Ocean City Today

J/R’s Ribs spot on 62nd to become Denny’s in August

Cowboy Coast fined $4K for improper inventory purchase
By Brian Gilliland | May 18, 2017
Photo by: Brian Gilliland J/R's Ribs overlooking the junction of Coastal Highway and Route 90

(May 19, 2017) Of all the real estate on Ocean City, the one parcel that’s caused the most speculation and conjecture is the former site of J/R’s Ribs, which has greeted visitors entering the resort at 62nd Street since 1980, and closed in 2015.

That site has been reimagined by Mark Rommel as a Denny’s franchise, and is set to reopen in the middle of August. Rommel owns five Denny’s restaurants, including the one in Fruitland, but is doubling his portfolio to 10 restaurants in the near future.

Rommel told the Board of License Commissioners on Wednesday he’s spent about $1 million on the interior and exterior of the building and will be importing a design element from the Las Vegas strip to the Coastal Highway cruise — a 16-foot tall fork to be displayed on the sign.

The restaurant will be open 24 hours a day, seven days per week, and will be permitted to sell beer, wine and liquor, just not at all hours of the day and night.

Alcohol sales are to end at 2 a.m., and the owners said they would follow the same procedure they do in Fruitland, by locking up the bar section after last call.

What they promised not to do was to repeat the situations that led to three violations at the Wicomico County restaurant. The first was for refilling vodka bottles in 2006, the next was for sales to an underage person and the last was for an incident at a fundraiser where a person was outside with a drink, which was prohibited by the license at the time.

The vodka violation was explained by there being a small amount in one container that was used to top off another of the same brand. The inspector noticed the bottle was overfilled in relation to the others, and thus wrote the violation.

Because the former J/R’s was known as a place visitors where could get a drink, the license commissioners approved the application.

The commissioners also held a hearing on whether Cowboy Coast violated the terms of its liquor license by possessing alcohol purchased under a different account with Republic National, one of two licensed wholesalers in the county.

Mark Bogosh is the manager of both Cowboy Coast and Plug Ugly’s Publick House in Fells Point, Maryland. Plug Ugly’s is owned by Bogosh’s mother.

Bogosh had two separate accounts with the wholesaler, as required by law, however the account for Cowboy Coast was frozen due to nonpayment of a balance. Bogosh said this was because a check had been lost, but was unable to produce a copy of the check or email confirmation of his conversations with the wholesaler about the situation during the hearing.

Bogosh was ordering supplies ahead of the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Ocean City, which would be the first time since New Year’s Eve Cowboy Coast would be open. So, he ordered inventory for both operations on his Plug Ugly’s account, and drove some of it down to Ocean City, and had some delivered.

The comptroller’s office was alerted to the situation by an anonymous tip, which was believed to be the distributor itself by Bogosh and his attorney, Joe Moore. The comptroller dispatched Mark Baton to investigate, who then found about 100 bottles of liquor purchased for Plug Ugly’s at Cowboy Coast.

Bogosh was fined $4,000 by the board, and given until Monday, May 22 to pay the fine. If the payment is not received, the board will suspend Cowboy Coast’s license until such time the fine is satisfied.

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