From Tom Hay. Questions for Tom? Send him an email at Tom[AT]borderstan.com and follow him on Twitter @Tomonswann.
Late last week the blog of LegalTimes reported that the District of Columbia Court of Appeals issued an opinion related to the seven- year-long battle between a group of neighbors and Hank’s Oyster Bar at 1624 Q Street NW in Dupont Circle.
The opinion states that the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board was wrong in their decision to allow termination of the Voluntary Agreement (V.A.) Hank’s had operated under based solely on whether doing so would have an adverse impact on the community.
“The neighbors have been overwhelmingly supportive of the expansion. I have not received one complaint since we have opened. I was shocked to hear that the court ruled to overturn the vacating of the voluntary agreement. I thought we had moved forward, but unfortunately it seems we are taking a step back in the growth of this neighborhood,” said Jamie Leeds, chef and owner of Hank’s.
The court reversed the November 2010 ABC Board decision and has ordered them to instead determine if Hank’s made a good faith attempts to negotiate an amended Voluntary Agreement (VA) with the group of neighbors who were parties to the original V.A., which dates back to 2005. Shortly after the ABC Board issued the opinion to terminate the V.A. they also agreed to allow Hank’s to expand operations into adjoining space.
V.A.s have become common citywide as a negotiating tool that sets restrictions beyond the standard regulations in exchange for a liquor license. Most frequently the V.A. limits hours of service of alcohol both inside and outside on sidewalk cafes.
Back in 2010 Leeds said 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.
Since the November 2010 decision the Board has several new members including a new chairperson, Ruthanne Miller. No word yet on when the ABC Board will review the case again.