(Updated at 8 a.m. Wednesday) D.C. restaurant owners should watch the mail for a letter from the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration to avoid a potentially unpleasant experience.
More than 1,100 restaurants, hotels, theaters, museums, trains, boats, clubs and caterers that serve booze in the District are scheduled to receive liquor license renewal applications in the mail this week, according to ABRA. If the businesses don’t have the paperwork filled out and return it to the agency by March 31, they face cancellation of their licenses and a $50-per-day fine starting April 1. But the fines wouldn’t exceed the cost of their licenses.
“More than half of all alcoholic beverage licenses will need to be renewed by the end of next month,” ABRA director Fred Moosally said in a statement. “We strongly encourage businesses to turn in completed applications as soon as possible. This will help both business owners and the agency to avoid long lines at the end of March.”
The rules, which were put in place last month, establish a new event license fee, put more responsibility on organizers to prevent littering and give the board more authority to veto bar-hopping events.
The new rules also bar organizers from “promoting excessive drinking” and selling unlimited drink tickets, among other things.
Cupid’s Bar Crawl, an annual pub-hopping event previously scheduled to take place across Dupont Circle tomorrow, will no longer move forward as planned due to opposition from D.C.’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.
Don Juan Restaurant at 1660 Lamont St. NW finished its police-ordered liquor license suspension Monday evening, according to D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration spokeswoman Jessie Cornelius. A Borderstan editor yesterday observed customers eating inside the eatery’s main dining area, which had been closed since Thursday.
Police halted liquor sales Thursday night due to the fight, which ABRA investigated. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board decided Monday that it wouldn’t pursue further action against Don Juan, allowing it to begin serving booze once more.
A Mount Pleasant eatery is unable to sell alcohol for now following a fight that left one of its customers hospitalized last week, police said.
Don Juan Restaurant at 1660 Lamont St. NW has had its liquor license suspended since Thursday evening under a police order stemming from the brawl. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board today is expected to decide whether the eatery can start serving booze again.
The Don Juan diner was sitting at the restaurant’s bar with his girlfriend and ordering food on Wednesday night when four to five men went up to him from behind, according to authorities. He then was punched in the head, knocking him to the ground.
The customer soon after was punched again and then kicked several times, police said. He also had chairs thrown at him, hitting him at least once.
Cupid’s Bar Crawl, an annual bar-hopping event scheduled to take place in Dupont Circle next weekend, may not go forward as planned thanks to a recent order from D.C.’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.
The panel on Wednesday denied a pub crawl application filed by Project D.C., the company behind Cupid’s Bar Crawl. The denial comes roughly two weeks after regulators issued new rules regarding bar crawl applications. (more…)
A Shaw bar can’t serve alcohol until at least next month after police said a manager punched a customer and hit another one with a bottle.
Oove lounge at 1853 7th St. NW will have the liquor license it has used through Mesobe Restaurant suspended until at least Jan. 6, when the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board is scheduled to hold a hearing on the brawl. The bar hasn’t opened since Dec. 14.
D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier told the ABC board she closed Oove that day for posing “an imminent danger to the health and safety of the public.”
The panel has ordered a representative from Odessa to appear at a special January hearing meant to demonstrate whether the bar’s owners are qualified to receive the liquor license they sought to obtain for the lounge in September.
The hearing appears to stem from the closure of faux-speakeasy The Speak, which investigators say operated without a valid liquor license underneath Odessa’s space at 1413 K St. NW. Odessa’s owner, Ajiboye Laosebikan, also owned The Speak and helped sell alcohol without a liquor license in the months between May and November, according to D.C.’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration.
A controversial outdoor tavern won’t be coming to Shaw after all.
The proprietors behind the restaurant and bar, which had tentatively been called Naylor Stables, have recalled their liquor license application to open a new tavern at 1322 9th St. NW “due to lack of support from the neighborhood.”
According to the original liquor license application from August, the tavern would have been a “vibrant community gathering place serving kitchen-garden produce, District-made beers and spirits … grilled meats, hearth baked breads and pastries” with outdoor seating for more than 300 people.
(Updated at 10:50 a.m. on Aug. 31) D.C.’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board announced on Monday it had voted 6-0 to adopt proposed rules that would lift the liquor license moratorium in West Dupont for all businesses except nightclubs.
The rules heavily modify the current moratorium and extend it for a period of three years.
Though the original moratorium was due to expire on May 17, the board voted on May 13 to extend it for a period of 120 days, during which it would take testimony from members of the community.
West Dupont residents gathered to discuss lifting the moratorium during a public hearing on July 22.
ANC 2B Commissioner Daniel Warwick, 2B-02, called on the board during the hearing to lift the moratorium on new restaurant, bar and tavern licenses, but extend it for nightclubs. He argued on behalf of his commission that lifting the moratorium on nightclub licenses could be disruptive to the peace, order and quiet of the neighborhood.
Warwick also noted that the only way for new businesses to enter the neighborhood is to purchase existing licenses, which are not always available. Warwick added that his ANC was concerned that the moratorium created a secondary market for liquor licenses that would discourage art galleries, distilleries, breweries, wineries and multi-purpose facilities from opening.
Former ANC 2B Commissioner Karyn Siobhan Robinson testified that the moratorium, including the ban on nightclubs, should be lifted entirely. Though Robinson acknowledged that nightclubs could sometimes disturb the peace, she argued that market forces prevented such businesses from flourishing in the area. Furthermore, Robinson said that maintaining the moratorium artificially inflates rent and prices for retailers.
But some residents who testified at the July 22 hearing said they did not support lifting the moratorium wholesale.
One resident said that several local businesses pose problems relating to noise and litter, and that lifting the ban on new nightclubs and taverns would only make the problem worse.
Another resident, whose balcony overlooks an alleyway, testified that he has witnessed patrons of a West Dupont business using drugs, urinating and “fornicating.” That resident agreed that lifting the ban on new tavern licenses would only increase that kind of behavior.
Though the ABC Board wrote it was “sympathetic to [residents’] concerns about the social ills that accompany a vibrant nightlife,” the board added that neighbors should discuss any problems with taverns with their ANC and utilize the ABRA hotline and online complaint submission form.
“The Board makes clear that it will not tolerate tavern licensees who operate in such a manner that their operations create a nightclub atmosphere,” wrote regulators. “It
cautions all licensees to understand that West Dupont is a unique neighborhood. As such, the Board will give great scrutiny to any licensing request that profoundly changes the nature and character of the neighborhood.”
The board added in its decision:
The Board appreciates the balance that must be struck between the interests of the residents in the neighborhood, and the interests that promote a nightlife economy. The Board recognizes that a diverse, dynamic and safe dining and entertainment environment is part of the fabric of the District, and yet, nightlife activity needs to be carefully managed in order to reduce antisocial behavior, noise, public disturbance and other problems.
The Board applauds the ANC’s efforts to solicit the community members’ perspectives on positive steps to transform the West Dupont’s neighborhood and improve urban vibrancy. Like the ANC, the Board believes that if managed properly, a thriving and safe nightlife can act as an economic engine by attracting new businesses and restaurants, diversifying the range of cultural offerings, creating employment opportunities, and increasing tourism. To this end, the Board is in agreement with the ANC that a new direction for the West Dupont moratorium that allows for responsible growth is warranted.
Though the rules are effective immediately, they are still subject to a 30-day public comment window and must also receive final approval by the D.C. Council.
The Neighborhood Restaurant Group is one step closer to opening a new restaurant at the Atlantic Plumbing development (2112 8th Street Northwest) near the 9:30 Club and U Street corridor.
A new document from ABRA reveals the restaurant group, which also owns Birch & Barley, ChurchKey and several other local restaurants, has applied for a Class C liquor license for its new restaurant, Hazel.
Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s director of public relations, Megan Bailey, confirmed that the new restaurant will arrive in the “late fall.”
“Hazel will open in the Atlantic Plumbing development in D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood,” she told Borderstan via e-mail.
The restaurant, a concept by former Tallula chef Rob Rubba, will feature a 38-seat dining room, a 38-seat patio and a 16 seat bar connected to the patio.
“Rob’s menu will feature his style of progressive American cuisine, combining flavors from around the world with traditional and contemporary techniques to create dishes that are refined, distinctive and satisfying,” Bailey said. “Complementing the menu will be a beverage program from Greg Engert, Jeff Faile and Brent Kroll.”
Photo via JGB
(Updated at 3:41 p.m. to correct name misspellings, add additional statements from Dacha, and accurately reflect the ANC voting process)
Shaw beer garden Dacha has hit a roadblock in its proposed 600-person capacity expansion.
The 6E Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) voted to protest Dacha Beer Garden’s request for an expanded liquor license and capacity during its monthly meeting at Shaw Library last night.
In March, Dacha asked the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) to allow it to expand its capacity to 600 people, up from its current capacity of 126.
The 3 to 2 vote — commissioner Alfreda Judd abstained — came after one of Dacha’s litigation attorneys, Scott Rome, and deputy general manager Nina Liggett gave a presentation to the packed basement room in Shaw Library.
Rome said Dacha is facing nine incident reports — eight for capacity violations — but emphasized the lengths co-owners Ilya Alter and Dmitri Chekaldin have taken to soundproof walls and reinforce fences.
“Even if we consider your application, how in the world are we going to have any control since you don’t obey what you are allowed to have now?” 6E05 Commissioner Marge Maceda responded. “How can we assume that you’re going to stick within the limits that you are able to have if we increase it?”
Both Rome and Liggett proposed that Dacha would build another fence and increase wall insulation for soundproofing if the 600-person capacity request was approved.
Some Shaw residents who showed up to the meeting publicly expressed concerns about what the increased capacity might mean for the neighborhood.
Katie Peters and husband Brian said that even though they support Dacha’s sound abatement efforts, the noise level already disturbs their sleeping infant and toddler and will only get worse if capacity increases.
But 7th Street NW resident David Abensour was not convinced the nightly noise comes from Dacha.
“My window is literally between Dacha and Uptown and I can tell you after midnight the noise doesn’t come from Dacha,” Abensour said.
Liggett said today by phone that she believes more than 50 people came out to support the beer garden, and that she wanted to address the commissioners’ concerns after the meeting, but was not able to due to time constraints.
“We wanted to give time for the community to talk,” Liggett says. “Unfortunately, I did not get to deliver a rebuttal at the end [because the library was closing].”
After hearing a long list of community comments — with several still in line to speak — 6E01 Commissioner Alexander Padro motioned to vote on the standing protest Dacha received from the commission’s ABC subcommittee last Thursday.
While Padro unwavered in his opposition, some anticipated upsetting their constituents.
“No one who represents a group of people wants to anger any segment of that group,” said 6E02 Commissioner Kevin Chapple. “But sometimes you have to.”
The council voted against Dacha’s proposed expansion by a vote of 3 to 2.
After the vote, Rome announced that Dacha would like to keep discussions between the business and residents open.
Rome also requested 6E ANC appoint a representative to work with Dacha when it comes to neighborhood issues and future expansion. He pointed out that Commissioner Padro repeatedly declined to speak with Dacha, to which Padro said he refused because Dacha would not work with the area’s civic association.
“We hope to move forward,” Liggett told Borderstan today. “Our ABRA hearings are coming up. We’ll prove our side. We take decibel readings every night and we are well below what is D.C. law,” she said.
The ANC has until Aug. 3 to file a formal protest against Dacha’s application.
Mural photo via Facebook.com/DachaBeerGarden
A popular Northern Virginia restauranteur is one step closer to opening a restaurant in Shaw.
According to public hearing notice documents released today by the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), Ma’s new restaurant, Freehand, has officially applied for a liquor license for an “upscale restaurant” in the mixed-use development called “The Shay” at 1924 8th Street NW.
The new restaurant will include a sidewalk cafe and seating for 99 patrons, and will be open until midnight every day, according to the notice.
Though details regarding the opening date are still sparse, Ma told the Washington Post he expected the new restaurant to open some time next year.
Photo via TheShay.com
(Updated at 3:29 p.m.) Popular Adams Morgan bar Madam’s Organ was fined $500 yesterday for leaving its windows open while a live band played there one year ago.
The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board said in an order released yesterday that the 18th Street NW hangout was being fined specifically for violating a settlement agreement brokered in 2008.
“The doors and windows of the establishment will remain closed from 12:30 a.m. until closing when live music is being played,” reads the original settlement agreement, which is also included in the order.
According to the report, an Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) inspector personally observed a live band playing “directly in front of one of the establishment’s ground floor windows” between 1:30 and 1:33 a.m. on June 22, 2014.
In April, Madam’s Organ General Manager Carlos Wilcox testified at an ABRA hearing that he “personally closed the windows during the performers’ first break of the night,” and that the band’s drummer “needed air and cracked a window.”
Madam’s Organ owner Bill Duggan admits the drummer did crack open the window slightly. Why?
“He opened the window to let [a] fart out,” says Duggan. “He cracked it open for five minutes, then the inspector showed up.”
“Twenty f—–g years with not one violation and this is what they came up with,” Duggan says. “People get stabbed and shot in these other establishments. In ours, someone farts and cracks a window and they spend a year on it.”
According to the order, Madam’s Organ has 30 days to pay the fine, but Duggan says an appeal may be in the works.
Photo via Flickr/Adam Fagen
A recently released Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) report has shed new light on an alleged assault that caused D.C. police to order Marrakech Restaurant (at 2147 P St NW) closed for 96 hours earlier this week.
According to the report, which seems to vindicate Marrakech of improper conduct, the fight that broke out among several men inside the restaurant around 2 a.m. on last Saturday was “quickly defused” by members of the restaurant’s security.
The initial notice of closure, as first reported by an anonymous reader on PoPville, said that Marrakech may have violated D.C. Official Code when a bouncer allegedly put a male patron into a chokehold and dragged him from the building while breaking up a fight. It also alleged that restaurant management failed to “report the incident to the 911 system” after it occurred.
The ABRA report details exactly what led to several patrons being ejected from the restaurant’s “Aura Fridays” event early Saturday morning.
According to the report, a patron (named as C-1 in the report) was dancing when he bumped into another patron (C-2), causing C-2 to spill his drink.
C-1 agreed to purchase C-2 another drink, at which point C-2 and “several others” began punching and kicking C-1.
C-2 was then ejected from Marrakech by security. He later reported to police that he was choked and dragged while being ejected by a bouncer.
But the ABRA report says that claim is unsubstantiated. Security camera footage taken from the night of the incident shows a bouncer flagging down D.C. police with a flashlight just two minutes after the scuffle began. And neither the camera’s footage, nor a report given by Officer Herbert Rose, a D.C. police officer at the scene, indicated that the bouncer choked or dragged anyone in the restaurant.
Furthermore, Rose said in an interview included in the ABRA report that he “has no idea why MPD would close the establishment, nor why there was no investigation conducted prior to making that decision.”
“Officer Rose stated from what he observed,” continued the ABRA report, “Marrakech Restaurant appeared to do everything within regulation regarding MPD and ABRA requirements.”
The report concluded that Marrakech was in compliance with its ABRA licenses.
At an ANC 2B meeting last night in Dupont Circle, it was announced the closure notice would be allowed to expire, and that Marrakech would be allowed to reopen.
MPD was not available to comment at the time this article was published.
Photo via Twitter.com/Marrakech_DC