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ABC Board Approves Termination of Hank’s V.A.

From Tom Hay

The DC Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board has issued a ruling that allows Hank’s Oyster Bar to operate without a voluntary agreement (V.A.). The 4 to 2 vote follows a six-hour hearing on Oct. 13. (See 6-Hour Hearing But No Decision for Hank’s Oyster Bar.)

Borderstan learned of the ABC Board’s ruling today at a Board hearing on another matter related to Hank’s — its request to expand into an adjoining space. You can read the ABC Board ruling (PDF).

The ABRA transcript from the ABC Board hearing on Oct. 13 hearing is available (PDF).

Owner and chef Jamie Leeds signed the V.A. before opening in 2005, with a group of neighbors and the Dupont Circle Citizens Association (DCCA). Leeds asked to be released from the V.A., which she could do after five years.

Hank's Oyster Bar DCCA 17th Street NW

Hank’s Oyster Bar will no longer have a voluntary agreement with a group of neighbors and the Dupont Circle Citizens Association. Hank’s is also seeking to expand into the vacant store front to the east of the restaurant. (Luis Gomez Photos)

The protesting residents argued that a bad precedent would result if Hank’s were allowed to operate without a V.A. A number of other liquor-serving establishments on 17th St. already operate without one.

In addition, Leeds is trying to expand into an empty storefront just east of the restaurant at 1624 Q St. NW. The expansion is being protested by a group of  23 residents, and the hearing was held Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 3.

What was in V.A.?

Leeds said last month that the major operational restrictions under the V.A. were that Hanks’s had to stop serving alcohol two hours before the restaurant’s closing time, and that dinner could not be served outside one hour before closing time. In addition to restrictions on hours, the only labeling that can be on the patio umbrellas is “Hank’s Oyster Bar.”

V.A., ABC, ABRA

The V.A. is a facet of D.C. regulatory processes by which residents and community organizations may negotiate with a liquor license holder to set mandates that are not part of standard regulations. The restrictions placed on Hank’s Oyster Bar are a good example of what goes into a V.A.

The protests (another D.C. regulatory term) against the expansion of Hank’s Oyster Bar, and the termination of the V.A. are being handled as separate cases by the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board. The ABC Board has seven appointees who are nominated by the mayor and approved by the D.C. Council. It hears cases and issues rulings related to liquor-serving establishments.

Hearings before the ABC Board typically include the establishment, residents and community organizations. ABRA is the city agency that carries out the Board’s decisions and orders. To understand how the ABRA protest process works, view their PowerPoint slide show.

Related Posts

This post was written by:

- who has written 136 posts on Borderstan.

Hay covers a variety of business related topics in the area plus stories on local government. A superb researcher, he can dig up most anything. When not working on a story you’ll find him enjoying the great restaurants, galleries and shops in Borderstan and D.C. Contact Hay at tom[AT]borderstan.com and follow him on Twitter @TomOnSwann.

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18 Responses to “ABC Board Approves Termination of Hank’s V.A.”

  1. Lance says:

    @John F. Settle down Lance…You’re hyperbole is similar to that of a tea party activist! They haven’t lied…no one knows their plan yet.

    Their plan is irrelevant. ABC licenses go with the property and not with the individual businesses who applied for them. Besides, it should not be up to the community to reliquish its rights and then have to say ‘pretty please’ don’t excercise the right we just handed you. And this is especially the case when the community was specifically told it was not giving away this particular right. Btw, the ANC voted on a well worded and very strong resolution last night setting the stage to righting that which has been wronged.

  2. Sam says:

    I hope Hank’s Oyster Bar moves away and is replaced by a strip club full of hookers. This new business would consume the lives of a handful of local “leaders,” ensuring that they would have no time to bother the other businesses. The ANC could hold meetings every night of the week instead of only once per month. Citizens could be outraged every day of the week! Best of all: the amusement value for the rest of us would be great. We’d probably even get international media coverage! It’s a win-win-win!

  3. Lance says:

    @Two Cents Did the ANC not realize that termination meant everything in the VA, including the hours, goes out the window?

    Absolutely not. They were told bold faced lies both by ‘the applicant’ and the ‘applicant’s representative’ … I’ve dealt with this representative (‘lawyer’) before when I chaired an ANC in the city. He lied to me too. And it was a bold faced lie like this one … which resulted in lots of good people volunteering lots of their unpaid hours to try to undo the damage he did to our neighborhood. The community should be outraged at how it was manipulated in this instance. It would be nice if we could just ‘all work together’, but as this happening shows, some people are less motivated by community than by profit.

    • John F. says:

      Settle down Lance…You’re hyperbole is similar to that of a tea party activist! They haven’t lied…no one knows their plan yet. Listen, before letting you’re head spin off.

  4. Lance says:

    Apparently Jamie’s lawyer pulled a fast one on the ANC (and others) in this matter. The hours have indeed been vacated despite assurances given to the ANC which the ANC then gave to its constituents.

    The ANC is bringing up the matter at its meeting this week. We should be there to show we support the ANC and don’t approve of lies and incomplete information being given to our elected neighborhood officials whose job it is to look after our — the residents’ — interests.

    • Two Cents says:

      @Lance. I wouldn’t call this a “fast one” on the part of Jamie or her lawyer. It was the ABC Board who vacated/terminated ALL of the terms of the VA, including the hours. There were at least two ABC Board member who realized the hours could be a problem and dissented. Did the ANC not realize that termination meant everything in the VA, including the hours, goes out the window?

  5. Jon Caley says:

    Congrats Jamie! Very much deserved, and don’t be shy about contacting the community when you need advocates to speak on behalf of your expansion.

  6. Lance says:

    Before celebrating, let’s see if Hanks respects the outside patio hours that the ANC has set for restaurants on 17th Street. The ANC says that vacating this V.A. didn’t change the hours that Hanks can operate its outside patio, other neighbors say differently. And after reading the order, I’m confused as to who is right. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

  7. lee says:

    WOOHOO, Jamie! Ditto on Jack’s response “This is fantastic news to all who appreciate our vibrant urban neighborhood and who want to support the independent local businesses that respect neighborhood residents and adhere to reasonable operating rules.” More of us need to speak up and send this message more often.

  8. Mike says:

    Thank goodness! The rule of law finally prevails!

  9. Taboo says:

    I am glad but still stunned. It seems common sense won out. As best as I can interpret what DCCA wanted, it’s this: Hank’s had to have a V.A. just in case ANOTHER BUSINESS MIGHT do something wrong in the future. They admitted that Hank’s is a great business, but they were going to hold them hostage just in case another business MIGHT do something wrong in the future.

    Regulatory reform, please!

  10. Jack Jacobson says:

    This is fantastic news to all who appreciate our vibrant urban neighborhood and who want to support the independent local businesses that respect neighborhood residents and adhere to reasonable operating rules. Congratulations, Jamie!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] also recently applied for and was granted termination of the voluntary agreement (V.A.) that they had operated under since opening in 2005. The request [...]

  2. [...] we know Hanks Oyster Bar. We know alllll about Hanks Oyster Bar. So do [...]

  3. [...] ABC Board Approves Termination of Hank’s V.A. [...]

  4. [...] ABC Board Approves Termination of Hank’s V.A. [...]

  5. [...] ABC Board Approves Termination of Hank’s V.A. [...]

  6. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Alejandra Owens, Tammy Gordon, frates, Joel Lawson, Joel Lawson and others. Joel Lawson said: Hank's Oyster Bar's VA dropped: http://bit.ly/cSP0ab Decision follows 10/13 marathon hrg. Read that NIMBY circus here: http://scr.bi/9RVNF1 [...]