Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
E-mail this article
Print this Article

Several Chesapeake Beach residents expressed concerns during Thursday night’s Calvert County Board of License Commissioners meeting about the transfer of a liquor license from Kevin E. York to the three owners of Captain Big’s restaurant.

The request for transfer of application would transfer a class D license to sell liquor at Captain Big’s on Bayside Road in Chesapeake Beach from current licensee Kevin E. York to the three owners of the restaurant, Mark Eckenrode, Jeff Zutant and Kevin C. York. Zutant said because the liquor license currently is in Kevin E. York’s name, he retains 20 percent of the liquor profits made at the restaurant and the three owners retain the remaining 80 percent. The transfer would allow the three owners to retain 100 percent of the profits.

Liquor board member Beth Swoap said the board received a significant amount of mail concerning the application for transfer and invited the public to speak during the meeting.

Lynda Striegel, a 10-year resident of Bay Crest Court, said she walks her dog every evening and witnesses people being “loud, urinating in the parking lot, yelling [and] screaming.”

“It’s very difficult to live next door and I oppose their license,” she said.

Jeff Blumquist, an attorney representing Bay Crest Court residents Anne and Marie Drissel, said previous restaurants, such as Chaney’s, located where Captain Big’s currently is, were more family oriented, which was more appropriate in keeping with the residential character of the neighborhood. He said Captain Big’s is now “operated in a completely different fashion than the historical licensee.”

Blumquist provided the liquor board with photographs and statements taken from the bar and grill’s Facebook page. One picture was of a Captain Big’s “logo or mascot,” which is a dog dressed as a pirate. Another photograph was of a statement that said, “Tip your bartender. If it wasn’t for us, you’d still be sober and she would still be ugly,” Blumquist read. He said Captain Big’s is also advertising for their next beer pong tournament, which is a drinking game, and a “badass band” at the end of March.

“We think it speaks volumes about the crowd that they’re trying to attract,” Blumquist said. “It’s a young, rough crowd.”

Blumquist said the Drissels purchased the property as a home to retire to and currently rent it out. He said they are no longer interested in moving into the home and have tried to sell it, but are unsuccessful because of the way the “establishment has deteriorated the property values in the neighborhood and deteriorated the desirability of the neighborhood.”

David Weigel of Davis, Upton, Palumbo & Dougherty LLC, attorney for the owners of Captain Big’s, said the Drissels don’t live in the home and do not see “the operation on a daily or even weekly basis,” so they could not speak for all Bay Crest Court residents.

Blumquist also raised concerns about the amount of calls police respond to at the restaurant.

Deputy Childress of the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office, who works as head of security for the restaurant, said since the last liquor board meeting on Jan. 24, there were “only three calls for service” regarding Captain Big’s. One call was for trespassing and two were for noise complaints, he said.

The sheriff’s office had previously reported that deputies had responded Feb. 23 to the restaurant for a reported fight, “which in fact was not the case,” Childress said. He said patrons from another establishment were walking home past Captain Big’s and began an altercation in the parking lot.

Swoap asked Childress “how things have been” in the last month regarding disorderly patrons.

“Things are definitely changing,” Childress said. “It’s a more mature crowd. … We’re still working on the music level … but we’ve had no major incidents where the public is to be concerned for their property or safety.”

Kevin C. York said the bar provides entertainment Thursday nights in the form of karaoke and Friday and Saturday nights in the form of music announcers. He said during the summer, they hope to open a tiki bar outside and, occasionally, such as on holidays and special occasions, have music outside.

“We have changed up our music selection to not as much hip-hop and dance music, and we try to appeal to an older crowd, a more mature crowd,” he said. “We changed to country and some … classic rock, just trying to appeal to a different crowd, and it’s changing.”

Childress said the owners have posted sets of rules and regulations patrons of the restaurant must follow when they are inside.

During the last liquor board meeting, the owners were asked to create a security plan. Swoap asked Childress if the security plan they came up with was “sufficient.” Childress said it was, but requested the liquor board “give it a little time to take full effect” and see if further changes are needed.

“I think what they have in place now is a step in the right direction and it’s actually going to help their establishment,” he said.

Blumquist disagreed, stating there are “no controlled access points” to entering the bar. “Anyone can walk up from any direction, including the seawall along the bay, and get access to the outdoor property,” he said.

Blumquist said the security plan also states they will have one security officer for every 50 patrons, but makes no reference to the capacity for inside or outside areas. He also ridiculed the plan outlined to distinguish underage from of-age drinkers, which is a difference in drink ware.

Liquor board attorney Gene Pitrof said the owners have “lost their way,” and have not adhered to the policy that requires them to provide for the “protection of the health, safety and welfare” of citizens.

“They’ve been before us before, they heard the problem and they were going to go fix it, and it’s obviously not been changed,” he said.

Weigel said the owners have showed a willingness to work with the Bay Crest Court residents to create a calendar to keep them informed of when they will have live bands and to address any additional concerns of the homeowners. He said they’ve also agreed to “work on and evaluate” the security plan to improve it when necessary.

“I don’t think they’ve lost their way,” he said. “I think they are working toward becoming a thriving business, a responsible business, in this community.”

Liquor board member John Smack said the owners have made some attempts to become a thriving business in the community, but “it’s very difficult.”

Board member Ruth Reid said she had too much information to look over before she made a decision about the license transfer and made a motion to postpone the decision until at least the next meeting March 28, which was unanimously approved.