City Paper Widget

Friday, May 16, 2014

637 Florida Avenue: A Pizza Restaurant or a Nightclub?

On May 1, Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street voted to protest the tavern license application, with endorsements for entertainment, dancing, and cover charge, for an as-yet-unnamed establishment to be located at 637 Florida Avenue NW.

637 Florida Avenue in May 2012
Two members of the public came to the May 1 meeting voice their opposition to the liquor license, but no one from M & I, LLC., the aspiring proprietors of the establishment, was at a meeting. It was reported the M & I, LLC., were looking for a rooftop deck that will operate until 2 in the morning. Neighbors were concerned there would be music you could hear outside the establishment after 11pm.

ANC1B is working on a settlement agreement with M & I, LLC., which may specify, among other things, hours of operation and noise control measures. However, at the time of the meeting, no agreement had been reached.

637 Florida Avenue is in ANC1B district 01. The ANC Commissioner is Marc Morgan. Morgan told the ANC he supported the protest. The vote was unanimous with two abstentions.

Earlier committee meeting on M & I

ANC1B's liquor-licensing affairs committee had previously voted to recommend a protest to the full ANC. On April 16, the committee heard from the prospective owners of the establishment through their attorney, Andrew Kline of The Veritas Law Firm. Kline represented the establishment as a pizza restaurant with music, but members of the community voiced the opinion that the establishment would really be a nightclub.

Some of the partners of M & I, LLC., are also owners of the nearby Flash Nightclub (645 Florida Avenue). Neighbors told the committee Flash Nightclub is the source of loud music and is not responsive to neighbors' requests to turn it down.

"Every night Flash is open I hear noise," one said.

Kline told the committee the establishment was seeking a capacity of 450. He also said there would be a roof deck with walls on all sides.

The committee asked how many seats would be on the rooftop desk.

"As many as we can," Kline answered.

Kline said the owners planned to use a series of small, evenly-spaced speakers, facing inward, to keep the music inside the area of the roof deck.

The committee asked for a seating plan, but was told it was "still being developed."

The motion to recommend a protest passed unanimously.

"We're not trying to block the business from opening," said liquor-licensing affairs committee chair Nick Baumann just before the vote.

After the vote, one of the owners of the new establishment, who had sat mostly silent during the presentation and vote, asked to speak. He said he had put more than five million dollars into the 600 block of Florida Avenue in the 25 years he has been in business there.

"I went bankrupt one time," he said, then added: "Not completely bankrupt."

"I invite all of you guys to come," he concluded.

"Everyone's happy to see new investment in the neighborhood," Baumann said in reply.

There will a preliminary hearing on the case of M & I, LLC., at D.C.'s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) next Monday, May 19, at 10 am. The hearing will take place at ABRA's offices on the fourth floor of the Reeves Center (14th and U Streets).

Read a short article with pictures about M & I, LLC., from the blog Popville here.

(Photo credit: Google Street View)

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