Mountain Branch concerts could begin June 2 for Crack the Sky, golf course officials say

After canceling the first three concerts scheduled as part of their Music in the Woods series, officials with Mountain Branch Golf Course in Joppa say they hope to have all the necessary approvals in place in time for a show featuring Crack the Sky on June 2.

The series first three concerts had to be canceled because the golf course didn't have the proper permissions from Harford County government or the Harford County Liquor Control Board to host the kind of event that is planned.

Konstantinos Vasilakopoulos, owner of Mountain Branch, and his brother, Bill Vasilakopoulos, the CEO, have been working since a liquor board meeting two weeks ago with their lawyer and the county to rectify the situation.

"It's a process, a process frankly we weren't aware of," Bill Vasilakopoulos said Thursday during a tour of the outdoor music area, adjacent to the 10th and 11th holes of the course. "It's been five years in the making. We just didn't think about permit issues, really. Once we get it work out, it will be a wonderful area."

Applications have been submitted to the county and the liquor board for permission to host the outside events and to serve alcoholic beverages at them, their lawyer, Eric McLauchlin, said Thursday.

The Vasilakopouloses are providing the necessary details of the venue and the events, including layout, hours of operation, parking, sanitation, "that sort of thing," McLauchlin said.

All of those things are essentially in place, McLauchlin said, it's just a matter of getting the county and liquor board to approve them.

"Mountain Branch is a well-run organization in the business of planning and executing events," he said. "They know how to create a checklist for a plan and to implement it."

Bill Vasilakopoulos said he and his brother were under the impression that because they have a golf course license, they are permitted to serve alcohol anywhere on the course.

Shows on May 6 and 13, as well as Saturday's show, were canceled, but McLauchlin and Vasilakopoulos anticipate Crack the Sky will perform as scheduled.

"I feel pretty confident the county is working pretty hard to make that happen," Vasilakopoulos said.

The outdoor concert area has been in the planning stages for years, with two "test shows" last year, Vasilakopoulos said. The first one was very well attended and guests were impressed; the second was chilly and rainy and didn't draw a big crowd.

The stage and table platform sit at the base of a small hill that's shaded by trees, with the sun shining through at the end of the day.

Trunks of trees that have been cut down serve as tabletops in addition the picnic tables that will be on the platform.

Lights are strung among the trees for a glowing effect at night, Vasilakopoulos said, and a cool breeze sails through.

"It's comfortable here. It's very peaceful out here, it's very serene, nice," Vasilakopoulos said. "People last year were blown away by it."

Konstantinos Vasilakopoulos bought Mountain Branch almost five years ago. Neither he nor his brother had any experience with operating a golf course.

"I've never played a round of golf in my life," Bill Vasilakopoulos said. "But we've learned a lot."

They both have restaurant experience and, with there mother, own he Speakeasy Saloon & Dining House in Baltimore's Canton Square.

Bill Vasilakopoulos said he intended to get out of the restaurant business and got a degree in economics from University of Maryland. The night he was out celebrating the job he got as a broker with Legg Mason, he saw a "for sale" sign in Speakeasy.

That was 27 years ago, he said.

They got into Mountain Branch for its restaurant, Vasilakopoulos said.

"It's a good restaurant. We've put a lot of work, a lot of money into the course and the food as well," he said, adding food sales are up significantly since his brother bought it.

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