(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) A speakeasy-style bar on K Street has been ordered to cease operations after selling alcohol without a valid liquor license, regulators from D.C.’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) board said this week.
According to an ABC board order from Wednesday, Boyermarketing LLC, the company behind the forthcoming “caviar bar,” Odessa, “operated an illicit nightclub” called The Speak in the basement of its building at 1413 K St. NW between May and November.
The ABC board directed Odessa to “cease and desist selling, purchasing, servicing or permitting the consumption of alcohol at 1413 K Street NW” and surrender its liquor license, which the board added is “wrongfully” in the bar’s possession.
That license, said the board, was never officially transferred to Odessa from former holder Tattoo Bar and only permitted alcohol sales on the first floor of the building, not the basement.
According the order, an Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) investigator received an anonymous tip on Nov. 1 that the speakeasy-themed bar was selling alcohol without a valid license.
When the investigator visited the club that night, he said he entered through a “full-length mirror that swung open” and saw approximately 100 people, mounted speakers playing music, a fully stocked bar, bartenders and bar backs.
The investigator said that when he asked to see The Speak’s liquor license, a manager showed him one belonging to Tattoo Bar. When the investigator asked to speak with the owner, the manager called Odessa’s Ajiboye Laosebikan, who explained that the license had already been transferred to Odessa and that The Speak was therefore in good standing.
But an ABRA investigation that followed found that to be untrue. The investigator noted that, although the liquor license is still active, it belongs to the former Tattoo Bar and does not cover alcohol sales in the basement of the building, where The Speak was located.
Additionally, ABRA said Laosebikan may have a history of trying to fool them. While managing another establishment, Laosebikan allegedly “forged an ABC Managers license and attempted to deceive an ABRA investigator.”
Regulators concluded that Odessa sold alcohol without a license, made a substantial change without filing for one, failed to obtain a temporary retail permit, among other charges, and ordered Odessa “and its agents” to cease operations and turn over Tattoo Bar’s license for safekeeping.
A representative for Odessa was reached but didn’t have an immediate comment.
Though a Facebook posting said The Speak was closed but “will be back soon,” the speakeasy-style bar’s social media accounts disappeared shortly after the publication of this story.
Interior photos via Facebook / The Speak