Surprise! Or not.

Rocker Bret Michaels played a private party Wednesday night at The Mallet in Fallston, but the operators of the restaurant failed to notify the county liquor control board, which admittedly upset the board when it learned about the party earlier in the day.

Michaels appeared at the surprise party for the wife of one of Harford County's more prominent and well connected land developers, Michael Euler, at an establishment whose long line of previous operators have had a litany of liquor regulations violations.

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According to information liquor board members received through their chief inspector and Euler's lawyer Wednesday afternoon, the surprise party is by invitation only. Euler rented the lower portion of The Mallet, at 2403 Belair Road in Fallston, and hired Michaels, of the band Poison and the star of his reality show "Rock of Love," and his band to play at the party.

While the liquor licensees of The Mallet appear to have temporarily skirted trouble with the Harford County Liquor Control Board for not notifying the board they intended to close the downstairs to the public, Joe Snee, the lawyer for the restaurant's licensees — and for Euler – complained to the liquor board about the likelihood of pre-event publicity, after the board tried to meet with Snee privately to discuss the matter.

Charles Robbins, the liquor board's chief inspector, found out about the event during Wednesday's regularly scheduled liquor board meeting inBel Air. Robbins left the meeting room briefly and then returned and handed some papers to Board Administrator Kathryn Thess.

Nothing was said about The Mallet or the party during the regular liquor board meeting; however, after the meeting was adjourned the three board members who were in attendance – Chairman Donald Hess and members Sandi Tunney and Randall Worthington – remained on the dais.

Snee, who had business involving other clients during the meeting, was asked by Thess to stick around.

Joining the board members in their meeting room were Thess, Snee and Robbins.

The door was left slightly ajar. A reporter covering the meeting for The Aegis returned to the room and when she was told the discussion was "off the record," she reminded the board that three of its four members were present constituting a quorum. (A fifth seat on the board is vacant.)

No official record

The conversations that followed between the board and Snee were not tape recorded, even though board meetings are typically recorded.

Board members were heard admonishing Snee because his client, Tony Ashe, the licensee for The Mallet, did not notify the liquor board part of the restaurant would be closed for the private party.

Snee told the board members he had told Ashe the same thing and sounded perplexed as to why his client hadn't notified them.

"To me, this is almost a first strike," board chairman Hess told Snee.

Hess said the board didn't have a problem with what the party, but it did not like the way the licensee, Ashe, who was not present, had handled the matter.

According to Hess and Thess, whenever a restaurant or portion of one is going to be closed to the public, the licensee must notify the board, which was not done.

Snee told Hess he could either run back to his office a block away and write up a formal, written notification of the intent to close, or he could make the request informally while he was there.

While it's unclear if the board members ever officially acted on Snee's subsequent oral request on behalf of Ashe, but they made it clear the party could go on, regardless.