A York City bar that lost its liquor license more than a month ago is being cited by York City Police for allegedly continuing to serve alcohol illegally.
But the owner of Bottoms Up hotel and bar said she abides by the law and is merely trying to stay afloat until she can reapply for a state liquor license in 10 months in her own name, rather than her husband's name.
York City Police Chief Wes Kahley said officers have filed two citations against Bottoms Up, 696 E. Philadelphia St., under the city's ordinance on unlicensed sale of alcoholic beverages.
"We're charging them with the same statue we charge any other speakeasy with," Kahley said.
The bar's license was not renewed by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, according to board spokeswoman Stacey Witalec, who said Bottoms Up should have stopped selling alcohol as of March 27.
Kahley said that's not the case.
"When our officers went in there this weekend, their investigation revealed the bar was charging a cover charge to get in, and were providing alcoholic beverages to the persons inside based on that cover charge," he said. "It's the same thing speakeasies do.
"They lost their liquor license, so now they're trying to find ways around it to stay open," Kahley said.
Open 16 years: Danna Marros, 48, of York City, owns the bar, she said, while husband George Marros owns the property.
The couple has operated Bottoms Up for about 16 years, she said, and have tried to be good neighbors.
Danna Marros said she's continuing to follow state law.
"I'm allowed to give away beer," she said. "I charge a $10 cover for entertainment. I can give away all the liquor I want."
She confirmed she plans to be open seven nights a week, from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m., and will continue to charge a cover for entertainment -- and continue to give away free beer.
"If they continue to operate as a speakeasy, we'll continue to cite them," Kahley said.
The ordinance requires those found guilty of operating as a speakeasy to pay a fine of no less than $250 and no more than $1,000.
BYOB? Danna Marros said she's also applied for a permit with York City to operate as a bring-your-own-bottle establishment.
"With all the issues they currently have, I think we would be highly reluctant to grant them one," Kahley said.
State police Maj. John Lutz, director of the state Bureau of Liquor Enforcement, said state law allows businesses to give away free alcohol, but not when it's contingent on a cover charge.
"I can't really comment as to whether we have an active investigation going with this establishment," Lutz said.
According to Kahley, city police have been watching Bottoms Up for some time because of issues ranging from disorderly conducts to shootings.
"Our most important concern is to make sure the neighborhood is safe and that neighbors don't have to put up with a nuisance bar," he said.
Recent shooting: It was after the April 25 non-fatal shooting of Thomas Washington III outside the Bottoms Up that officers realized the bar was still open, the chief said.
"It was our understanding they were to be closed," Kahley said, so neighborhood enforcement officers began focusing their attention elsewhere, until after the shooting.
Danna Marros said officers sit outside her bar every night.
"They're chasing my business away. They're trying to break me, and I don't know why," she said. "But I'm not leaving. It's not just a job for me -- it's my life."
Witalec said the LCB refused to renew the bar's liquor license on June 15, but that order was appealed. On March 27, a York County judge affirmed the board's decision, Witalec said.
Earlier shooting: Bottoms Up made news when police charged George Marros with shooting customer Eric DeShields in the chest about 2:15 a.m. Jan. 18, 2009.
In June 2010, George Marros pleaded no contest to reckless endangerment and was sentenced to six to 23 months in county prison. Defendants who plead no contest are not admitting guilt; rather, they are saying they won't contest the charges against them.
Bottoms Up also suffered a blow in 2006, when the three-story residential hotel and bar sustained significant damages in a fire caused by careless smoking in a third-floor room. No one was hurt.
-- Reach Elizabeth Evans at email@example.com, 505-5429 or twitter.com/ydcrimetime.