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April 23, 2010

Five Ways How Not to Run a Baltimore Bar

Sid's, a longstanding Pigtown bar, lost its license yesterday after a bizarre hearing involving video tapes and seemingly random violence.

The bar's owner, Tareq Abdul-Ghani, was accused of (and allegedly video taped) doing all sorts of bizarre, dangerous things. Did he do them or not? Depends on who you ask.

The bottom line is, Abdul-Ghani lost his license. After reading Sun reporter Brent Jones' article about the hearing (if you do anything today, read this piece), I have come up with Sam Sessa's Five Ways How Not to Run a Baltimore Bar. Here goes ...

5. Do not moon random people.

4. Do not run out in the middle of traffic after a Ravens game

3. Do not punch a dog.

2. Do not throw bottles and challenge your neighbors to a fight.

1. Do not stand there as a person at your bar shoots another person in the face and then refuse to cooperate with police.

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:14 PM | | Comments (35)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


I think these 5 rules could probably be considered guidelines for life in general, not just how not to run a bar.

"Do not punch a dog" is cracking me up. I want to see the video of this, because I agree with one of the comments on the original article; it doesn't sound like he was engaging in the normal sort of animal cruelty. In my head, he's like boxing with the dog. And it's hysterical.

minus #1, is this a mislabled Captains Corner?

Save for the whole thing about a dude getting shot in the face (ouch), I can't stop laughing at Brent's article...and especially at rseitz101's comment

I can remember getting 40's out of Sid's when I was 15 and in way over my head. I'm surprised it took them this long to get shut down. Maybe a turning point for pigtown.

Can you guys do me a favor and shut down the Stadium Lounge? Thanks.

But just so we're all clear on this:

It's still perfectly OK for a bar/liquor store customer to do all of the above, right?

As a resident of Pigtown, I cannot be more pleased.

Initially there was some great work done at Sid's, with some needed renovations inside (new bar, flooring, etc). There was a sense that maybe this would be a different type of bar that would support this diverse neighborhood.

However, the establishment quickly deteriorated. It was not uncommon for large crowds to develop outside and a great deal of shouting/commotion outside late into the night (and this is no Cross St. Market bar-laden area).

There are ample opportunities at the intersection of Cross/Wash Blvd. There is a population base to support an establishment that is creative in its concept and marketing. Any new venture here needs to recognize the unique diversity of Pigtown and use it as an asset to business development.

I guess I don't understand how Sid's doesn't support the Pigtown community? It's not a segregated bar like I've seen in a number of places, it gives back to the community through charity, and has given jobs to people from the neighborhood.

I'm not sure that when Sid's closes then there will no longer be people yelling at night in Pigtown.

A couple of questions:

1. Would it be okay to moon specific people?

2. What about running out in traffic after an Orioles game (presuming there is any)?

3. Can I punch a cat? Or a Frenchman? Because a cat is really just a furry, four-legged frenchman.

4. Does this recommendation require both parts? What if I just challenge my neighbors to "Rochembeau"?

5. What if shoot the guy who shot the guy in the face?

Also known as "Don't be a douchebag"

I fail to see how being an a**hole makes you lose your liquor licence. Its like how a bar becomes popular and all of a sudden neighbors are upset with the patrons... or building a school a block away from a strip club, then complaining that there is a strip club there. I'm not saying he's an outstanding citizen. Yeah, he's an idiot and an a**hole. But what does that have to do with liquor? What has the bar done that warrants being shut down?

If there are drugs there, ask for a foot patrol to stop in there every hour, on the hour. The detail could probably also probably patrol the neighborhood as well. How long do you figure dealers would hang out there?

Addition by Subtraction. I live a block away from Sids and I know the neighborhood will celebrate the closing of Sids. The article only offers a small sample of the owners issues.

Unfortunately the owner will be moving all that liquor to his new bar in between Sliders and Pickles, The Bullpen. Probably not the best thing for this weirdo to be around 9,000 O's faithful. The Over/Under on him losing his liquor license is 1-year.

I didn't punch that doggie.

Liquorboarding- does the license just vanish or is he able to sell it? What happens to the building, is it the same owner?

Sids has been around a long time, I think. Just wondering if somebody could still go in there and turn it around.

Not even Nancy could turn Sid's around.

"What has the bar done that warrants being shut down? "

I wasn't at the hearing, but I imagine not cooperating with police after a guy gets shot in the face right in front of you was a big part of it.

Where's the liquor board guy, anyway? He could tell us.

First, Tareq has owned the bar for one year. So, unless B'more Chop is 16 now he was sold a 40oz by a totally different bar owner and staff. Most likely the same owner that sold the bar in the first place because it was losing money. It is now profitable.

Second, I'd like to know more about the community's problems with the bar. Certainly the letters we got from residents supporting Sid's didn't mention them.

You write: "1. Do not stand there as a person at your bar shoots another person in the face and then refuse to cooperate with police."

Why not? Didn't Ray Lewis do the same thing when he cried for a lesser charge of obstruction of justice in a double murder trial? Memo to all the purple kool aid drinkers out there: obstruction of justice means you knew something about a crime and hide it from law enforcement.

Maybe if you were at the hearing and listened to some of the accounts from the residents of PIGTOWN then you would understand.

Maybe if you knew Tareq and spent time at the bar you would understand.

"Not even Nancy could turn Sid's around."

Brilliant comment, Sessa! Think it went waaay over the head of most readers.

Anon, i think you underestimate the crowd here, mate.

Lisa Kleenie here. I had a great time in reading this post. Thanks!

After seeing an interview with the owner where he fully admits to 'getting drunk' and throwing bottles at residents' homes, I don't want to know Tareq and spend time at the bar. I have gotten plenty drunk and never done anything that stupid, much less dodged traffic or reached in someone's car and hit their dog (which I fail to find funny, sorry).

He never hit a dog. That was made up.

Did he act stupid, yes. Should he have his business taken away for that reason? No?

Tareq wasn't convicted of anything. Yes, he acted like a drunk asshole. That's reason enough to confiscate a liquor license?

Tareq DID act like a GRADE A nutcase.
Tareq DID assault his neighbors (NOR did he e-v-e-r apoligize.)
Tareq DID punch a dog in the face (who was innocently sitting in the back seat of a car.
Tareq DID stand by, 100% un-affected as a shooter walked into his establishment, pulled out a gun & shoot a man POINT BLANK in the face.
Tareq DID NOT call 911 nor did he "co-operate" with the Police.
Is that "enough" reason to revoke a liquor license (i.e. the ability to serve & sell a 'controlled" substance!?
And..I for one do not "buy" their argument that "It's Pigtown!"
Could anyone ever fathom people spending $500,000.+ to live in South Baltimore? But they do and they LOVE it and the neighborhoods are all the better for them "investing" there!
So....I for one "BELIEVE" Pigtown is on the way UP!!...............unless you "choose" to remain at the same "level" as Tareq Abdul-ghani.


Do you have any proof of these accusations? Video? Police records? Anything?

"I imagine not cooperating with police after a guy gets shot in the face right in front of you was a big part of it."

So the bar locked the doors and didn't let the cops in? You have to separate the bar from the person. Unless there isn't an LLC... then the bar and person are two separate things.

"Tareq DID act like a GRADE A nutcase.
Tareq DID assault his neighbors (NOR did he e-v-e-r apoligize.)
Tareq DID punch a dog in the face (who was innocently sitting in the back seat of a car.
Tareq DID stand by, 100% un-affected as a shooter walked into his establishment, pulled out a gun & shoot a man POINT BLANK in the face.
Tareq DID NOT call 911 nor did he "co-operate" with the Police."

So what? You are talking about a person, not bar. If these people living in Pigtown are so great, maybe they should open a bar. I love it when people with zero service industry tell bar owners what they should do and how they should act. The only valid thing you've said was about not calling 911 and there is no proof about that statement.

Don't get me wrong, I would be more than happy to see some places shut down. But shutting down someone's bar because they are a dick isn't enough. If he's assaulting neighbors, throwing bottles, whatever, call the cops. Its a police matter, not a liquor board matter.

How can anybody stand by somebody and have no reaction while somebody is getting shot in the face, I have to admit, I find that hard to believe. I would poop myself if I saw a gun in my bar. Beating up a neighbor in Pigtown, I could see that. Hitting a dog, that's never good, unless the dog is "Chopper" and I heard a certain command:). There are always two sides to this story, however the crazy thing is that you would think that he would of went out of business running a place like that. If he is as bad as people say he is, his new venture probably won't last long either.

If I had the money I would love to open a nice bar in Pigtown. This is my newly adopted neighborhood and I want to support it any way I can. Like I said, if I had the money....

@ Bob. I live in Pigtown and I would definitely open a bar in Pigtown if I had the following:
1) A passion for running a bar/restaurant,

2) The skill set or experience to do so


4) A restriction lifted on liquor license moratorium

5) The power to move the dozens of church's on the boulevard. (No liquor license within 300 feet of a church)

@ JOSH, Do you have any proof that he didn't. Apperently there must have been proof or the board wouldn't have revoked his license.


I'd just like to see something beyond an imaginary accusation. If someone has footage of him doing these things, then let them bring it forward. If someone has the police records, let them bring them forward. Something other than someone's word.


As a resident of Pigtown for over 16 years now and former resident of the 1100 block of Washington Blvd, I just find it sad that elements of the community find it necessary to rally around the demise of legitimate small businesses (Jack’s Café, Sid’s, etc.) that attract both long time residents as well as the influx of new inhabitants.

I truly believe that many of the allegations against Tareq have been overtly exaggerated. On many nights, he did enjoy himself (maybe a little too much) and was certainly a visible and audible part of the Sid’s experience. But this is what you want in a bar owner. He was not afraid to stand up and remove those who disrespected him, his patrons, or his staff. He did not allow the “thugs” to call his bar home. He remodeled the entire bar, opened up the upstairs to music and a pool table, added affordable microbrews and imports to the standard domestic fare, and even offered a decently priced menu for those who wanted a bite after work.

Sid’s was a bar that worked. In just the year since Tareq took over the bar, I met many of my fellow neighbors that I probably never would have met otherwise. With the old Washington Village convenience store ready to fall down across the street and the Pigtown Main Street that struggles to keep 3 stores operating at once, I truly hope some good can come of all of this. I feel like those opposed to Sid’s will stop at nothing until Pigtown becomes another yuppie enclave like Federal Hill or Fell’s Point where college kids will be running up and down the streets after Raven games instead of a zealous bar owner.

Jiggs’ and Carroll Station, better get your lawyers ready, but they are gunning for you next.

@Sassy, the Nancy comment was brilliant especially in light of all of the V-House punk rockers that used to frequent Sid’s during the mid-90’s!

I was waiting for a V-house/Sids reference to come up. Strange as it sounds, I miss that rat-trap/death-trap. It was a sad day when I drove by and saw it was being rehabbed.

Sid's was first place I bought alcohol underage back in 1997.

Too bad Woodchuck doesn't make the 32oz bottles anymore.

Maybe someone can explain this article to me. It appears that Tareq was expelled from Bucknell for some kind of inappropriate advances on a woman. And his mother lashed out at the University for expelling him.

No, there's no way that guy could hit a dog. No way.

Do you read the Sun or just this blog?
Last week..there was a MURDER at
Carroll Station...............seriously!

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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