14th & T: “The Post Office” Liquor License on ANC 2B Agenda

by Borderstan.com May 9, 2011 at 3:32 pm 2,000 6 Comments

Borderstan, "The Post Office," Luis Gomez Photos, ANC 2B

A local entrepreneur, in conjunction with Chow Down Inc. from New York, hopes to open a restaurant at 1407-1409 T Street NW. The building show above, 1409, was a U.S. Post Office. The liquor license application is on the ANC 2B agenda for this Wednesday, May 11. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Matty Rhoades

Two small buildings at 1407-1409 T Street NW could become a new restaurant in the 14th Street corridor — but the path may not be simple. One of them is a former U.S. Post Office that has long been used as an annex for storing furniture for Ruff & Ready. The other has been renovated and sits empty.

The two buildings are zoned commercial and while they face the Room and Board store across the street, everything else on the 1400 block of  T Street is residential, and close by at that. LoopNet lists the property as 1407-1409 and shows the two buildings joined by a two-story addition.

Working with NY-Based Chow Down

Local entrepreneur Blake Kimbrough is behind the Post Office restaurant project. Kimbrough said he is working with John Dempsey with the New York-based chain of trendy, affordable eateries, Chow Down, Inc. Chow Down owns such well-known establishments as Therapy, Barrage, El Centro, Hell’s Kitchen and Vynl.

“We have met with several residents from the building next door and are continuing to reach out to local residents to understand their concerns. We believe that local resident support is the greatest factor in guaranteeing our success in the historic U Street corridor,” Kimbrough told Borderstan.

Kimbrough said they are still working on the overall food concept, but are leaning toward modern-southern.

Application on ANC 2B Agenda

Any new spot in the location would be close to Policy, around the corner on 14th, and Cafe Saint-Ex at the southeast corner of 14th and T Streets. Another space at the northwest corner of 14th and T, a former liquor store, is still vacant.

The application for a liquor license for 1407 is on the agenda for this Wednesday at the monthly meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B (7 pm at Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW). While the ANC cannot approve or reject the application, it can recommend, or not, that the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board do so. The application reads:

Application by The Post Office (1407 T Street NW) for CR license with occupancy load of 259. Request for sidewalk cafe with 56 seats and summer garden with 14 seats. Maximum operating hours (2am/3am) inside and 11 p.m. and midnight for sidewalk cafe and summer garden. Request for entertainment endorsement for recorded music and DJ. Petition due June 6; Roll Call Hearing June 20. (2B09) (10 minutes)

Residential Block to West

It is an ambitious application — in addition to a liquor license, the applicant is asking for an occupancy of 259 people and more on the sidewalk cafe, plus a DJ. Provided that the application is approved, there will likely be a Voluntary Agreement (V.A.) between the new club and surrounding residential neighbors. It will be interesting to see if ANC 2B and the Dupont Circle Citizens Association (DCCA) will end up being signatories to any V.A.

Moreover the Post Office location is in the area served by ANC Commissioner and nearby resident Ramon Estrada. Estrada — elected to a fourth term in November — serves on Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2B/Dupont, representing district 09.

Over the past decade, Estrada has built a reputation in the Dupont-Logan area as a neighborhood activist that developers and owners of restaurants and nightclubs often have to deal with when they want to set up shop. See Saint-Ex and Bar Pilar Saga FINALLY Over (14th & You) and A Story About ANCs, Small Businesses, Liquor Licenses and More (Borderstan).

Does “The Post Office” have the potential to make the fight over the expansion of Hank’s Oyster Bar look tame? We may get an indication of what is to come on Wednesday at the ANC 2B meeting.

District 09 of ANC 2B is the panhandle district, which is why the Dupont-area ANC is involved with a 14th Street licensing issue. The district stretches from 14th Street west to New Hampshire and from S Street up to U Street NW.

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