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Hank’s Expansion Protest Hearing Set for Nov. 3

by Borderstan.com September 30, 2010 at 12:10 am 1,506 8 Comments

Hank's Oyster Bar Dupont Circle Citizens Association 17th Street NW

1624 Q Street NW: Hank’s Oyster Bar wants to expand into the empty space on the east side of the restaurant. A group of residents are protesting the expansion. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Tom Hay

Wednesday morning’s status hearing on the Hank’s Oyster Bar expansion effort shined a light on how drawn out and complex the ABRA protest process can be–that’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration in DC-speak.

The hearing before the The ABRA’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC) was on the expansion/substantial change that chef-owner Jamie Leeds is seeking for Hank’s, her popular 17th and Q restaurant.

Wednesday’s status hearing should not be confused with the protest concerning Leeds’s request to vacate the voluntary agreement (V.A.) that the restaurant has been operating under since Hank’s opened in 2005. The V.A. protest is the second Hank’s case before ABRA.

ABC Board chairman Charles Brodsky opened the case by asking the parties to identify themselves. Jamie Leeds and her attorney, Andrew Kline were present along with David Mallof, representing the signatories to the expansion protest, and his attorney, Mike Hibey. Also seated at the table was Robin Diener, president of the Dupont Circle Citizens Association (DCCA).

DCCA Not Seated at Today’s Hearing

Brodsky asked Diener if the DCCA had filed a protest in the case before the ABC Board. Diener explained that DCCA was a signatory to the original V.A. with Hank’s. As as result, Diener said it was her understanding that for the expansion/substantial change to move forward that the V.A would have to be amended–which would have given her a place at the table as a representative of DCCA.

But, Brodsky asked that Diener step away from the table since only parties to the specific case may appear before the ABC Board–in this case the expansion/substantial change and not the V.A. itself.

The two parties had no further updates on the protest, so Brodsky scheduled the formal protest hearing for November 3 at 1 pm.

If you have not been keeping up with the Hank’s Oyster Bar story, below are links to related posts. In addition, 14th & You recently analyzed the protest line by line. It’s a long read, but well researched and written–make it worth your time: Hank’s: Analysis of a Liquor License Protest

Related Posts

  • SG

    Wasn’t this supposed to take place in October? Did they successfully push the date back with their stall tactics? God, these NIMBYs stink. Get a life, people!

  • ER

    Why would anyone in their right mind now open a business on 17th Street? Who knows what would set off some of the people in the area? Wouldn’t you just go to 14th or U or someplace else?

  • CW

    Could someone please explain to me…..

    – OK it’s obvious that some residents of the “residential” areas near Hank’s do not want any more traffic…. Did they also oppose the 17th Street revitalization? Would they rather that 17th Street commercial activity die out all together? No wonder 14th Street is getting all the attention these days!

    – I can’t figure out what DCCA is up to? Why not just expand the Voluntary Agreement under the new circumstances? Or negotiate a new one? Why go right to protesting Hank’ vacating the VA? Are they afraid Hank’s won’t negotiate a new VA?

  • DCBob

    I think it would be hysterical if (1) Hank’s moved and then (2) a strip club opened up in that spot.

  • And people wonder why 17th Street is losing its luster with the community. Let these honest and hard-working entrepreneurs revitalize the ‘hood.

  • Lance

    “- I can’t figure out what DCCA is up to? Why not just expand the Voluntary Agreement under the new circumstances?”

    I actually spoke with the president of DCCA last month, and that’s exactly what they wanted to do. However Hank’s refused. They just want it vacated instead. I wonder if Hank’s can explain why that is? Btw, I’ve seen the VA … it’s really not burdensome in the least … contains nothing more than things you’d expect the restaruant to do anyways. You have to wonder why Hanks would NOT be wanting it to stay in existence. It’s obvious it hasn’t stood in the way of Hank’s being successful the last 5 years. Why the great desire to get rid of it now?

    • Lance – A number of the liquor license establishments on the 17th Street corridor do NOT have Voluntary Agreements. It is not true that “all” of them have them. They do not. The listing is here. http://abra.dc.gov/DC/ABRA/Licenses/Current+License+Holders

      • Lance

        Matty, I’m not following your question. Did I say ‘all’ of them did? They’re not required you know … ever. Except that ABRA prefers to have such a contractual agreement of understanding in place whenever there’s any question of whether there might otherwise be disagreements between an applicant and its neighbors. It’s simply a means for hashing out any differences beforehand … and getting the agreement in writing. The alternative is of course that ABRA ends up taking a tougher stance to avoid problems with neighbors who would otherwise end up complaining to their Councilmember or the Mayor. ABRA board members are after all appointed … they, like the politicians who appoint them, are subject to political pressures. These VAs (whatever you want to call them) really do end up helping the applicatts go in to places which otherwise they’d have an up hill battle getting approval for. I guess that’s why I can’t understand some applicants’ adverse opinion of them. It’s really an opportunity for them to deal with those neighbors who’d otherwise oppose them outright. I used to live in a neighbhorhood with similar issues in a different realm (embassies), and because there was no such mechanism in place, the protests really got nasty … and without any way of finding middle ground like the VAs allow. I really think the applicants are targetting something that is out there to help them in the mistaken belief that the protestants will go away if the VAs go away. No, the protestants won’t … but there’ll be no sane way of coming to a middle ground with them. Which gets back to your point. No, not every business has a VA. And that is because not every business has immediate neighbors who are necessarily willing and or able to put in all the time and hard work it takes to deal with these issues. Some just don’t care. Some are renting and can move whenever they want. Some just don’t know they can work to address possible externalities. Whatever the case, where there are neighbors looking to protest, the VA is currently the only way of coming up with compromises. Maybe someone can think of a better way, but for now this is it.


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