A local market now has a license to sell hard liquor along with beer and wine after the board of license commissioners gave its approval on Thursday following a request from Good Day Market of Prince Frederick to upgrade its Class A Off Sale license.
At its July meeting, the liquor board asked store owner Kanchan Sharma to obtain at least 100 signatures of registered voters living within a five-mile radius of the store to justify the request.
Since the store is located outside a town center, is in close proximity of three schools and fronts a residential subdivision, the board felt Sharma needed to show evidence that there was a need for an additional liquor vendor in the area with others in areas such as Prince Frederick.
Board chairman Robert Arscott stated some of the signatures appeared to be from individuals who reside outside the area. However, there were well over 100 signatures on the petition.
“We’re going to investigate this a little further, but we don’t want to hold you up,” Arscott said.
The board voted to approve the request “pending further investigation.”
The additional investigation would involve vetting the signatures using data from the local election board.
New license in limbo
James Zirakian of Lusby is hoping to open Bugeye Grill in Solomons before the end of the summer. While noting that the new business’ location will be the same structure that was once home to Catamarans, Zirakian said the Bugeye would be “casual upscale” and target “young professionals” as its client base.
As for the food, Zirakian stated “everything is fresh.”
Zirakian is also the owner of another Solomons restaurant, Charles Street Brasserie, and is the resident agent for that restaurant’s liquor license.
It was Zirakian’s plan to also be the resident agent for the Bugeye Grill. Zirakian’s attorney, V. Charles Donnelly explained Maryland’s liquor laws changed July 1 and the portion of the code that had prohibited one person from being the resident agent for more than one liquor license is now allowable. The local licensing board has the authority to decide whether it will grant the license for another business.
“It sounds like an asset to the community,” Arscott said of Zirakian’s plan for the new restaurant.
However, the board was unanimous in their opposition to granting the license since Zirakian is already the agent for another business.
“We don’t want to set a precedent,” Arscott told Zirakian. “You need to get a resident agent.”
Despite a presentation from Donnelly documenting how state lawmakers arrived at the requirement change and even hearing the board’s own attorney, David Weigel state that having another resident agent “doesn’t solve the problem,” the board held its ground.
“It’s wrong to change the precedent,” said board member Frank B. Stull.
Whole conceding other counties might be willing to allow one individual to serve as a resident agent, Arscott indicated the board didn’t want to change the policy.
“This is Calvert County, and we want to keep it country,” he said. “The license has to be in another name.”
Arscott indicated that if Zirakian has a second resident agent the request for a Class D On Sale Beer, Wine and Liquor license could be approved at the board’s September meeting.
Zirakian, who explained he wanted to be the agent for both licenses in order to avoid “partnership problems,” indicated that he wanted to open the new restaurant at the start of September.
“Just open it up and don’t sell alcohol,” Arscott said. “I wish you lots of luck and hope you make lots of money, but it’s not happening tonight.”
Donnelly advised the board there would likely be more licensees wanting to be designated agents for more than one business. “You have to be careful with this because I think you’re going to have people coming in wanting to do this,” he said.
Store fined for relocation
The board levied a $250 fine against the owner/operator of Breezy Point Bait and Tackle Store.
Owner Laura Herschfeld admitted the store had to move “probably a block” from its previous location and did so without submitting a new floor plan to the board. The store continued to sell alcohol after the move.
“It’s a violation,” Arscott said. “You obviously didn’t do it on purpose.”
Board member John Smack recommended the fine, which he said was “very lenient.”