Baltimore Press

SoBo Residents Protest Bar Expansion at Liquor Board

Residents of South Balti­more protested two requests to ease restrictions on liquor licenses of Federal Hill estab lishments at yesterday’s liquor board meeting.

State Senator George Della, Delegate Brian McHale (both D-47th), and Councilmembers John Cain and Lois Garey (both D-lst) attended the first hearing , in which Mother’s Federal Hill Grille was requesting to add outdoor seating, and to use a second floor for the restaurant walks. The owners had already made a compromise with com­munity groups regarding outside seating (patrons must order food and no alcohol after
11PM). The board approved the out­door seating, but with the above restrictions in place.
There was a question about the Rathers’ intention for the upstairs dining room. They said it was to be for additional restaurant seating, along with a pool table. Documentation and testimony labeled it as a banquet facility, a vague term in city law. The concern expressed by both Delegate McHale and Senator Della was that this space would be used principally for drinking liquor.

Kodenski presented a petition signed by 600 people in favor of the expansion, and noted that three area restaurants had been allowed to expand recently.

Edwin Muhly, CEO of the defunct Muhly Bakery, spoke in support of the Rathers. Mother’s is located in the old bakeiy’s building.

The president of South Baltimore Improvement Committee (SBIC), Cynthia Griffin, wrote in an e-mail dated June 22nd that “this is just the first step in the liquor crusade to turn South Baltimore into the next Fells Point.” The e-mail message was widely distributed and it caught the attention of Della and McHale.

Griffin, who works for the compa­ny that supply’s Mother’s with food, was pressured by her boss into drop­ping her opposition, she said. She did not, and was not retaliated against.

David Marshal, spokesperson of Federal Hill Neighborhood Association, objected to the expan­sion, and complained that the Rathers had not informed with the Association about it. He read a letter from a Federal Hill resident complaining about the urination and defecation on his property by people coming out of area bars.

Senator Della spoke for the opposi­tion, saying, “if this [expansion request] wasn’t a hoax I wouldn’t be standing here.” He noted that the Zoning Board was not been informed of the banquet facility, which would not be allowed without City Council approval.

David Rather said that his restau­rant promoted food and not alcohol. He did not advertise a happy hour, he said, unlike most places in the area. “I would love to have live entertain­ment, but I can’t,” he said. “You’re damn right,” responded Liquor Board Chairman Leonard Skolnik.

The board gave a tentative approval of the expansion, hinging on the approval of the Zoning Board.
The second case regarded the owner of Fort Charles Pub. Bonny Brown asked to remove a “no live entertainment” clause and to open before 1PM on Sundays. After about an hour of debate between the neigh­borhood attorney Timothy Hodge and Brown’s attorney Melvin Kodenski, the Board decided to hold its decision in abeyance and ordered both parties to work out an agreement. Executive Secretary of the Liquor Board, Nathan Irby, will mediate the meeting of the parties.

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