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Owner in final stage of selling Arbutus bar

Dining and DrinkingBars and ClubsTom QuirkSt. Patrick's Day

A longtime fixture in downtown Arbutus, Center Court, located at 5507 Selma Ave., will soon be under new ownership.

Shirley McCumbie, who bought the Arbutus bar and package goods store with her late husband, Jim McCumbie, in 1987 and now runs it with her daughter, Christine Bageant, is in the process of selling it to a new owner, Christopher Yi.

A transfer of the liquor license from McCumbie and Bageant to Yi, trading as Elite Center LLC, was approved at a Liquor Board hearing held Aug. 25 in Towson, according to Baltimore County records.

McCumbie said a tentative settlement date has been set for Oct. 17.

"Christine is a wonderful person, and she's going to be missed by the community," said Pete Kriscumas, legislative aide to County Councilman Tom Quirk, whose 1st District includes the bar.

"She's been a good business partner with the Arbutus community for years. I hate to see her go."

McCumbie said she and her husband bought the business from the previous owner, Al Flora, who owned it for more than 25 years.

A stay-at-home-mom, McCumbie had free time after her children graduated from high school.

She began working as a bookkeeper part-time for the bar.

When the business went up for sale, the couple bought it.

"It was an opportunity," McCumbie said.

When her husband died in 2003, her daughter helped her with the daily operations of the business.

"It's a real steady business, and I know most of the clientele that walk through the door," said McCumbie, standing behind the bar of the dimly lit, wood paneled room, decorated with Ravens paraphernalia.

"It was a little tough when the economy took a dump in 2008," McCumbie said. "A lot of our customers were laid off or had hours cut, or overtime taken away. But it's gotten to be okay now."

The bar has hosted parties for St. Patrick's Day, Christmas and Halloween; and has been a gathering place for Ravens Roost 71 of Arbutus, McCumbie said.

Although she will miss the customers she has grown to know over the years, she is ready for retirement.

"I'm going to miss coming down here every day and seeing the people that I see every day," said McCumbie, who has lived in Arbutus since 1960.

"A lot of our customers are regulars, so the people that buy it, if they keep it the same, I might become one of their customers," she said.

McCumbie said she would like to see the business continue but thinks it could use a face lift.

"I hope they can fix it up," McCumbie said, "It's an old building."

Some employees like Ray McCais, 70, who has run the package goods store for five years, are uncertain whether they will still have a job once the ownership changes hands.

"I don't know whether I'll be staying," said McCais, who said he has enjoyed working for the two owners.

"Christine and Shirley have been great to me," McCais said.

Bar regulars say the owners will be missed.

"I'll see Shirley — I'll see her family and I'll appreciate the new ownership too," said Edward Heis, 55, who said he had worked in the bar when he was 16.

"Miss Shirley has worked hard. She needs to relax a little bit," Heis said.

Heis owned the sandwich shop that was next door until it closed, Heister's Grill. The shop is now the site of a Hawaiian restaurant, Taste of Aloha.

Richard Alcain, owner of Taste of Aloha, said he was not happy to hear the news that the longtime owners were leaving.

"I'll miss them. They're fun," Alcain said. "They're really good neighbors."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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Dining and DrinkingBars and ClubsTom QuirkSt. Patrick's Day
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