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

by November 3, 2010 at 2:37 pm 5,371 12 Comments

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.”


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.

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