After sitting vacant for nearly two years, 4408 Knox Road, the former home of Santa Fe Cafe, could be getting a new tenant as early as the end of the semester.
The College Park city council approved the business plan for the new establishment, Terripin Turf, last week, including a 50/50 alcohol-to-food ratio and a wristband and identification scanning system to keep out underage drinkers. A motion was brought in front of the mayor and council at Tuesday’s meeting to support their application for a Class B liquor license.
The bar owners, Mohammad Afshar Khalaji and his daughters, Salomeh and Yasmine, have also agreed to update the building’s sprinkler system and plan on doing extensive renovations on the property.
“There was a controversy for some years with the prior occupant to get a fire suppression sprinkler system installed,” said Councilmember Stephanie Stullich (Dist. 3), who was very pleased by the efforts Khalaji and his daughters were making to renovate and the structure.
The current proprietors have also agreed to an identification scanner and a wristband system to keep out underage drinkers. The council had initially suggested that Terrapin Turf use a photo identification scanning system, , though they ultimately approved a different scanning method.
“It keeps for a period of time the photo of the person on the ID, making it possible to keep track of false IDs,” said College Park’s lawyer, Suellen Ferguson, explaining the system used at Looney's.
But, Ferguson added that this type of identification scanning also causes some concerns over privacy issues.
Stullich said the methods for keeping underage drinkers out of Terrapin Turf are consistent with methods used at other College Park bars. Although in the past, bars downtown have had problems, she thinks the best action the council can take is to work with local proprietors to make sure that they are responsible business owners and neighbors.
“That doesn’t mean we won’t be watching carefully,” said Stullich.
Khalaji will also be applying for an entertainment license so that Terrapin Turf can feature live music, possibly jazz or R&B. The council members are looking forward to the entertainment options this could bring downtown, as well as the potential for a late spring or early summer opening date.
“[The proprietors] like the idea of opening in the summer because they think it will be attractive to long-term residents as well as to students,” said Stullich.
Although there is no opening date set and it will take sometime for the structure to be brought into code, the owners still hope to debut Terrapin Turf before UMd. recesses for the summer, said Councilmember Robert Day (Dist. 3.)
The council voted 7-0 in support of Terrapin Turf’s Class B liquor license application, with Councilmember Fazlul Kabir (Dist. 1) abstaining.