Check out the photos from the 2011 17th Street High Heel Race on Flickr!
For the 26th year in a row, the High Heel Race 2011 filled 17th Street NW. Wonderful costumes, a large and happy crowd and a gaggle of contestants (wearing 2-inch heels, at a minimum). Prior to the race at 9 pm, participants paraded their wigs, heels and creative costumes along 17th along with many other revelers in Halloween garb.
This year’s winner, Craig Williams, won for the second time, also winning in 2008. Runner-up Stephen was the 3rd Place finisher last year. Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans was the official judge at the finish line and trophy presenter. The trophy this year was a hand-blown glass slipper full of brandy.
The first event in 1986 drew a neighborhood crowd and the event has grown steadily over years, drawing people from all over DC and the metro area. Recent races and pre-race festivities have brought tens of thousands of Washingtonians to 17th Street for the High Heel Race — last year’s crowd was estimated at 60,000 (this year’s crowd as definitely in the tens of thousands.) A new touch this year was The Washington Blade Food Truck Rally with 10 food trucks at 17th and O Streets NW.
The event is sponsored by the Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets (HDCMS) program and JR’s Bar and Grill. JR’s was the creator of the annual event the year it opened in 1986. And for only $20. you can buy an official High Heel Race T-shirt!
I don’t know about you, but daylight savings made this week rough. I may never forgive those farmers for stealing that hour back every year… Regardless, I am READY for the weekend.
This Thursday night is a no-brainer. Throw on a green shirt and head out to any of these neighborhood Irish bars to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day.
Need tips for tonight? St. Patrick’s Day: Five Places to Celebrate in the Hood
Some people may be taking it easy on Friday night but my sassy gay best friend is visiting this weekend and I’ve promised to show him around (show him off?) Logan Circle and 17th Street in the hopes that he’ll love it… and just move here already. We’re quite excited for Cobalt‘s standard Friday-night dance party, with their weekly open (rail) vodka bar special that runs from 11 pm to midnight (one of best kept secrets in town).
From Tom Hay
Opening a restaurant in DC is not for the faint of heart these days. In addition to a tight credit market and sky-high rents, a business owner must meet the city’s regulatory requirements and sometimes face residents who may not want another restaurant in the area — especially one with a liquor license.
Even an expansion into an adjacent space may face challenges.
Jamie Leeds, chef and owner of Hank’s Oyster Bar at 1624 Q St. NW, is in such a situation. Since spring Leeds has been facing two obstacles in her desire to expand into an empty storefront: a group of protesting residents and the complicating moves of a citizens association.
Simultaneously, Leeds wants to get out of the Voluntary Agreement (V.A.) under which Hank’s has been operating since its 2005 opening.
In a nutshell, the protesting residents argue that expansion could be bad for the balance of businesses in the area, and threaten the “peace, order and quiet” of the surrounding area.
The protesting residents also argue that a bad precedent could results if Hank’s were allowed to operate without a V.A. – even though a number of other liquor-serving establishments on 17th St. operate without one. The Dupont Circle Citizens Association (DCCA) also opposes the dissolution of the V.A.
Leeds told Borderstan that the major operational restrictions under the V.A. are that Hanks’s must stop serving alcohol two hours before the restaurant’s closing time, and that dinner cannot 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.”
No Decision at Oct. 13 Hearing on V.A.
Despite a nearly six-hour hearing last Wednesday, Oct. 13, before the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board on Hank’s request to terminate its V.A., the hearing ended due to lack of time, without a decision (The separate hearing on the expansion is Wednesday, Nov. 3.)
The parties to the V.A. are a group of six residents, led by David Mallof; DCCA was represented by its president, Robin Diener. All oppose Leeds’ request to dissolve the V.A. None of the six residents live on the 1600 block of Q St. where Hank’s is located.
From Tom Hay
A group of 23 Dupont Circle residents last week filed a protest with the DC Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) opposing the expansion plans of Hank’s Oyster Bar. The restaurant, owned by chef Jamie Leeds, is at 1624 Q Street NW just off the 17th Street NW corridor. The expansion would be into the vacant space adjacent to Hank’s on the east side of the restaurant.
A majority of the protestants to the publicly available letter reside in the 1700 block of Q Street NW and the 1500 block of 17th Street NW, as well as 16th Street and Massachusetts Avenue NW. Notably absent from the list of protestants are any residents of the 1600 block of Q Street where Hank’s is located.
Leeds seeks to expand into adjacent space and increase both indoor and outdoor seating. She appeared before Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B-Dupont at the July meeting and the ANC took no action against Leed’s plan at that meeting. Leeds also seeks to vacate her voluntary agreement (V.A.) and the commission has decided not to oppose Leeds’ request. Leeds seeks to operate Hank’s without a V.A. and has noted that the requirements in the current V.A. are already listed in the restaurant’s liquor license.
Reasons for Protest
The protestants’ letter cites several reasons for their objection to Hank’s expansion, including, “The [Alcoholic Beverage Control] Board should continue to prohibit any incremental impacts generated by restaurant and bar seating in the ‘hyperconcentrated’ area on 17th Street between P and Q Streets, NW, including the wrap-arounds along P and Q, which are directly across the street from high-density residential dwellings. Any further restaurant and bar approvals in this hyperconcentrated zone are incompatible with the central objective of the moratorium to maintain a healthy mix of non-licenses, neighborhood-serving retail business.”
The moratorium referred to in the protest letter is the Dupont East liquor license moratorium put in place years ago and last renewed in 2006. However, on March 11, 2009, ANC 2B voted to ease some of the restrictions and allow for businesses to expand laterally. Under those changes, the expansion of Hank’s would not be prohibited by the moratorium.
DCCA Protesting V.A.
The July protest from the group of 23 followed a June 28 letter to ABRA. The June 28 letter was from a group of five residents (who are also part of the group of 23) plus the Dupont Circle Citizens Association (DCCA) and they are protesting Leeds’ desire to vacate her V.A. In the June 28 letter, DCCA does not protest the the expansion plans–just Leeds’ desire to vacate the V.A.
However, DCCA is asking that a V.A. be required for Hank’s to expand in the space just east of the restaurant. Hank’s has been operating under the V.A.–which was signed with the DCCA and several area residents–since it opened in 2005.
ABRA encourages parties to resolve the protest through cooperative or voluntary agreements. If issues are not resolved, the process moves to a protest hearing where the parties present evidence and testimony on the “appropriateness” of the licensing action. It is incumbent upon the protestant(s) to prove their case. After the hearing, parties may present findings of fact and conclusions of law to the Board. The Board issues a decision within 90 days.
What are Voluntary Agreements?
One of the best-known and sometimes contentious things ANCs are known for is voluntary agreements with local businesses–especially restaurants and bars. For example, ANCs in this area will often automatically protest the granting of a liquor license until the ANC reaches a voluntary agreement with the establishment. The “V.A.” will set certain conditions and guidelines for the operation of the business in order to address concerns by members of the ANC or residents of the area.
Perhaps the new establishment will agree to shut down its outdoor cafe earlier than it closes its inside business–even though the establishment is under no legal obligation under DC law to do so. Once the voluntary agreement is reached and approved by both the ANC and the business owner, the ANC will vote to recommend that that the establishment gets its liquor license or business operating license. The appropriate DC regulatory bodies are then supposed to take this agreement into account when deciding whether to grant the liquor license or operating license.
Previous Posts on Hank’s
From Tom Hay
Wednesday night’s ANC 2B-Dupont meeting was the scene of additional discussion regarding the expansion of Hank’s Oyster Bar on Q Street NW, just east of 17th. In the end, the commission decided to not protest Hank’s expansion plans.
(Hank’s was also on the agenda at the June ANC 2B meeting: “Hank’s Oyster Bar Makes Progress on Expansion” from June 17.)
The expansion plans are news, but are part of a longer saga related to Hank’s. Chef and owner Jamie Leeds opened Hank’s in 2005 after a contentious negotiation process with several neighbors and the Dupont Circle Citizens Association (DCCA) over conditions of their Voluntary Agreement (VA).
In the opening discussion about the proposed expansion of Hank’s, Commissioner Victor Wexler (2B05) said the issue should be “blessedly simple.” However, things are usually not simple when it comes to liquor license discussions and the 17th Street corridor.
Commissioner Bob Meehan (2B03) immediately proposed a motion to protest, and suggested a voluntary agreement (VA) that would require Hank’s to have a single entrance for the proposed expansion along with ADA compliant restrooms. He cautioned that if the single entrance criteria was not included “we could be in for another Trio’s / Fox and Hounds situation.” Commissioner Ramon Estrada (2B09) seconded the motion.
Hank’s owner and chef Jamie Leeds then addressed the ANC and explained that her plans did indeed include the accessible restrooms and a single entrance. So, the motion was withdrawn and no further action on Hank’s was introduced.
Without any other opposition from the nine commissioners, the discussion was opened to the community. Resident Lex Reiffel, expressed concerns about the expansion and brought up the issue of the current VA being held by several area residents rather than the ANC, which he considers a bad policy. Hank’s must still face a hearing with the DC Alcoholic Beverage Control Board hearing later this summer where the public may protest the expansion.
Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) cannot pass binding legislation nor do they have official regulatory power. However, DC Government agencies are required to pay close attention to their actions and recommendations (“What Exactly Do ANCs Do?).
For a more complete look at Hank’s desire to expand into the adjoining space, see “Hank’s Oyster Bar Makes Progress on Expansion.”
How time flies. The annual 17th Street Halloween High Heel Race is only week away: Tuesday, October 27. Starting time is 9 p.m., but 17th Street north of P Street will begin filling up between 6 and 7 p.m.
In what appears to be an historic change (yes, I’ve attended a few), the race course is reversed this year, with the contestants running south. The race will start at R Street and end at Church Street in front of JR’s Bar & Grill. The course is 0.2 miles–1/5 of a mile–in case you are thinking of donning a pair of heels and finding out just how fast you can run.
The Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets (HDCMS) program is the designated beneficiary this year. According to HDCMS Executive Director Paul Williams, the group has created a roped off VIP area at the finish line at Church Street “for those that wish to arrive as late as 30 minutes before the event for a secured, prime viewing area! Ticket holders will also receive a Bar Fast Pass to head directly in front of any lines at JR’s, Cobalt, and 30 Degrees following the event.”
The VIP section is limited to 50 ticket holders at $40 per person, and there are apparently some tickets left. Williams estimates a crowd of more than 15,000–an estimate I find entirely believable.
The first of a series of planning meetings on the 17th Street NW corridor (which I believe is roughly from P to S) is tomorrow evening, Wednesday, August 5, at Cobalt, which is located on the third floor at 1639 17th Street NW. The city’s streetscape project begins this fall, so this is a timely discussion and meeting.
Here are details from ANC 2B Commissioner Jack Jacobson:
With a little luck, Borderstan dog owners will have a second enclosed dog park nearby this spring. (The enclosed Shaw Dog Park at 11th and R NW has been open for several months.) The city broke ground on Tuesday to turn the triangle park at 17th-S-New Hampshire NW into an official park for dogs. In attendance were D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans and ANC Commissioner Jack Jacobson (ANC 2B04). Jack Jacobson/Friends of Jack has the story. Dcist also has the story.