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Liquor board to closely monitor Hagerstown restaurant

Agents will be sent to Legends on the Square on New Year's Eve to make sure it complies with law

December 28, 2011|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com
  • Legends on the Square is shown in this Herald-Mail file photo. Washington County liquor officials intend to monitor a Hagerstown restaurant's New Year's Eve celebration to ensure that it complies with state liquor regulations.
Herald-Mail file photo

Washington County liquor officials intend to monitor a Hagerstown restaurant's New Year's Eve celebration to ensure that it complies with state liquor regulations.

The Board of License Commissioners for Washington County said during a Wednesday hearing that agents would be sent to Legends on the Square at 43 S. Potomac St. to make sure the establishment conducts business as a restaurant and not a tavern.

The hearing was attended by Legends on the Square co-owner David Ball.

"If you are in violation, your license will be suspended on the spot," liquor board Secretary William F. Dunham Jr. said.

The liquor board alleged that the business was violating several state laws that govern the operation of restaurants. Some of those violations included the failure to maintain at least 75 seats and the sale of more alcohol than food.

State law requires that restaurants with a pouring license for beer, wine and liquor serve at least 51 percent food.

Liquor inspector Robert L. Shoemaker said he visited Legends on the Square at least three times in November and December.

"During any of those visits, I did not observe any food at all being served," said Shoemaker, noting that he saw only two tables in the entire restaurant.

Ball said he believed "certain individuals," including several police officers, had an agenda to close the restaurant.

"I just feel that this is kind of a setup for that night," Ball said of the liquor board's decision to monitor the business on New Year's Eve. "We prepared for this whole night. Obviously, there are people in this room who don't want us at that location .... I think the phone calls are going to be made whether we do things correctly or not."

Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith has said in the past that officers frequently respond to calls at Legends on the Square.

During Wednesday's hearing, Officer J. Wert testified that police were called for a fight at the restaurant over the weekend. Wert said a security worker at the business told police that the bar was in an "uproar."

Charles F. Mades, liquor board treasurer, assured Ball that he would be treated fairly.

"If you do it right, there's no problem," Mades said. "We want you to understand that if it's not done correctly, the hammer gets lowered."

Ball told the liquor board that Legends on the Square probably would close soon, but he didn't give a specific date.

"Obviously, the city doesn't want us there," he said.

Ball also noted a dispute with his landlord as a reason for the pending closure.

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