The county liquor board has OK'd a proposal from the owners of Joby's in Union Bridge to convert the restaurant and bar into a private social club.
William F. Dixon and Larry C. Smith, both of Westminster, testified at a hearing before the board last month that they wanted to open a non-profit club for 150 members.
Membership will be open to anyone older than 21, but the club will be owned and operated by blacks and will be run primarily for blacks, said Dixon, 49.
Last spring, when Joby's liquor license was downgraded because food sales were not the state-required 41 percent of gross sales, people in the black community worried that the establishment would close, he said.
"They said Joby's was the only place in Carroll County where black people could congregate and feel at home," Dixon said.
Converting the restaurant and bar to a non-profit club would be a way to keep it open, Dixon said.
At one time, Carroll had a number of social clubs for blacks, Dixon said.
"We have a chance to make a change, to make a difference," he testified.
At the hearing on Aug. 14, the owners said 130 people, most of whom live in Carroll, had said they wanted to join.
The three-member liquor board approved the proposal last week, but said Dixon and Smith must report back to the board after six months in operation to ensure the club is being run the way the own ers testified it would be.
Two residents of West Broadway, where Joby's is located, complained at the hearing about late-night noise from patrons. Three letters from neighbors who opposed the move were read into the record.
Any profits the club would earn would be donated to community groups, Dixon said.
Dixon, a microbiologist for the Maryland Department of Health, and Smith, a machinist, opened Joby's in 1988.
When the club opens, it will be allowed to serve beer, wine and liquor.
"We're determined we're going to make this a reputable establishment," Dixon said.
In other action, the liquor board also: *Approved an application from the Beaverbrook Inn, 400 Ridgeville Blvd., Mount Airy, to add William H. Oliff of Mount Airy to the license.
Charles W. Summers, co-owner of the inn, testified in July that he was forced to reorganize the business after one of his co-owners disappeared.
Oliff replaces John Cavanagh, who left town on April 18, Summers said.
*Approved an application to transfer a liquor license held by Frank Ippoliti, owner of 144 Liquors in Mount Airy, to Thomas Bierman, Kimberly Sheridan and James Moxley, who will open Twin Arch Spirits in the Twin Arch Shopping Center in Mount Airy.
Bierman of Mount Airy will run the store with his wife, Barbara. Sheridan and Moxley each will own one-third of the business, but will not work in it on a daily basis.