Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on March 2, 2017.

Written by Becky Witt

11:00 a.m.

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

Applicants Thomas Looney and Annmarie Langton
Business Name Gypsy Bar, LLP
Trading As Gypsy Queen
Address 3515 Clipper Mill Road
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. Will Bauer, a consultant, introduced the two applicants. For fifteen years, they owned Helen’s Garden in Canton but closed it in order to focus on their food truck, the Gypsy Queen. They’ve recently decided to combine the two ideas, which Mr. Looney described as “somewhat of a gimmick.” The restaurant will be inside but the kitchen will be in the food truck outside but very close to the building. The truck would be permanently parked outside the restaurant. There will be a very short, possibly covered path between the building and the truck. They own two trucks and will still use the second one as an operational truck that can travel around the city.

Commissioner Moore asked for more information about where the alcohol will be served. The applicants responded that there will be a bar inside, so the alcohol will be sold from inside.

The applicants were previously on a liquor license, without any violations over their 15 year history.

Commissioner Greenfield asked about the cost of the renovations of the facility and whether it meets the $200,000 threshold. He also asked about parking. The applicants testified that there are 17 spots for the property, as well as street parking.

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 Helmand Karzai
Business Name Kabobi, Inc.
Trading As Helmand Kabobi
Address 855 N. Wolfe Street, Suite D&E
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

Helmand Karzai represented himself in the hearing. He explained to the commissioners that Helmand Kabobi will serve similar food to the current Helmand restaurant but in a casual atmosphere. Currently, they’re only open for lunch, but they would like to expand to the dinner hour if they receive a liquor license. Karzai submitted petitions in support and said that he had received no opposition.

Commissioner Moore noted that Karzai is currently on the liquor license at the Helmand; he testified that he has had zero violations at that establishment, and he will remove himself from the license if he is granted this new Class B.

Later on in the hearings, Commissioner Moore went back on the record to say that the Board considers Helmand Kabobi to be a “fast casual” restaurant, not a “fast food” restaurant. Fast food restaurants are prohibited from owning liquor licenses in Baltimore City. The Board has never really explained the difference between those two categories, if any.

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 John Poss and Laurie Davidow
Business Name 1715 Thames Street Licensee, LLC
Trading As Pendry Hotel
Address 1715 Thames Street
Type of License Class “B (H-M)” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application for a new Class “B (H-M)” Beer, Wine and Liquor hotel license under the provisions of Alcoholic Beverages Article §12-1706(D)(2)(i) 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, outdoor table service and off-premise catering.
Hearing notes

Caroline Hecker, of Rosenberg Martin Greenberg, proffered the case. Sagamore Development has redeveloped the Fells Point Recreation Pier into an expensive hotel with 128 rooms. They are requesting live entertainment and outdoor seating, which has already been approved by BMZA. The corporation has spent over $60 million on the project as a whole, including over $1 million in kitchen equipment alone. Hecker reiterated many times throughout the hearing that this project will be “high end” and “ultra luxury.”

The Fells Point Community Organization and the Fells Point Residents Association both support the license request and submitted letters of support to the agency. FPRA had asked that a condition be included that required outdoor live entertainment at the pool area to end at 9pm. Hecker said, “respectfully, we don’t believe that that condition is necessary” since the project is a “ultra high end super luxury hotel” with “expensive hotel rooms” right above the pool area. Since the management will be obsessively focused on the comfort and convenience of their guests, they won’t be allowing entertainment that would bother them. Hecker said that her client will self-police with respect to noise. Under questioning, she elaborated that the live entertainment will take a variety of forms, including DJs, live music, etc. in various places in the facility, both inside and outside.

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 Efstathios Dosis
Business Name Kuru, Inc.
Trading As Jimmy’s
Address 801 S. Broadway
Type of License Class “D” Beer & Wine License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership and requesting delivery of alcoholic beverages.
Hearing notes

Ms. Anastasia Thomas Nardangeli represented the applicants; she proffered that Jimmy’s has been around for decades, is well known and respected, in the center of Fells Point. The Fells Point Residents’ Association submitted an email supporting the transfer. The applicant also submitted a petition with 19 signatures of support.

There was some confusion during the hearing about whether the applicant had intended to apply for permission to deliver alcoholic beverages along with food delivery. The applicant clarified that he did want alcohol delivery, if possible.

The licensee, Mr. Efstathios Dosis, who goes by Steve, owns 1% of the business. The day to day manager of the business, Rudy, who will not be a licensee, owns 99% of the business. Rudy is not a licensee at Jimmy’s because he is a licensee at a restaurant in Howard County, called Rudy’s Mediterranean Grill, which his wife runs.

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 Yohannes Haile, Eden Solomon, and Aron Negassi
Business Name Seven Day Store, LLC
Trading As Seven Day Store
Address 3939 Edmondson Avenue
Type of License Class “A” Beer & Wine License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership.
Hearing notes

Mr. Peter Prevas proffered that his clients are applying to purchase an existing license. Mr. Haile and Ms. Solomon will each own 49.5%, and Mr. Negassi will own 1% as the required Baltimore City resident.

The existing business is 70% grocery and 30% alcohol. It was recently closed for Health Department reasons, and the seller does not intend to reopen. The establishment has one prior violation under the seller’s ownership in 2007.

Mr. Haile currently works at a liquor store. It will be a one-person operation, with Ms. Solomon filling in occasionally.

Mr. Prevas noted that the purchase price is low, reflecting the fact that it’s a Class A license in a residential district. Under the current Transform Baltimore zoning code, Class A licenses in residential zones will have two years to stop selling alcohol. Mr. Haile plans to sell his license if possible.

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 Steven Stansbury, III
Business Name The One Sports Bar & Lounge, LLC
Trading As Trade Name Pending
Address 4314-16 Curtis Avenue
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership with continuation of live entertainment.
Hearing notes

Former Liquor Board Chairman Stephan Fogleman represented the applicant, a “first timer” who’s always wanted to own a sports bar. Fogleman submitted a proposed menu and alcohol management certification. Mr. Stansbury is a surety bondsman and, according to his counsel, understands the importance of adequate security at the establishment.

Fogleman noted that he checked the file and found an anonymous letter from a group called the Victimized Residents of Curtis Bay, in opposition to the transfer. Fogleman said that he sympathizes with the letter and deals in generalities about conditions in the community.

Chairman Matricciani noted that it is difficult to know what weight to give the letter, since it is unsigned, the organization is not formally organized with the state, and there is no one at the hearing to represent them. Fogleman noted that he had volunteered in Curtis Bay, and he agreed that there was not a lot of investment. Mr. Stansbury testified that he was open to meeting with members of the community. Fogleman said that he put the address of the bar into the city’s website to look for community associations, and nothing came up. Later in the hearing, Fogleman said that he did reach out to someone but could not remember which person he emailed. Cityview Baltimore shows several organizations that cover this address: Community of Curtis Bay Association, Southern District Police-Community Relations Council, Brooklyn and Curtis Bay Coalition, and Southwest Community Action Center.

Commissioner Moore said that the allegations were very very concerning to her. There were photos of a person who was assaulted and trash left. It’s hard for the commissioners to vet the allegations, but she had voted to close the establishment for three weeks under the Ward chairmanship. “Something was happening there,” she said. She would have suggested that the Board postpone their decision until the applicant met with the letter writer(s), but that’s not possible here. She said that the letter is “worse than anonymous.”

Chairman Matricciani also encouraged the applicant to reach out to the community.

The applicant testified that he will have around four security staff both inside and outside the property to ensure safety. Fogleman noted that the capacity is around 200 people. Mr. Stansbury said that opening a sports bar is something he’s been wanting to do for a long time.

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 former owners of Taste International owned three Baltimore-area restaurants, two of whom had significant and serious violations on their record.

1:00 p.m.

II. Violations:

Licensee Elise Singer
Business Name ERS, Inc.
Trading As Steam Punk Alley aka Leon’s
Address 870 Park Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.16: Illegal Conduct – November 18, 2016 – On October 6, 2016 Agent John Howard had visited the establishment and conducted a routine inspection. At that time, Howard had discovered that the establishment did not have an active Trader’s License for 2016. Howard instructed management to obtain one on or before October 14, 2016. Howard returned to the establishment on January 4, 2017 in response to a 311 call. While the 311 complaint was unfounded, Agent Howard conducted a compliance check of the establishment and discovered that the management could still not produce a valid 2016 Trader’s License. A review by BLLC staff on January 18, 2017 found that no 2016 trader’s License had been issued to ERS, Incorporated.

Violation of Rule 4.16: Illegal Conduct – January 18, 2017 – At approximately 12:44 pm, BLLC staff conducted a review of the corporate status of the entity known as “ERS, Incorporated” and found that the entity was deemed “forfeited” by the State Department of Assessments and Taxation.

Hearing notes

Former Liquor Board Chairman Stephan Fogleman admitted the violations, on behalf of his client. This hearing was a continuation of a previous hearing, which had been partially heard but postponed at Fogleman’s request. The employees of this business had not been communicating properly with the Singers and did not tell them about the Liquor Board inspectors’ visits to the establishment to let them know that the trader’s licesen was expired. Mr. Singer has since fixed the trader’s license and corporate standing issue.

Result of hearing Responsible
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
Licensee Orvil Miller
Business Name Unity Enterprises, LLC
Trading As The Bambou
Address 229 N. Franklintown Road
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 3.08(a): Sanitation and Safety – October 16, 2016 – At approximately 1:20 am, members of the Baltimore City Police Department (BCPD) and BLLC inspection staff conducted a special investigation into the operations of the establishment. At that time, Det. Greenhill of the BCPD entered the establishment and was advised that the current capacity of the facility was 687 persons. Det. Greenhill then asked to see the fire inspection documentation of the facility and discovered that the establishment was over-capacity by 38 persons.

Violation of Rule 4.16: Illegal Conduct – October 16, 2016 – At approximately 1:20 am, members of the Baltimore City Police Department (BCPD) and BLLC inspection staff conducted a special investigation into the operations of the establishment. At approximately 1:30 am, BLLC inspectors and BCPD officers observed an individual, later identified as Richard Alexander, exiting the establishment with an open “bud light” can of beer. BLLC inspectors and BCPD stopped Mr. Alexander, identified him, secured the beer can, and then emptied out its contents.

Violation of Rule 4.16: Illegal Conduct – October 16, 2016 – At approximately 1:20 am, members of the Baltimore City Police Department (BCPD) and BLLC inspection staff conducted a special investigation into the operations of the establishment. At approximately 1:30 am, BLLC inspectors and BCPD officers observed an individual, later identified as Kiana Lenker, exiting the establishment with an open “bud light” can of beer. BLLC inspectors and BCPD stopped Ms. Lenker, identified her, secured the beer can, and then emptied out its contents.

Violation of Rule 4.16: Illegal Conduct – October 16, 2016 – At approximately 1:20 am, members of the Baltimore City Police Department (BCPD) and BLLC inspection staff conducted a special investigation into the operations of the establishment. At approximately 1:30 am, BLLC inspectors and BCPD officers observed an individual, later identified as Craig Zrinski, exiting the establishment with an open “bud light” can of beer. BLLC inspectors and BCPD stopped Mr. Zrinski, identified him, secured the beer can, and then emptied out its contents.

Violation of Alc. Bev. Art. §6-309: Minor in Possession – October 16, 2016 – At approximately 1:20 am, members of the Baltimore City Police Department (BCPD) and BLLC inspection staff conducted a special investigation into the operations of the establishment. At approximately 1:30 am, BLLC inspectors and BCPD officers observed an individual, later identified as Richard Alexander, exiting the establishment with an open “bud light” can of beer. BLLC inspectors and BCPD stopped Mr. Alexander, identified him as an individual under the age of 21, secured the beer can, and then emptied out its contents.

Violation of Alc. Bev. Art. §6-309: Minor in Possession – October 16, 2016 – At approximately 1:20 am, members of the Baltimore City Police Department (BCPD) and BLLC inspection staff conducted a special investigation into the operations of the establishment. At approximately 1:30 am, BLLC inspectors and BCPD officers observed an individual, later identified as Kiana Lenker, exiting the establishment with an open “bud light” can of beer. BLLC inspectors and BCPD stopped Ms. Lenker, identified her as an individual under the age of 21, secured the beer can, and then emptied out its contents.

Violation of Alc. Bev. Art. §6-309: Minor in Possession – October 16, 2016 – At approximately 1:20 am, members of the Baltimore City Police Department (BCPD) and BLLC inspection staff conducted a special investigation into the operations of the establishment. At approximately 1:30 am, BLLC inspectors and BCPD officers observed an individual, later identified as Craig Zrinski, exiting the establishment with an open “bud light” can of beer. BLLC inspectors and BCPD stopped Mr. Zrinski, identified him as an individual under the age of 21, secured the beer can, and then emptied out its contents.

Hearing notes

Mr. Miller represented himself in the hearing. He said that he was not aware of the violation charges until fifteen or twenty minutes before the hearing. Chairman Matricciani asked whether he was served with notice of the violations; Miller responded no, that he had picked up a notice at the Liquor Board. Inspector John Chrissomallis testified that the agency was having a hard time serving the licensee because he is open inconsistent hours. Chrissomallis asked the licensee to come to the office, where he served Miller with notice of the violation charges. Miller noted that he didn’t really read the notice.

Inspector John Chrissomallis testified that he was at the club with Detective Greenhill and Detective Gatto from Baltimore City Vice. The police officers and inspector saw that the club was over capacity, according to their own clickers. They also witnessed several individuals leaving the bar with open containers in their hands, one of whom was under 21.

Mr. Miller testified that the club was not over capacity; he said that some of the patrons were outside in a courtyard. Detective Gatto replied that people started moving outside because the police had to shut the bar down because it was over capacity. Miller has had the license five years and has never had a violation. He says that he doesn’t sell alcohol to minors, because they have a wristband system. On the night in question, his club was hosting an “18 and over rave event.” At first, Miller said that if patrons are under 18, they get a wristband. Then he said that if they’re over 18, they get a wristband. “Which is it?” Commissioner Moore asked. Miller replied that “sometimes they get a wristband.” He said that they also card patrons at the bar. Moore asked why patrons under 21 should be allowed in at all. Miller responded that his bar has since changed their policies: now there are separate drinking areas for people over 21.

Commissioner Greenfield asked Miller whether it was possible that the individuals listed by the police in their report walked out of the building with a drink in their hands. Miller responded that it was possible. It’s also possible that he could have served someone underage. Greenfield replied that Miller had a special responsibility to make sure that no one underage got served when there is an event for 18-21 year olds.

On the issue of capacity, Commissioner Greenfield asked whether the security company had ever had an issue with accuracy in the past. Miller replied that he was not sure what the count was on the clicker on the night in question, so it was possible that it could have been over capacity. The commissioners expressed concern about the seriousness of being over capacity for a large venue holding hundreds of young people.

Result of hearing Responsible for all violations. $1,000 fine.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision Licensee’s first violation
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Licensees Sarbjit Singh and Alicia Wines
Business Name Badwall, LLC
Trading As Lombard Liquor & Bar
Address 1000 W. Lombard Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.18(a): Alterations – December 13, 2016 – At approximately 12:30 PM, BLLC Darryl Clark arrived at the establishment to conduct a regularly scheduled routine inspection. Upon conducting his inspection, Clark observed that the entire establishment was under renovation/construction. Inspector Clark observed the construction of a new package goods section, a new walk-in refrigerator, shelving, and the construction of a lounge section in the rest of the establishment. On December 14, 2016 BLLC Chief Inspector Mark Fosler visited the establishment and made observations for himself. Chief Fosler, who was familiar with the layout of the establishment, observed that due to the renovations the package goods space had increased while the bar/tavern portion of the location had been reduced. In addition, Chief Fosler saw that additional plexi-glass/bulletproof windows had been installed in the expanded package goods section. Upon review of the file and the application of the licensee for transfer, it was determined that permission for such alterations that changed the manner in which alcoholic beverages dispensed at this establishment was neither requested from or granted by the Board.

Violation of Rule 4.20(c)(i)(4)(a): Class BD7 Licensees – December 13, 2016 – At approximately 12:30 PM, BLLC Darryl Clark arrived at the establishment to conduct a regularly scheduled routine inspection. Upon conducting his inspection, Clark observed that the entire establishment was under renovation/construction. Inspector Clark observed the construction of a new package goods section, a new walk-in refrigerator, shelving, and the construction of a lounge section in the rest of the establishment. On December 14, 2016 BLLC Chief Inspector Mark Fosler visited the establishment and made observations for himself. Chief Fosler, who was familiar with the layout of the establishment, observed that due to the renovations the package goods space had increased while the bar/tavern portion of the location had been reduced. In addition, Chief Fosler saw that additional plexi-glass/bulletproof windows had been installed in the expanded package goods section.

Hearing notes

Inspector Darryl Clark testified that he noticed that the establishment was under renovation when he visited on a routine inspection. He informed Chief Inspector Fosler of the renovations that he had noticed.

Mr. Kodenski argued with the inspector that there is no definition of “alterations” in the Liquor Board’s Rules and Regulations. Chairman Matricciani noted that this is a legal argument, not a question for the inspector. Commissioner Moore said, “plain meaning of the word,” meaning that the Board can use the dictionary meaning of the term “alterations” – it’s not necessary to define the term.

Inspector Fosler corroborated Clark’s testimony and said that the business was closed for extensive renovations when he visited. The licensees expanded the floor space for package goods compared to the tavern portion of the business. The cooler boxes took up three times the space, and the bar had been removed entirely.

Mr. Kodenski submitted building permits for the renovations to replace the floor, among other improvements. The former owner testified that the coolers had been old and in need of replacement. The tavern area, he said, was reduced in size, but they’re going to expand it again. The current licensee testified that, when she started cleaning the place up, she saw that the floor was in bad shape and decided to replace them as well as the old coolers. She testified that she’s been selling 50/50 from the bar and the package goods side of the business.

Result of hearing Responsible. $100 fine.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None

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