City Paper Widget

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

ANC2B Endorses Longer Hours for Chi Cha Lounge

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont voted to support a request by the Chi-Cha Lounge, a cocktail lounge and hookah bar at 1624 U Street NW, for extended holiday hours. The decision was made at the ANC's regular monthly meeting on August 14. It will allow the Chi-Cha Lounge to stay open later up to 14 days per year.

Farees Salim, owner/operator of the Chi-Cha Lounge, appeared before the ANC to plead his case.

Like many liquor serving establishments, Chi-Cha Lounge has a settlement agreement with the ANC which specifies, among other things, its hours of operation. A model settlement agreement is available here. Until 2013, settlement agreements were called "voluntary agreements".

Chi-Cha Lounge is one of the many establishments in the area whose settlement agreement explicitly stipulates its operating hours. On holidays or the eve of holidays, DC authorities often allow liquor serving establishments to stay open later. However, if a liquor licensee's settlement agreement stipulates specific hours, it must seek permission from the other party or parties in the agreement to stay open late. Permission can be difficult to obtain, and counter-parties can refuse permission. Other liquor licensees in the area have complained that more liberal agreements of newer competitors put older establishments at a disadvantage.

During the discussion about the request, Commissioner Kevin O'Connor said it might be worth revisiting some other settlement agreements on this matter. O'Connor is Commissioner for district 02 and chair of ANC 2B's liquor licensing affairs committee.

ANC 2B Chair Will Stephens asked if the ANC should reach out to liquor licensees.

O'Connor replied he meant the ANC should be aware if licensees come before the Commission.

All eight commissioners present at the meeting voted to support the request.

According to DC government records, Chi-Cha Lounge attempted to terminate a voluntary agreement with neighbors (.pdf here) in 2011. Records of a public protest hearing (large .pdf file here) before DC liquor licensing authorities on February 23, 2011, document a long struggle between a neighbor and Chi-Cha Lounge about noise.

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