HOLLYWOOD, Md. (August 16, 2017)—The Calvert County Board of License Commissioners (liquor board) has approved a license for a special event venue in St. Leonard. The approval of the Class D On-Sale Beer, Wine and Liquor license was unanimous at their July 27 meeting. The new business is called Lash Bartenders and Rustic Wedding Collection.
Applicant Cathy St. John told the board that she had been operating her event business out of a storefront in St. Leonard and had a showroom to display her services. She said the space next store, at 4865 St. Leonard Road (across from SPOT Thrift Shop) was available. She said she saw a need for a space for small receptions and events with about 40-50 people maximum. She said she would more than likely only hold a few events a month there. "I don't know of others who do small events," she said.
John Swoap, who works at the Tavern just down the street, expressed concern about the new license. He said that St. Leonard only had 11 businesses and four of them had liquor licenses. He wondered what the need was for a fifth.
Swoap is the husband of liquor board member Beth Swoap, who recused herself from the hearing and vote because of that connection.
John Swoap said several people he knew had attended a reception at the showroom of the new business that was advertised on Facebook as offering free food and drink. He said those attendees told him the drinks were free but the servers said a tip was required. St. John, who deemed the people Swoap referred to as "spies," and several other witnesses denied that assertion.
St. John worked for both Stoney's in Prince Frederick and Vera's White Sands and had worked her way up to manager of both during her total of 16 years at the two establishments. She said she was a stickler for managing the serving of alcohol; during her time at Vera's she prohibited bartenders from drinking. "I am probably the strictest in the county," she said about her attitude about responsible serving.
St. John's father Thomas said, "Casey truly turned around Vera's business operation." He said since she started her own business in 2016, "what she has accomplished has been amazing."
The board unanimously approved the license before Swoap had a chance to express his concerns but allowed him to speak and then reaffirmed the decision
At the meeting Chairman Robert Arscott introduced the county's first full-time license inspector, Michael Stevens. Arscott said Calvert was the last county in the state to hire a full-time liquor inspector.
Stevens had 24 years experience with the Maryland State Police and nine years as a civilian staffer at the sheriff's office before taking the new position.
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