Baltimore liquor board revokes license for Pigtown bar

Owner of Sid’s Tavern loses license over ‘erratic’ behavior

April 23, 2010|By Brent Jones, The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore liquor commissioners revoked the license of a Pigtown bar Thursday night, calling the owner's behavior "erratic" after testimony that he threatened neighbors, was uncooperative in a shooting investigation, tried to punch a dog and was videotaped running in traffic after a Ravens game.

Sid's Tavern, in the 1100 block of Washington Blvd., will end its 76-year run beginning May 1. Liquor board chairman Stephan Fogleman said several problems involving Tareq Abdul-Ghani, owner of the bar and license for a little more than a year, were the primary reasons Sid's lost its license, including an Oct. 11 incident in which Abdul-Ghani was nearly hit by a car as he dodged traffic after the Ravens' loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, an incident caught on tape by a neighbor. Residents testified during the six-hour hearing that it was Abdul-Ghani who later that day attempted to strike a dog sitting in the passenger seat of a car.

The video also shows a man, identified as Abdul-Ghani by neighbors, mooning people. Abdul-Ghani denied that it was him on the tape.

"The board determined that the bar wasn't the community's biggest problem, but the owner of the bar was the community's biggest problem," Fogleman said. He added in reference to the video, "That was just bizarre."

Four days after the Ravens game, another video recorded what appears to be a shooting in the bar. The video shows the suspect talking with another man — who neighbors testified was the owner — before heading toward the bar. The video then shows the suspect standing at the door and pulling something out, then flashes of light before the suspect runs from the scene.

Police say a 29-year-old man sitting inside Sid's was shot in the face by the suspect. A city police sergeant testified at the hearing that Abdul-Ghani has been uncooperative in the investigation.

"The licensee was a witness, and he was hostile to the detective," said Sgt. Eric Kowalczyk. He asked the board to revoke the license.

Two weeks before the shooting, Abdul-Ghani stood in the middle of the street and challenged neighbors to a fight, fed up, according to testimony at the hearing, with community members repeatedly calling the city's 311 line to report trash in front of the bar.

Rodney Carroll, who lives about 200 feet from the bar in the 900 block of Clifford St., testified that the owner called him names and threw bottles against his residence. Carroll said Abdul-Ghani had about 30 people with him, yelling obscenities and daring him to come out and fight.

Abdul-Ghani was arrested and charged with destruction of property. The case was not prosecuted.

Francine Bey, president of Citizens of Pigtown, said the bar's clientele has changed since Abdul-Ghani took over last year, and that she is often met with vulgarities from patrons when she walks by.

"It's definitely more rowdy," Bey said.

But a lawyer for Sid's contended that the bar has not had the problems that usually lead to revocation of the license. In the past 11 months, police have not been called to Sid's for fistfights, drug crimes or robberies, the lawyer said, and his client has cooperated with detectives since the shooting.

Abdul-Ghani could appeal the liquor board's decision in court.

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