for the City Paper about Max’s about their rankings and awards for serving great beer. The licensees have not been before the Board for a violation before. The attorney also submitted a Baltimore Sun article from 2008 showing that Michael Phelps, Olympian swimmer and Baltimore-area native, was turned away from Max’s when he did not have ID.

Zoning B-3-2
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? N/A
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident N/A
Attorney for licensee Former Chairman Stephan Fogleman
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 1
Result of hearing Responsible for violation; no fine.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

The commissioners noted that the licensee had already paid a fine to the fire marshal and had not appeared before the Board for a violation before.

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

Rule 4.18 of the 1998 Rules and Regulations of the Baltimore City Liquor Board prohibited “any act which shall be contrary to any federal, state or local statute, law or ordinance or against the public peace, safety, health, welfare, quiet or morals.” Under this rule, many licensees who had broken other laws relating to public health and safety had been found responsible for also violating the Liquor Board’s rules.

For the former Chairman to raise “decades of agency policy” as a shield against his client’s responsibility for violating the law is quite striking, considering all of the negative consequences of the agency’s policies laid out in the 2013 and 2016 audits. If anything, if this practice is new, that should work in its favor, given the history of the board.

Applicants Tesfaye Birru & Fikremariam Worku
Business Name Jano Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge, LLC
Trading As Jano Ethiopia
Address 34 S. Eutaw Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.05(a): Prohibited Hours- Violation of Rule 4.05 (a) Prohibited Hours-January 30, 2016 – At approximately 1:25 am BLLC Inspector John Chrissomallis and Acting Assistant Chief Inspector Mark Fosler conducted an investigation into the establishment based on an anonymous complaint received about the establishment. Between approximately 1:25am and 2:10am, the BLLC representatives observed that the front entrance of the establishment had a lighted “open” sign and individuals entering and exiting the establishment. At approximately 2:10am, the BLLC representatives entered the establishment and observed that music was playing, 18 to 20 patrons were present, and at least 4 patrons were in possession of alcoholic beverages. At this time photographs were taken and BLLC staff notified the licensee, who was present, of the violation.

Violation of Rule 4.05(b): Prohibited Hours – January 30,2016 – At approximately 1:25 am BLLC Inspector John Chrissomallis and Acting Assistant Chief Inspector Mark Fosler conducted an investigation into the establishment based on an anonymous complaint received about the establishment. Between approximately 1:25am and 2:10am, the BLLC representatives observed that the front entrance of the establishment had a lighted “open” sign and individuals entering and exiting the establishment. At approximately 2:10am, the BLLC representatives entered the establishment and observed that music was playing, 18 to 20 patrons were present, and at least 4 patrons were in possession of alcoholic beverages. At this time photographs were taken and BLLC staff notified the licensee, who was present, of the violation.

Hearing notes

Chief Inspector Mark Fosler testified that the agency received an anonymous complaint on January 26 that the establishment stays open past 2am on weekends. He and Inspector Chrissomallis went to the location on January 30 and saw individuals entering and leaving the restaurant until 2:10am. The two inspectors entered around 2:10 and went to the second floor. Eighteen to twenty patrons were still there, and at least four still had alcohol in their hands. The licensee was upset but cooperative.

Mr. Harris, attorney for the licensee, pointed out that the inspectors did not testify about any incidents taking place on January 26. He also noted that the inspectors had not testified about any consumption of alcohol; rather, they had testified about the possession of alcohol. Harris pointed out that there was no “smell test” to determine the contents of the containers held by the patrons. He argued that it is not illegal to have an “open” sign or to play music or to have customers inside.

Deputy Executive Secretary Thomas Akras explained that he had noticed the error in the charging document and had re-served the licensee with the updated charges. The licensee testified that he was served twice, but he wasn’t specifically notified that there had been an error in the first notice.

Mr. Worku, the licensee, testified that the inspectors knew that he was closed, though the lights were on and he was behind the register. He said several times that he was closed, not open.

Chairman Matricciani denied the motion to dismiss, because he believed that the error in the charging document had been cured.

Commissioner Moore asked how many people were in the bar at the time of the incident. The licensee responded that there were about twenty in the bar at the time. Chairman Matricciani responded that this wasn’t the first time that the licensee had done this, since the anonymous complaint came in four days earlier. The licensee responded that he is running a new small business that is trying to bring diversity to the city. Most of his clients are African American, but he did not want to “play the race card.” The Chairman responded by saying that if the bar has to be closed by 2am, the licensee should start shutting things down a little earlier.

Commissioner Moore noted that sometimes there is a learning curve for new licensees and encouraged Mr. Worku to figure out when his business’s last call will be. Moore said that, if there are glasses on the bar in front of patrons, one can infer that people are drinking, and it doesn’t matter if there are four people drinking or forty: it’s a violation of the law. She noted that the licensee did cooperate with the inspectors, which she appreciated.

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; 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 Mr. Roland Harris
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 2
Result of hearing Responsible. $100 fine.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision First violation.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicant John Durkin, Derek Blazer & Michael Mastellone
Business Name Bond Street Baltimore, LLC
Trading As Bond Street Social
Address 901 S. Bond Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 3.08(a): Sanitation and Safety – January 16, 2016 – At approximately 11:30 pm BLLC Inspector John Chrissomallis and Fire Inspector Michael Hineline from the Baltimore City Fire Department conducted a joint investigation into the establishment to determine if violations of the fire code were present. Upon arriving at the establishment Inspector Hineline observed that the establishment was over capacity by approximately 90 people. The capacity of the establishment is 336 people. At the time Inspector Hineline made the bartender/manager aware of the violation, the bartender/manager admitted to the over capacity. A fire citation for the over capacity was issued to the establishment.

Hearing notes

Inspector John Chrissomallis testified, mostly reading from his written report, that he and a fire department inspector, who was not at the hearing, entered the bar and did an inspection. The fire inspector determined that the building was over its capacity of 336 people by about 90 people. The bar had a clicker to count individuals coming in and out, but the inspectors did not believe that the clicker showed an accurate number. The inspector estimated the number of people inside the bar by visually dividing the establishment into a grid. Chrissomallis stated that the staff of the bar did help clear out people who were lingering in order to get their number of patrons down under their capacity.

One of the staff members of the bar testified that the inspectors did come on a busy Saturday night, but the patrons were not disorderly. He said that the space is very large, but he believed that the door man had an accurate number on his clicker.

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? N/A
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident N/A
Attorney for licensee Mr. Peter Prevas
# in support 3
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 1
Result of hearing Not responsible for violation
Vote tally 2-1 (Moore dissenting)
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Chairman Matricciani noted that the fire inspector was not present for the hearing, so he could not answer questions about how he determined the number of people inside the bar. There was also conflicting testimony about whether the bar was over capacity or not. Matricciani and Commissioner Greenfield both did not believe there was sufficient evidence to find a violation, using the “preponderance of the evidence” standard. Commissioner Moore disagreed. She noted that the inspector was not present, but she said that she understands the grid estimation method, and she thought there was sufficient evidence presented to find a violation.

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Licensees Jaime Balvuena Bravo & Alejo Martinez
Business Name El Oasis Restaurant Y Discotec, Inc.
Trading As El Oasis Restaurant Y Discotec
Address 3919-21 Eastern Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 3.12: General Welfare – April 16, 2016 – At approximately 12:45 AM, the Baltimore City Police Department, by and through the Vice Unit, which included Sgt. Chris Leisher, Det. Abraham Gatto, Det. L.C. Greenhill, and the BLLC, which included Chief Mark Fosler and Inspector John Chrissomallis (“Officials”) responded to a 311 complaint for loud noise at the establishment. Upon arrival at the location, Officials observed the music emanating from the establishment to be so loud that it was vibrating the windows within the vehicle Officials used for transport to the establishment. Officials entered the establishment and instructed the bar manager, Ms. Quitero, to lower the music. Officials then requested that the D.J.Iower the volume of the music. Due to the fact that the music remained loud after Officials’ request, the establishment was violated.

Violation of Rule 3.12: General Welfare – April 17, 2016 – At approximately 1:00AM, BLLC Inspector John Chrissomallis responded to a 311 complaint for loud noise at the establishment. Upon arrival at the location,Chrissomallis instructed staff to lower the volume of the music as it was “excessively loud.” Inspector Chrissomallis even request a Spanish speaking officer on duty to respond to the establishment so to ensure his instructions were communicated to staff accurately in Spanish. As staff at the establishment failed to tum the music down, Chrissomallis informed staff that the establishment would be violated.

Hearing notes

The licensees failed to appear for this hearing, though they were notified of the date and time.

Chief Inspector Mark Fosler testified that he, with other inspectors and police, responded to a 311 complaint about loud noise at El Oasis. When they arrived, they parked across the street, and the music coming from the club was loud enough to vibrate the cars they were sitting in. They spoke to the manager and told her to turn down the music. The manager spoke to the DJ, telling him to turn down the music, but the volume did not go down. The inspectors spoke to staff again, after noticing that the volume was not decreasing, but still no one turned down the music. They then cited the establishment for the noise violation.

Inspector John Chrissomallis testified that, the following day, he received another 311 complaint for the same location. He instructed the bar staff to reduce the music’s volume again. They did not turn it down. He then requested a Spanish-speaking police officer from the Southeast District, who explained to the manager in Spanish that the music was too loud and must be turned down, but it remained at the same volume.

Chairman Matricciani noted, for the record, that the licensee has a history of violations, fines, and suspensions.

Zoning B-2-3
Neighborhood Brewers Hill
Area demographics 66% White, 9% Black, 3% Asian; 20% Hispanic ethnicity; 17% households have children under age 18; median household income: $60,484; 15% households live below the 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 None
# in support 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 2
Result of hearing Responsible for violations. $3,000 fine, 30 day suspension
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision Licensee’s history of violations, failure to cooperate with inspectors, and failure to appear
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

The 2013 and 2016 Audits both raised the issue of sound complaints and monitoring. In Finding 16 of the 2013 audit, the auditors pointed out that the inspectors did not use scientific equipment to investigate loud noise complaints. State and local regulations specify acceptable noise levels for various areas of the city (residential/commercial/industrial) in the city. Finding 11 of the 2016 Audit noted that the Liquor Board still chose not to use sound meters when investigating noise complaints. Noise complaints accounted for 44% of the 311 calls received during the 2014-2015 license year. The agency responded that the sound meters were too expensive to maintain and that their inspectors were trained to make observations about noise without the meters.

Licensee John Durkin, Michael Mastellone & Thomas Mink, Jr.
Business Name Mad River Baltimore, LLC
Trading As Mad River Bar & Grille
Address 1110-12 S. Charles Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.07(a): Open Containers and Illegal Possession and Consumption of Alcoholic Beverages – April 23, 2016 – At approximately 2:05AM, Det. Gatto, of the Baltimore City Police Department and BLLC Inspector John Chrissomallis were in the 1100 block of South Charles Street monitoring the closing of alcoholic beverage establishments in the area. While on detail, both Gatto and Chrissomallis observed an individual, Mr. Michael Perry, exit the establishment with an open bottle of Miller Lite beer. Mr. Perry admitted to leaving the establishment with the open container in his hand. Det. Gatto made Mr. Perry pour out the open container. At that time Inspector Chrissomallis entered the establishment and informed the night/bar manager, Mr. Ben Alexander, of the violation. Mr. Alexander stated that he would increase security at the front door during closing times to address any future issues concerning patrons attempting to leave with alcoholic beverages from the establishment.

Hearing notes

Baltimore Police Detective Abraham Gatto testified that he was in Federal Hill, watching the mass exodus of people from the various bars in the area at closing time, on April 23. As a group came out of Mad River, a man emerged, holding an open beer in his hand. When Gatto approached him, the man tried to hide the beer. He tried to play dumb at first, pretending not to remember which bar he had come from, but after some questioning, he admitted that he had come from Mad River. Gatto took a photo of him with the alcohol and told the manager of Mad River what had happened. Gatto and Inspector Chrissomallis did not have any problems with the management of the bar, when they went to speak with them. The young man did not receive a citation for the open container.

A security guard from Mad River testified about their bar’s policies and procedures for closing time. He said that, if someone tries to leave with an open container, the security will ask them to either finish it inside or throw it away. He was present on the night in question and did not see anyone leave with a beverage.

Mr. Prevas concluded that, because the bar’s management did not know that the man was leaving with a beer, they were not “permitting” him to break the law.

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.
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 Mr. Peter Prevas
# in support 3
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 2
Result of hearing Responsible for violation. $100 fine.
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

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