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Birmingham liquor licenses approved for 2022

By Kevin Elliott


Birmingham city commissioners on Monday, March 28, approved renewing liquor licenses for nearly two dozen establishments in the city that were on hold since February to allow for outstanding payments and code violations to be addressed.


City commissioners on February 28 approved liquor licenses renewals for 14 drinking establishments in the city, but held off on others that had either outstanding debts with the city or unaddressed code violations. The city routinely holds off on annual liquor license renewals as a way of forcing local establishments to address any outstanding issues with the city. That included about two dozen businesses, nearly all of which had addressed and resolved the issues with the city by the March 28 meeting.


Deputy City Manager Jana Ecker said 21 of the 24 businesses had addressed the issues, with just three requiring a special public hearing at the commission meeting. Public hearings were held for the licenses belonging to Dick O’ Dow’s; The Maple Road Taproom (Whole Foods); and Casa Pernoi.


Ecker said inspections revealed an unauthorized sidewalk sign at Dick O’ Dow’s, as well as an extension of outdoor dining that extended into the public right-of-way in the alley beyond what is permitted.


Dick O’ Dow’s owner Mitch Black, who has operated the bar and restaurant for more than two decades, said the sign has already been moved, and that new outdoor dining markers will be painted to keep outdoor furniture within the authorized space.


Commissioners unanimously approved renewing the liquor license, with the agreement that Black would follow through with the dining boundary within the next 45 days, to which he agreed.


Ecker said Maple Road Tap Room, 2100 E. Maple, which operates in Whole Foods, is currently closed, and the space is currently being used for storage. Further, Ecker said the business didn’t notify the city that it wasn’t operating as approved.


“The bistro itself is blocked off and being used for storage,” Ecker said. “It’s not operating in the way it was required and approved, and not only that it’s being used for storage.”


Attorney Kelly Allen, who represents Maple Road Tap Room, said the bistro closed during the pandemic, and plans to re-open by May 1. She asked for the commission to approve the license, and instead holding the bistro’s special land use permit as a remedy if issues weren’t addressed. Allen said the bistro must conduct a deep cleaning of the space, as well as hire and train new staff.


Commissioners unanimously agreed to renew the liquor license for the Maple Road Tap Room, and subsequently set a public hearing for May 9 on the special land use permit, which is required to operate. The liquor license is held by the state.


Commissioners also discussed technical violations at Casa Pernoi, 310 E. Maple, related to the covered, outdoor dining area, which includes the use of isinglass, or plastic windows, which aren’t permitted under the city’s current ordinance. Ecker said the isinglass was permitted under the former special land use permit belonging to Cafe Via.


Allen, who also represents Casa Pernoi, said the business has applied to amend its special land use permit to allow for the use of isinglass. She said the location raises a unique issue related to wind, which essentially makes the space unusable without the screening due to wind coming through the narrow via.


Birmingham City Manager Tom Markus recommended the commission approve the liquor license, but instruct Allen and the owners to pursue an amendment to the permit, as well as a variance from the city to allow for the use.


Allen said they would also be pursuing an amendment to the city’s outdoor dining ordinance, which is being rewritten, in hopes of permitting the use on private property, only, as is the case with Casa Pernoi.


Commissioners unanimously approved both the license, as well as instructing the business to pursue a permit amendment and variance from the zoning board of appeals. The commission and city administration also indicated the restaurant could continue to use the isinglass screening while pursuing the authorizations.

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