From Tom Hay. Questions for Tom? Send him an email at Tom[AT]borderstan.com and follow him on Twitter @Tomonswann.
Late last week, on April 25 news of an online petition opposing the possibility of an Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) license moratorium in the 14th and U Street / MidCity neighborhoods landed in Borderstan’s email box. Bryan Martin Firvida created the petition on the site Change.org petition on Wednesday and it is already has almost 400 signatures as of Monday morning.
Martin Firvida is a past president of the U Street Neighborhood Association (USNA), elected president four times, 2002 to 2004 and again in 2010. He also served as chair of USNA’s Business Development and ABC Committee and served on the USNA Board of Directors. Martin Firvida also spent four years as a Special Assistant in the Executive Office of the Mayor and the Office of the City Administrator working on neighborhood issues.
In their comments, the petition’s signers overwhelmingly expressed their support for the growth, diversity and development of the U street area. Former president of the U Street Neighborhood Association, Martin Firvida, a resident of the U street area, appears to have created the petition as a preemptive measure to the possibility of a moratorium.
Martin Firvida told Borderstan, “I set up the petition as a way for my neighbors to both proactively express their support for our neighborhood, and for addressing the issues we face in a smart and comprehensive way, while also registering their opposition to an ABC license moratorium. Just like any of the vibrant neighborhoods here in the District, we have a complex mix of quality of life issues that can really only be effectively managed through ongoing collaboration — which is accomplished by bringing residents, businesses and government to the table to work together. A moratorium does none of that.”
Another factor at play in the area is a current zoning restriction, which limits the total square footage of restaurant, club and lounge storefronts to 50%. This restriction was raised from 25% in 2010, and is part of an arts overlay district that was put into place a number of years ago.
The 14th and U/MidCity neighborhoods could prove to be a tricky area to navigate for any community group hoping to build support for a moratorium. The area includes blocks in Wards 1 and 2, at least three different ANCs (1B, 2B and 2F) and just as many neighborhood associations.
Five Moratoriums in Effect
The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) lists five moratorium actions in DC. The neighborhoods with liquor license moratoriums are Georgetown, Adams Morgan, Glover Park, Dupont West and Dupont East (17th Street NW).
The moratorium discussion and process begins at the level of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) or neighborhood association. Martin Firvida’s petition states, “Once again, we’re hearing the idea of a Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) License (a/k/a “a liquor license”) Moratorium being discussed for the Greater 14th and U Street Neighborhoods.”
The commercial corridors of 14th and U Streets have seen rapid residential development in the past few years and have, as a result, drawn many new restaurants and bars. New businesses that desire an ABC license must navigate their way through the choppy waters of the public protest process. In most cases, businesses end up signing the now ubiquitous “voluntary agreement” or VA and agree to limited hours in serving alcohol in order to expedite the process.
- 14th & U: Approval for More Bars, Restaurants Expected
- 14th & U: The Arts Overlay, Quick Action, a Reader Poll
- ABC Board Says Hank’s Oyster Bar Can Expand
- ANC 2B Approves Limited Changes to 17th St. Moratorium
- ANC 2B Committee Report on 17th St. Liquor Licenses
From Tom Hay. Questions for Tom? Send him an email at Tom[AT]borderstan.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Tomonswann..
Following on the heels of recent press releases of new restaurants and bars in the neighborhood comes the inevitable protest hearings on the granting of a liquor license by DC’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA).
One battle, over a planned bar near 8th and T streets NW, has made it to the evening news. WJLA reported on neighborhood opposition to entrepreneur David Batista’s effort to open All Souls in a now abandoned storefront at 725 T Street NW.
Neighbors interviewed in the report cited the proposed tavern’s proximity to Cleveland Elementary School across the street as the cause for concern. The report indicates that Batista has agreed not to serve alcohol during school hours, but the protesters are not satisfied.
Batista is represented by Andrew Kline who guided Jamie Leeds through the effort to expand Hank’s Oyster Bar in 2010. The ABRA hearing before the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board for All Souls is scheduled for Wednesday, March 21 at 4 pm. ABRA offices are located in the Reeves Center at 14th and U Streets NW.
Protest Over Kuller’s New Asian Themed Place at The District
Speaking of 14th Street… the liquor license application for Mark Kuller’s Southeast Asian themed restaurant at 14th and S Streets is being challenged by Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2B, subject to a voluntary agreement (VA) to address parking and hours of alcohol service on their outdoor patio. The vote to protest the application occurred at the ANC2B March meeting. Kuller’s latest venture is a few blocks north of his popular Estadio restaurant, and will be part of the large JBG apartment building currently under construction. The restaurant will be located in the portion of the project that includes the preserved facade of the former Whitman Walker Clinic building. The setback along the S Street facade will allow for outdoor cafe seating for 40 people.
It will be interesting to see if the restaurant’s location causes any reaction among S Street residents regarding hours — the 1400 block is entirely residential with row houses. There was pushback last year when a restaurant wanted to open on the 1400 block of T Street in the old Post Office Building.
Residents and community associations frequently protest license applications in the hopes of securing VAs with operators. The VA typically addresses concerns over hours of operation, trash and noise.
From Cody Telep. Follow him on Twitter @codywt, email him at cody[AT]borderstan.com.
The Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board voted unanimously at a hearing Tuesday to end the suspension of Tabaq Bistro’s liquor license, effective at 6 pm today, March 7. The restoration of the license is contingent on the approval of Tabaq’s new camera system by an inspector from the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA).
That inspection and approval was expected to be completed by 6 pm today. Tabaq Bistro, located at 1336 U Street NW, has been closed since a stabbing of a female patron occurred inside the establishment on February 25 (Stabbing at Tabaq Bistro Early Saturday Leads to Temporary Closure).
The ABC Board vote approved the offer in compromise (OIC) negotiated between the D.C. Office of the Attorney General and Tabaq. The OIC requires certain stipulations from the establishment in exchange for the reinstatement of the liquor license. These include installing additional security cameras on the premises.
Tabaq owner Omer Buyukbayrak noted that additional cameras have already been installed on several floors, including two new cameras in the room where the stabbing took place. The new camera system will also allow for storage of videos for 30 days and will make it possible to make copies of footage as needed.
Tabaq is also required to use additional security personnel during events on Fridays and Saturdays and to provide additional training for security employees within 30 days. Buyukbayrak told the ABC Board that Hospitality Operations Security Techniques (HOST) Staff Trainings will take place on April 2 and 3. A revised written security plan must also be submitted to the ABC Board within 21 days.
Tabaq is no longer permitted to have any events sponsored by promoters and cannot charge a cover for entry. The terms and conditions for outside event contracts have been revised to require Tabaq’s approval for any advertising of events online or on posters. A promoted event, “Love vs. Lust, Roses & Rozay,” was going on the night the stabbing occurred. A March 10 event with a cover charge promoted by Basement Knok’ers Entertainment was originally scheduled for Tabaq Bistro, but has now been relocated to Alero Mexican Restaurant’s location in Columbia Heights.
Fernando Rivero of the Office of Attorney General argued that if Tabaq Bistro met these conditions, then the establishment would not pose an imminent danger and could safely reopen. He also noted that Tabaq did not have a history of problems and this was the first reported serious incident there.
The ABC Board voted unanimously to refer the specific stabbing incident inside Tabaq to the Office of the Attorney General for show cause. While the members of the ABC Board believed Tabaq was no longer an imminent danger to the public, they still believed the incident on February 25 was serious enough to warrant further investigation.
Tabaq Bistro is the third Borderstan establishment in recent months to have their liquor license temporarily suspended due to a violent incident. Mood Lounge and Heritage India also both had their licenses reinstated after an ABC Board hearing.
From Cody Telep. Follow him on Twitter @codywt, email him at cody[AT]borderstan.com.
Tabaq Bistro’s alcoholic beverage license was suspended indefinitely on Wednesday (February 29) following a stabbing that occurred inside the establishment on February 25 (Stabbing at Tabaq Bistro Early Saturday Leads to Temporary Closure).
The suspension follows a 96-hour emergency closure of the U Street NW bar and restaurant that went into effect at 6 pm on February 25 by order of Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier.
The suspension notice is from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board for a violation of Title 25 of the DC code and/or Title 23 of the DC municipal regulations. These titles both deal with alcohol law in the District.
Borderstan has asked the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) for more specific information on the violations and the suspension and will update as soon as we hear back from them.
ABRA announced Friday that a hearing on the license suspension will be held this Tuesday, March 6 at 2:30 pm. We will have more on the status of Tabaq’s alcoholic beverage license after Tuesday’s hearing.
- Stabbing at Tabaq Bistro Early Saturday Leads to Temporary Closure
- Arrest Made in November Heritage India Homicide Case
- Mood Lounge Keeps License After Friday ABC Board Hearing
From Cody Telep. Follow him on Twitter @codywt, email him at cody[AT]borderstan.com.
A woman was stabbed several times in the leg while inside Tabaq Bistro at 1336 U Street NW early Saturday morning, according to reports from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA).
The victim was conscious and breathing according to a tweetfrom MPD and was taken to Washington Hospital Center. Her current condition is unknown. MPD has not announced any arrests in the case.
According to an ABRA investigative report provided by Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) on the U Street listserv, the stabbing occurred during a large fight inside Tabaq Bistro. It is not clear if the fight occurred during the “Love vs. Lust, Roses & Rozay” event that took place Friday night. MPD reported the stabbing at about 3 am Saturday. The ABRA investigation determined that staff at Tabaq failed to notify ABRA or MPD about the incident.
As a result, MPD Chief Cathy Lanier closed the establishment at 6 pm on Saturday. Chief Lanier has the authority to temporarily close establishments serving alcohol for up to 96 hours under the Emergency Suspension of Liquor Licenses Act of 2005.
Such closures can occur when “The Chief of Police finds that continued operation of this establishment would present an imminent danger to the health, safety, and welfare of the public; that there is an additional imminent danger to the health and welfare of the public by not closing this establishment; and that there is no immediately available measure to ameliorate these findings.”
The ABRA investigation continues and the date of Tabaq Bistro’s hearing before the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board has not been announced. The Board does have a regularly scheduled meeting set for Wednesday, February 29, at 9:30 am. Tabaq Bistro previously faced a fact finding hearing before the Board on October 19, 2011, for an assault inside the establishment. The Board voted unanimously to take no further action after the hearing.
Lanier has previously used her authority under the Emergency Suspension of Liquor Licenses Act of 2005 to close Heritage India and Mood Lounge after violent incidents. Both establishments later reopened after hearings before the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.
From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Email her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @frijolita.
Shaw’s Tavern has officially announced they will open their doors for service while they await word on their liquor license. They will serve “a light breakfast and lunch menu for weekdays from 7 am to 6 pm and a brunch menu on weekends from 9 am to 4pm.”
If you’ll recall, Shaw’s Tavern has seen its fair share of drama. Last year the owners served liquor at an event a wee bit prematurely and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board has deemed the owner “unfit for licensure.” Then there was some back and forth, ultimately ending in Shaw’s Tavern being shut down because their liquor license was denied.
Under new ownership, the Tavern hopes to re-open and become a neighborhood fixture. Will you be stopping by Shaw’s Tavern? Management seems very excited to become an integral part of the neighborhood!
The blogger at Shaw Deserves Better shares the news that Mood Lounge was found guilty of the first of five pending noise complaints — the same lounge that managed to keep its liquor license after a January stabbing of two people in front of the establishment. The noise levels were set in the Voluntary Agreement, and the first violation occurred a few short weeks after their grand opening, according to the DC Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA).
If you are interested in the full set of proceedings laid out in the Findings of Fact conducted by ABRA, check it out here. For those of you not living in Shaw or tracking the issue, you can see the full scope and both sides of the argument on the Shaw Deserves Better blog, through a newspaper story and in the blog’s comments/response to the story.
You might also want to check out Matt Raymond’s take on the situation on the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F website. Raymond represents ANC 2F-04. His latest post, The Exquisite Timing of Mood Lounge, reviews a story in The Ethiopian Times that alleges a racial angle around the Mood Lounge controversy.
DC: The New It Place for Programmers
Gone are the days that Tyson’s Corner ruled the tech world and computer geeks made their own computers in small Fairfax apartments. Or so the Post interview on the location and state of tech talent would have you believe. Firms are headed into the District in search of office locations and commutes attractive to their prospective talent pools. If you couple this with the recent trend of tech incubators popping up in DC as well, it’s less hard to believe.
Midtown Faces Fine for Serving Minors
In a narrow 4-3 decision, ABRA voted to fine Midtown $3,000 and to serve a three-day suspension after the bar was caught serving minors. Somewhat ironically* reported by the GW Hatchet, it seems the problem may stem from a promo group giving out ‘of age’ wristbands to underage club goers (the nightclub has an 18 and up policy, 21 to drink). A block over, Heritage India ran into a major fine after violence erupted at the club, which Heritage largely blamed on an outside promotion company. I’ll direct your attention to a Washington Examiner article that discusses the challenges of licensing what appear to be ‘pop up’ companies. (* I’m not saying it was GW students that were involved in the underage drinking, and there is no indication that GW students are anything but law abiding students, so please calm down.)
Sausage on U Street
Borderstan’s music venues are proving to be a boon for 13th Street Meats, a new sausage start up. They are serving at U Street Music Hall (pho dogs), Black Cat’s Food for Thought Cafe (half-smokes) and other area bars like Dodge City and Pharmacy Bar. The owner, Scott McIntosh, has made the most of his bartending connections in introducing the product, but the quality of the product is keeping it flying off bars. He’s a Columbia Heights resident, hence the 13th Street name, so we are claiming you, Scott! For more info on the hormone-free meats, where to find them and some drool-worthy pictures, check out DCist’s coverage.
Mood Lounge keeps its liquor license, reports the Shaw Deserves Better blog. They don’t mince words in their reporting of the issue, either. The “problematic” lounge kept its license after an exhaustive hearing before the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board at ABRA last Friday night. The blog’s author plans on combing through the hearing statements to find inconsistencies and flaws, as well as deceptive language.
This now counts as two establishments in Borderstan keeping their licenses, with few penalties, after violent events outside or inside the premises (see: Heritage India).
It was reported late Tuesday night that Mood Lounge, at 1318 9th Street NW in Shaw, had its liquor license suspended indefinitely by the DC Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA). The lounge had been placed under emergency closure by the DC Police for 96 hours after the stabbing of two people outside the club last week.
It was noted in the ABRA suspension notice that: when MPD arrived at the club (1) the owner denied knowledge of the stabbing and (2) the club’s security chief said the copious quantities of blood on the sidewalk was “cranberry juice.” The notice goes on to note the violations in the club’s own security plan and that one of the victims was under the age of 21.
Officers who arrived at the scene shortly after the incident reported a strong odor of marijuana, both in the lounge and on the persons interviewed. In the past year MPD logged 61 calls related to this establishment — about one-half were related to disorderly conduct.
Mood Lounge has 72 hours as of January 3 to request a hearing before the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.
Matt Raymond is Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for 2F-04 (Mood Lounge is in District 06, represented by Mike Benardo). Raymond has recounted some of the longstanding problems associated with the club since it opened.
“I’ve gotten so involved in this because I have happily watched an upward trajectory in the past decade in the general condition, amenities and nightlife in our community. Mood Lounge was beginning to look like the Wild West, a place where anything goes. If it can happen on 9th Street, there’s no reason to think it couldn’t spread elsewhere. Our liquor licensees in Logan Circle are largely scrupulous, but imagine the signal you send to bad actors when one of them is allowed to operate with impunity, said Raymond.
In addition, DC Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) called for the permanent closure of the lounge in a news release.
Mood Lounge is the second Ward 2 establishment to face an emergency closure due to violence in the past two months. In late November Heritage India restaurant just south of Dupont Circle was closed for 96 hours after someone was shot during an altercation at a late night promoter event.
At their first monthly meeting since the tragic shooting at the Heritage India restaurant last month, the Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood (ANC) Commission 2B opened debate about safety and security at area bars and restaurants. ANCs are often the first stop for any new establishment that is seeking an Alcoholic Beverage Regulatory Administration (ABRA) license.
Frequently neighbors and ANCs protest license applications to ensure leverage in controlling things such as an establishment’s hours of service, type of entertainment and security measures.In the incident at Heritage, the club owners had given permission for a promoter to host an event at the restaurant after they had finished dinner service for the evening.
At some point a fight broke out that continued out onto the 1300 block of Connecticut Avenue NW just south of Dupont Circle. Johnte Coleman of Maryland was hit when gunfire erupted, he later died from his wound, five others were injured.
A few days after the shooting Police Chief Cathy Lanier ordered the restaurant to close for 96 hours. Shortly after that, ABRA pulled the restaurant’s liquor license pending a review. This week the restaurant’s license was reinstated with restrictions – they will only be able to sell alcohol with food, close at midnight and will need to come up with an acceptable security plan. At the ABRA hearing it was disclosed that the restaurant did not follow their established security procedures.
Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) was a guest speaker at the December 14 meeting and expressed shock and outrage at the violence that occurred at Heritage India. He cited the challenges caused by restaurants that morph into nightclubs late at night and pointed out ongoing safety and noise issues at other establishments in the ward, including Mood Lounge on 9th Street NW in the Shaw neighborhood.
Last week Evans introduced legislation called The Reimbursable Detail Expansion & Promoter Regulation Act of 2011 to address ABRA’s current lack of regulation of promoters. The legislation also seeks to expand the Metropolitan Police Department’s reimbursable detail program by requiring certain establishments to pay for adequate security unless they are granted an exemption by ABRA.
Events like the one organized by the promoter at Heritage would require additional security. In his remarks before the ANC, he pointed out that the legislation needs refinement since not every promoted event requires security. He also mentioned removing the word “reimbursable” from the legislation.
After Evans’ remarks, ANC Commissioner Mike Silverstein of Single Member District (SMD) 2B06, who is also a member of the ABRA’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC), added that the ABC Board forwarded the case to the Office of the Attorney General for a show cause hearing. He also emphasized ABRA’s desire to get a handle on bad promoters and cited the challenges of pop-up events promoted through social media on the Internet.
Commissioner Phil Carney (SMD 2B07), whose district includes Heritage India, praised the competent and prompt response by the Metropolitan Police Department in the aftermath of the violence. He added that promoted events have been a problem for years and mentioned that neighboring Prince Georges County, Maryland, requires licensing of promoters.
During the debate commissioners called out other Dupont Circle restaurants who have late-night promoter events and continue to be a source of frustration for neighbors — the other establishments mentioned include Bistro Bistro at 1727 Connecticut Avenue NW and Marrakesh P Street / Pasha Lounge at 2147 P Street, NW.
Commissioner Jack Jacobson (SMD 2B04) pointed out that the ANC 2B knew of problems at ABC licensed establishments but has never opposed a renewal. “Buck shold stop here!” he tweeted during the meeting. We should hear more on the Heritage India incident from Evans and the ANC next month, as the bill moves to a hearing and the ANC continues the discussion at their next meeting.
Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) announced last week that increased police patrols will soon return on weekend nights to the 1900 block of 9th Street NW, thanks to support from 9th Street businesses and the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA). Two off-duty officers will patrol the block from midnight until 4 am on Friday and Saturday nights. The extra police presence should start this Friday night.
Under the MPD Reimbursable Detail Subsidy Program, business owners are responsible for 50 percent of the cost of the additional officers and ABRA covers the other half of the expense. Each extra officer costs approximately $55 per hour. The program is designed to supplement the existing police response in Police Service Area 305 and provide extra resources during a time period when many patrons are leaving bars and other establishments on 9th Street.
Twelve business owners have signed on to support the program, including Nellie’s Sports Bar, the JBG Companies, and a number of Ethiopian-owned establishments. According to Tony Lucca, owner of 1905 Restaurant at 1905 9th Street NW, the owners have committed to funding the program for at least six months at a cost of $150 per month for each business. Lucca noted that the program will be a welcome addition and should enhance safety and security on the block and help prevent late-night incidents.
The 1900 block of 9th Street has been the location of high profile cases in the past including the 2007 murder of 17 year old Taleshia Ford inside the now closed Smarta/Broadway Club at 1919 9th Street and the 2010 death of Ali Ahmed Muhammed outside of DC 9 Nightclub.
The block was tied for tenth place in my earlier examination of the highest crime blocks in Borderstan in 2011 (Crime in Borderstan: Do You Live on a “Hot” Street Block?).
Parkmobile Parking App Reviewed
As we all learned in Borderstan etiquette class, there are many drivers/parkers in our area. Presumably, you are occasionally forced to leave the hood and/or pay for parking in it. So you may find We Love DC‘s review of DDOT’s Parkmobile app, which will allow drivers to use their mobile phones to make payment to the meters. Early reviews? Plenty of room for improvement.
From Michelle Lancaster
ANC 2B Says No to Chancery at Tourtorsky Mansion
ANC 2B voted 8 to 0 Wednesday night to recommend that the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) not be allowed to use the Toutorksy Mansion at 16th Street and Riggs Place NW as a chancery. Borderstan’s Tom Hay reported Monday on the property and the Congolese government’s desire to use the historic property as an embassy chancery. While the ANC’s resolution is only advisory, the DC Board of Zoning Adjustment is required to give it consideration. Commissioner Jack Jacobson (2B04), whose district includes the property, told Borderstan that the resolution of disapproval passed after the commission reviewed photos of the Republic of Congo property at 16th Street and Colorado Avenue NW. The photos show serious maintenance problems with the property.
From Tom Hay
At last week’s November meeting, we reported that the ANC passed a resolution and filed a letter to request standing as a protestant in the effort by Hank’s owner, Jamie Leeds, to expand the restaurant into a neighboring building.
The ANC’s move was prompted by fears that the liquor license for Hank’s location would incorporate later hours for the outdoor seating area since the voluntary agreement (V.A.) had recently been vacated by the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board. Leeds had told Borderstan that she had no plans for later patio hours. However, the hours on the license would transfer to any new owner who may operate under the later hours.