Within a month, Mount Airy residents will have a new place to go for dinner, dancing and mixed drinks.
Christi's Restaurant, to be renamed Christi's Classics Restaurant and Lounge, is doubling its seating capacity to 100 and adding a bar with a dance floor to the location in the Ridgeville Shopping Center.
Yesterday, the Carroll County Board of License Commissioners approved a Class B beer, wine and liquor license for Christi's owners Robert Armone and John Heffron of Mount Airy. The restaurant has been operating with a Class B beer and wine license.
"We're hoping to have an upscale place where families can have a meal and be entertained," said Mr. Heffron after the license was granted.
Mr. Armone, who has operated Christi's since 1988, said he wants to expand the restaurant to accommodate private parties and wedding receptions. He also said he perceives a need for a local, upscale nightclub for dancing.
"Everyone I've talked to has said there is a need for a nice place for dancing nearby so they don't have to drive too far," he said.
Mr. Heffron, a retired Army sergeant with 21 years of experience managing clubs for officers and enlisted men, became an equal partner in the business about a year ago, Mr. Armone said.
Liquor board members said their only concern was making sure people under age 21 aren't served alcohol.
"He has run a good, clean shop and seems to have a gentleman as a partner who knows what to do and has experience in the business," said board member William Sapp. "The only idea I have is strict control over the lounge area, because we know people who are under age are going to try to get in."
The board also approved the transfer of a Class A beer and wine license from George Zinn, former owner of Taneytown Exxon at 251 E. Baltimore St., to Kenneth Kacmarski, the new owner.
However, the board voiced concern that neither Mr. Kacmarski nor his manager, Donald Hohenwater, seemed familiar with state and county liquor regulations.
Mr. Hohenwater said the store's policies include "carding" people who look like they're under age 30, forbidding alcohol consumption on the premises and not selling alcoholic beverages before 8 a.m., after 11 p.m. or on Sundays.
"There's a lot more you are going to have to make yourself aware of," said Earle Brewer, the board chairman. "There's a lot more you're going to have to do there if you're going to dispense alcohol."
Board members said Mr. Kacmarski and Mr. Hohenwater would be absentee managers, but the board acknowledged that most of the convenience store's current employees worked for Mr. Zinn and have experience selling alcoholic beverages.
The board approved the license transfer on the condition that Mr. Hohenwater and any new employees at the business would take a techniques of alcohol management course.
Board members also agreed to draft a letter endorsing the alcohol-free Project Graduation parties organized by Angie Diehlmann of the Carroll County Youth Recreation Council. The letter will be included in a packet of information to be sent to all graduating seniors and their parents.
However, board members said that it would not be appropriate for them to be included in the letter requesting donations from local businesses because the board is a regulating agency.