In setting what could only be described as a dangerous precedent today, Octogenarian Head of the Liquor Board Thomas Ward and Commish Dana Moore voted 2-1 to invalidate the 10,000 year old (but still in use yet) Cross Bar der Biergarten’s (12-18 Cross St, Federal Hill (theoretically)) liquor license, a bar that hasn’t even finished construction. If you’re new to the whole issue, which has been going on for well over a year and change, I’d recommend clicking through that link I just hyperlinked and indulging in a bit of a history lesson but essentially, here’s the breakdown of what happened today and why it super sucks:
1) After 10,000,000 combined total energy units (money, time, calories, tears) the Federal Hill Neighborhood Association and Citizens Undermining Newandfun Times alike that have opposed Cross Bar since day -1 took their case to the liquor board and explained that because the liquor license associated with the property(ies) had been dormant since 2009 (absolutely true), it had expired and could not be used for the project.
2) Newly minted Octogenarian head of the liquor board said “yup, it sure is expired” and invalidated the license.
3) The license is now dead. See, in the city of Baltimore, and unlike energy which cannot be created nor destroyed – new liquor licenses cannot be created (unless it’s say, an uber luxury condo development or 24/7 casino) but only destroyed, if left without usage for 180 days without a hardship extension, which the CB group attempted to apply for. Granted, it’s pretty much BS and they’ve been squatting the license for over 5 years, but former Head Stephan Fogleman was aware of the Law of Reverse Conservation of Liquor Licenses and granted extensions over and over (or at least, that’s my theory). Hence, the term “zombie license” as has been dubbed by members of the media that clearly have a boner for doing away with drinking establishments and continuously drag the former Head’s name through the dirt. Unlike zombies, however, these licenses can be successfully revived if and when they’re transferred to the right person. In this case, Bryan McComas probably wasn’t the right person for political reasons, but it could have been someone else. But no, now it’s gone forever.
4) With who knows how many of these “zombie licenses” floating around the city, the clarion call from certain individuals will be to treat all of them with Fairness of the Law and eliminate them, thus shrinking the bar/restaurant landscape in areas that are either currently viable, or may one day be viable. In areas that have yet to see much revitalization this will significantly impact that area’s potential, point of fact. There’s no other way around it.
5) So Cross Bar, which is blissfully and at this point, ignorantly continuing with construction has no liquor license – but that’s not the part that sucks. No one else can ever open a new business under that license, it’s gone forever. If I ever wanted to open a Meat Snacks n’ Beer establishment somewhere on Light or Charles, I’d have to look for one of the few remaining licenses in the area that’s for sale, which at this point Cross Bar is going to have to look for as well. And even if they do that, what’s to stop the FHNA et al from continuing to fight them?
There’s no love lost for me on this project, I’ve felt like the social media campaigning and general cockiness of Cross Bar has generated a lot of karma that has truly kicked them squa in the nuts. But as a result, and as a result of the FHNA doing anything they can possibly do to to stop the project, they effectively destroyed even the potential of one future bar / restaurant in the area that people could be truly excited about.
Way to go guys!