Millers Island’s Dock of the Bay restaurant to close
Wednesday, 06 March 2013 12:08

Owner Thanner announces intentions to sell

by Nicole Rodman

    Many in the community are mourning the loss of a local landmark as Millers Island restaurant Dock of the Bay has announced that it will close.
    In a Facebook message on Feb. 21, Dock of the Bay staff explained that Thanner would seek to sell the restaurant.
    “After careful consideration, owner Larry Thanner has decided to sell Dock of the Bay,” the announcement read.
    It continued, “Dock of the Bay will not be reopening. We would like to thank our loyal patrons! Dock of the Bay will truly be missed.”
    Purchased by Thanner in 2003, the former Fisherman’s Inn has been closed for the winter.
    It was reopened briefly for the annual Dip at the Dock fundraiser, which raised money for the Maryland Special Olympics.
    However, the restaurant will not reopen this spring.
   

Thanner has, for years, battled neighbors and county agencies over what they contend is overly-loud music being played both inside and outside the establishment.
    The issue began in 2005 when Dock of the Bay began offering live music on weekends.
    By 2006, neighbors began complaining to Baltimore County over the volume of music being played at the establishment.
    In June of that year,
Thanner was fined $5,000 for running what the county called “nightclub activities” in an area where zoning prohibited such an establishment.
    According to Baltimore County zoning regulations, a nightclub is defined as “a tavern or other commercial establishment which provides live or recorded entertainment, with or without a dance floor, and which is categorized as a nightclub by the Building Code of Baltimore County.”
    At the time, Thanner contested the definition — a position he continued to defend as the issue dragged on.
    In May 2007, a Baltimore County zoning commissioner ordered Thanner to stop operating as nightclub.
    The following July,
Thanner was assessed a fine of $30,800 for failure to comply with the order.
    That August, the Board of Liquor License Commissioners again ordered Thanner to cease playing music and levied a $1,000 fine.
    The case wound through the legal system throughout the next few years.
    In May 2008, the Baltimore County Circuit Court upheld the Liquor Board’s ban on outdoor music at the restaurant.
    However, a May 2010 Maryland Court of Appeals ruling struck down the Liquor Board’s 2007 ban on outdoor music.
    That July, however, in a separate case brought against Thanner by Dock of the Bay neighbors, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals ruled that the Millers Island restaurant was operating as a nighclub under Baltimore County zoning codes.
    At the time, Thanner noted that he thought the ruling was too broad and questioned why his restaurant was being singled out among others in Millers Island.
    Contacted for comment for this article by The Eagle, Thanner indicated that he would look over questions if they were sent in writing.
    However, Thanner did not respond to any inquiries as of press time.
    In a September 2010 Baltimore County Circuit Court ruling, Thanner was charged with contempt for continuing to play music at the restaurant.
    A November 2010 ruling also charged Thanner with contempt and again ordered him to stop offering music.
    Over the Memorial Day  weekend in 2011, Thanner again ran into trouble after attempting to circumvent the order by playing music on a iPod from a pontoon boat in the water by the restaurant.
    “The previous liquor board told me they didn’t have jurisdiction on the water,” Thanner told The Eagle at the time, adding, “So I built a boat.”
    He was later fined for the action.
    Despite Thanner’s legal woes, Dock of the Bay was, throughout the years, a popular establishment in the Millers Island area.
    Among the events held at the restaurant were the Dip at the Dock fundraiser, as well as the annual Rock the Dock event to benefit the Sparrows Point High School football program.
    Many local organizations, including the Dundalk Chamber of Commerce, held events there throughout the years as well.
    [Note:  The Eagle held its anual staff Christmas luncheon at the restaurant  in 2010 — Ed.]
    Now, the well-known resturant will begin a new chapter as Thanner seeks a buyer for the establishment.
    For many residents, however, the news of the sale is a sad end for a well-known local landmark.
    As one patron, Tiffany Azzinaro Miller, commented on the Dock of the Bay Facebook page on Feb. 21, “This is indeed sad news. Great food, beautiful view, and wonderful atmosphere! I will really miss Dock of the Bay!”