By Carrie Snurr
For The Diamondback
The College Park City Council on Tuesday discussed terms of a Property Use Agreement and a potential liquor license for MilkBoy+ArtHouse, which is set to open in downtown College Park early next year.
MilkBoy+ArtHouse is a partnership between MilkBoy, a restaurant and live music venue in Philadelphia, and the University of Maryland's Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. It will be located in the Route 1 space that formerly held The Barking Dog.
The first floor of the building is planned as a cabaret-type space where people can eat, drink and watch a show, while the second floor will serve as a larger performance space. The venue aims to host performances or events three to five times a week, but that number may fluctuate based on the season.
The Clarice is expected to book performances six to nine times a month, while MilkBoy will book other entertainment, according to city documents.
The proposed agreement asked for a 50/50 ratio of food to alcohol, and said food must be served all times alcohol is offered. Linda Carter, attorney for the partners of MilkBoy, requested the venue to be exempt from a set ratio.
Carter said the venue will be an arts center, and therefore its main focus will not be on food and drink.
"You may go to the opera and you may have a glass of champagne, but you may not eat," Carter said. "It's very hard for us to tell you what our food and alcohol ratio is going to be."
Carter assured the council that the venue would not be a typical bar, noting that the main attraction will be the performances held there, not the drinks served.
The space intends to cater to an "adult" audience, as opposed to students at this university, Carter said.
But The Clarice's Executive Director Martin Wollesen said the venue also wants to attract "a segment of the student population that is not served by College Park."
"This venue is about serving that part of the student population that is looking to engage in different ways," he said.
District 1 Councilman Fazlul Kabir expressed concern about what happened at previous businesses at the location, which lost two liquor licenses. Before The Barking Dog existed in the space, it was occupied by the Thirsty Turtle.
MilkBoy partner James Lokoff said previous businesses failed at that location because they attracted the wrong kind of business. Because MilkBoy+ArtHouse will be different from previous businesses at that location, he said, they will not have the same problems.
"We feel like because we're so aligned with the university, we have to be the best," Lokoff said. "We can't be what was there."
The council agreed to the MilkBoy+ArtHouse's request that they not be required to use scanners at all times to check IDs of people purchasing alcohol. Carter said the venue would check IDs but not use scanners for certain formal events.
The city and the venue will continue to work toward finalizing the agreement and the liquor license recommendation in the coming weeks.
"I am personally very excited for this venue to open," said College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn.