Liquor license of Fells Point strip bar suspended for 1 year

Chubbies was found guilty of five violations, including serving alcohol after hours

February 26, 2010|By Brent Jones | | Baltimore Sun reporter

The city liquor board suspended the license of a Fells Point strip club for one year on Thursday, finding the bar guilty of serving alcohol after hours and not closing by its designated time of 1 a.m.

Chubbies, in the 2000 block of Eastern Ave., was found guilty of five violations at a two-hour hearing at City Hall and will begin serving its suspension April 1. The club, which is undergoing renovations, remains closed after shutting down last fall and will get five months credit for time served.

A lawyer for the club questioned the severity of the suspension. Peter Prevas said other bars have been found guilty of similar charges but not received such a hefty penalty.

The club and its neighbors have been at odds for much of the past decade.

"The neighbors complaining is a contributing factor to the board's sanction," Prevas said.

Once blue-collar, Fells Point over the last 15 years has seen an influx of professionals paying $300,000 or more for rowhouses blocks from the water. Chubbies is in the middle of a mix of businesses and houses and a block away from a Catholic high school.

About a dozen community members attended the revocation hearing. Victor T. Corbin, president of Fells Prospect Community Association, testified that residents have repeatedly complained about late-night parties at the club, including one on the Fourth of July last year.

A city police officer testified that he responded to a call for loud noise at Chubbies in the early morning of July 5 and found customers drinking after hours.

"We would have preferred to have it revoked, but considering the circumstances and how long of a fight we've had, this is better than what we've had in the past," Corbin said. "Maybe [the owner] will decide to relocate and say this is not worth doing business."

Chubbies has existed in some form at that location since the mid 1960s. In 2005, under different ownership, the city liquor board fined Chubbies $3,000 for a series of violations, including inappropriate touching between a dancer and a patron.

Residents have since complained about Chubbies, claiming its workers solicit customers on the street, a practice commonly referred to as 'barking' and generally reserved to clubs on The Block. Chubbies is one of the few strip clubs not located in the 400 block of Baltimore St.

Last April, Dwight McCurdy, the licensee, agreed to get rid of a sandwich sign in front of the club and to not allow his workers to encourage people on the street to come inside. The owner also said he would not hire known sex offenders or anyone who has been convicted of prostitution in the past five years.

Prevas said McCurdy, who failed in his attempt to sell his license last year, has not decided if he will reopen after the suspension.

In other cases, liquor board commissioners fined Circus Bar and Jewel Box — two clubs located on The Block — $1,150 and $1,175, respectively, for violating adult entertainment laws. The clubs were found guilty of letting dancers caress the genital area of patrons.

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