Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on December 15, 2016.

Written by Becky Witt

10:00 a.m.

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

Applicants Benjamin Poole and Paul Benkert
Business Name Le Zinc, LLC
Trading As The Bluebird
Address 3600 Hickory Avenue
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application for a new Class “B” Beer, Wine and Liquor restaurant license under the provisions of Alcoholic Beverages Article §12-1603(C)(II) requiring $200,000 in capital investment in restaurant fixtures and facilities and seating capacity for a minimum of 75 people.
Hearing notes

Mr. Poole and Mr. Benkert were represented by Mr. Will Bauer, a consultant, who provided a packet of information to the Board for their review. The concept for the establishment is a Mediterranean-themed upscale cocktail bar and restaurant. The applicants have negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding with the community association.

Commissioner Moore asked for an explanation of a provision of the MOU, which says that the volume level of music will be “normal and customary” which she did not “understand it at all.” Mr. Poole responded that any music will be in the background, for atmostphere, and quiet enough for patrons to have a conversation. Moore then asked about a security plan; the applicants responded that they will have a host at the door to check IDs, and bartenders will double-check IDs before serving. Mr. Bauer, after a further question about parking from Moore, explained that the restaurant will be part of a community-wide valet parking program.

Commissioner Greenfield asked the applicants for more information about the capital investment required for a new Class B license under state law. Mr. Benkert responded that he had submitted information about $206,000 worth of investment into the building and business, which did not include an additional $200,000 for a new sprinkler system in the building. They did not have any receipts with them.

The applicants plan to employ 10-20 people and to open in March or April, depending on how quickly their sprinkler system is installed. Both applicants have recently worked at Woodberry Kitchen and were alcohol management certified there.

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: $58,210
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 50%
Attorney for licensee None, but Mr. Bauer represented them as a consultant
# 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 Application presented, testimony offered
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicant Randall Carraghan
Business Name Stang, LLC
Trading As Stang of Siam
Address 1301 N. Calvert Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application for a new Class “B” Beer, Wine and Liquor restaurant license under the provisions of Alcoholic Beverages Article § 12-1603(C)(II) requiring $200,000 in capital investment in restaurant fixtures and facilities and seating capacity for a minimum of 75 people; request for outdoor table service.
Hearing notes

Former Liquor Board Chairman Stephan W. Fogleman represented the applicant, who was present with his general manager. Fogleman began by presenting the Board with a signed MOU with the Mount Vernon Belvedere Association.

Fogleman explained that Stang of Siam has been in operation for six years and is a restaurant with 76 seats. He submitted an appraisal of the improvements to the business as well as a sample menu.

The restaurant applied for and received a Class B restaurant license in 2011, when the license was first transferred to Mr. Carraghan’s wife, who now lives in Thailand. The applicants are applying for a new license, after their former Class B expired in April 30, 2015. They have not invested any new money into the business since 2011; they are requesting the new license using the original 2011 investment. Mr. Fogleman said that he did not believe that anything in the statute forbade this practice.

Commissioner Greenfield inquired further about the history of the expired Class B license, saying, “I want to make sure we’re not double-counting here,” adding “I don’t want the previous license to have been obtained because of this same $200,000 investment.” Fogleman replied that the previous license was obtained with the same investment.

Zoning O-R-4
Neighborhood Mid-Town Belvedere
Area demographics 53% White, 32% Black, 8% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 6% households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $38,331; 5.5% households live below poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; no.
Location of entity’s principal office Silver Spring, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 100%
Attorney for licensee Former Liquor Board Chairman Fogleman
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved, subject to MOU.
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

There are two main questions of statutory interpretation in this hearing: First, when a licensee is applying for a new Class B license, how old can the required capital investment be? The second issue is, if you’ve made a capital investment and been awarded a Class B license, can you apply for another one without making a new capital investment? The answers to both of these questions are not spelled out in the statute or in case law, so they require some careful thought and explanation by the commissioners.

For the first question, the age of the capital investment, the Chairman noted in the hearing that if the investment had been made “in 1956,” it would have been a different situation. He seems to be acknowledging, then, that there is an appropriate time period within which the capital investment should have been made in order to qualify for a new license. So what is the line, then, beyond which a capital investment is too old? This determination, which seems to lie somewhere between five years and sixty years, seems like one that the agency should promulgate in its rules and regulations, for greater clarity.

On to the second question, about whether there can be multiple licenses borne out of the same capital investment. In the context of the city-wide moratorium on new licenses, the Class B restaurant license is a special case: one of the very few types of licenses that can be obtained by application to the Liquor Board instead of via transfer of an existing license. The original legislative history is difficult to access, since the statute is so old, but one could reason that the capital investment requirement exists to encourage economic development in the city by providing a large benefit – a liquor license – to restauranteurs who have updated and improved their properties. Under this presumed legislative intent and in light of the oversaturation of licenses and the moratorium on new licenses, why would the Board be allowed to create an additional license, which would normally be prohibited, without evidence of additional investment? If the license had not expired due to mismanagement but instead had been sold and transferred elsewhere, would the licensees have been entitled to apply for another Class B license in that case? Class B licenses are not the most valuable type of liquor license, but could, hypothetically, a licensee create and then sell multiple Class B licenses out of the same $200,000 capital investment? This seems like a ridiculous idea, but it’s one that would fit within the commissioners’ understanding of the statute.

The concern in situations like these, where the statute is vague, is not that the Liquor Board must come to any one “correct” answer. Ideally, though, the commissioners should have taken the time to look at the statute, read the relevant section aloud during the hearing, discuss the purpose and context of the greater Alcoholic Beverages Article and its goals, and give a full discussion and description of why they came to the decision that they made. Instead, unfortunately, the commissioners voted in favor of the application without much substantive discussion other than noting that it was a confusing situation. This leaves the door open for future confusion in future cases.

Applicant Amy Cavanaugh-Royce
Business Name Maryland Art Place, Inc.
Trading As MAP
Address 218 W. Saratoga Street
Type of License Class “C” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application for a new Class “C” Beer, Wine and Liquor club license under the provisions of Alcoholic Beverages Article §12-1603(C)(4) allowing the Board to issue a Class C beer, wine, and liquor license in the 200 block of West Saratoga Street in ward 4, precinct 3 of the 40th alcoholic beverages district; request for live entertainment.
Hearing notes

Ms. Cavanaugh-Royce testified that she has been the Executive Director of MAP for five years. The organization frequently (three times a month) applies for one-day liquor licenses, but this is not enough for the performances that they would like to do.

Commissioner Moore noted that there was a letter of support in the file from the Archdiocese of Maryland dated January 2016 and asked if the support was still in place. Fogleman replied that it was and that they have a good relationship with MAP.

Commissioner Greenfield asked about the alcohol management certification. Ms. Cavanaugh-Royce replied that she will be certified in alcohol management and she does have years of bartending experience, though she will not be directly serving alcohol.

Zoning B-4-2
Neighborhood Downtown
Area demographics 39% White, 37% Black, 16% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 5% Hispanic ethnicity; 9% of households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $38,146; 18% households live below poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes.
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident N/A
Attorney for licensee Former 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 Art. AB s 12-1603(c)(4)
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

According to the bylaws of the corporation, Ms. Cavanaugh-Royce, as the Executive Director of the organization, is also an officer of the organization. Therefore, she is a legitimate applicant for a Class C license. However, under the Alcoholic Beverages Article, three of the officers of a corporation or club are required to be applicants for the license, unless there are fewer officers than three. MAP bylaws contain five to seven officer positions. The Board should have, pursuant to the code, required two additional officers to be on the license.

Mr. Fogleman explained to the Board that “you have a corporation and a human being on the license;” given his seven year history as Chairman of the Board, it’s rather alarming to hear him describe these roles so loosely when the statute itself is clear: you don’t have just any “human being” on the license. The human being is a particular one: an officer, in the case of a corporation or club, or an authorized person in the case of a limited liability corporation. The commissioners did not seem to refer to the statute in order to clarify this point, though the Chairman expressed concern that the executive director could leave her position. Fogleman responded that there would be an application for substitution or a transfer; he even referred to the organization’s board at that point but did not cite the actual section of state law that pertains to who must apply for a liquor license held by a club.

Applicant Sam Chung and Ashley Rodriguez
Business Name McSam Baltimore Hotel, LLC
Trading As Radisson Hotel Baltimore & Crowne Plaza Hotel
Address 101 W. Fayette Street
Type of License Class “BHM” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application for a new Class “BHM” Beer, Wine and Liquor hotel license under the provisions of Alcoholic Beverages Article §12-904(C) which allows the Board to issue a license for use by a Hotel or Motel that has: (1) at least 100 Rooms; and (2) a Capital Investment of $500,000; request for live entertainment and outdoor table service.
Hearing notes

Caroline Hecker, of Rosenberg Martin Greenberg, represented the group of licensees. She explained that her clients are requesting a new hotel license; they had tried to transfer an existing license the previous year, but the license had expired after permitting issues did not allow them to complete the transfer within 180 days. The hotel complex was developed as one project, but it was subsequently divided into two hotels. Both hotels are being renovated, for a total investment of almost $9 million. She went through the experience and resumes of the applicants in hotel and alcohol management. There are over 700 hotel rooms between the two hotels. Hecker submitted two articles describing an increased demand for hotel rooms downtown in Baltimore City.

Commissioner Moore asked why there would be one license covering two separate hotels. Hecker responded that Mr. Chang is the 100% owner of both hotels, and there is only one restaurant, shared between the two hotels. The two towers are connected to each other as part of one building, so patrons can walk between the towers without leaving the building. Moore reiterated that she was troubled by this idea of two hotels sharing a license. Hecker pointed out that if there were two separate licenses, the alcoholic beverage service would have to be kept completely separate and not overlap, which could be troublesome for the shared meeting and event spaces.

Zoning B-4-2
Neighborhood Downtown
Area demographics 39% White, 37% Black, 16% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 5% Hispanic ethnicity; 9% of households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $38,146; 18% households live below poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes.
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 0%
Attorney for licensee Ms. Caroline Hecker, 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 does not have a pecuniary interest in the license.

Applicants Katie Diem Dang, Hung Tran and Janice Neil
Business Name Charles Redwood Group MT, LLC
Trading As Delta by Marriott
Address 15-19 S. Charles Street
Type of License Class “BHM” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application for a new Class “BHM” Beer, Wine and Liquor hotel license under the provisions of Alcoholic Beverages Article §12-904(C) which allows the Board to issue a license for use by a Hotel or Motel that has: (1) at least 100 Rooms; and (2) a Capital Investment of $500,000; request for live entertainment, off-premise catering, and delivery of alcoholic beverages within premises.
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski explained that this hotel is finished and waiting to be opened. The applicants operate two other hotels that do not have liquor licenses. The hotel has 150 rooms and has received a $32 million investment. Kodenski said that the general manager, who was present, has been employed in the hotel business since 2004.

Zoning B-4-2
Neighborhood Downtown
Area demographics 39% White, 37% Black, 16% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 5% Hispanic ethnicity; 9% of households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $38,146; 18% households live below poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes.
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 0.5%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 4
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
Applicants Lester F. Smith and Lester T. Smith
Business Name Diamondback Brewing Company, LLC
Trading As Diamond Back Brewery
Address 1215 E. Fort Avenue
Type of License Class “D” Beer License
Reason for hearing Application for a new Class “D” Beer license under the provisions of Alcoholic Beverages Article §2-207(E) authorizing the Board to grant an on-site consumption permit to an applicant that holds a Class 5 Brewery license.
Hearing notes

Mr. Lester F. Smith was present for the hearing; Mr. Lester T. Smith was not.

Mr. Kodenski proffered, for his client, that the applicants already have a brewery license and are requesting a Class D license to be able to serve beer at the premises. He submitted a letter of support from the Locust Point Civic Association as well as some photos of the business.

Commissioner Moore asked about the ownership of the license, in relation to the ownership of the business. The business is owned by twenty individuals, in varying percentages. Mr. Smith responded that the only two people on the license will be himself and his uncle. The alcoholic beverages statute allows a maximum of three licensees per license, regardless of the number of owners.

Commissioner Greenfield asked who will be managing the business on a day to day basis. Mr. Smith replied that he will be managing it in the near future but may hire a manager soon.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Locust Point Industrial Area
Area demographics 90% White, 3% Black, 3% Asian. 3% Hispanic ethnicity. 15% households have children under age 18. Median household income: $73,342. 8% households live below poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Cockeysville, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 21%
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 None
Applicants Jacson Munoz and Marilyn Munoz
Business Name El Rincon Troncaleno, LLC
Trading As El Rincon Troncaleno
Address 422-26 S. Macon Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership.
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski proffered that the previous licensee moved to Nebraska, so these applicants have been running the business for the past several months. It’s a full restaurant with seven employees. They open at 11am and close before their required closing time of 2am.

Commissioner Greenfield noted that there was some negative history at this establishment under the previous licensees and cautioned the new owners to follow the rules and regulations of the board.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Greektown
Area demographics 52% White, 12% Black, 3% Asian; 30% Hispanic ethnicity; 30% households have children under age 18; median household income: $38,987.50.
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 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

The last violation found by the Board at Las Tejitas was on June 23, 2016. According to Mr. Kodenski’s proffer at the June 2016 hearing, the licensee had already moved or was in the process of moving to Nebraska; it was unclear whether the violation occurred under the management of these current applicants or the transferring owner.

More fundamentally, does state law allow a licensee to give over management completely to non-licensees and leave the state for months at a time? BLLC Rule 3.01 holds that “[e]very licensee shall be the actual owner and operator of the business conducted on the licensed premises.”

Applicants Jay Sapperstein, Kun Hong Chong and Joyce Yun Chong
Business Name 7 Star at McHenry, Inc.
Trading As Ruby 8 Noodles and Sushi
Address 1702 Whetstone Way
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership, request to add live entertainment.
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski proffered that his clients have been operating the existing business for the last two or three months. The applicants have spoken with the Locust Point Civic Association; the association sent in a conditional support letter. Mr. Sapperstein is on the current license and will be on the transferred license.

Ms. Joyce Yun Chung testified that she agrees to the restrictions in the community association’s letter. After questioning from the Chairman, Ms. Chung said that the neighborhood is totally different from where her former restaurant, Maxie’s, which had many violations on its record, was located in Charles Village. The business will be focused on Chinese and sushi cuisine, so it will be completely different.

Commissioner Moore recalled that, during the violation hearings for Maxie’s, she heard testimony not just about underage service but an explicit attempt by Maxie’s staff to hide underage students in the bathroom when the police entered the business. She brought up efforts by Johns Hopkins University and Loyola University to request a significant suspension due to the harm done to their students. Ms. Chung testified that she does have another restaurant at the Horseshoe Casino, but she said that no one can get into the casino if they are under 21. Moore reiterated that it wasn’t just isolated underage drinking violations but that there was a culture of underage drinking at her former establishment, with a huge negative impact on the community.

Commissioner Greenfield asked Mr. Sapperstein about his role in the business. Sapperstein responded that he works for the landlord of the development. He is on-site all the time and stops by frequently to see what is going on at the establishment. Within the same shopping center, there are other liquor licensed establishments that have no issues with underage drinking or any other violations.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Locust Point Industrial Area
Area demographics 90% White, 3% Black, 3% Asian. 3% Hispanic ethnicity. 15% households have children under age 18. Median household income: $73,342. 8% households live below poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 1%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 4
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

New venture, different environment, Sapperstein’s supervision

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

A similar question to the one listed in the above hearing: why are licensees allowed to delegate management of their establishments to others for months at a time, in light of the requirement that licensees own and operate their own businesses?

Applicants Kaushal Desai, Badrish Patel and John Porter
Business Name UMIYAJI, Inc.
Trading As One Stop Shop
Address 1524 Cypress Street
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership.
Hearing notes

Mr. Frank Shaulis represented the applicants, two of whom were present (Mr. John Porter was absent). The application is for a transfer of ownership but not location of a Class A liquor store license in Curtis Bay. The applicants present were both from Virginia, will retain the employee from the previous ownership, and do not plan to make changes to the business. The applicants have previously run gas stations and convenience stores but not liquor stores. Commissioner Moore asked about moving plans from both applicants, and they testified that they will both be moving to Baltimore City soon.

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 1%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicants Mark Baur and Samuel Mirabile
Business Name Southwest, LLC
Trading As Southwest Discount Liquors
Address 3212 Washington Boulevard
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership.
Hearing notes

In this transfer application, Mr. Baur is a current licensee, who is purchasing a 48.5% interest in the business from Mark Schwartz. Mr. Mirabile’s 1% ownership remains the same, and Mr. Baur’s ownership will increase from 48.5% to 99%. Mr. Akras explained this as a transfer of “dominion and control” from one current licensee to another, which, he believed, requires a transfer of ownership hearing. The licensee applicants testified that they had not had any issues with the Liquor Board during their ownership of the license.

Zoning B-2-1
Neighborhood Morrell Park
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 1%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

The substitution procedure that the BLLC uses came up during the Rules and Regulations Committee rewrite – here is a link to the summary of Meeting #5, and here is the relevant excerpt:

“Ms. Becky Witt, of Community Law Center (and Booze News writer), had submitted written comments ahead of the meeting, expressing concern over the delineation between substitution of licensees and transfers of licensees in Rules 2.04 and 2.05. The draft rules state that if there is a 50% or more transfer of ownership of a corporation, the licensees must file a transfer of ownership application. If there is less than a 50% transfer of ownership of a corporation, the licensees do not have to file a transfer application and can substitute the old owners for new owners at renewal. Under the rules, there would be no notice to the community that the licensees had changed and no opportunity for public comment or protest. There would also be no significant investigation into the substituted licensees’ character or fitness besides the standard background check.

In response to this concern, Mr. Thomas Akras stated that the Board has interpreted “ownership” in the statute to mean “50%+ ownership,” because a majority ownership gives a person “dominion and control.” If a minority ownership changes hands, the licensees don’t have to go through the normal transfer process, because the “dominion and control” of the corporation has not changed. There is no 50% threshold in Article 2B, and no other county in Maryland makes this distinction. In fact, there are no other counties in Maryland that have a corporate officer “substitution” process in their rules and regulations. When this point was raised, Mr. Fine, Mr. Akras and Ms. Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth, Executive Secretary of the agency, all stated that it would be administratively difficult for the agency to schedule even expedited transfer hearings for all transfers of ownership. No committee members found this lack of notice to the community about licensee changes to be problematic, so the drafted rule remained as it was.”

Applicants Larry Sink and Myoung Nam Kim
Business Name Kimsink Enterprises, Inc.
Trading As Club Paradise
Address 1300-02 Laurens Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership, continuation of live entertainment.
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski proffered that Mr. Sink is the husband of the current licensee, and Ms. Kim is the sister of the current licensee. They have both been involved with the business for the past two years. They have not had any violations since they took over the management of the business.

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 95%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicants Angela Elias and Ilia Prado
Business Name Angie’s Seafood, Inc.
Trading As Angie’s Seafood
Address 1727 E. Pratt Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership, request to add off-premise catering.
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski proffered that Angela Elias has been helping the current owner run the business for the past three months. (The current owners, from the information in the Board’s file, are Jennifer Fogleman, spouse of Former Liquor Board Chairman Stephan Fogleman, and Pirooz Sharafi.) The menu will continue to be seafood and steaks.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Fells Point
Area demographics 53% White, 32% Black, 8% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 6% households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $38,331; 5.5 % households live below poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 0.05%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

The inspector’s comments in the report included in the docket materials state that the “establishment [was] relaunched as Angie’s Seafood on 9/30/2016 (NEW CONCEPT, NEW OPERATOR).” When the attorney proffered that Ms. Elias had been working “with” the current owner, was it more accurate to say that the former owner and operator had turned over control already? If so, is this legal and appropriate under the analysis above?

Applicants Aklilu Gebre and Yosief Tesfazion
Business Name Wehazit, Inc.
Trading As Opposite Sidewalk Saloon
Address 132 S. Carey Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership.
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski proffered that the current licensee is staying on the license but will be transferring 99% of his ownership to a new licensee. Chairman Matricciani asked whether the community had had any input into this transfer. Kodenski responded that when he did the last transfer, there was no community input and there hasn’t been any since then. Kodenski suggested they may be in a “dead spot or whatever you want to call it there.” CityView shows several community associations whose boundaries cover this business, including Operation Reachout Southwest and Union Square Association, among others.

Commissioner Moore asked about parking issues; Kodenski replied that there’s never been an issue with parking before.

Commissioner Greenfield asked whether the transferee will be moving to Baltimore. Mr. Gebre replied that he will be moving from Arlington to Baltimore in the next 2-3 months. Greenfield did note the history of violations under the current owner and expressed hope that they would not see the new applicant back for a violation again.

Zoning B-3-2
Neighborhood Union Square
Area demographics 17% White, 76% Black, 1% Asian; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 36% households have children under age 18; median household income: $28,513.80; 30% 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 1%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

Mr. Kodenski proffered during this hearing that his client “hasn’t had any problems,” but there was at least one violation on the record, from February 2015. During the 2015 hearing, Mr. Kodenski noted that the area has significant drug trafficking problems: this was also not mentioned during this hearing.

Applicant Samuel Curreri
Business Name Sammy’s Enoteca, LLC
Trading As Sammy’s Enoteca
Address 621-25 S Broadway
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request to add outdoor table service.
Hearing notes

Mr. Prevas proffered that his client has had a Class B license at this location for about eight months. Under the PUD, there is a permitted use for outdoor table service, so the owner did not need to go to zoning to get permission for outdoor table service. Curreri has met with the Fells Point Community Organization, and Ms. Joanne Masopust has sent a letter of support. The outdoor table service will go until 9pm on weekdays and 10pm on weekends.

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 Towson, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 100%
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 None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicant Veronica McDowell
Business Name Club International, LLC
Trading As Club International
Address 2301 W. Baltimore Street
Type of License Not provided in docket
Reason for hearing Request to reopen under the provisions of the Alcoholic Beverages Article § 12-2203 wherein a licensed premises has been closed for at least three (3) consecutive months.
Hearing notes

Mr. Hurdle, for his clients, proffered that the licensees have cleaned the property up and are on the cusp of being able to reopen their business, though they have to talk with BG&E and the city. Because they have been closed for over ninety days, they have to get permission from the Liquor Board to reopen. Mr. McDowell testified that, when they were last open, they had around 20 employees.

Commissioner Greenfield noted, in closing, that the corporate entity is not in good standing with the state. Hurdle replied, “not to give too much away,” but they are working with SDAT to get back in good standing. It will be resolved before the license can be picked up.

Zoning M-2-2
Neighborhood Shipley Hill
Area demographics 17% White, 76% Black, 1% Asian, 2% 2 or more races; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 37% households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $24,946; 35% households live below poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? No; forfeited.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Unknown
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident Unknown
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
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

This hearing provides another example of the Board failing to “show its work” when making its decisions in a way that is useful to the public. According to proffers from the licensees’ attorney in September 2016, this licensed establishment seems to have closed in April 2015, after the unrest in West Baltimore. From the documents provided in the hearing file, the licensee did not pay her renewal application fee for the 2015-2016 license year until March 14, 2016. This means that the business could not have been open, legally, between May 1, 2015 and March 14, 2016. The license for this establishment may have have expired during that time. Some time during that year, Ms. McDowell was placed on the license after her husband, who was the original licensee, passed away, according to testimony from the September hearing. In the agency’s online file library, there is no entry for this establishment at all, so it is difficult to obtain the specifics of what has gone on with this business over the past several years.

This particular factual situation is complex and requires some careful thought and explanation from the commissioners about the timeline, why the license is or is not still in good standing, and whether the licensee should be allowed to reopen after – perhaps – almost two years of closure. The situation involves the interrelation between several different sections of state law, including the section on what happens when a licensee passes away. None of that required careful legal explanation occurred during this hearing.

1:00 p.m.

II. Violations:

Licensees Priscilla Irizarry and Blanca Pesquera
Business Name Ecstasy Bar and Restaurant, LLC
Trading As My Cousin Place
Address 3925-27 E. Lombard Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 3.12: General Welfare – November 13, 2016 – At approximately 1:00 am, a large crowd of approximately 150-200 people were inside of the establishment and numerous unknown individuals began to fight. After the fight broke out the bouncers attempted to break up the fight. One of the bouncers, Mr. Joseph Jones, who attempted to break up the fight, was hit in the head with a beer bottle. Upon being struck on the head with a beer bottle Mr. Jones sustained a 1-2 inch laceration above his right eyebrow. Mr. Jones did not see which individual hit him with the beer bottle. As a result of being struck in the head with the beer bottle, Mr. Jones went to Anne Arundel Medical Center where he received treatment for the laceration to his forehead (9 stitches). Earlier that evening and before the fight occurred, Mr. Jones had raised the issue with management/bartender that there were only three employees staffing that evening’s event and that more security resources were needed to properly ensure staff and patron safety.

Hearing notes

Mr. Joseph Jones, a security independent contractor on his second day of duty on November 13, 2016, testified about an incident that he witnessed at My Cousin’s Place. Towards the end of the evening, a fight broke out among two groups of patrons at the bar, and he stepped in to break it up. When he did, some of the patrons started to attack him. He was hit in the head with a bottle and sustained a cut above his eye. He went to Anne Arundel Medical Center and got nine stitches. Under further questioning by Mr. Kodenski, Jones testified that there were two other security guards on duty that night.

Mr. Kodenski then moved to dismiss the charges, since Mr. Jones testified that it was a minor incident that was cleared up quickly with the help of the police. In response, the Chairman asked his fellow commissioners whether they had a copy of Rule 3.12 in front of them. Neither of them had the Rules and Regulations of the Liquor Board handy, so the Chairman asked Mr. Akras to find and read Rule 3.12 out loud.

In the meantime, Commissioner Moore noted that the board members’ summary stated that Mr. Jones had told the licensees that there were not enough security guards on duty at the time of the incident. Mr. Jones explained that there should be one security guard for each exit of the building. There were four entrances and exits. Jones added that four would have been his minimum and he would have suggested a couple more security personnel to supervise the whole area, so, ideally, 4-6. There were also a lot of people to supervise within the space: 150-200 on that particular night.

The licensees were present but did not testify on their own behalf. Kodenski proffered that the incident only took a few minutes and there were no arrests. Since the incident, the licensees have increased their security to four people or more.

Kodenski then argued that, since the fight took place entirely inside the establishment, there was no disturbance to the health and safety of “the community.” Commissioner Greenfield responded that Mr. Kodenski often argues that fights that take place outside of the establishment are not the licensee’s responsibility, so “you can’t have it both ways.” Mr. Kodenski argued that there is no record of community disturbance in this case. Chairman Matricciani asked whether the licensees have a responsibility to their own patrons to ensure their security, and Mr. Kodenski responded that they do.

During the punishment phase of the hearing, the Chairman noted that they had received a letter from the Baltimore Highlands community association, containing complaints about the operation of the establishment. The Chairman noted that there are no violations on the record. Kodenski complained that the community association had not contacted the licensee directly.

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? 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 0
Result of hearing Responsible for violation.
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 commissioners have interpreted lack of on-the-record community complaints during a violation hearing to be evidence that no one who lives nearby cares about the violation. Then, when a community association submits a letter containing complaints, the commissioners have either wondered why community members are not physically present or have disregarded the allegations in the letter for lack of evidence. It is little wonder why community members get discouraged and stop making complaints at all when their written complaints are disregarded.

Also, why are the commissioners having to hunt to find one copy of the Rules and Regulations during a hearing? Should they not each have their own copy in front of them, as well as a copy of the Alcoholic Beverages Article of the Maryland Code, since they are interpreting and applying that law with each and every hearing? This goes back to the problem of showing one’s work mentioned in more than one case above. Perhaps the commissioners could work from the old law school framework: (1) spotting a legal issue, (2) stating the relevant rule from state law, (3) analyzing the factual situation in light of the rule, and (4) coming to a conclusion. In the vast majority of hearings, the board jumps straight to its conclusions without clearly laying out the entire decision in a logical and complete way.

Licensee Roger Rippel, Jr.
Business Name Riptide by the Bay, Inc.
Trading As Riptide by the Bay
Address 1718 Thames Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.16: Illegal Conduct – August 19, 2016 – At approximately 2:20 PM Inspector Andy Perez of the BLLC conducted a routine inspection of the establishment. At that time, the bartender/manager of the establishment could not produce a valid trader’s license. Inspector Perez told the bartender/manager that the establishment would have 10-15 days to obtain a valid 2016 Trader’s License. On October 6, 2016, Inspector Perez returned to determine if the establishment had come into compliance. Perez was presented with a document which purported to be a “2016 Trader’s License.” However, due to the coloring and numbering of the license Inspector Perez had doubts as to the authenticity of the document. At that time, Perez instructed the manager to post the purported Trader’s License in a conspicuous location as per the BLLC Rules and Regulations. On October 28, 2016 Perez was able to verify through a review of on-line records and an in-person conversation with staff of the Clerk of the Court that the corporation associated with this establishment had not been issued a valid trader’s license in either 2015 or 2016. On November 4, 2016, Inspector Perez returned to the establishment and spoke to the bartender/manager to inquire as to where he had obtained the “2016 Trader’s License.” Perez was informed that it was provided to the bartender/manager by the owner. It was at this time that Perez violated the establishment for not having a valid trader’s license and non-cooperation with the BLLC as the establishment had attempted to pass off a false document to the BLLC during an inspection.

Violation of Rule 3.02: Cooperation – August 19, 2016 – At approximately 2:20 PM Inspector Andy Perez of the BLLC conducted a routine inspection of the establishment. At that time, the bartender/manager of the establishment could not produce a valid trader’s license. Inspector Perez told the bartender/manager that the establishment would have 10-15 days to obtain a valid 2016 Trader’s License. On October 6, 2016, Inspector Perez returned to determine if the establishment had come into compliance. Perez was presented with a document which purported to be a “2016 Trader’s License.” However, due to the coloring and numbering of the license Inspector Perez had doubts as to the authenticity of the document. At that time, Perez instructed the manager to post the purported Trader’s License in a conspicuous location as per the BLLC Rules and Regulations. On October 28, 2016 Perez was able to verify through a review of on-line records and an in-person conversation with staff of the Clerk of the Court that the corporation associated with this establishment had not been issued a valid trader’s license in either 2015 or 2016. On November 4, 2016, Inspector Perez returned to the establishment and spoke to the bartender/manager to inquire as to where he had obtained the “2016 Trader’s License.” Perez was informed that it was provided to the bartender/manager by the owner. It was at this time that Perez violated the establishment for not having a valid trader’s license and non-cooperation with the BLLC as the establishment had attempted to pass off a false document to the BLLC during an inspection.

Hearing notes

The licensee and his wife, Meredith Rippel, appeared without any legal representation. They admitted the violations but explained that they had been kept very busy lately with their family and delegated their management to others, who committed the violations.

Inspector Andy Perez read the facts from his report into the record. The licensees have all of their required permits and licenses, currently.

The licensee testified that, not only did the manager not renew the license that he was supposed to renew, he created a fake updated version of the license for the file.

After questioning by Commissioner Moore, the licensee testified that he is the sole licensee and does not live in Baltimore City. The Rippels both stated that they will be more on top of their business and its requirements in the future.

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; 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 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 1
Result of hearing Responsible for violations. $500 fine (Moore dissenting on the penalty)
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

The licensee does not live in Baltimore City, as required by state law.

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