Reversing previous decision, liquor board renews license for The Drinkery

Reversing its earlier decision, the Baltimore liquor board voted to renew the license of The Drinkery, a corner gay bar in Mount Vernon. The vote was 2-1, with Chairman Albert J. Matricciani Jr. dissenting.

Becky Witt, an attorney with the Community Law Center who writes about board meetings on the blog Booze News, confirmed the news to City Paper. Witt also represented the Mount Vernon Belvedere Improvement Association in its attempt to have The Drinkery's license revoked.

Drinkery owner Frederick Allen filed a motion for reconsideration days after the May 19 ruling. One of the issues he raised was testimony delivered by Jason Curtis, a resident of the neighborhood and a manager at the Hotel Indigo. His name is on the license at the hotel.

According to the board's rules and regulations, protests over the renewal of an establisment's license can only be brought by "not fewer than ten residents, commercial tenants (who are not holders or applicants for a liquor license), or real estate owners in the immediate vicinity of the licensed place of business."

Witt filed a memorandum arguing that Curtis' testimony was still valid.

"Mr. Curtis signed the petition as a resident in the immediate vicinity of the establishment, not as a commercial tenant," it reads. "He testified at the hearing that he resides at 1 E. Chase Street, the same address that he submitted on the petition next to his signature. Mr. Curtis testified to his experience with respect to The Drinkery as former President of the Mount Vernon Belvedere Improvement Association and current chair ofthe organization's Safety Committee."

"Mr. Curtis testified about specific complaints that he had received from community members as the President of MVBA." it goes on to say, "and the steps taken to address them, e.g., raising tens of thousands of dollars for a CitiWatch camera at the intersection of Park and Read."

Commissioners Aaron J. Greenfield and Dana P. Moore apparently disagreed, voting to renew the license.

At the May 19 hearing, residents complained about the rowdy atmosphere outside the bar. According to a report in the Baltimore Brew, "Police and neighbors described multiple 911 calls to the address, a March stabbing, and the nightly experience of seeing severely intoxicated patrons screaming and fighting."

Allen confirmed that he had written to an area resident who complained about the Drinkery saying he was going to sell the building to a "black bailbondsman," The Brew reported.

"I hope you like your new neighbor," the note concluded.

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