City Paper Widget

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Eleven Market to Become 11th and U Wine and Spirits

The proprietor of Eleven Market (1936 11th Street NW) came before the liquor-licensing affairs committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street on June 18 to announce her intention of changing the store from a convenience store that sells beer and wine to a liquor store. The planned name for the store is 11th and U Wine and Spirits.

1936 11th Street has a large front courtyard
The store will need a change in liquor license class. The store has a Class B license, which permits grocery stores to sell beer and wine. The store will need a Class A license, which permits liquor stores to sell beer, wine, and spirits.

The proprietor was present at the meeting, but she let her representative, Jeff Jackson, do most of the talking. Jackson is a former investigator with D.C.'s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) who now consults on liquor-licensing matters.

Jackson said Eleven Market had been a good neighbor. It had had only three ABRA violations in 15 years, he said.

On-line records show Eleven Market paid $750 in fines in 2013 in regards to two charges stemming from the sale of rolling papers in violation of a settlement agreement it had with ANC1B.

In exchange for support for a liquor-license conversion, Jackson offered the committee a guarantee that 11th and U Wine and Spirits will not sell single cans of beer. (The sale of single cans of beer is illegal in a large portion of D.C., but not in Ward 1, where the store will be located. The single-beer ban has led to the appearance of two-packs of beer in D.C.)

Some of the committee was not impressed with the offer, and felt the establishment should deal with other issues.

"The concession is pretty weak," said a committee member. "The perception is there are a lot of public safety issues."

Specifically, the property has a large open area in the front.

"This property has a tremendous setback. It looks like a patio," said ANC Chair James Turner (Commissioner for district 09)

Loitering in the front area is a problem, a committee member said.

Jackson didn't think there was any way the establishment could prevent people from congregating in front of the store.

The proprietor said the building was located in the Greater U Street Historic District. As a result, it is impossible to get permission to make the changes to the exterior of the building that would, for example, allow the store to move up closer to the front property line.

The proprietor plans a renovation to the interior of the store. She told the committee about it. But committee members were more interested in the exterior front. They wanted to talk about steps the store could take to make it less "inviting".

"Would you consider putting up something less comfortable?" one asked.

Someone advocated increased security lighting, like other liquor stores in the area have.

Another committee member mentioned that ANCs have a grant program. It might be possible for the store owner to apply for a ANC grant to defray the cost of increased security lighting.

The proprietor has not yet completed the application, so there was no motion or vote on the matter at this meeting. The proprietor did not specify when she thought she would return for ANC endorsement.

As the petitioners gathered up to leave, a committee member again asked the proprietor to consider some steps to "mitigate some of the loitering issue."

"You haven't heard anything saying we are against small business," said ANC Chair Turner. "There are lots of reasons why they can't do anything about the loitering."

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