The county liquor board is considering a charge that Joby's Social Club in Union Bridge served alcohol after hours one night in November, an allegation the club's two owners deny.
On Nov. 11, Board Administrator J. Ronald Lau investigated complaints from neighbors that the club was staying open past 1 a.m., the time county bars must stop serving alcohol.
Lau testified at a board hearing yesterday that as he sat in his car on the street across from Joby's he saw two people in the dining room drinking from beer bottles shortly after 1 a.m.
At about 1:25 a.m., Lau said he went inside and saw three people sitting at the bar, including one who had a mug filled with a liquid that appeared to be beer.
County liquor law says bars and restaurants may not permit anyone to drink alcohol 15 minutes after the business closes.
"I emphatically can tell you, no one was served alcohol in Joby's after 1 a.m. on that particular night," owner William F. Dixon of Westminster said. "What we have here is a conglomeration of allegations."
Joby's was a public restaurant and bar until October, when Dixon and co-owner Larry C. Smith of Westminster converted it to a private social club. The club has about 80 members.
Dixon said that although some Union Bridge residents support the primarily black club, others "would do anything to close us."
Neighbors have complained to police and the liquor board about loud music and unruly patrons at Joby's since it opened in 1988.
Dixon said that in traveling around the county, he has seen other bars where alcohol has been consumed after 1:15 a.m.
"Are there sacred cows in this county?" he asked.
Board member William A. Sapp responded, "As far as all three of us on the board are concerned, there are no sacred cows."
Board Chairman Earle H. Brewer said, "I don't believe this establishment has been singled out."
Dixon asked Lau if he talked to the three people sitting at the bar or analyzed what was in the glass on the bar. Lau said he did not.
Major Cook, a club member and county deputy sheriff, testified he was sitting at the bar when Lau came in, but was drinking ginger ale.
Dixon said the club also serves four non-alcoholic beers.
The liquor board will release its decision within 30 days. Joby's could face a fine of up to $2,000 and suspension of its liquor license.