ANC 2B Withdraws Protest of Hank’s Expansion

by December 1, 2010 at 12:00 pm 2,624 0

ANC 2B Jamie Leeds Hank's Oyster Bar

Hank’s owner Jamie Leeds and her representative, Andrew Kline. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Tom Hay

Last night Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B voted to withdraw its recent protest of the planned expansion of Hank’s Oyster Bar into the adjoining storefront to the east of the restaurant. The vote was 7-0 with one abstention.

The ANC also passed a second resolution, unanimously, to support continued placarding of all substantial changes in 2B (details follow).

Public Notice of Substantial Change

The special meeting of ANC 2B started a new debate on public notice of substantial changes for an establishment with a liquor license. The meeting was planned shortly after an agreement had been reached with Jamie Leeds, chef and owner of Hank’s Oyster Bar, over the operating hours of the outdoor cafe portion of her restaurant at 1624 Q St. NW.

The original agenda for the meeting was to vote on a follow-up resolution to withdraw the ANC protest on the expansion plans for Leeds’ restaurant. Several ANC commissioners filed the protest with the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board on Nov. 8, which was followed by an official ANC vote on Nov. 10; the vote was 7-1 with Jack Jacobson (2B04) voting no.

Hank’s Oyster Bar wants to expand into the adjacent empty storefront at 1622 Q St. NW. The request must be approved by the city’s ABC Board. (Luis Gomez Photos)

The letter and official protest came after comments during an ABC Board protest hearing on Nov. 3, at which a representative for Hank’s suggested that Leeds may operate the outdoor cafe beyond 11pm Sunday to Thursday and after midnight Friday-Saturday.

Several days later, however, an agreement was reached between the ANC and Leeds on limiting the hours on the operating license for Hank’s Oyster Bar.

Summer Garden at Issue

Last night — after ANC 2B Chair Will Stephens (2B08) read the resolution on withdrawing the protest — Bob Meehan (2B03) introduced an analysis, complete with photographs, of statements made during the ABC protest hearing on Hank’s expansion into the space next door at 1622 Q St.

The focus of Meehan’s analysis was the planned rear patio or “summer garden” with plans for 20 seats behind the space at 1622. Meehan pointed out that at the July 2010 ANC 2B meeting, when Leeds presented her expansion plans,  no mention was made of the summer garden — only the street side outdoor cafe and interior expansion. The ANC took no action on Hank’s expansion at that meeting.

Many ANC Commissioners only learned about the summer garden after transcripts of the November 3 ABC hearing were released. Meehan did not want last night’s resolution withdrawing the ANC’s protest to move forward without an amendment to address the concerns over the planned summer garden at 1622.

What is a Substantial Change?

A great deal of discussion followed over whether the ABC Board would consider the summer garden a “placardable” event. A placard is required by ABRA when an establishment seeks a license renewal or a substantial change. Placards serve as a form of public notice for the neighboring community.

Substantial change is a catch-all regulatory phrase to describe a laundry list of actions; it might include extending hours of service, addition of live music, increasing seating and expansion. Since the ABC Board has not yet ruled on the proposed expansion (the subject of the Nov. 3 hearing), it is unclear if they will consider Hank’s proposed summer garden to be a separate event which requires public placards — and the potential for opposition from the community.

As a form of compromise, a second resolution was unanimously passed to support continued placarding of all substantial changes in 2B. The original follow-up resolution to withdraw the expansion protest also passed, with Bob Meehan abstaining from the vote. The ABC Board has not yet ruled on the Hank’s expansion.

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