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By Guy Leonard, The County Times
HOLLYWOOD, Md. -- The county’s alcohol beverage board fined Loveville Tavern nearly $2,000 last week after finding them guilty of allowing alcohol consumption in their parking lot, having a number of customers beyond their rated capacity and hosting an event that had patrons fighting amongst themselves in the bar and strewn all over the shoulder of the road outside.
The licensees of the bar, Christine Ward and Joseph Husic initially protested the allegations, but near the end of the nearly two-hour hearing were apologetic.
Since opening about a year ago, management at the bar has used social networking sites like Facebook, as well as promoters, to boost lagging business. At the heart of their problem this time was that the effort turned out to be more successful than they had intended, owners said.
“We hear it all the time [from promoters] that we’re going to be busy and we aren’t,” Ward testified at the Alcohol Beverage Board hearing July 12. “We didn’t expect to be that busy.” Several law officers arrived at Loveville Tavern the night of May 26 to a report of a major disturbance. Sheriff’s Office Alcohol Enforcement Coordinator Dfc. James Stone testified he saw at least 12 people in the parking lot drinking alcohol and counted 156 patrons in the establishment, six more than the fire marshal’s limit. More people were hopping a fence behind the bar and, by the end of the night, Stone counted at least 190 people.
Stone, with Cpl. Keith Moritz and other officers, were busy breaking up several melees inside the bar.
“They were drinking as they came out, but that wasn’t my biggest concern,” Stone said. “It was the fight that had broken out inside and the patrons [wandering] up and down Route 5.”
Ward protested that management could not inspect each vehicle in the parking lot for alcohol, but Stone said that if management saw alcohol being consumed in the parking lot it was their responsibility to report it.
“I can’t go outside and tell people what they can do in their vehicle,” Ward said.
“It’s the responsibility of the business to check your parking lot,” Stone responded.
Husic also protested the bar could not be held responsible for parking outside of their own lot.
“Where does our responsibility end?” Husic asked.
After the vote to fine the establishment, Alcohol Board Chairman Moses Saldana said it would be up to the business to ensure they did not violate the law again.
“Obviously this is significant,” Saldana said. “We don’t tell you how to run your business, that’s not our job.”
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