As the Baltimore Liquor Board granted the Senator Theatre’s request for a liquor license for Bar Zini, its new restaurant planned in adjoining space, everyone was all smiles yesterday.
Everyone, that is, except co-owner James “Buzz” Cusack. He faced a small swarm of television cameras and reporters afterwards, asking not about the eatery but about when the 74-year-old North Baltimore landmark he is renovating would reopen.
“All the attention, it’s a bit disconcerting,” Cusack said, waving his hand toward his questioners, explaining that when it comes to media interest, he really would prefer much less of it.
Prompting him anyway, a television reporter asked, would it re-open “In September? In “the fall?”
“It’s a very tedious process – it won’t be too long,” came his answer. The theatre, located on York Road near Belvedere Square, was closed in April 2012.
Since then Cusack and his co-owner, daughter Kathleen Cusack Lyon, have been converting the once-single-screen theatre to a four-screen movie house.
Cusack noted that “re-gilding of the main auditorium” is taking place now and talked about their efforts to match interior colors to the originals in the circa 1939 structure and to restore a mural in the theatre’s rotunda.
Pressed again on a re-opening date, he finally said “a couple of months.”
During the hearing, not Cusack but Lyon stood before Chairman Stephan W. Fogleman and Commissioner Harvey E. Jones (Commissioner Elizabeth C. Smith was not in attendance). Joining them atthe dais was David Sherman, who will be operating the restaurant.
It will be “Mediterranean-style, small plates, chef-driven, beverage-driven,” Sherman said.
Fogleman reviewed the details – a 96-seat restaurant, outdoor seating and live entertainment, letters of support from nearby community associations and City Councilman Bill Henry, a Memorandum of Understanding with the Belvedere Improvement Association – before the board approved the license.
Fined for Violations
Other applicants had a rockier time yesterday in Room 215.
Cho Min Hwan, of the Bull Robinson Liquor Store in the 2700 block of Greenmount Ave., was there because of incident in which an employee had refused to show store records and provide identification to an inspector and became “hostile,” saying he didn’t have to show anything.
Cho did not dispute the inspector’s account of “non-cooperation,” apologized and explained the employee had only been working there a month and a half.
“So you haven’t fired him?” Fogleman asked, warning that a second violation could result in loss of license and questioning why the employee himself had not appeared to apologize in person. A fine of $375 was imposed.
Other Other News This Week
In other news from yesterday’s meeting, Union Craft Brewing, of 1700 Union Ave. was granted a first-of-its kind license to allow them to serve beer in their tasting room.
(The legislature created the new “Class D” license earlier this year and this Hampden-based brewer was the first to take advantage of it, Fogleman explained.)
The board also approved a liquor license transfer for the Belgian brasserie De Kleine Duivel, 3602 Hickory Ave.
Don’t Know, at 1453 Light Street, was given permission for live entertainment granted Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturday, subject to the terms pof a Memorandum of Understanding with the South baltimore Neighborhood Association.
Last week’s meeting
Thanks to reporting by Christina Schoppert Devereux, attorney/blogger for the Community Law Center, we have some more detailed observations from last week’s meeting (July 18). Go here to read her account in “Booze News.”
A few of the highlights she passed along via email, indicating areas where applications were again green-lighted at the hearing without proper documentation or with other problems:
* Corporations on the Foster Ave and 5800 York Road applications do not exit.
* Gough St. tavern approved within 300 feet of a school. (Legality of this unclear, discussed in her blog post.)
* The 5800 York Road applicant is not a city resident