Board Cautions Restaurant Over Addition Violation

SNOW HILL — At this month’s Board of License Commissioners (BLC) meeting, two new alcoholic beverage licenses were approved and an increase in entertainment request was granted.

The commissioners also heard two hearings, one for a noise violation and the other for an unauthorized alteration to a licensed premise.

Beverage license violations this month were uncharacteristically light with the only two hearings held by the BLC, both only generating warnings. The first case concerned Guido’s Burritos, located at 3303 Coastal Highway in Ocean City. The business, which had just received a license in May, was called to the board to defend an unauthorized addition to the property that was not on the original plans presented.

The owners acknowledged that they should have contacted the board before any construction, said Mark Cropper, attorney for the restaurant. However, he argued the alteration was made in good faith and was done with the belief that the commission would look favorably upon it. Back in May, the biggest concern the BLC raised about granting Guido’s a license was over outdoor seating on the east side. The alteration that is currently underway would enclose a lot of that seating area near Coastal Highway.

“I know it’s my personal opinion but I actually think the improvements that have been made, the modifications, are incredibly attractive and enhance the overall appearance of the building,” Cropper said.

The owners should have gotten prior approval from the board, Cropper continued, but during their initial May meeting the decision to alter that part of the facility wasn’t made. Instead of waiting to go back for the board’s approval, Guido’s made the decision to start the addition without approval so as not to lose too much of the summer before it was completed.

“In the middle of the summer season losing five to six weeks is huge. They’re already about two weeks behind on this project. He was hoping to be open by now, he’s not,” said Cropper, referring to Guido’s owner Rocco DiFilippo.

The board didn’t debate whether the additions were an improvement. BLC member Marc Scher told Cropper that his clients should have at least contacted the board’s staff prior to beginning construction even if they didn’t want to wait for the next BLC meeting.

“Even though we only meet once a month, these guys work all the time and that’s what they’re here for,” Scher said.

Cropper didn’t dispute that mistakes were made.

The board voted to approve the ongoing alteration and did not issue a fine. BLC Acting Chair Charles Nichols did offer a word of caution, however.

“This is a very stern warning that we’re not going to keep going through all of these gyrations on this stuff. Having a liquor license in Worcester County is a privilege and it’s not something that comes easily. We don’t want to go through all of these gyrations every month,” Nichols said.

The next hearing was for a noise violation from Cowboy Coast Country Saloon, located at 17th Street and Philadelphia Avenue in Ocean City. Formerly the site of the Party Block, Cowboy Coast received a noise complaint on June 16. It’s not a regular issue, promised owner Mark Bogosh. When asked if everything has been straightened out, Bogosh replied in the affirmative.

“I believe that we have. I believe it’s a continual issue that we’re going to address daily,” he told the board. “But I believe that we’ve resolved it and we know where we need to be.”

Bogosh was questioned on an incident when music was played through speakers at his bar that were not approved under his beverage license. He explained that it was a fluke involving none of the “normal clientele or crowd.”

Instead, Bogosh had allowed a traditional event that the Party Block ran annually to continue this year despite the location changing over to his ownership. At the party, a DJ hooked up their own speakers, which were not allowed under the license regulations.

“I knew that the parties were going to take place. I wasn’t aware that they were going to have any additional speakers,” Bogosh said.

The board voted to only log a letter of reprimand for the incident.

Besides the hearings, two businesses in Worcester were granted alcoholic beverage licenses during Wednesday’s meeting. The first was for Winter Quarters Golf Course, located at 355 Winter Quarters Drive, Pocomoke City. Representing the golf course was Mayor Bruce Morrison.

“We just built a brand new club house on our golf course and we would just like to have a seven-day beer and wine license to be served during golf club hours,” he said. “We won’t be selling at nighttime or having people hanging around, we’re not a bar or anything.”

The second request was from Tai Ji Sushi, located at 106 S. Baltimore Avenue in Ocean City, for a beer and wine license.

Both license applications were approved with little discussion.

The final application was for Taylor’s Neighborhood Restaurant near Ocean Pines. Taylor’s requested the privilege of outside entertainment, non-amplified, from noon-8 p.m. as well as outside speakers for background music. The application was also approved.