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State board denies liquor license to Hagerstown restaurant

September 04, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

The operator of the Hall of Fame Restaurant and Pub on Dual Highway in Hagerstown said he probably would be forced to close this weekend because state liquor board officials refused to grant the business a license to serve alcohol.

Roy Lorshbaugh, who operates the restaurant, made the comment Wednesday during a hearing when the Board of License Commissioners for Washington County, known as the liquor board, told him the state would not approve the request.

Robert L. Everhart, liquor board chairman, said the decision was made by liquor officials in Annapolis.

"The state said, 'Don't give them a license,'" Everhart said.

Everhart said after the hearing that he did not know the reason behind the state's decision. He said earlier this year that state liquor officials cited the restaurant, which is in the Grand Venice Hotel, for serving customers alcoholic beverages from the hotel bar without a license.

Although the business has the word "pub" in its name, it was not legally allowed to serve alcohol.

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The restaurant had tax problems with the state under a previous owner, Everhart said, but he was uncertain whether that issue was a factor.

Joe Shapiro, a spokesman for the Maryland Comptroller's Office, said the problem did not originate with the Hall of Fame Restaurant and Pub.

"In general, when a license is transferred, both parties have to have clean tax records or a liquor license cannot be transferred," Shapiro said.

Lorshbaugh said he was under the impression that he was permitted to sell alcohol in the restaurant, and asked liquor board members to explain why they didn't send him a letter when officials determined that something was wrong.

It was not the liquor board's responsibility to send a letter, Everhart said, because Lorshbaugh should have known he wasn't supposed to serve alcohol in the restaurant.

The state's decision is "nothing against Mr. Lorshbaugh," Everhart said, adding the business was the victim of "getting off to a bad start."

Nithin Sheth, general manager of the Grand Venice, asked the liquor board for help, saying he wouldn't find a better tenant than Lorshbaugh.

Sheth threatened to seek legal counsel.

"No one tried to do anything criminal or illegal," Sheth said. "No one tried to do anything bad."

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