Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on July 14, 2016.

Written by Becky Witt

10:00am

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

Applicant Dominic Lascola
Business Name O’Donnell/Curly, LLC
Trading As El Bufalo
Address 2921 O’Donnell Street
Type of License Class “BD-7” Beer, Wine & Liquor license
Reason for hearing Request to add live entertainment and off-premise catering.
Hearing notes

Ms. Kelley James, attorney for Dominic Lascola, clarified that her client already has permission for off-premises catering, so the application is only for live entertainment. Mr. Lascola has owned the bar since 2012, with no violations on his record. She proffered that the Canton Community Association is in support of the live entertainment request, under a Memorandum of Understanding. Some of the provisions include: a maximum of 2-3 acoustic performers during the week, DJs on the weekends. The Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals granted the conditional use for the live entertainment in March 2016. The O’Donnell Square Business Association is also in support of the application.

Mr. Hoffman, from the Canton Community Association, testified that previous owners at this location were problematic and did not work well with the community. In the four years that Mr. Lascola has owned his business, he has worked with his neighbors patiently and compassionately.

Mr. Lascola testified that he’s committed to working with the community and listening to their concerns. He said that all of the surrounding businesses do have live entertainment, except one.

One nearby neighbor, Ms. Berman, testified on behalf of herself and her neighbors with children. She said that other bars on the square nearby do have live entertainment but that this bar is attached to a smaller residential side street with lots of young families. She said that, while Mr. Lascola has worked well with the community association, he hasn’t always worked with the nearby neighbors. She and her neighbors are very concerned about noise, and they are concerned about compliance with the MOU, since the business has not always complied with a previously signed MOU. She also said that CCA has not always been responsive to her block’s noise concerns.

Mr. Hoffman, of CCA, testified again that CCA has met with Mr. Lascola and the neighbors around eight times about the live entertainment issue. He said that he has mostly received positive feedback from the neighbors on the nearby blocks. The neighbor disagreed with that statement and said that CCA has changed the terms of the MOU without talking with her or her neighbors. When the Chairman pointed out that the Board does not have jurisdiction over the relationship between the community association and individual neighbors or blocks, the neighbor responded that she understood that, but that she was just putting her concern on the record for the Board’s consideration.

Commissioner Greenfield asked Mr. Lascola to have someone on shift that the neighbors could contact immediately when they have concerns. Lascola replied that he always has and will continue to make himself and his manager available for complaints and concerns.

Zoning B-2-2
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 Lutherville, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 100%
Attorney for licensee Ms. Kelley James
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 1
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally 2-0 (Moore absent)
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Chairman Matricciani thanked Ms. Berman for her testimony but said that he believed that CCA and the applicant were doing what they could to control negative impacts on neighbors. Commissioner Greenfield concurred, under the factors in state law and under the safeguards and restrictions in the Memorandum of Understanding.

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

Excessive noise is the main source of 311 complaints in Baltimore City: according to the 2016 Audit, 44% of the 311 complaints in one license year were for excessive noise.

Applicants Steve Chait, Richard Frankton, Jr., & Ferruccio Locco
Business Name F & C, LLC
Trading As Poncabird Pub
Address 1725 Poncabird Pass
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. Kodenski appeared with his client, Steve Chait. Kodenski proffered that the last day that the business operated was December 2015. A new applicant has requested to transfer the ownership and location of the license, but the current licensees want to make sure that they have a full 360 days to sell the license if that first application does not go through.

Commissioner Moore asked the licensee, “in your own words, what is the hardship?” Mr. Chait replied that the hardship is that he’s trying to sell the liquor license, and they haven’t been able to do that. Mr. Douglas Paige, Acting Executive Secretary said that there is a transfer application in to transfer the license to 1801 E. Lombard Street. This application, which was filed in June 2016, has not been docketed, because the Board is waiting for approval from Zoning.

Zoning M-3
Neighborhood Canton Industrial Area
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 Annapolis, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? No info in docket
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident No info in docket
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# 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

Alcoholic Beverages Article section 12-2202(b)(2) states that “the Board may grant the extension if the Board finds after a hearing that existing hardship caused the closing or stopping of business operations.” The Board took no testimony about the reason for the closing of the business and none was offered by the licensee and his attorney. Therefore, the Board has not met its burden under the AB article.

Applicant David Morgan
Business Name 3626A Falls Road, Inc.
Trading As David’s Restaurant
Address 3626A Falls Road
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request for a hardship extension under the provisions of Article 2B Section 10-504(d).
Hearing notes

No one appeared for this hearing. Deputy Executive Secretary Thomas Akras noted that the agency had sent out three notification letters to the licensee in this matter. Two of the three were marked “return to sender.”

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; no.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? No info in docket
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident No info in docket
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# 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 None
Applicant Gerald Gutierrez
Business Name Taco Fiesta, LLC
Trading As Taco Fiesta
Address 1001 Fleet Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership, request for outdoor table service.
Hearing notes

Mr. Gutierrez represented himself in this matter. He testified that, as of January 1, 2016, the 100% ownership of the business was transferred into his name. He is also asking for a “continuation of outdoor seating.” The business is open and operating and has been since 2004. There have been no changes in the management or operations of the business. He says that he already has five tables with ten seats outside. He is in the process of obtaining permission to do some construction to the building to replace the tables with an eating shelf, looking into the restaurant. He says that this plan will allow the restaurant to have better control of those outdoor patrons, since they will be facing the inside of the building. No violations on the record. The licensee testified that there are no community associations in Harbor East, but he submitted a letter from Waterfront Partnership in support of the application.

Gutierrez told the commissioners that he has been in the restaurant business for over 35 years. He’s owned Taco Fiesta for about 26 years and was one of the early pioneers in Harbor East.

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 Catonsville, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes.
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 100%
Attorney for licensee None
# 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 Barbara Urbach
Business Name None provided in docket
Trading As Grundy’s
Address 718 Grundy Street
Type of License Class “BD-7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request for a hardship extension under the provisions of Article 28 Section 10- 504(d).
Hearing notes

Mr. Herbst proffered that Ms. Urbach is the surviving spouse of Robert Urbach, who passed away in February 2015. She continued to operate the bar after her husband’s death, but she decided in October 2015 to close the business. She is requesting a hardship extension for the liquor license. Mr. Herbst’s office is handling Mr. Urbach’s estate and has been in talks with several prospective buyers of the license and the business. Two prospective deals have fallen through, but they have a nonbinding letter of intent from a buyer, signed March 2016. Though the letter refers to a closing date in April, which did not take place, the parties are still interested in moving forward; however, the prospective purchaser has concerns that the license may be expired. Therefore, they’re waiting for the outcome of this hearing in order to move forward. Mr. Herbst said that the purchaser intends to move the license elsewhere and not operate it at Grundy Street.

Herbst told the commissioners that his reading of the statute is that the 180/360 days in the statute is tolled when the hardship extension request is submitted. The hardship extension request was filed on March 29. Commissioner Moore disagreed with Mr. Herbst’s suggestion that the Board could add on extra days beyond 360 days. Deputy Executive Secretary Thomas Akras agreed, saying that the extension could only go to October.

Zoning R-8
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? None provided in docket
Location of entity’s principal office None provided in docket
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? No info in docket
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident No info in docket
Attorney for licensee Mr. Jonathan Herbst
# 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

Alcoholic Beverages Article section 12-2202(b)(2) states that “the Board may grant the extension if the Board finds after a hearing that existing hardship caused the closing or stopping of business operations.” The Board took no testimony about the reason for the closing of the business and none was offered by the licensee and his attorney. Therefore, the Board has not met its burden under the AB article.

The Board did not state any factual or legal justification for their decision.

1:00 p.m.

II. Violations:

Licensee Kevin Young
Business Name Touch Down, LLC
Trading As Touch Down
Address 1171-73 W. Hamburg Street
Type of License Class “BD-7” Beer, Wine & Liquor license
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.08(a): Relations with Wholesalers – May 4, 2016 – At approximately 6:30PM, the Maryland State Comptroller’s office, through Agent Mike Calvert and Michael Cusimano, along with BLLC Chief Mark Fosler, Assistant Chief Tom Karanikolis, and Inspector Darryl Clark (“Officials”) conducted a joint investigation into the establishment. Upon conducting their investigation Officials identified fifty-nine (59) bottles of various types of liquor and beer that lacked proper distributor purchasing invoices. Officials asked the bar manager/owner, Mr. Andre Cotton, for the invoices for the 59 bottles of alcohol. Mr. Cotton informed the Officials that he did not have the invoices for the bottles. Officials informed Mr. Cotton of the violation and confiscated the 59 bottles of alcohol.

Violation of Art. 2B §13-101(e)(4)(ii): Failure to present Up-to-Date Valid Certificate ­ May 4, 2016 – At approximately 6:30PM, the Maryland State Comptroller’s office, through Agent Mike Calvert and Michael Cusimano, along with BLLC Chief Mark Fosler, Assistant Chief Tom Karanikolis, and Inspector Darryl Clark (“Officials”) conducted a joint investigation into the establishment. At this time Fosler requested Mr. Cotton to produce an up to date valid Alcohol Awareness Certification. Mr. Cotton was unable to provide a copy of an Alcohol Awareness Certification to Mr. Fosler.

Hearing notes

Mr. Melvin Kodenski, on behalf of his clients, that the licensees did purchase alcohol from a liquor store instead of from a wholesaler. The Comptroller’s agent testified that Inspector Mark Fosler had asked him to inspect the premises for alcohol purchased illegally based on community complaints. When the agent checked the invoices from wholesalers against the current stock, he found that approximately 75% of the alcohol in the bar was purchased from retail stores. The agent confiscated the alcohol. Inspector Mark Fosler testified briefly that he wrote a citation because the licensees did not have an alcohol awareness certification when they were inspected.

In mitigation, Mr. Kodenski said that his clients “had a case of the shorts” so they bought from liquor stores rather than wholesalers in order to stay open and serve their customers. Since the inspection, they have made all of their purchases from wholesalers; Mr. Kodenski submitted invoices in order to show this. The licensee has also gone through the alcohol management training since the inspection. The licensees were cooperative with the inspectors, and Kodenski told the commissioners that they won’t see these licensees again.

Commissioner Moore commented that the percentage of alcohol illegally purchased, 75%, was substantial. She pointed out that problems arise when licensees aren’t present at their establishments.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Washington Village/Pigtown
Area demographics BNIA demographics were not available for this neighborhood.
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. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 3
Result of hearing Responsible for both violations. $500 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

The Board did not state any factual or legal justification for their decision.

Licensees Alexandra Abreu & Maria Hernandez
Business Name El Estanko, LLC
Trading As El Estanko
Address 45 N. Kresson Street
Type of License Class “D” Beer Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.05(a) Prohibited Hours: April 16, 2016 – At approximately 1:15AM members of the Baltimore City Police Department, which included Sgt. Chris Leisher, Det. Abraham Gatto, Det. L.C. Greenhill, and BLLC, which included Chief Inspector Mark Fosler and John Chrissomallis (“officials”) conducted a special investigation concerning allegations that the establishment was operating afterhours. While located outside the establishment officials observed patrons enter the establishment at approximately 1:15AM. Officials then entered the establishment and counted approximately 27 patrons in the establishment – 23 of which were consuming alcoholic beverages. At this time, officials noticed patrons purchasing and being served alcoholic beverages by the staff of the establishment. Officials then located the bar manager/operator and informed him that the establishment has a Class D license and thus could only operate until 1:00 AM and that patrons were not allowed to be served or consume alcoholic beverages after said time. The bar manager/operator stated he did not know he had to close his location at 1:00 AM. At this time the bar was cleared of all patrons and the bar manager/operator was notified of the violation.

Hearing notes

As Chief Inspector Mark Fosler began to testify, the commissioners realized that the two men present at the hearing were not the licensees. Chairman Matricciani asked the men where Ms. Abreu and Ms. Hernandez were. Mr. German Dimas testified that he had purchased the license a year ago, but the license was still in the seller’s name.

The Board took a brief recess. When they returned, the Chairman noted that the licensees were not present, though they were properly served. Because they were not present, the hearing could not go forward, so it was postponed to a later date.

Zoning M-3
Neighborhood Kresson
Area demographics 52% White, 12% Black, 3% Asian, 2% 2 or more races, 30% Hispanic ethnicity, 30% households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $39,874.02; 18% 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 None
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 3
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 None
Licensee Frederick Allen
Business Name Park-Read, Inc.
Trading As Drinkery
Address 203-09 W. Read Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.07(e): Open Containers and Illegal Possession and Consumption of Alcoholic Beverages – April 30, 2016 – At approximately 1:40 AM, Det. Abraham Gatto of the Baltimore City Police Department and Inspector John Chrissomallis of the BLLC conducted an investigation into the establishment due to community complaints. While at the location, Gatto and Chrissomallis observed an individual, later identified as Mr. Dante Lee, exit the establishment consuming what appeared to be an alcoholic beverage in a plastic cup. Gatto approached Lee and asked him what kind of drink he was consuming. Lee informed Gatto, in the presence of Chrissomallis, that the beverage was a “rum and cranberry.” Gatto advised Lee to return to the establishment. Gatto and Chrissomallis then entered the establishment and identified themselves to the bar manager/operator and informed him of the violation.

Hearing notes

Baltimore City Police Detective Abraham Gatto testified that he and Inspector Chrissomallis were observing The Drinkery based on community complaints that patrons were coming in and out of the bar, standing on the sidewalk with alcoholic beverages in their hands. When Gatto arrived, there were approximately twelve patrons standing outside. A patron, Dante Lee, exited the bar with a drink in his hand. Gatto asked Mr. Lee for ID, which he gave to the officer. Gatto then directed Mr. Lee to take his rum and cranberry drink back inside the bar, which he did. The detective and the inspector then spoke with the manager on duty at the time and told him what had happened. There was no security at the time.

Mr. Kodenski, for the licensee, who was not present, moved to dismiss the violation, because the detective did not prove that the licensee had actually permitted the individual to go outside with a drink in his hand; there was no proof that the licensee knew anything about the incident. The motion was denied by the Chairman.

In mitigation, Mr. Kodenski said that the license will soon be transferred to the licensee’s granddaughter, that they have hired security five nights per week, and they have posted warning signs to their patrons. Kodenski said that his clients are on the right path.

Zoning B-5-1
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 Baltimore, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? N/A
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident N/A
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 2
Result of hearing Responsible for violation. $250 fine.
Vote tally Unanimous, though Greenfield voted for a higher fine.
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Commissioner Greenfield stated that the violation was unacceptable, and being “on the right path” is not good enough. He urged that the transfer to the licensee’s granddaughter take place as soon as possible. Greenfield said that he would support the maximum fine of $500.

Commissioner Moore agreed with Commissioner Greenfield’s sentiment. She told the individuals present that they are in complete control of what comes out of their bar. She agreed with the $250 fine suggested by the Chairman, because it was more in line with the Mad River case.

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Licensee Tania Ramos
Business Name La Rumba, LLC
Trading As La Rumba
Address 1650-54 E. Pratt Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 3.12: General Welfare – May 22, 2016 – Between approximately 6:25PM and 6:45 PM, Chief Inspector Mark Fosler of the BLLC responded to the establishment due to 311 complaints alleging loud music emanating from the establishment. Upon arrival Fosler observed the establishment for approximately 20 minutes. During this time period Fosler observed that the doors to the establishment were open and that excessively loud music could be heard. Fosler observed the music to be so loud it could be heard across East Pratt Street and into the median of South Broadway. After making these observations, Fosler entered the establishment and advised the bar manager/operator of the violation and instructed him to close the doors and reduce the music volume. The bar manager/operator complied and Fosler departed.

Hearing notes

Mr. Nicolas Ramos appeared, without an attorney. His wife, Tania Ramos, is the licensee.

Chief Inspector Mark Fosler testified that on May 22, the Liquor Board received three complaints for loud music. When Fosler arrived, both doors of the business were open, and loud music was coming from the building. Fosler asked to speak to the manager; he told him to close the doors and to turn the music volume down.

Mr. Ramos testified that his manager did close the doors and turn the music down.

Chairman Matricciani noted that this establishment has a significant history of violations, fines and suspensions. Mr. Ramos explained that there are people in the neighborhood who make a lot of complaints, but he does his best. He said that there are a lot of people with problems in the area, but he tries to keep them out. He pointed out that the loud music was playing at 6pm, not 1am.

Commissioner Moore noted that La Rumba’s license was suspended for 60 days, so this violation occurred within a couple weeks of his reopening. She suggested that the problems that are leading to violations are persisting, not going away. Mr. Ramos replied that the inspectors and police visited his bar every week for three weeks. Commissioner Moore responded that his bar could be visited every single day if there are complaints; she said that the problem is not the frequency of inspections but the frequency of the problems that people are complaining about. Commissioner Moore asked whether the bar is air-conditioned. Mr. Ramos replied that there was a problem with the air conditioning at the time, but he has since fixed it.

Commissioner Greenfield agreed with his fellow commissioners that the history of violations at this business is troubling. He asked whether Mr. Ramos has reached out to the community association. Mr. Ramos replied that he has worked with the Hispanic business association and the Broadway business association.

Commissioner Moore asked Inspector Chrissomallis to testify briefly about the history of the inspections at this establishment. Chrissomallis testified that he did inspect the bar several times in 2016 for different reasons: some times for specific 311 complaints, other times with the Task Force that includes police and other city inspectors.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Washington Hill
Area demographics From U.S. Census American Community Survey 2013 / Social Explorer: 74.5% Black, 19.5% White, 4.6% Other race, 1.4% Asian
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 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 2
Result of hearing Responsible. $500 fine, five day suspension
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Chairman Matricciani told Mr. Ramos that he doesn’t want to be punitive but noted that he had a very bad record of violations, including suspensions and fines, which did not cure the licensee’s behavior. He suggested a $500 fine and a ten day suspension. Commissioner Moore concurred with the punishment; she said that community mediation seemed to her to be the best solution so that Mr. Ramos can align his practices with the expectation of the community. It doesn’t make sense, she said, to keep coming back over and over again for the same violations. She strongly encouraged him to contact the neighborhood associations. Commissioner Greenfield agreed that Mr. Ramos needs to speak more with his neighbors; he said the situation was very serious, and he did not know what to do to change it.

After Mr. Ramos complained that business has been bad after the 2015 unrest, the commissioners agreed to lower the suspension to five days from ten.

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Licensees Sumrit Deddechanukul & Rajwant Kaur
Business Name 1269 Washington, Inc.
Trading As Chris Liquor & Grill
Address 1269 Washington Boulevard
Type of License Class “BD-7″ Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 3.12: General Welfare – May 22, 2016 – Between approximately 6:25PM and 6:45 PM, Chief Inspector Mark Fosler of the BLLC responded to the establishment due to 311 complaints alleging loud music emanating from the establishment. Upon arrival Fosler observed the establishment for approximately 20 minutes. During this time period Fosler observed that the doors to the establishment were open and that excessively loud music could be heard. Fosler observed the music to be so loud it could be heard across East Pratt Street and into the median of South Broadway. After making these observations, Fosler entered the establishment and advised the bar manager/operator of the violation and instructed him to close the doors and reduce the music volume. The bar manager/operator complied and Fosler departed.

Hearing notes

Chief Inspector Mark Fosler read from his report that the agency had received multiple 311 complaints for this location. Inspector Chrissomallis visited the block and described the 1200 block of Washington Boulevard as being “extremely dangerous,” so Fosler scheduled a special investigation of the establishment, with several members of the Baltimore Police Department’s Vice Unit. When they arrived, Fosler observed a patron drinking from an open can of Bud Ice outside of the bar.

Mr. Kodenski, for the licensees, argued that Mr. Fosler did not produce any evidence that the patron bought the beer inside the establishment or that they allowed him to drink it outside, though Fosler had testified that he saw the patron walk out of the door of the establishment with the open beer in his hand. Chairman Matricciani denied Kodenski’s motion to dismiss, because the Board could make a reasonable inference that the beer was purchased inside.

The licensee’s daughter testified that, from her review of the security camera footage, a woman entered the bar with a can of beer already in her hand and took it back out with her. Fosler reiterated that he had seen a male patron, not a female patron, with an open container.

Baltimore City Police Detective Abraham Gatto then testified that there was a woman who came out after the male patron that Inspector Fosler testified about. Gatto had remained outside of the bar while the other officers and inspectors went inside.

Kodenski argued that his clients are doing the best they can and their patrons are taking advantage of them.

Chairman Matricciani noted that there was a violation for a sale to a minor at this location in 2014.

Commissioner Greenfield asked the licensee why there are so many 311 complaints for her establishment. He asked whether she could hire security or work with the community in a different way.

Zoning R-9
Neighborhood Washington Village/Pigtown
Area demographics BNIA did not have demographic information for this neighborhood.
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. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 3
Result of hearing Responsible. No fine.
Vote tally Unanimous.
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

The licensee submitted a video of being pushed by a customer when she told him to follow the law.

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

Licensees, especially those in neighborhoods suffering from higher rates of violent crime, often complain about feeling unsafe in their own stores. Public health research shows, however, that alcohol outlets increase neighborhood violence, even controlling for other socioecomomic factors. Licensees have to take responsibility for their own conduct and the conduct of their patrons; if they cannot provide adequate security for themselves and their neighbors, the Board should encourage them to move their business to a new location or sell the business to someone who is willing and able to provide that security.

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