Upper Fells Point bar to appeal liquor license suspension

Attorney for Rancho Manila says owner unfairly targeted by neighbors

October 05, 2011|By Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun

An Upper Fells Point bar whose liquor license was suspended for 60 days is appealing the decision, the bar's attorney said Wednesday.

Gary Maslan said neighborhood residents have wrongly blamed the Rancho Manila bar for problems that occur outside in the 1700 block of E. Lombard St.

"There's crime all over the city of Baltimore," Maslan said. "It's got one of the highest crime rates in the United States. How this little bar is responsible is beyond me."

The Lombard Court Homeowners Association challenged the bar's license before the liquor board, raising concerns about violent crime, prostitution, noise and litter.

"The patrons, their behavior is dangerous," said E. Andrew Gerner, president of the Lombard Court Homeowners Association said Tuesday. "There are incidents of all-out violence."

Rancho Manila, at 1725 E. Lombard St., initially had its license suspended for 30 days in April after 44 neighbors signed a petition protesting the bar's operations. But the crime, litter and noise only got worse, said Brooke Lierman, an attorney retained by the Community Law Center, who represented the homeowner's association before the liquor board pro bono.

Police were called to the location about 100 times in a six-month span, including for an April 29 homicide outside the bar and a June 10 melee involving 10 people fighting and an attempted vehicular homicide, liquor board documents show. Last week, the liquor board suspended the bar's license for 60 days.

But Maslan said those numbers don't tell the true story.

"One irate individual had made the vast majority of these complaints," he said. "There are many people who feel that this is operated in a fine way."

Maslan said owner of the bar, Jose Luaces, is a senior citizen and is hoping to sell the bar. He said Luaces has on staff a full-time security guard.

"The liquor board wants to put the onus on a 70-year-old bar owner to walk outside and police the whole block," Maslan said. "This is a nice old man. There are fights outside [M&T Bank] stadium. The liquor board has never taken the Draconian actions they have here."

Maslan said he expects the appeal to be heard in Baltimore City Circuit Court in about six months.



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