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August 12, 2010

Sweet Sin's second liquor board hearing is today

sweet sin bakery

Sweet Sin Cupcakes and Cafe's controversial plans to open a restaurant with a liquor license will get a second look at a 1 p.m. liquor board hearing today.

The Remington bakery, which offers gluten-free desserts, wants to open a restaurant and bar next door.

Neighbors appear to be split over the idea of a new bar opening in the 'hood: the Charles Village Civic Association is for it, as long as it closes a couple hours earlier than 2 a.m. But the Remington Neighborhood Alliance is against the restaurant serving alcohol altogether.

In July, the liquor board sided with the upset neighbors, and denied Sweet Sin a liquor license ...

As you may imagine, a restaurant without alcohol doesn't present the best business model. Though he was against it at first, owner Richard D'Souza now seems amenable to the idea of opening a restaurant with adjusted hours if he can sell booze. He and his lawyer petitioned the liquor board for another hearing, and will plead their case again today.

Liquor board chairman Stephan Fogleman, whom I spoke with this morning, is expecting a fracas.

"It's going to be heated," said liquor board chairman Stephan Fogleman.

If approved, the new restaurant would offer a gluten-free menu. No word yet on whether it would also offer gluten-free drinks. I'll keep you posted on the outcome of the hearing.

(Baltimore Sun photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:52 AM | | Comments (21)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


Cupcake hooligans! Just what the neighborhood needs.

It took all my strength not to fill this post up with baking puns.

“Neighborhood residents are piping hot.”
“Whipped into a frenzy.”
"Mixing it up with the liquor board"

god forbid this tax paying business owner wants to open up shop in blighted remmington. there's been two murders within walking distance of sweet sin this year and they are worried about a bar?

I'm assuming D'Souza is the owner of Sweet Sin? You don't identify him in your post, Sam.

And when is this whole cupcake fad going to end? It seems gimmicky to me.

@Cardwell -- Aah! It was in an early draft of the post but must have been edited out. Fixed!

A few points:

1. Neither Sweet Sin nor the new restaurant are in Remington. Both are solidly in Charles Village.

2. D'Souza and his landlord, Goldberg, keep telling people they're going along with the community demands (including sending out an email and circulating a petition saying as much), but haven't actually signed anything, or contacted either group to negotiate, which makes their promises more or less meaningless. Aside from the hours, CVCA and GRIA are asking that they agree to keep the sidewalk clean and have a point of contact in the event that people have complaints about their business.

3. The CVCA and GRIA are both supportive of Sweet Sin opening a restaurant that serves alcohol, it's the landlord they're worried about. He's going to be co-owner of the liquor license, and won't agree to bar some sketchy individuals from holding a financial interest in the establishment.

4. The RNA is against everything including sunshine and kittens, so their opposition is like saying the sky is blue and water is wet.

@Cardwell, yeah, cupcakes are totally over. The selling point isn't the cupcakes, it's the fact that it's a gluten/casein free bakery. As a Charles Village resident I welcome any new establishments, with liquor licenses or not. Although a bar/restaurant totally gluten-free including libations would be wonderful.

since when is anything on howard street considered charles village?

its remmington

Sonofboh is right, Ham Snadwich -- it's in Remington, not Charles Village. According to our Baltimore Neighborhood map, it's just over the Remington line.

"Let them eat (cup)cake!!!"

We need Sweet Sin to succeed. Not just because I happen to be dating gluten-free, but because Remington needs more walkable options that aren't pizza. A liquor license would help. (And gluten-free folks aren't exactly party animals.)

Oh, and it's totally Remington.

That's incorrect for two reasons.

1. The business address is on the 100 block of 27th, which is is Charles Village by any measure.

2. Howard Street *is* in Charles Village. Both sides of Howard are in the Charles Village benefits district, so both sides pay the benefits district tax. (Incidentally, that means Doug and Joan Armstrong, the longtime rulers of the RNA, live within Charles Village and pay the tax accordingly.)

I can't really comment on your map, not having seen it, but Sweet Sin is pretty clearly in Charles Village.

@Ham Snadwich -- If you have a gluten-free cupcake, and I have a gluten-free cupcake, and I have a fork that reaches acrooooss the Charles Village line ... I start to eat your cupcake. I EAT YOUR CUPCAKE. NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM!

Seriously, I don't know if this was intentional or not, but Ham Snadwich cracks me up.

Also, as a reference point:

Many neighborhoods have overlapping boundaries. Both sides of Howard Street are in the Charles Village Benefits District. Even if there was an imaginary line running down the middle of Howard Street that separated Charles Village and Remington, Sweet Sin would be in Charles Village.

I'm dating myself, but back in the early 90s, there was a show on WHFS called the Daily Feed. Their field correspondents were Max Knobnee and Ham Snadwich.

The Lord can't hear you, Samuel. Say it to him. Go ahead and speak to him. It's alright. Down on your knees and and up to him.

Great movie.

Hubby and I came down from Frederick MD to find the bakery and visit my sister. We sat outside and had a drink and cupcakes. Hubby is gluten intolerate so it's nice to get a gluten free treat. They sell gluten free pizza too..and have a freezer with gluten free goodies to take home. More people are discovering gluten free products as healthier than regular products. I say Go For It and Good Luck! (love the chocolate cupcakes!)It's 27th and Howard..

Although I find the gluten free cupcakes from Sweet Sin to be almost inedible, I welcome and support the opening of a restaurant/bar on 27th and Howard (most of us Remingtonites consider that block to be in our neighborhood, but WHATEVER). We need more businesses in the area, so hopefully the Liquor Board will grant them a license.

Arguing over neighborhood boundaries is petty, stupid, and solves nothing.

If you look at the location on the map, and check out Live Baltimore for Remington and CV, it's in CV.

That being said...
Who gives a if it's Charles Village or Remington?

This is not the Bloods v Crips, MS-13 v 18th St, The Yankees v everyone else, or Sarah Palin v children's puzzles.

Is that going to aid or help him in the quest for a liquor license? Doubtful.

This whole thing didn't have to become so controversial. There were a variety of missteps on both sides.

1. Before Sweet Sin was involved at all, the owner of the Den did a bunch of improvements but didn't communicate with the community and then rumors started flying about how the Den was a bad neighbor.

2. Some members of the community (over-)reacted and now have an entrenched opposition to anything except, perhaps, an abandoned, graffiti-covered building.

3. Involving the RNA in anything is always a mistake. Their vision for Remington and Charles Village is a desolate wasteland (but with low property taxes).

4. Finally, the CVCA (who I am a member of and generally support) overreached. Their main concern was the risk of a future nightclub if the Den was involved but then they started trying to dictate (or at least complained about) everything from hours to menu.

Really, the whole thing has become personal which is a huge tragedy. Most of us in the neighborhood simply want a friendly, clean, viable restaurant where we can get a good meal and beer. I have faith that D'Souza can build this if the neighborhood doesn't throw too many barriers in his way.

I agree regarding the whole neighborhood dispute. Do you care if you get mugged in Remington or Charles Village? In Canton or Highlandtown?

Hey, looks like the license was granted! Everyone wins!

(except the RNA, but you know)

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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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