City Paper Widget

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Bar Charley Community Meeting: 14 Against, 3 For

A community meeting took place at the Dupont Circle Hotel last night, January 15, to discuss the application by Bar Charley (1825 18th Street NW) to extend its liquor license hours. Elected and non-elected government officials, Bar Charley management, and representatives of community groups all attended, but no compromise seemed on the horizon.

Bar Charley is seeking permission to stay open three hours later, seven days a week -- until 2am Monday to Thursday, and 3am Friday, Saturday, and the day before holidays. These are the normal hours of operation for liquor-serving establishments in D.C., although not in the neighborhood where Bar Charley is located. Bars in this neighborhood often stop serving at 11pm Monday to Thursday, and midnight Friday, Saturday, and the day before holidays, or earlier.

Bar Charley is located between Swann and T Streets
I counted 14 individuals who spoke against the request to extend Bar Charley's hours, and three individuals who spoke for.

Bar Charley is in district 08 of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle. The ANC Commissioner for this district is Will Stephens, who is also the chair of ANC2B. On his blog, Stephens explained that the purpose of the meeting was "to have a more full discussion than is possible at an ANC meeting, where ... there is often not any opportunity to discuss items for more than about 15 – 20 minutes maximum."

At the meeting, Bar Charley co-owner Jackie Greenbaum said, "We have a bunch of people who are supportive. We've gotten a lot of signatures from a lot of people."

But very few of these people were present at the meeting, and the anti-Bar Charley forces were able to muster their troops. Representatives of the Dupont Circle Citizens Association (DCCA) and a group of 105 people, both of which have standing to protest Bar Charley's application before D.C.'s liquor licensing authorities, showed up to state their continued opposition to extended opening hours.

Many people who were against the extension of Bar Charley's opening hours felt it necessary to preface their remarks by stating they were not anti-business in general or against Bar Charley in particular. A sample of remarks:
  • "I have seen the neighborhood changed. We have paddy wagons in the street. This summer I could not believe the noise."
  • "Nobody in this area is anti-business. It's just that three in the morning is anti-us."
  • "We disagree with the hours. They are not conducive to a sane and happy neighborhood. People work, people go to school. They need to get some rest."
  • "You told the [Washington] Post that you wanted to be part of the neighborhood. We need to have an agreement. You need to please us. You're losing a substantial chunk of the people here."
  • "We are very uncomfortable with the clients that you're likely to have at later hours."
A woman identified as the longest continuous resident of the neighborhood, living in the 1800 block of New Hampshire Avenue since 1954, also declared herself against extending the liquor-service hours.

Attempts at compromise solutions went nowhere. A suggestion to extend liquor-serving hours for one additional hour met objection from both sides. A suggestion to put off the decision for a year while "we [the community] get to know you" similarly went nowhere.

The next step may take place on February 11. On this date, D.C.'s liquor-licensing authorities will attempt to begin mediation between Bar Charley and the three groups officially protesting longer liquor-service hours, i.e., ANC2B, the DCCA, and the group of 105.

The application for extended hours was also discussed at November 13, 2013, meeting of ANC2B -- see SALM post of November 18, 2013 and a November 14, 2013 article from the blog Barred in DC.

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