7 Montgomery County restaurants denied permits to serve late-night alcohol

Seven Montgomery County restaurants were denied permits to serve late-night alcohol

One tried to serve anyway, and allowed dancing, inspection report says

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Seven restaurants in Montgomery County have been denied a permit to serve alcohol after 10 p.m., according to the county’s Alcohol Beverage Services department.

The County Council voted last week to amend the county’s executive order on COVID-19 restrictions, so that restaurants could serve alcohol until midnight — two hours later than was previously allowed.

The amendment, which the council adopted as a board of health regulation, requires that businesses:

  • Designate or hire an employee or contractor whose sole responsibility is to monitor and enforce physical distancing and face-covering requirements
  • Ensure that all alcoholic beverages are off all tables and collected from customers by midnight
  • Suspend the sale or provision of alcoholic beverages after midnight
  • Follow all protocols and guidance issued by the health department and the Board of License Commissioners (known as the liquor board) related to the permit program

Restaurants that have been cited for violating COVID-19 restrictions are not eligible for the permit if the violations were for any of the above safety-related concerns.

According to an ABS list Bethesda Beat obtained on Tuesday, the restaurants denied a permit are:

  • Hakuna Matata Grill at 2405 Price Ave. in Wheaton
  • Unplugged Restaurant & Sports Bar at 11305-C Georgia Ave. in Wheaton
  • La Rumba Restaurant at 2311 Price Ave. in Wheaton
  • El Puente de Oro at 11123 Veirs Mill Road in Wheaton
  • Amy Tex Mex Bar & Grill at 621 Sligo Ave. in Silver Spring
  • Golf Ultra Lounge at 8123 Georgia Ave. in Silver Spring
  • A.C. Grill at 293 Muddy Branch Road in Gaithersburg

Some of the restaurants applied and were denied multiple times.

Hakuna Matata Grill was cited during an inspection last weekend for allowing alcohol to be “placed on tables” after 10 p.m., according to an inspection report from Oct. 10.

Additionally, the report stated that customers were not social distancing and some were dancing under a covered white tent outside the restaurant. Hakuna Matata Grill has been cited for dancing before, the report stated.

Justine Mwebaza, a representative of Hakuna Matata listed on ABS’s list, could not be reached for comment..

A restaurant that was cited for several infractions on Saturday was among the restaurants that were approved for the new permits. Plan B Bar and Grill in Wheaton was cited for allowing dancing, not maintaining social distancing and allowing some customers not to wear masks.

Kenneth Welch, the environmental health manager for the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, told Bethesda Beat in an interview on Wednesday that ABS issued a permit to Plan B last week prior to Saturday’s inspection.

Welch said under the county’s regulation, county officials have the right to revoke a business’s permit if they are cited for a COVID-19 safety violation. He said that is a joint decision between ABS, the health department and other county officials.

No decision has been made on whether to revoke Plan B’s permit, Welch said Wednesday.

About 170 businesses in the county had been approved for the alcohol permit as of Tuesday afternoon.

There were also 11 “pending applications.  

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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