SNOW HILL – Officials continued a hearing regarding renovation plans at an Ocean Pines eatery.
The Worcester County Board of License Commissioners (BLC) last week said they needed clearer plans to review before they could consider approving the renovation underway at the Pickled Goose, the facility once known as Whiskers Bar & Grill. BLC members expressed concern regarding changes to the establishment’s retail sales area.
“We’re going to continue the hearing and give you an opportunity to come back,” said BLC Chairman William Esham. “You’re making a big improvement, no question. The idea was the retail area wasn’t to change a lot.”
In January, the BLC approved a license transfer for Whiskers, as Shereen Ramadan and Dina Sbih took over the restaurant. At the time, an attorney representing the nearby Rita’s World of Beer and Wine said his client didn’t want to see the restaurant turn into a primarily retail operation. At the time, the board stressed that it would not.
“We’re not approving a retail outlet we’re approving a restaurant transfer,” Esham said then.
The restaurant’s connections returned to the BLC this month seeking approval of changes and improvements to the premises. Brad Mogan, who’s working with the applicants on the facility, said liquor would not be the main focus of the business. He said he did want to change the interior retail displays however to include high glass shelving featuring liquor bottles.
“We’re trying to make it an attractive restaurant people will talk about,” he said.
BLC members said it wasn’t clear if the retail space was increasing or not. Mogan was adamant that retail space was actually decreasing. BLC member Charles Nichols said it was hard to determine what was proposed when the board was looking at three different plans.
“When we started doing this it was not meant to be this big of a project,” Mogan said. “We’ve had to go through multiple different plans with the architect. Some of these drawings I had to do myself because he was frustrated and busy as well.”
Attorney Pete Cosby, representing the Pickled Goose, said he hadn’t been informed there was a hearing until two days prior.
“I told Brad, you need one clean plan. that’s all these folks want,” Cosby said. “I want the facts to be known. I was disappointed I realize my job here today was not made easier by what you’re being presented with.”
He said the board had raised a legitimate concern regarding the calculation of retail space considering there would be alcohol in the bottles proposed for the display area.
Esham, pointing to the fact that an attorney representing Rita’s World of Beer and Wine was present, said he felt the board had no choice but to continue the hearing until the Pickled Goose had a plan clearly indicating the retail area and any proposed changes. The board voted 3-0 in support of his motion.
“This is the most incomplete bunch of stuff I’ve seen since 2007 when I got on this board,” Nichols said. “It’s embarrassing.”