A former co-owner of the Surfside Sally's restaurant and bar in Fells Point -- which closed in 1990 after battling with area residents -- is back with plans to open a new nightspot near Baltimore's Inner Harbor.
The city liquor board yesterday approved a license transfer that will enable Chicago-based entrepreneur Larry Siegel to open the Baja Beach Club inside the Harbor Park movie theater complex at 55 Market Place.
Mr. Siegel, the co-owner of Surfside Sally's, said he has leased the 11,500-square-foot restaurant space formerly occupied by Chi Chi's Mexican restaurant and hopes to open by early April. Other license holders are David Spatz of South Palm Beach, Fla., and Sarah MacLellan of Baltimore.
This will be the sixth operation for Mr. Siegel and the fifth Baja Beach Club. He also has operations in Detroit, Miami and Dallas and Arlington, Texas.
His previous Baltimore operation, Surfside Sally's, was a multi-level restaurant and bar that opened in 1987 as part of the Brown's Wharf complex. It closed less than four years later, when its liquor license was canceled. Sally's had been cited for numerous violations of liquor board rules, including exceeding its maximum capacity and disorderly conduct of patrons. Fells Point area residents petitioned the liquor board to shut it down.
Yesterday, liquor board Chairman George Brown questioned the applicants on their plans for keeping patrons and alcohol consumption under control. "You're in another area, but you will still have neighbors," he warned.
Mr. Siegel said the new operation will have a beach theme in its decor and will be based on an adult-oriented, "total entertainment" concept that has worked well in other cities. He said he believes the Market Place area is an ideal site for the kind of operation he plans to create.
Mr. Siegel and attorney Melvin Kodenski said the group will spend more than $200,000 to open the business and create 150 to 200 jobs.