A subterranean space on K Street is now listed as “For Rent,” but that doesn’t mean you can actually rent it.
That’s because the space, located beneath Vieux Carre at 1413 K St. NW, actually holds an “unpretentious” hidden basement bar called “For Rent.” If the theme sounds familiar, that’s because the business used to be called The Speak, the speakeasy-style hangout that was shut down last year after operating without a valid liquor license.
Though The Speak briefly reopened earlier this year, it was again shuttered over issues related to the name listed on its liquor license. Now, it looks like the bar may soon reopen within the letter of the law.
D.C. alcohol regulators will make a decision about the bar’s new name later this week on Dec. 7. If all goes according to plan, the bar would open Thursday, Dec. 8, its owners told Washingtonian.
When the business finally reopens, its bartenders will sling cocktails named after D.C. neighborhoods. For Rent will also serve meat and cheese boards alongside a short list of beer and wines.
(Updated at 3:35 p.m.) Apparent “clerical errors” have caused speakeasy-style bar The Speak to shut its doors, at least for now.
The bar, which reopened at 1413 K St. NW last Tuesday, shared the news with its patrons last night:
Due to some clerical errors we have to go dark for while. Instead, join Vieux Carre this week for delicious cocktails – it's just upstairs.
— The Speak (@thespeakdc) July 29, 2016
“We are working diligently to clear up a simple clerical error and, as a result, have closed in accordance with D.C. regulations,” said brand consultant Seth McClelland in a statement to Borderstan. “In the meantime, we are excited about the opening of Vieux Carre upstairs at the same location to bring delicious New Orleans cocktails to D.C.”
Though the McClelland didn’t specify what the “clerical error” might be, it could have something to do with the speakeasy’s name, according to Washingtonian:
It turns out, however, The Speak may still be a real speakeasy. According to Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration spokesperson Jessie Cornelius, it’s a violation for an establishment to operate under any trade name that has not been approved by the liquor board. The Speak is not an approved trade name — only Vieux Carre is listed on the liquor license. Cornelius says ABRA is investigating the matter.
Cornelius confirmed with us this morning that ABRA regulators are still currently looking into the potential trade name conflict.
This isn’t the first time the bar has shut down after conflicts over its licensing. The Speak was shuttered last November after allegedly operating without a valid liquor license.
A speakeasy-style bar on K Street that shut down after allegedly operating without a valid liquor license last November has reopened, this time seemingly within the letter of the law.
The Speak reopened its doors at 1413 K St. NW on Tuesday, a representative with the bar told us yesterday afternoon.
A visit to the bar last night revealed it’s operating much as it did before it closed last year. The bar’s menu includes nine cocktails and an assortment of beer and wine only accessible to patrons who step through a “hidden” door made to look like a mirror.
Though it remains unclear how the bar got its new liquor license, regulators approved an alcohol license for The Speak’s upstairs neighbor, Vieux Carre, last week.
A representative for The Speak declined to comment on the record but said they would share more information with us soon.
A Dupont bar named for armed uprising has plans to add a speakeasy called The Armory in February.
Rebellion, which is located at 1836 18th St. NW, held a naming contest for its new basement speakeasy and cocktail room over the weekend, and announced the winning name last night.
“The voters have spoken, ” reads the Facebook post. “The basement speakeasy and cocktail Room will be referred to as The Armory.”
A representative for the bar said the new cocktail room is set to open in February.
Photos via Facebook / Rebellion
(Updated at 6:25 a.m. Friday) The owners of a now-shuttered bar in Dupont are scrapping the green light and “other gimmicks” of the faux speakeasy in its Shaw reboot, a representative of the new cocktail destination said this week.
Like The Sheppard in Dupont, Morris is named after Senator Morris Sheppard, author of the 18th Amendment, which established Prohibition. But unlike The Sheppard, Morris will have a sign on the door when it opens in street-facing retail space at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, said the representative, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
“There will be no secret to finding Morris,” the representative said. “Co-owners Vinoda Basnayake and Spike Mendelsohn want guests to focus on the cocktail bar and product rather than any other gimmicks.”
Morris is slated to begin slinging drinks in early 2016.
The Sheppard has been closed since a “light renovation” began in July, according to its Twitter account. The building that housed The Sheppard at 1337 Connecticut Ave. NW came under new ownership in November, according to the Morris representative.
Photo via Twitter/JMorrisSheppard
(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