Bar fined, suspended for allowing obscene dancing

April 09, 1993|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

The Howard County Liquor Board fined a north Laurel restaurant $1,000 yesterday and suspended its liquor license for seven days.

The board said Good Guys Bar and Grill allowed female dancers there to dance obscenely, expose private body parts and let male customers touch them and stuff money into their scanty costumes.

The liquor license suspension begins 9 a.m. April 18 and continues until 9 a.m. April 25.

The County Council sitting as the Liquor Board fined the restaurant for allowing customers to place money into the dancer's costumes.

It suspended the owners' license for allowing dancers to dance obscenely and expose private body parts.

The violations occurred during performances in October and November.

Thomas M. Meachum, the attorney representing the restaurant, presented the board last month with what would have been called an Alford plea in a court of law.

In an Alford plea, there is no admission of guilt, but the defense acknowledges that the prosecution has enough evidence to obtain a conviction.

Mr. Meachum had suggested that the board impose a fine of $1,000 for each violation and a suspension of three or four days.

Two council members objected that the penalties eventually imposed yesterday by the board were not stiff enough.

"I don't think they are serious enough," said County Councilman Darrel Drown, R-2nd, the Liquor Board chairman.

"I think people in the neighborhood are concerned. Some of their worst fears have come to bear."

Mr. Drown said he was particularly concerned about Benham Zangenah, the restaurant's primary owner.

"I don't trust him to do what he says he's going to do," Mr. Drown said yesterday.

Mr. Meachum was so concerned about Mr. Drown's attitude that he filed a motion accusing Mr. Drown of prejudging the facts and asking him to step down from the case. Mr. Drown refused, saying he would give a "fair and unbiased decision."

"The fines should have been tripled," Councilman Paul R. Farragut, D-4th, said. "I indicated during their testimony that we might have problems. The fine should have been greater than it was."

After Detective Sherman cited the bar for the violations, the owners fired one of the dancers and the day manager. The day manager has since been rehired and works in Mr. Zangenah's Washington restaurant.

The owners now require dancers to wear shorts and halters. They have hired a person to monitor dancers while they are stage.

Dancers are given a job description that includes a summary of the law regarding live entertainment in Howard County.

"You don't know how badly I feel about this," Mr. Zangenah told the board last month.

"I was so much in the woods I couldn't see the trees."

He asked council members to come to his restaurant to see for themselves the changes he has made.

Dancers were once the main attraction of his restaurant, he said, but the establishment is now more of a sports bar with Keno, a giant TV screen and pool tables.

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