From Tom Hay
Wednesday night’s ANC 2B-Dupont meeting was the scene of additional discussion regarding the expansion of Hank’s Oyster Bar on Q Street NW, just east of 17th. In the end, the commission decided to not protest Hank’s expansion plans.
(Hank’s was also on the agenda at the June ANC 2B meeting: “Hank’s Oyster Bar Makes Progress on Expansion” from June 17.)
The expansion plans are news, but are part of a longer saga related to Hank’s. Chef and owner Jamie Leeds opened Hank’s in 2005 after a contentious negotiation process with several neighbors and the Dupont Circle Citizens Association (DCCA) over conditions of their Voluntary Agreement (VA).
In the opening discussion about the proposed expansion of Hank’s, Commissioner Victor Wexler (2B05) said the issue should be “blessedly simple.” However, things are usually not simple when it comes to liquor license discussions and the 17th Street corridor.
Commissioner Bob Meehan (2B03) immediately proposed a motion to protest, and suggested a voluntary agreement (VA) that would require Hank’s to have a single entrance for the proposed expansion along with ADA compliant restrooms. He cautioned that if the single entrance criteria was not included “we could be in for another Trio’s / Fox and Hounds situation.” Commissioner Ramon Estrada (2B09) seconded the motion.
Hank’s owner and chef Jamie Leeds then addressed the ANC and explained that her plans did indeed include the accessible restrooms and a single entrance. So, the motion was withdrawn and no further action on Hank’s was introduced.
Without any other opposition from the nine commissioners, the discussion was opened to the community. Resident Lex Reiffel, expressed concerns about the expansion and brought up the issue of the current VA being held by several area residents rather than the ANC, which he considers a bad policy. Hank’s must still face a hearing with the DC Alcoholic Beverage Control Board hearing later this summer where the public may protest the expansion.
Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) cannot pass binding legislation nor do they have official regulatory power. However, DC Government agencies are required to pay close attention to their actions and recommendations (“What Exactly Do ANCs Do?).
For a more complete look at Hank’s desire to expand into the adjoining space, see “Hank’s Oyster Bar Makes Progress on Expansion.”