Thursday, February 25, 2010

Don't Throw Out The Baby With The Beer Water

The Looney's Pub in Fulton has a hearing in March before the liquor board, and I'm hoping that no one over-reacts.

Looney's appears to be an enormous success, filling the Maple Lawn lots most nights and bringing foot traffic to a development that is still in progress.  Apparently, Looney's has also served liquor to an underage police cadet and let people drink outside.  The Sun wrote a story in December about a two-day alcohol suspension, and there is another hearing scheduled for March 4, 2010.

I'm very glad that I spent my 20s in cities where I could walk home from the bars.  I drank like the crowds at Looney's, and, in my current, drier days, I wonder how those crowds get home.  Looney's actually impresses me by having a van that will shuttle home drunk patients (and amused us to no end on the night we followed the van to one of my neighbors' homes).

The March hearing says it is to "fine, suspend, or revoke" Looney's liquor license. [See update below]  I don't know what Looney's has done, but I hope underage drinking isn't enough to shut a business down.  It's illegal.  But I'd rather have 18-years-olds drink in public, and I'm still touchy about the three years when I was eligible for the draft but couldn't sit at a bar.  Personally, I drank less when I paid for pints instead of the grain alcohol that we cherished when we were underage.  (My college housemates eventually matured into five classy people.  When we couldn't legally drink, we once threw a party with a trash can of punch made of grain and Ecto-Plasmic Hi-C.  That was a scene way worse than anything Looney's could ever imagine.)

[Update: Bill Larney, the owner of Looney's, writes a comment below that the hearing is an appeal of that two-day suspension. The Sun's article did describe a suspension planned for January, and that seems to be what Looney's has appealed.  Larney also says that the "drinking outside" was a smoker holding a beer.  So no revocation or any of the over-reaction that I was wondering about.  Larney talks about new management and about the free shuttle that they have to get customers home.]

Thanks to HowICook for the links.


bboyneko said...

it's time we return to sanity and lower the drinking age to 18 again. It's insulting we consider people legal adults at 18, allowing them to die and kill in wars, start a career in pornography, smoke etc. and yet they can't drink?

We need to abandon those puritan roots.

Tim said...

It's my understanding that since Loony's opened, the Howard County PD has substantially increased their DUI related arrests in the Fulton/Laurel section of 216. My brother has driven past when they had a check point setup and witnessed several people getting busted.

Loony's is an awesome bar that cannot be solely responsible for idiots that choose to drive after having one too many, however if I lived nearby I would be worried about some drunky plowing into my car or worse, my wife's car while she has the baby on board.

If that's what this is about, should the HoCo PD increase their presence to discourage Mr. Tipsy and his pal Professor Buzzed from getting behind the wheel? Should Loony's enforce some kind of policy that forces customers that have had more than 2 drinks to take their drunk bus home? Who knows, but suspending their liquor license seems a tad extreme.

As for underage drinking, read this article

Lee Biars said...

It really is a slippery slope for any bar. The main thing I've taken from running a bar is that the state allows you to sell an intoxicant until 2am, but the hammer comes down the second people get intoxicated. I mean what do they think is going to happen when people are out drinking until 2am? In a perfect world everybody would drink responsibly, but we all know that will never happen.

Hypocrisy aside, the drunk shuttle is definitely a good idea, but there's a lot more that can be done to curb overserving and underage drinking in order to satisfy the state. I would suggest they get a liquor inspector out there to train their management on what can be done to satisfy the state. I wish them luck at the hearing.

Anonymous said...

I don't give two hoots about underage drinking, but I will smile broadly if Looney's gets spanked hard. They have the rudest and poorest service of any restaurant/bar I've been to in a long time. All things considered, it's obvious they are under very poor management. I stopped going there months ago.

Anonymous said...

First, I do think they should drop the drinking age to 18. But thats not going to happen unless there is a national shift; after all if MD changed their laws they would loose a whole bunch federal funds. Its much easier to shift blame alcohol or drugs than it is to hold responsibility for behaviour.

Second, since there are serious reprecussions for businesses selling alcohol to minors there should be significant penalties against underage folks who attempt to buy alcohol, whether they are sold it or not. A number of years ago, an underage kid in howard county was not allowed to buy a 6 pack; so he shoplifted it. He was caught and his penalty was to pay for the beer. Since the store owner could have lost his license; if alcohol was sold - there need to be real penalties.

Third, if you open business which serves alcohol in howard county you must know that the alcohol board is very strict. At one point I was paying attention to the liquor board meetings, and they always overreact (IHMO) its not like they are picking on one place or another. Folks got to know that they should follow the rules; and maybe even overstepping the rules at which would include refusing service possibly a little quicker.

Anonymous said...

This blog really needs a facelift. It's become fairly monotone in nature for the last few mths.

Bill Larney said...

I am the owner of Looney's Pub and would like to correct your comments. We have an appeal hearing Thursday to argue our points so we are not suspened for 2 days. It is not a new violation hearing. We were suspended two days for having a customer smoking outside with a beer in his hand the second day we were open. As well, we served a police cadet in the beginning of June. As for the increased DUI's in the area, we met with the Police 2 weeks ago and they told us that there has not been a spike at all. And they are quite pleased with how we run our operation. Since June we have been under new Management and things could not be better, besides the snow. We have a shuttle that sits directly outside our door that is available for anyone the chooses not drink and of chare

Ashley Stumpf said...

As the General Manager of Looney's Pub South in Maple Lawn I would like to comment on this posting as well. I think that Mr. Larney has cleared up the appeal/suspension rumors in his post. In regards to the underage drinking, I think we get more complaints that we card too much than not at all. Not only do we have security at the door 7 days a week, but we also have servers and bartenders carding at the tables and bars. As far as over-serving, we never encourage our patrons to get drunk and have educated and instructed our employees to cut-off anyone approaching that state. We do supply the shuttle in case people want to enjoy a few drinks, not to encourage drinking in excess.

With respect to the other comments I will say this: Looney's is a laid back Irish Pub with great food and entertainment. We have more regulars than not and appreciate every customer that walks through our door. As a new restaurant in the area we have had to iron out some kinks, but overall have been a success. We are constantly making improvements and love getting feedback from our guests. Thank you for all your comments good and bad, and please know that we are listening and will continue to do so.

Maplelawn Chris said...

Ley me start this off by stating that I am Looney's regular. At least once a week with my family and meeting friends. I have received nothing but great service every time we are there. Sure it was rough in the beginning, but opening ST. Patrick's Weekend as well as NCAA tournament week was probably not the best time. But the were under pressure from the developers to get open. That aside, Looney's has done more for the community in the short time they have been open than any establishment I can think of. I am a Maple Lawn resident and I am sure some people wanted a white table cloth place there. But guess what, those days are behind us thank the lord and just be happy we have probably one of the best Pubs/sports bars in the entire area right in our back yard. Food is awesome, the beer selection is top notch and the service is where it should be. I am still amazed how much they do for local charities, schools and non-profit groups. Every week there is something going on for charity. And lastly, they bring the best bands on the entire East Coast. Give them the credit they deserve..They saved Maple Lawn

Vk@Nyte said...

Hi everyone,wow this is probably one of the best blogs I have ever been on-where else can you comment with other restaurant owners and regulars ,all in the same site??
Cut to the short of it, until Howard County and for that matter Columbia,start getting their act together and start spending their riches on a unique transportation system(umm buses and cabs suck...)that connects the area,that is constantly expanding due to new developments and stop penalizing people who went out to enjoy themselves!!I know everyone in HOCo loves their cars but really??Its not worth driving anywhere especially in Howard County to or from a bar or restaurant without the occasional cop following you home.Also is it any wonder why the liquor board has in this last year lightened up on the amount of liquor licencees given out? C'mon please tell me their isn't a scam goin on in HoCo Gov't..I agree with the previous comment by Tim and Maplelawn Chris,that yeah Looney's opened at a bad time and there was a rush in their operations but I agree the owners and their management have obviously changed their situation since last March..I also love the fact that not one cop in HOCO has commented on here..Funny,They seem to be the only ones not complaining of their record DUI/DWIs last spring/summer..But yet mention to any of them of Looney's,and they role the eyes and shake their head..Will any of them vouch for Looney's come the hearing??I doubt it..Also, everytime a new restaurant or bar opens in hoco-cops always are there to ruin it unless of course you take care of them first..Its just a shame that Looney's and many other restaurants and bars will have to work harder and even more harder to keep happy customers..Here's an idea to all the owners of restaurants in HoCo- in order to keep the customers at your restaurant..turn them into HOTELS. Then the cops won't take the money from your customers that they'd rather give to you.