Liquor license of Upper Fells Point bar is suspended

Residents of Upper Fells Point are praising a city liquor board decision to suspend for 60 days the license of a bar, Rancho Manila, that they say fuels crime and litter in the neighborhood.

"I hope everything stays quiet as a result of the suspension," said E. Andrew Gerner, president of the Lombard Court Homeowners Association. He said residents of the community have suffered for several months from "violent crime, prostitution, and litter" caused by what he dubs a "problem bar."

The liquor board enacted the two-month suspension last week.

Gary Maslan, an attorney for the bar, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Rancho Manila, at 1725 E. Lombard St., initially had its license suspended for 30 days in April after 44 neighbors signed a petition protesting the bar's operations. But the crime, litter and noise only got worse, said Brooke Lierman, an attorney retained by the Community Law Center, who represented the homeowner's association before the liquor board pro bono.

Police were called to the location about 100 times in a six-month span, including for an April 29 homicide outside the bar and a June 10 melee involving 10 people fighting and an attempted vehicular homicide, liquor board documents show.

"Through the 60-day suspension, the liquor board has indicated this is Rancho Manila's last chance," Lierman said. "The message is shape up or ship out."

Lierman said her clients hope that when the bar reopens, its clientele will be quieter and less violent. If not, she said, the neighbors will contest the bar's liquor license when it comes up for renewal next year.

"I don't want anyone to lose their livelihood," Gerner said. "But you can't operate an establishment in a manner that endangers anyone who is within a certain radius of it."

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