Challenge to Recher liquor license dismissed

A Towson law firm's challenge of the Recher Theatre's liquor license ended Monday, April 22 when an insufficient number of protesters showed up at the hearing, allowing the theater's owners to go forward with plans to transform the space into a dance club called the Torrent Lounge.

"My brother and I and our employees have worked really hard to make ... our brand a wonderful place for everybody to come — then you have this," said Brian Recher, co-owner along with his brother, Scott. "We've tried very hard to be above board with everything and do good by ourselves and do good by Towson."

The Law Offices of Charles E. Brooks filed a petition last month with 13 signatures challenging the Recher's liquor license renewal on the grounds that the license was approved for a restaurant, not a nightclub.

Under county law, 10 petitioners are needed to challenge the renewal of a liquor license. Brooks said some of the people who signed the petition were elderly residents of Virginia Towers in Towson and could not attend the meeting.

The 13 petitioners were from the Towson and Lutherville area. Without a sufficient number of supporters for the challenge, it was dismissed. Baltimore County liquor licenses automatically renew on April 30.

The hearing room in Baltimore County's Jefferson Building was packed with interested parties, though only nine opponents of the Recher attended the hearing. Towson Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Nancy Hafford estimated that 45 people turned up to support the Recher brothers.

"We had dentists cancel patients and attorneys cancel clients to come in there on their behalf," Hafford said. "I was so proud of our community for rallying around good business owners."

The unsuccessful challenge marks the final chapter for the Recher Theatre, which closed on March 31 and will reopen as a nightclub and lounge later this year. The wholly refurbished venue, Torrent Lounge, will feature a DJ booth where the stage is currently located, plus a VIP area and dance floor.

The Rechers began the transformation of their rock and roll venue into a nightclub immediately after their November liquor board hearing on the bar's role in a late-night melee in downtown Towson that led to six arrests. The Recher Theatre was ultimately absolved of responsibility for the incident, and moments after that hearing ended, the Rechers asked for approval and received permission to transform some backstage rooms and outdoor space to match Torrent Lounge.

That remodeled space opened in January.

Community leaders initially were surprised by the news that the Recher would become a nightclub, and the brothers said they would no longer call the venue a nightclub.

"The word nightclub has evidently spooked some people," Brian Recher said.

Recher said the challenge and negative attention it brought was a shame, and he hopes to meet with the people responsible for the challenge to hear why they're targeting him.

"It's going to be very upscale and we're investing a lot of money in it. We certainly wouldn't be investing a lot of money in it if we thought there was going to be a shady clientele. We just want to have a place where we can entertain people, for them to come in, get something to eat, dance and have a beer."

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