(Updated at 1:30 p.m.) Bohemian Caverns on the U Street corridor has racked up a few thousand dollars in fines for serving alcohol to minors last year, according to a D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board notice posted last week.
Mahogany LLC, which owns the jazz club and its Tap & Parlour bar, must pay a $4,350 fine by Feb. 10 to avoid having its liquor license suspended indefinitely, the panel ruled Wednesday. The business also cannot serve alcohol at Bohemian Caverns and Tap & Parlour from Jan. 5 to 12.
A representative of the jazz club and bar didn’t respond to requests for comment.
(Updated at 11:45 a.m.) Dacha in Shaw has negotiated a $42,500 fine with the District to resolve claims that it let too many customers inside its gates, its lawyer said today.
The beer garden at 1600 7th St. NW has until Dec. 4 to pay up, according to a D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board order published this week. The penalty is one of the largest fines ever leveled against a business in a matter before the board, said a representative of the panel and Andrew Kline, Dacha’s lawyer.
Dacha also will have its liquor license suspended for 21 days.
Allegations that Dacha increased its 126-person capacity without the board’s approval have dogged the beer garden this year. But Dacha’s owners agreed to the fine to avoid a lengthy appeals process and to focus on the future, even though they have “viable defenses to many of the charges,” Kline said.
“It will be quite painful for the owners,” he said. “But we expect the business to survive under current or new ownership.”
Earlier this week, Dacha secured the blessing of Shaw’s ANC to expand its outdoor capacity to 250 customers, which was less than what the beer garden’s management initially wanted. But the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board has yet to decide whether it will give the approval Dacha needs for the expansion to take place.
The panel is expected to consider the Dacha-ANC 6E expansion agreement on Nov. 18.
Dmitri Chekaldin, who owns Dacha with Ilya Alter, told Washington City Paper in a story published today that they considered selling the beer garden to an unnamed German beer brand. But they scrapped the idea after ANC 6E endorsed an expansion.
“Selling the business was a last resort … If you have nowhere to go, then of course that would have been the course of action that we would have pursued,” Chekaldin told the newspaper. “My heart and soul went into this place, and so I’d rather not sell it.”
Photo via Facebook/DachaBeerGarden
On Monday, February 25, the DC Council voted to strip Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) of his oversight of the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board. The measure was first proposed by Council Chairman Phil Mendelson on February 21.
The 13-member council voted 11-2, with Graham and Councilmember Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) voting against the resolution. The bulk of the U Street corridor and neighborhood are in Ward 1, along with Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan, Mount Pleasant and Howard University.
Immediately after the vote, Graham released the following statement:
“It is time to move on. I have very important responsibilities as chairman of the human services committee and all the responsibility of representing Ward 1. Going forward, I will continue to represent the people who elected me to serve with the same passion and fervor as I have from my first day in office.”
The public reprimand comes after the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability found “substantial” evidence that Graham broke the code of conduct in a lottery contract bid.
A tweet from Bruce DePuyt (@News8NewsTalk) quotes Barry saying, “We all trade votes. I’ve done it. I’m arguing due process. He’s had no opportunity to defend himself.”
“This is a somber moment and a sad one, of course, because there is no joy in what we were asked to do today,” said Councilmember Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) in a statement. “But, it is an obligation that falls to us and that we were and are duty-bound to discharge. Put very simply, we must keep and preserve that most delicate of commodities: public confidence.”
A reprimand is the least serious action the council can take against a member. It must be approved by a simple majority and carries no punishment. Barry was censured in 2010, which is more serious, WTOP reports.
Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) could have a challenging week ahead of him. The Washington Post reports that Council Chairman Phil Mendelson aims to strip Graham of his oversight of the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board as a public reprimand to the veteran DC politician; he was first elected in 1998.
Mendelson’s potential action comes after the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability found “substantial” evidence that Graham broke the code of conduct in a lottery contract bid.
On February 21 Graham released a statement to constituents:
The Board of Ethics and Government Accountability had no basis to issue findings and pronounce judgment against our client without granting him a chance to be heard, allowing him to review and challenge the evidence to which we were denied access, and conducting a full adversary hearing. The Board violated the law and its own rules. That is not the ethics process that the Council sought to put into place, nor is it one whose decisions are worthy of respect or weight. Today we filed for relief and are confident that the court will agree that the Board acted lawlessly and denied Councilmember Graham basic fairness and due process.
After the findings, Graham repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and told constituents he has no intention of resigning. Washington City Paper reports that Graham is filing a lawsuit to “seek a temporary restraining order against the ethics board, who Graham says violated his rights to due process by issuing a negative report without having a full hearing.”
Ward 1 Democratic candidate Brianne Nadeau released the following statement:
The residents of Ward 1 find ourselves today with a representative who is under scrutiny for his deeply troubling, ethically questionable behavior. Today’s vote results from the fact that he has not been willing to take responsibility for his actions or apologize to the people of Ward 1 for engaging in back-room deals when he should have been out addressing real issues in the community. This is not the Jim Graham we used to know.
Nadeau has already announced her candidacy against Graham in the 2014 Democratic primary for the Ward 1 Council seat. She is a former ANC 1B commissioner.
The council will take up the measure of reassigning the ABC Board responsibilities at a special meeting on Monday. Coincidentally, that same day, Graham will hold a public roundtable on rule making that will impact enforcement of alcohol sale to minors. The rule making would require and provide legal consequences for the failure of bars to check IDs of people who come in.
Graham first convened this public roundtable on January 24 and recessed it to provide additional time for testimony. The question for the day will not be the outcome of the roundtable discussion. The question is: Will this be Graham’s last ABC Board oversight meeting?