Bar Surrenders Liquor License

SNOW HILL – A small measure of closure in the saga of the Cowboyz Smokehouse and Saloon, closed in September amid health code violations and an investigation into underage drinking and late-night pornography sessions, was meted out yesterday when the owner surrendered the establishment’s liquor license.

At a scheduled county Board of License Commissioners hearing, for which Cowboyz had been called to address an underage drinking violation as well as a noise violation, the restaurant’s owner, through his attorney J. Harrison Phillips, voluntarily turned in his liquor license to the commission. Phillips read a brief statement to the commission members on behalf of his client.

“Mr. John Brooks, owner of Cowboyz, after much personal thought and family discussion, has decided to sell Cowboyz including the extensive leasehold improvements,” the statement reads. “As previously planned, Cowboyz has closed for the season.”

The statement goes on to say the business has been listed for sale with a commercial realty firm in Owings Mills. Beyond that, the brief statement did little to address allegations against the restaurant.

“Since the liquor license is non-transferable, Mr. Brooks has instructed me to voluntarily turn in the Cowboyz liquor license to the Worcester County Alcoholic Beverage Commission on Thursday at the scheduled meeting.”

In September, the Worcester County Health Department closed Cowboyz after a follow-up inspection revealed management failed to correct violations from a routine inspection 30 days earlier. Among the violations cited during the inspections was a lack of hot water in the facility, faulty refrigeration equipment and meat and other food supplies stored at temperatures over 60 degrees.

Shortly after the health department closed Cowboyz, the Ocean City Police Department acknowledged the restaurant and bar were under investigation as a site for the alleged after-hours filming and photographing of pornographic material later posted online. Police said at the time the nightclub had confirmed cases of underage drinking, which is one of the reasons for the hearing with the Board of License Commissioners yesterday.

Neither the health code violations nor the underage drinking charges would typically be enough to force Brooks to surrender his liquor license. However, no criminal charges have been filed against Brooks or the restaurant except for a minor municipal infraction.