Liquor board shuts Canton bar that drew complaints

December 24, 1993|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Staff Writer

Canton residents were hoping to finally get some sleep on weekend nights after the Baltimore City Board of Liquor Commissioners closed down a popular bar that thrived on loud music and a young-adult clientele.

Neighbors of the waterfront community had complained that patrons of He Be Gee Beez, at 2324 Boston St., often were rowdy in the early hours of weekend mornings.

The three-member board voted unanimously to suspend He Be Gee Beez's liquor license. The establishment was to operate as a restaurant, but neighbors say it became a "mega-bar," attracting college students and other young adults with live entertainment and disc jockeys.

"This is a public nuisance," said Daniel O'C. Tracy, president of the Anchorage Homeowners Association, which represents residents of 40 townhouses in Canton. "This is where hordes of young people come to invade our community."

On weekend nights, Mr. Tracy said, patrons of He Be Gee Beez urinate on bushes in the neighborhood and come to the establishment in stretch limousines that block driveways.

Board member Curtis H. Baer asked fellow members to make the suspension indefinite and to require He Be Gee Beez to obtain an occupancy permit from the city's zoning office and to stop playing music or advertising itself as a nightclub.

"No entertainment whatsoever," Mr. Baer said. "I don't want to see a dry DJ booth. No music -- none."

After the hearing, Mr. Tracy said that although the ruling would make it easier for residents to sleep at night, he was concerned that the establishment would reopen with the noise and rowdiness.

Owner George Kotsaris said he would close immediately tcomply with the board's decision. He said he had not decided on any steps he would take to reopen.

The establishment operates in a building that formerly was Galley's restaurant. Mr. Kotsaris bought the restaurant and the liquor license from the former owners. Neighbors say the noise increased as soon as He Be Gee Beez opened.

Mr. Kotsaris and his lawyer, Melvin J. Kodenski, contended throughout the hearing that the operation did not violate any liquor laws.

He said He Be Gee Beez was a restaurant. He submitted receipts showing that 34 percent of its receipts came from food sales. Liquor Board regulations require that food sales account for at least one-third of sales for an establishment to be classified as a restaurant.

BSeveral witnesses testified on behalf of Mr. Kotsaris, saying they have eaten lunch and dinner at He Be Gee Beez and that it had all the trappings of a restaurant.

"You have menus, food figures, food purchases, testimony from people who have eaten there," Mr. Kodenski told the board.

"There is no rule that says a Class B licensee can't have live entertainment. . . . The license says you have to meet the food requirements."

But Board Chairman George G. Brown said he was disturbed by the noise and rowdy behavior generated by the bar, which opened in October, with advertisements in the City Paper for dancing, "college nights," 50-cent draft beer and "techno-alternative dance."

Mr. Brown reminded Mr. Kotsaris that the board concluded a Nov. 4 hearing by finding the establishment in violation of liquor regulations. It imposed a $500 suspended sentence and warned the owner to operate his place as a restaurant.

A liquor inspector found during a Nov. 19 visit that He Be Gee Beez "has the potential to be a restaurant but is being operated as a nightclub."

Mr. Brown said the owner was trying to disguise the club.

"We will not allow you to come in here with cutlery and nice tablecloths and then in the back room, as an adjunct, if you will, operate a nightclub," the chairman said.

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