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Liquor Issues

by Fern Shen8:26 amNov 4, 20130

Battle brewing over Greektown bar

Loiterers yell, ask for money and bother pedestrians, says Father Michael Pastrikos.

Above: Lou’s Bar, at Ponca St. and Eastern Ave. in Greektown, isn’t a good neighbor, residents say.

Community leaders, a priest armed with a petition and other opponents appeared before the Baltimore Liquor Board recently to oppose a license transfer request for Lou’s Bar & Liquors.

The Greektown establishment, at 4819-25 Eastern Avenue, is a nuisance, area residents said, according to a description of the meeting before the Board of Liquor License Commissioners posted on the Community Law Center’s blog, “Booze News.”

An official at the Greektown Community Development Corp. “testified that the establishment was poorly run, with loitering and petty crime issues,” according to an account of the hearing by attorney/blogger Becky Lundberg.

The organization asked the commissioners to deny the transfer request since the applicant is the current manager of the establishment.

The application drew almost a dozen opponents, according to Witt. Among them was Father Michael L. Pastrikos, of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, who submitted a letter of opposition to the board, as well as “a 10-page long petition from parishioners and other community members.”

“Father Pastrikos testified that he had seen people overdrinking every single day who loiter outside the building and that when he walks by, there are usually at least 10 people outside,” Witt wrote. “The loiterers yell, ask for money and bother pedestrians.”

City Councilman James B. Kraft sent a letter in support of the community’s position on the transfer. The applicant withdrew a request for permission to have live entertainment.

A Chronic Problem Raised in the Audit

When it came time for a decision, the commissioners said the matter would be postponed for two weeks because the business entity associated with the application was not in good standing.

But since an entity’s status with the State Department of Assessments and Taxation is public record and easily determined, why did the Liquor Board staff even schedule the request for a hearing in the first place?

With the same thing happening in other recent Liquor Board cases, Witt said, the board’s decision highlights a chronic issue the agency has still not corrected since a critical March audit by the state – lack of formal written policies.

“Though CLC applauds the incremental improvements to the licensing process, BLCC staff still seem to lack formal written policies to help them process applications,” she wrote.

“For example, this case was scheduled for a hearing by BLCC staff, though the LLC on the application was not in good standing.”

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