Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on September 1, 2016.

Written by Becky Witt

11:00 a.m.

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

Applicants Daniel Halpern, Brooke Edmond, and Sabreen Shaw
Business Name Atlanta Restaurant Partners, LLC
Trading As TGI Friday’s
Address 2435 Liberty Heights Avenue
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request to add live entertainment.
Hearing notes

Ms. Linda Carter proffered that her client would like to have a DJ at the TGI Friday’s three nights per week, 9-11pm Thursdays and 9-12pm Fridays and Saturdays: no dancing, no live music, no cover charges. The business currently has an 80%-20% food-to-alcohol ratio and does not expect that to change much. Ms. Carter noted that her client began construction on the restaurant one day before the unrest in April 2015, and he could have pulled out of the project but chose not to. The attorney said that her client employs off-duty police officers at the establishment to ensure the safety of patrons and employees. The business employs a wristband system to ensure that they stay under capacity and to identify their customers in and outside of the building.

Mr. Daniel Halpern, one of the three licensees, testified that he owns and operates 45 TGI Friday’s locations, and 90% of them have some form of live entertainment permission. He has been working with Coppin State and the mall to address concerns.

Commissioner Moore asked the licensee for further details about his meetings with the police department and his use of off-duty officers as security. Mr. John Faison testified that there is an upcoming meeting scheduled with the police department, which will be the first meeting. A representative from TGI Friday’s will be attending the Major’s weekly meeting in that police district every Tuesday, going forward. Moore asked why police officers need to be visibly represented in a family restaurant. The licensees responded that they only need this security presence at night, between 8pm and closing. The police aren’t posted up at the door but are in areas around the premises to promote a feeling of safety.

Zoning B-2-1
Neighborhood Mondawmin
Area demographics 1% White, 96% Black, 0% Asian; 1% Hispanic ethnicity; 30% households have children under age 18; median household income: $38,912.3; 12.8% households live below the poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Nottingham, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes.
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 0%
Attorney for licensee Ms. Linda Carter
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally None
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Chairman Matricciani cited the limited aspects of the request, the lack of violation history, and petitions in support. Commissioners Greenfield and Moore thanked the licensees for their investment in the area.

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

One of the three applicants is a City resident, but she has no pecuniary interest in the business. She also did not sign the application certifying that one of the applicants is a city resident.

Interestingly, the inspector’s report stated that the notice sign about the live entertainment application “was down for approximately 2 hours, because of disgruntled Ex-employee.”

Applicants Michael Kitsopoulos and Miranda Bartling
Business Name Port City Tavern, Inc.
Trading As Port City Tavern
Address 2036 Eastern Avenue
Type of License Class “BD-7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership.
Hearing notes

Mr. Peter Prevas explained that his clients have entered a contract to purchase the real estate, business and liquor license at this establishment for $205,000, likely financed through a loan from M & T Bank. Though Mr. Kitsopoulos, a real estate investor, currently lives in New Jersey, he is in Baltimore three to four days per week. He plans to run the business with his wife and sons, functioning as a neighborhood tavern, which it has always been. There is currently no kitchen or food preparation at the establishment, and they may at some point add a kitchen, among other renovations. There is no request for live entertainment or outdoor tables.

Mr. Prevas proffered that he has not heard anything negative from the community, though he did not contact them, because it is a transfer of ownership only, not of location.

Commissioner Moore asked about Mr. Kitsopoulos’s previous liquor licenses. He explained that he has had other restaurants between 1965 and 2012 in other states and has never had a violation at any of those establishments.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Upper 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 0.1%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Peter Prevas
# 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

Chairman Matricciani voted in favor of approving the transfer of ownership, based on the applicant’s long experience and the lack of any opposition.

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None.
Applicant Andrew Klymkowsky
Business Name 32 North Chester Restaurant, LLC
Trading As Trade name pending
Address 32 N. Chester Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer & Wine License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership from a Secured Creditor; request for outdoor table service.
Hearing notes

Mr. Abraham Hurdle informed the Board that the trade name, which on the application was pending, will likely be Butcher Hill Social. Mr. Klymkowsky and Mr. Malcolm Mitchell, the establishment’s chef, were present and both testified in favor of the project. Mr. Hurdle submitted photographs of the restaurant and their renovations, along with a proposed menu. The previous licensee had just opened in February 2016, but it didn’t work out and the secured creditor foreclosed on the license. Hurdle pointed out a Memorandum of Understanding in the file with the Butchers Hill association about restrictions regarding hours and live entertainment.

Commissioner Moore asked whether the restaurant was open and operating between February, when the previous licensee was given permission to open, and July, when the application for the transfer of ownership was submitted. Hurdle replied that it was open and operating for at least part of that time. Moore asked about the ownership structure of the business. The applicant said that he leaves those details to his lawyers. Hurdle stepped in and said that the applicant owns 1% of the business and the rest is owned by another LLC. Mr. Mitchell does not have an ownership interest in the business.

In the MOU submitted, Commissioner Greenfield noted that the community was concerned with how to control deliveries during non-operating hours of the business. The applicants responded that they will be carefully instructing their food and alcohol delivery companies that they must stick to certain timelines to get deliveries. The community was concerned about deliveries blocking streets during school dropoff and pickup times, since the business is directly next to a school.

Commissioner Moore asked the applicants to explain how they will deal with outdoor table service. They responded that the tables will be very close to the building, and the license is only for beer and wine, not liquor. People will not be taking shots near the school. The business will open after school begins in the morning, so children will not be passing patrons drinking alcohol on their way to school.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Butchers Hill
Area demographics 70% White, 8% Black, 5% Asian; 15% Hispanic ethnicity; 11% households have children under age 18; median household income: $69,105; 11% 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? Yes
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 1%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Abraham Hurdle
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous (Moore opposing the outdoor tables)
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Chairman Matricciani said that, on the basis of the evidence presented of a well-planned operation, exhibits about the proposed design of the building, the proposed menu, the testimony of the applicants, the MOU with the Butchers Hill Community Association, and no opposition to the transfer, he would vote to approve the transfer and the outdoor tables. Commissioner Greenfield agreed. Commissioner Moore agreed with the transfer but disagreed on the outdoor tables.

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

The documents provided in the file are a window into the history of contradictory interpretation of the 180 day rules in Article 2B and, now, the Alcoholic Beverages Article. There are a string of “conferences” noted in the file in 2008, 2009, and 2010, but there are no notations about why those conferences were held or why the licensee paid “conference fees.” The business seems to have likely been closed for an extended period of time, since the licensee paid a “180-day conference fee” on March 24, 2009. Then another “conference” was held on July 28, 2009, which said that a transfer had been pending for more than 180 days; they were given an extension by BLLC staff until December 31, 2009. [This extension is in clear violation of the 180-day transfer rule, which the Attorney General has said is mandatory and to which there are no extensions allowed. Also, the 2013 Audit suggested that these private conferences were against the Open Meetings Act; this practice seems to have ended after the 2013 Audit.] There was another notation in February 2010 that a hearing was postponed for four months and a conference fee of $100 collected. No notation about what the hearing was supposed to be about. Another conference fee paid on July 14, 2010, and the licnese was “granted 180-day extension until 11/12/10.” It’s unclear what kind of extension this is: a transfer extension? Was the transfer still pending from the July 28, 2009 “conference”? Skipping forward two years, in November 2012, the Board held a public hearing on a hardship extension and granted the request. Four months later, March 2013, the Board held another public hearing to determine the status of the license and “deemed license viable.” [The term viable does not appear in Article 2B.] Skipping ahead another year and a half, to August 7, 2014, the Board approved a transfer of ownership.

After that transfer, it seems from the file as though the transfer was not completed until possibly July 1, 2015, nearly eleven months after the transfer was approved. Again, this would be in direct violation of the 180-day transfer rule; this transfer would have expired 180 days after the August 7 transfer approval. When, if at all, did the business open after this transfer date? Was it before December 28, 2015, which is when the license would have again expired under a different 180-day rule?

A community member’s affidavit submitted by the applicants says that she was inside the bar and ordered white wine (but was served red) on March 18, 2016. The applicants seem to think this is sufficient to show that the license is valid and unexpired. However, it is certainly possible and even likely from the documentation in the file, or lack thereof, that the license expired long before March 18; therefore, the bar may have been open illegally at the time she was struggling to get that glass of white wine. Just because the business’s door was unlocked, people were inside, and red, not white, wine was poured into glasses does not mean that the business was operating legally.

Turning for help to inspection reports, we are out of luck. There are zero inspectors’ reports in the online Liquor Board database for this address from the past three years. The documents that are located in the 32 N. Chester file belong to other establishments. This is an extremely common problem in the agency’s recordkeeping; papers are very often placed in the incorrect files.

Finally, the three renewal applications in the file from 2013, 2014, and 2015 all state that the business has been closed. The first two (2013 and 2014) state that the business closed in 2010. The third is difficult to read but may state that the business closed in July 2014.





Applicants Priscilla Irizamy and Blanca Pesquera
Business Name Ecstasy Bar and Restaurant, LLC
Trading As My Cousin’s Place
Address 3925-27 E. Lombard Street
Type of License Class “BD-7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership; request for outdoor table service.
Hearing notes

Mr. Gary Maslan, on behalf of his clients, said that they have each had restaurant management experience and have both taken the alcohol management course. They’ve reached to the community association and have received BMZA approval for outdoor table service. They intend to expand their food menu beyond what the current owner has done. They will hire security on the weekends to check IDs, but, during the week, servers will check IDs. The live entertainment will be bands and DJs and will happen primarily on the weekends.

Chairman Matricciani asked Mr. Maslan about a letter of opposition that the agency had received from some neighbors. Maslan explained that the establishment has been at this location for fifty or sixty years, but a retirement home was built nearby about five or six years ago. The people who signed the letter of opposition live in that retirement home and are not patrons of the establishment. Noting that the signatories expressed concerns about cleanliness and trash, the Chairman asked the applicants about their plan to deal with the complaints. Maslan replied that his clients will maintain the business in an orderly fashion. Ms. Irizamy added that she plans to work hard on the upkeep of the building and pressure-wash the sidewalks weekly. Commissioner Greenfield noted that the letter writers were also concerned about noise from live entertainment. Maslan said that the current owners have had live entertainment already, and it hasn’t been a problem and said that certainly his clients will be responsive to complaints about noise.

Commissioner Moore suggested that the applicants might want to think about the connotations of their name and maybe change it to something else.

Ms. Irizamy testified that she worked for other alcohol licensed establishments in Dundalk and Baltimore, doing bartending, waitressing, cleaning, and managing.

Zoning B-3-2
Neighborhood Baltimore Highlands
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; yes.
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 0.5%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Gary Maslan
# 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

Chairman Matricciani voted in favor of approving the application, on the basis of the evidence contained in the application, the submissions by Mr. Maslan and the testimony of the applicants. He encouraged the women to reach out to the people from the retirement community to come to an understanding with them and to try to accommodate their concerns, if possible.

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicants Seung Yong Lee, Song Ja Lee, and Craig Young
Business Name Song 618, Inc.
Trading As Slim’s Liquors
Address 3214 Hollins Ferry Road
Type of License Class A Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership.
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski informed the commissioners that his clients have a wealth of experience in the alcoholic beverages business, especially Mr. and Mrs. Lee. From 1999-2014, Mr. Lee ran a liquor store on Highland Avenue, and Mrs. Lee had a store from 2011-2015, when it burned down during the April unrest. The store will be open 10am to 10pm and will be closed on Sundays. Mr. Young is a nearby resident who has agreed to be on the license and to be a liaison with the nearby community association.

The chairman asked about the name of the business, Slim’s Liquors. “Who’s Slim?” he asked. “Well, not you, Mr. Kodenski,” he quipped.

Zoning B-2-1
Neighborhood Lakeland
Area demographics N/A (BNIA does not have census data for this neighborhood)
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. Melvin Kodenski
# 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 Information provided in application
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicant Yossi Preisserowicz – Secured Creditor
Business Name AAC HP Realty, LLC
Trading As Harborplace
Address 201 E. Pratt Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request for a hardship extension under the provisions of Article 2B § 10-504(d) (Alcoholic Beverage Article § 12-2202).
Hearing notes

Ms. Caroline Hecker and Mr. Justin Williams, of Rosenberg Martin Greenberg, LLP, told the commissioners that the license in question was formerly used by La Tasca, which closed September 28, 2015, because of financial difficulties. The business filed for a 180-day hardship extension in March, which did not come before the Board until this hearing. The secured creditor has been diligently marketing the license, but the building manager is planning a larger overhaul of the building, which will require some construction, including raising the floors and constructing flood walls.

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 Dover, DE
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? N/A
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident N/A
Attorney for licensee Ms. Caroline Hecker and Mr. Justin Williams
# 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 Board did not solicit or receive testimony regarding the requirements of the Maryland Code. The Alcoholic Beverages Article section 12-2202 states that the Board “may grant the [hardship] extension if the Board finds after a hearing that existing hardship caused the closing or stopping of business operations.” Interestingly, the newly reorganized Alcoholic Beverages Article removes the word “undue” from the previous version of this rule in Article 2B, which required that the Board find an “undue hardship” before they were allowed to issue an extension. In any event, there was no information, testimony, or evidence provided about any hardship that is (1) currently existing and that (2) caused the closing or stopping of business operations.

Applicant Dustin Page – Personal Representative
Business Name Anchor Service Company, Inc.
Trading As Sav·It·Liquors
Address 329 W. 29th Street
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request for a hardship extension under the provisions of Article 2B § 10-504(d) (Alcoholic Beverage Article § 12-2202).
Hearing notes

Mr. David Mister represented the applicant for the hardship extension. Mr. Mister’s client had filed under Art. 2B section 10-506 as a personal representative, and he asked whether that action would toll the running of the 180 days in section 10-504, after which a license normally expires if it has not been used. Chairman Matricciani asked whether Mr. Mister’s client is asking for anything more than the extra 180 days to transfer the license. Mister replied that his client would likely be selling the license, with the real estate and business, within 30 days.

Mr. Mister’s letter to the Board reads: “Please accept this letter as a request for a finding that a hardship extension of the license pursuant to Article 2B section 10-504(d) is not necessary, upon the Board approving the personal representative’s request for a certificate of permission for continuation of the business in the name of the executor (personal representative) for the benefit of the estate of the deceased licensee, pursuant to Article 2B section 10-506(a)(2), (3) and (4).”

In explaining his position, Mr. Mister called himself the “architect” of this provision in the code and explained that it was his intention to have certain situations that stop the running of the 180-day clock, and one of them was the filing of the personal representative after a licensee dies.

Zoning B-3-2
Neighborhood Remington
Area demographics 44% White, 35% Black, 3% 2 or more races, 13% Asian, 5% Hispanic ethnicity; 11% households have children under age 18; median household income: $30,130.79; 14% 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. David Mister
# 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 Board did not cite any law or refer to any findings of fact made as a result of this hearing.

Mr. Mister is correct, according to Art. 2B and the Alcoholic Beverages Article: when a licensee dies, the license expires immediately. However, a personal representative may, under Alc. Bev. Art. section 4-803, request a certificate of permission to continue the business operations of the deceased licensee for a period of up to 18 months. The 180-day rule does not apply during this 180-day period. There was therefore no need to schedule this case for a hearing before the Board. The Board granted a hardship extension in this situation for a person who did not need or want one. The outcome is the same, since there is a contract for the sale of the business; however, it is concerning that the Board, with the exception of Commissioner Moore, did not take the opportunity to actually look at the code and the situation and apply one to the other and make a determination that makes sense under the Alcoholic Beverages Article. Instead, they told the attorney to speak with the Deputy Executive Secretary.

As an aside, lobbyists and advocates on all sides of all issues often do draft legislation for state representatives to consider, introduce, sponsor, and shepherd through Maryland’s 90-day legislative session. However, bill drafters do not have special insight into the meaning of those bills. Nor do their interpretations of those bills hold any special weight. Mr. Mister may call himself the “architect” of a piece of legislation, because he may have drafted a version of it, but his interpretation is not the same as legislative intent, which can help agencies and courts to interpret statutes.

Applicants Seunng Im Cho and Christopher Frisone
Business Name Portriver, Inc.
Trading As Trade name pending
Address 1032 Riverside Avenue
Type of License Class “BD-7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership.
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski explained that the prior owners of Porters left, and the secured creditor was looking for a new owner. Ms. Cho has operated a business in Cross Street Market for 15-20 years, then operated in Baltimore County for 5-6 years and has not had any violations. She will have an American menu at the new restaurant, with a staff of 10.

Mr. Ivo Jamrosz, head of the Liquor Advisory Committee for the Federal Hill Neighborhood Assocation, testified that his organization has had several meetings with the applicant. The neighbors are very excited about Porters coming back to life. The applicants have agreed to sign an MOU containing restrictions that the previous owner had already agreed to. The MOU has not yet been signed by all parties, but they have all agreed to the substance of the restrictions.

Zoning R-8
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? Yes.
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 0.01%
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 No opposition, support by the community representative, testimony provided
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None

1:00 p.m.

II. Violations:

Licensees Alexandra Abreu and 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 1:15 AM. 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 until1 :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 1:00AM. At this time the bar was cleared of all patrons and the bar manager/operator was notified of the violation.

Violation of Rule 4.05(a): Prohibited Hours – August 6, 2016 – At approximately 1:10AM 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 Andy Perez (“officials”) conducted a special investigation concerning allegations that the establishment was operating afterhours. Upon arrival, Officials attempted to enter the establishment through the front door. It was locked. An attempt was made to open the side door by officials, but it was quickly closed and locked from the interior. At this time, officials observed through a small window approximately 10 individuals, 2 of which had alcoholic beverages in front of them, within the establishment. Officials eventually were able to gain entry to the establishment where they were able to identify the operator of the establishment as Mr. German Dima. When asked why there were individuals within the establishment after hours, Mr. Dima stated that they all of the individuals were employees. When asked for employee records, Mr. Dima could not produce records that identified the patrons within the establishment as employees. At this time the bar was cleared of all patrons and the bar manager/operator was notified of the violation.

Violation of Rule 3.03(c): Records – August 6, 2016 – At approximately 1:10AM 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 Andy Perez (“officials”) conducted a special investigation concerning allegations that the establishment was operating afterhours. Upon entering the establishment the officials came into contact with the operator, Mr. German Dima. When asked why there were individuals within the establishment after hours, Mr. Dima stated that they all of the individuals were employees. When asked for employee records, Mr. Dima could not produce any employee records.

Violation of Rule 3.01: Ownership and Operation – August 6, 2016 – At approximately 1:10AM 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 Andy Perez (“officials”) conducted a special investigation concerning allegations that the establishment was operating afterhours. Upon entering the establishment the officials came into contact with the operator, Mr. German Dima. At that time, officials asked Mr. Dima if the licensees were available. Mr. Dima informed the officials that he had already paid “$65,000” for the liquor license. Officials explained to Mr. Dima that for a proper transfer to occur an application must be filed and the Board must approve of such a transfer. The Board further explained that on the licensee shall be the actual owner and operator of the licensed premises.

Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski, for his clients, admitted the violations charged against his clients. The current licensees and Mr. Dima are related to each other, but they had some miscommunication. The licensees wanted to get out of the business, and Mr. Dimas wanted to get in. They didn’t draw up any paperwork, but they did exchange money. Mr. Dimas was managing the bar, and the licensees were there “a couple hours during the week.” They are in the process now of filling out an application to transfer ownership of this business, but they are having a hard time finding character witnesses in Baltimore City who are registered to vote and own property in the city. Kodenski told the commissioners that he explained to his clients that 1:00am means 1:00am and that no one should be inside the bar at 1:00am except employees who are actively cleaning up. In the meantime, they should have employee records and copies of drivers’ licenses, etc., for inspectors and police officers to see when they come to inspect. In explaining the situation, Mr. Kodenski stated that “you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken dung” and “you can’t undo what they didn’t do.”

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 Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 3
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 4
Result of hearing Responsible. 4-day suspension, $1,000 fine.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

History of one similar violation last year.

Commissioner Moore expressed concern that the licensees are attempting to transfer the license to the person who is most responsible for the violation. Kodenski responded that they are thinking of adding an applicant. Commissioner Greenfield also expressed concern about the potential applicant.

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None

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