Baltimore Press

Liquor Board Debates Phantom Bars

The Liquor Board itself ini­tiated protests against the renewal of two liquor licenses. Both cases involved establish­ments with BD7 licenses, which allow a bar to remain open seven days a week and sell package goods to go. The law requires that the bar “must be opera­tive for business at all times the premises is open to the public.” The liquor board’s staff contended that both establishments were functioning as liquor stores, which are only ! allowed to open for six days a week. The practice of using defunct 7-day bars as fronts for package goods stores has been greatly disputed in many city neighborhoods.

Liquor Inspector Kabah stated the case against Yummy’s Liquor Packaged Goods of Pennsylvania Avenue. During testimony, Kabah stated that he participated in a sweep with the Central Service Task Force on February 18th. during an inspec- tio of Yummy’s, he said, there was no functioning bar on the premises. He noted that there was a bar/lounge on the second floor, but that it was used only for storage. His story was corroborated with a video submitted as evidence, which showed cases of cigarettes in the men’s bathroom and unidentified cases of supplies block­ing the stairs.

Kabah stated that Yummy’s did not have proper zoning for a second floor bar, only a first floor bar. The zoning question was considered by the Board, but finally regarded not to be within the Board’s purview.
Proprietor David Kim responded to the primary charges by insisting he had a bar on foe first floor, a state­ment that was confirmed by Acting Chief Inspector Vernon “Tim” Conway. Commissioner Claudia Brown commented that the bar might have been new, as construction mate­rials had been found in the area.

In a split decision, the Board gave Kim a fine of $500, which was sus­pended due to this being Kim’s first offense.
In a minority statement, Commissioner William Welch stated that he would have voted with the majority on the merits of the case, but due to what he considered a tech­nical error in the Boards application of the law, he had no choice but to vote for an acquittal. In question was whether a notice of violation sent to the defendant by Inspector Conway could be construed as notice from the Liquor Board. Chairman Skolnik dis­agreed with Welsh’s conclusions, not­ing that the complaint need only be filed within thirty days of the hear­ing, and that the Board as a whole had agreed to send out the com­plaints.

The second case was filed against Four G’s Liquor & Lounge of Liberty Heights Avenue and its pro­prietor Stephen M. Kim. Liquor Inspector Donald Fitzgerald stated that on January 27th he had sent 2 men into Four G’s, both of whom were refused entrance into the bar. On April 14th, he then sent a woman, into the bar, and she too was refused service. At both times, the establishment was selling liquor .through it’s carry-out window.

Kim defended himself by stating that the one of the two men had robbed him previously, and that the woman was a known drug user. Fitzgerald apologized, stating he “did not know she was a junky.”

Part-time Liquor Inspector John Holly testified next, stating that he had in fact been served a drink at the bar on March 17, even if the door had been locked before he entered and a thick coat of dust covered the liquor bottles.
With Holly’s testimony, the Board dismissed the charges, but not with­out Chairman Skolnik stating “per­sonally, I don’t think you were open as a bar.”

Commissioner Welch reiterated his minority opinion.

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