After more than a year of negotiations, two community groups reached an agreement Thursday with Sweet Sin Bakery and Cafe owner Richard D'Souza, who can now serve drinks at his Remington restaurant, but has agreed to close at earlier hours.
D'Souza's bid for a liquor license failed last month, but the agreement reached with the Charles Village Civic Association and the Greater Remington Improvement Association revived his plan. The compromise requires him to stop serving alcohol at 10:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and close at 11 p.m. On weekends, Sweet Sin must stop serving alcohol at 12:30 a.m. and close at 1 a.m. The Baltimore Board of Liquor License Commissioners approved the plan Thursday.
Chairman Stephan Fogleman said the board was influenced by support for Sweet Sin from "neighbors with the most proximity to the proposed location," after it initially denied the transfer. He said the board also considered "the extreme nature of services offered," saying that there are few other gluten-free restaurants, if any, in the city. "This is really a unique service."
The board concluded that "there is a public need and a desire," he said.
The bakery opened last fall on the 100 block of 27th St., and D'Souza has since decided to expand to the property next door so he could offer gluten-free dishes on a menu of American offerings and feature a fully stocked bar. The cafe was seeking a transfer of the liquor license for that property, formerly Two Sisters restaurant, which went out of business in May 2008.
Originally, D'Souza wanted to close his restaurant at 2 a.m., to compete with other neighborhood bars just a few blocks away, but the Charles Village Civic Association wanted last call to be two hours earlier. Some feared that noise and traffic would become a problem in the mostly residential area if the place was allowed to close at 2 a.m.
"They did not want it to stay open late because it was residential neighborhood," said Christina L. Schoppert, the lawyer representing the Charles Village group and the Greater Remington Improvement Association. "They did not want a raucous bar. We hope it will be a good restaurant."
Joan Floyd of the Remington Neighborhood Alliance said her group did not want a restaurant that served alcohol at all.
Schoppert said the compromise was difficult to reach, and final changes were decided just before Thursday's hearing.
Neither side seemed fully satisfied.
"They're restrictions that aren't normally on a liquor license," said Peter A. Prevas, D'Souza's lawyer. But he recognized that his client couldn't get a license without making some concessions.
"We'll make the most of it," D'Souza said.