Board Extends WOC Restaurant’s Live Music Cutoff

SNOW HILL — At this month’s Board of License Commissioners meeting, a formerly disciplined property in West Ocean City had some entertainment hours restored while a second property in Snow Hill had its request for a beer and wine license put on hold while ramifications are considered.
Applications from both Station 7 Restaurant, located on Old Bridge Road in West Ocean City, and Kaddy Mart, located on West Market Street in Snow Hill, received significant public support from neighboring residents. In the case of Station 7, the owners were asking the BLC to return live entertainment privileges until 1 a.m. four nights per week. The extension is critical, according to owner Todd Wampler.
“We’re just at your mercy here today because it’s quickly approaching the end,” he told the board.
Station 7 had considerable entertainment privileges until just this past April, when the BLC cut all of their live music hours to no later than 11 p.m. The restaurant had received a number of noise complaints. Perhaps more damaging, however, was a perceived lack of cooperation between management and the board’s Special Investigator Jeff Mayne.
“The licensee was not very receptive to changing his entertainment in order to keep the neighbor happy. He asserted that he has a right to make a living,” wrote Mayne in his report last April. “I reminded him that he did not have a right to operate his alcoholic beverage license in any manner he sees fit, because his license is a privilege governed by laws and regulations, not the least of which was the law that requires him to operate in such a manner as not to interfere with the peace and quiet of his neighbors.”
At this month’s meeting, Wampler apologized again for any perception of disrespect.
“I do want to apologize if we did get off on the wrong foot with Mr. Mayne in the beginning,” said Wampler. “We have nothing but utter respect for Mr. Mayne and the liquor board.”
About a dozen neighboring residents and employees of Station 7 turned out at the meeting to support Wampler’s application for live music until 1 a.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The witnesses all unanimously agreed that longer music on those nights would serve the public need and would allow Station 7 to have more family dining hours by proxy, since once the music starts families tend to clear out.
Sound dampening curtains have been installed since the last incident, added Wampler, and the neighbor who lodged the complaints has been placated. If music hours aren’t returned, Wampler is afraid the restaurant might not make it.
“I’d appreciate it if you gave us the opportunity to prove that we can do right and we can do what the community wants,” he said.
The board voted to approve the application, but warned Station 7 to be more mindful of the directions of police and the board’s special investigator in the future.
The BLC was less sure about an application filed by Kaddy Mart for a Class A beer and wine license. Like Station 7, Kaddy Mart had a strong turnout of neighborhood support, with about a dozen residents indicating support for the store and the need to have beer and wine as well as the food and convenience items that would be available at Kaddy.
However, one person did speak in protest. Jenny Burkhead agreed with residents that a convenience store on West Market Street could well serve the community but questioned the need for beer and wine to be part of that operation.
“We’ve already mentioned the hard economic times. Hard economic times do not call for wine, alcohol and beer,” she asserted.
Attorney Pete Cosby, who represented Kaddy, asked Burkhead if she lived in proximity to the proposed store’s location. She admitted that she did not but that her children lived nearby with her mother and attended school nearby.
“I have a particular interest. My kids reside here. They go to that middle school that’s across the street from this possible alcohol, beer and liquor,” she said, before being corrected by BLC Chair William Esham that Kaddy was only requesting beer and wine, not liquor.
Cosby acknowledged that the property on West Market Street had issues in the past under different owners and management, including many instances of loitering.
“When my clients came to me, my reaction was that I knew there were problems with this location in the past and this would not be an easy application,” he said.
But he believes that Kaddy Mart could be a boon to Snow Hill in general and that neighborhood in particular. He also noted that the only person to protest the application does not technically reside in town.
“This is a vacant commercial property and to be a viable business I do believe that it needs to have a license and I believe that it does serve a need on the south end of town,” Cosby said.
The BLC chose to delay a decision on the application until its Nov. 20 meeting. Esham asked Cosby to bring architectural plans for possible improvements to the lot where Kaddy Mart would be located.