The space on Baltimore Avenue in College Park formerly occupied by the Thirsty Turtle may have just gotten a new tenant.
The Prince George’s County Liquor Control Board unanimously voted Tuesday to award John F. McManus, owner of The Barking Dog in Bethesda, Md., a Class B liquor license for beer, wine and liquor at 7416 Baltimore Ave. A Class B license allows alcohol to be served and consumed on location.
The approval allows McManus to negotiate a contract with the space’s landlord and Thirsty Turtle owner Alan Wanuck, who still holds the lease. McManus said the three parties have been in discussions for three months, but a deal was contingent on McManus securing a liquor license.
The Thirsty Turtle had its liquor license stripped Nov. 3, after evidence of underage drinking was brought to light after the stabbing of four men, three of them underage, following an altercation inside the bar.
The Barking Dog owner said he expects details to be worked out quickly. Though McManus said he felt badly for Thirsty Turtle ownership, he said he wouldn’t make the same mistakes as his predecessors. “I have nothing to do with those people,” he said.
“It’s a great location, it’s a great space,” McManus said. “University of Maryland’s not going anywhere. There’s not a whole lot of options (in College Park), really. … That building is inherently really nice. It needs some spit and polish. Right now, it looks like a wounded animal. Once it gets cleaned up, and fixed up, and organized and set up, people are going to be really surprised.”
McManus said he will have a target on his back at first, given the space’s history, but hoped to win over the community quickly. But he said some who were fans of the Thirsty Turtle probably won’t be fans of The Barking Dog. “The freshmen won’t like it,” McManus said. “They’re welcome to come in and eat, but not drink.”
Sgt. Ken Leonard, spokesman for University of Maryland police, said he wants to meet McManus soon to “get on equal footing,” given the space’s recent history.
“Hopefully it’ll be a successful business and a good draw for the community and students at large,” Leonard said. “But do it in a responsible manner.”
Franklin D. Jackson, chairman of the county liquor board, said voting to award the license to McManus, who owned five other bars and restaurants before The Barking Dog, was not difficult for him. Jackson said documents showed McManus did not have any violations on record for his bar in Bethesda.
“It appeared the applicant was fit and proper, he had significant experience in terms of running a restaurant,” Jackson said. “And he’s bringing a restaurant concept he’s proven elsewhere.”
Jackson said the space on Baltimore Avenue is the “largest retail commercial enterprise in College Park. (McManus has the ability) to keep it safe, (and) run such a space. Since he’s already running a business that’s extremely large, it just makes sense that he’d be able to transfer those skills over.”
McManus said he hopes The Barking Dog could open in College Park by May 1.
- By Maryland Newsline’s Alexander Pyles