Cumberland Times-News

Local News

June 1, 2010

Virginia Ave. bar owners hoping to attract ‘friendly clientele’

CUMBERLAND — Cahoots, a new bar at an old location on Virginia Avenue, appears to have a better grasp on how to conduct business than its predecessor.

Cumberland native Scott Haines, 41, said he and his wife, Lexie, who have applied for a Class D beer and light wine permit from the Allegany County Board of License Commissioners, or liquor board, have been open for three months at 249 Virginia Ave. in South Cumberland. The couple purchased the building from Evelyn Coffman, who operated Dave & Evelyn’s, and began operating under the new name about one month ago.

If all goes well, the adjacent building could be renovated to include a restaurant, Haines told commission members Gerald Delaney, Frederick Hill and Mike Griffith on Tuesday during the liquor board’s regular public meeting.

Haines said the new business name was chosen because it’s “fun and playful.”

It’s also law-abiding.

Haines’ reaction to an incident about four weeks ago at the bar while under his direction seemed to make a favorable impression on liquor board members. A man walked into the bar and hit a stranger over the head with a bottle.

The aggressor was separated from the crowd by staff, Haines said, and business was shut down and patrons were ordered to leave while authorities investigated.

“I’m definitely trying to make change,” Haines said.

Haines said after he bought the business and property, he knocked on every door within a three-block radius to discuss activities past.

“All of the neighbors were very positive,” Haines said. “They had recognized (the area) had already started to clean up a little bit.

“I knew the history of the area,” said Haines, who returned to Cumberland about five years ago. “It was pretty clear what was going on over there. It actually was a big concern of mine.”

Under the previous owner, the location attracted less-than-ideal customers and helped to contribute to illegal activity, including open containers in public, public drunkenness and fighting.

Dave & Evelyn’s, along with The Wonder Bar, received negative attention from the liquor board and the Cumberland Police Department. In September 2009, the liquor board revoked the liquor license for The Wonder Bar.

Haines said he plans to attract “a more friendly clientele.” But the responsibility of providing a safe environment for customers and visitors to Virginia Avenue falls on Haines and any other business owner.

“With the right person in there who is properly managing the establishment, you can prevent a lot of problems right up front,” Haines said.

The liquor board is expected to consider Haines’ application for transfer of a liquor license at its June 17 meeting at the County Office Complex on Kelly Road. The meeting is set to begin at 9 a.m.

Kevin Spradlin can be reached at kspradlin@times-news.com.

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