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S & B Restaurant, Inc. v. Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

February 4, 2015

S & B Restaurant, Inc. t/a the Woodlands
v.
Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, Appellant

 Submitted, May 9, 2014

Publication Ordered April 29, 2015.

Appealed from No. 5477 of 2013. Common Pleas Court of the County of Luzerne. Hughes, III, J.

Justin E. Blake, Assistant Counsel, Harrisburg, for appellant.

Richard S. Bishop, Kingston, for appellee.

BEFORE: HONORABLE BONNIE BRIGANCE LEADBETTER, Judge, HONORABLE P. KEVIN BROBSON, Judge, HONORABLE JAMES GARDNER COLINS, Senior Judge.

OPINION

Page 1107

LEADBETTER, JUDGE

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (Board) appeals from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, which reversed the Board's refusal to renew the liquor license for S & B Restaurant, Inc. t/a The Woodlands. The Board asserts error in the court's failure to disqualify The Woodlands from license renewal based upon a pattern of misconduct for which remedial measures were inadequate and in terminating the Conditional Licensing Agreement (CLA) executed between the Board and The Woodlands. After review, we are constrained to affirm the renewal of the license but we reverse the termination of the CLA.

The Woodlands is located in Plains Township, just outside of Wilkes-Barre and consists of multiple bars, restaurants, banquet facilities, a nightclub, cottages, and a 10,000 square foot hotel. It frequently hosts weddings, business conferences, conventions, and other large scale events, resulting in the admission of thousands of patrons per week. It has been in this location operating with a liquor license since 1970. The Woodlands filed a timely application to renew its liquor license for the period beginning September 1, 2012 and ending August 31, 2014. By letter

Page 1108

dated August 20, 2012, the Bureau of Licensing (Bureau) objected to the renewal of the license based upon ten citations, issued between 1987 and 2010, for violations of The Liquor Code[1] and over forty reported incidents of disturbance. Bureau's Objection Letter, Exhibit B-2, R.R. Vol. 2, at 491a. The objection letter also asserted that the numerous incidents of disturbances documented a breach of the CLA so as to justify nonrenewal of the license.[2] Id. After the Bureau lodged its objections,[3] a hearing followed to determine whether the objections warranted nonrenewal of the license.[4]

At the hearing, in addition to offering evidence of citation history, the Bureau presented testimony from several Plains Township ...


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