For almost 35 years, the bowling center across from the Maryland State Fairgrounds has been a hub of neighborhood activity for adults, teens and children. Now, many residents are fearful that a proposed restaurant serving alcoholic beverages will mar the family atmosphere there.
"Kids and booze don't mix, and that is the consensus," said Louis Miller, a community activist who is polling residents of 800 nearby homes about the proposed 100-seat restaurant, to be called Legends Bar and Grill.
The restaurant is part of a $1 million face lift planned at the AMF Timonium Lanes on York Road. The refurbished 36-lane bowling alley would become one of four AMF Bowling Inc. facilities in the country to "showcase the future of bowling centers," said attorney Charles E. Brooks, who is representing Timonium Concessions Co. Inc., which would operate the restaurant.
"These kinds of things enhance a community," he said.
Timonium Concessions would lease space from Virginia-based AMF for a casual restaurant serving burgers, pizzas and other items if the Baltimore County liquor board approves a liquor-license transfer June 8. The company, headed by Towson attorney Malcolm F. Spicer, is trying to purchase a liquor license from the defunct Hunt Ridge Restaurant in Timonium.
In Baltimore County, the number of liquor licenses is restricted by an area's population. Licenses are particularly scarce in the Towson area, where they typically become available when a restaurant or bar closes. Owners have sold them for up to $130,000.
Most of the approximately 400 bowling centers that AMF owns across the country serve alcohol, Brooks said. Except in Timonium, the 15 AMF centers that don't offer liquor are prohibited from doing so by state laws, he said.
Bowling patrons at Timonium are allowed to bring alcoholic beverages into the building while they bowl. But Brooks said a liquor license would help the center regulate consumption.
"We don't have the privilege of going up to them and checking their age and asking for identification," he said.
Miller, who has lived on Timonium Road for 42 years and bowls at the Timonium lanes with his 13-year-old grandson, contends that the bowling center has operated without problems for three decades without a liquor license.
"It's an integrity issue," he said. "The bowling center has been successful for 35 years."
While the Greater Timonium Community Council and the Yorkshire/Haverford Community Association, which represents 925 homes, have voted to oppose the liquor-license transfer, some residents are more conciliatory about the plan.
"I'm sort of neutral at this point," said Eric Rockel, president of the Lutherville Community Association. "On its face, I don't see anything terribly wrong with it."
Miller said, "I don't have to drink there. I don't have to go there."
Pub Date: 5/21/98