Liquor board violations part of ongoing dispute between Fallston Barrel House owners

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Attorneys for the two owners of the Fallston Barrel House told county officials this week that a rift between their clients was the cause of an alleged liquor license violation.

Co-owners Robert Diem and William Grose are at odds over control of the restaurant, and their lawyers say the dispute includes a civil lawsuit, criminal charges and a peace order.

Fallston Barrel House is at a corner of routes 1 and 152 in Fallston, where previous restaurants — Mickey’s, The Mallet and Tully’s — had difficulties.

Diem and Grose appeared Wednesday before the Harford County Liquor Control Board to face the board’s allegations that Diem, the resident licensee, isn’t spending a “substantial amount of time” at the business. Being at the business at least 30 hours a week is a requirement for the resident licensee, so Diem’s absence constitutes a violation.

Anthony DiPaula, Diem’s attorney, told board members that Diem doesn’t dispute the allegation — but said his client can’t be on the premises at the same time Grose’s wife, Eleanor, is there because of a peace order issued in Harford County Circuit Court.

“This is an ongoing issue, an unfortunate situation, which is clear when both licensees show up with separate counsel,” DiPaula said.

Because of the peace order, Diem “obviously is hesitant to step foot on the premises,” DiPaula said. He said the matter is further complicated because Eleanor Grose, a full-time assistant manager, is scheduled to work at all the prime times, when Diem would also generally be there.

“There are two things we can agree on,” Grose’s lawyer, Albert J.A. Young, said. “That we have two licensees that don’t get along and it’s in everyone’s best interest to keep the business operating while this is being resolved.”

The owners are scheduled to appear in Harford County Circuit Court Jan. 8 to answer claims and counter-claims with regard to their business, including one to dissolve the partnership, DiPaula said.

A request has been filed with the liquor board to transfer the license to another party, but liquor board officials said that can’t be addressed until the legal matters have been resolved.

Both lawyers told the liquor board that the restaurant should remain open and the liquor license maintained until there is a resolution in the dispute.

“Nobody is happy with the situation. The question is, ‘What do you do about it?’ ” Young said. “The answer is to let status quo prevail.”

Liquor board administrator Pilar Gracia said no one is disputing the liquor board violations, what is in question is the why. She pointed out that in Diem’s absence, the people running the restaurant have not all been vetted by the liquor board.

“They can’t responsibly dispense alcoholic beverages,” Gracia said.

Three of the five board members — Butch Tilley was absent and Jim Welch abstained — found the business in violation of liquor board rules, but did not impose a fine. Liquor board officials made William Grose the defacto licensee until the legal matters between the two owners are resolved.

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