City Paper Widget

Friday, November 14, 2014

Two Longtime Dupont Restaurants Seek Change to Tavern Licenses

At the regular monthly meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle on November 12, two liquor licensees asked to have their liquor license category changed from CR (restaurant) to CT (tavern).

The two establishments are Recessions (1823 L Street NW) and Selam Restaurant (1524 U Street), both of which have been operating for more than 15 years.

Restaurant licenses are cheaper than tavern licenses, but in order to maintain a restaurant license, the licensee must meet several requirements. They include: the licensee must keep the kitchen open until at least two hours prior to closing, the licensee must meet certain minimum standards of revenue from food sales, and the licensee must emphasize food in its advertising. In addition, the licensee must apply separately if it wishes to have dancing or entertainment. See a summary of DC liquor license categories and endorsements from the blog Barred in DC here.

At the November 12 meeting, owner Mohammed Haji appeared on behalf of Recessions, which has been operating on L Street for 18 years. Haji told the ANC that, in recent years, the appearance of food trucks have taken a significant bite out of the revenue he gets from food sales. Haji seeks a tavern license so he will be freed from the obligation of minimum revenue from food sales.

Since the establishment is in the downtown business district, there seemed to be no residential neighbors who might object to the possibility of increased late-night noise or drunkenness. The ANC decided to take no action, meaning, it will neither endorse or oppose the application to change liquor license category. Barring other objecting parties, the change will probably be granted.

Recessions' application for a license category change will get an initial hearing before DC's Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) at 10am on December 1, at ABRA's offices at the Reeves Center (14th and U Streets), 4th floor.

Selam Restaurant is at the other end of ANC2B and has been operating since 1997. It backs onto Caroline Street, which is residential. It has good relations with their residential neighbors.

(From, used with permission)
"Their close neighbors seem to love them," said ANC2B Chair Noah Smith
(Commissioner for district 09). Selam Restaurant is in Smith's ANC district.

However, Smith said he could not support the license change yet because he had not completed consultations with neighbors. He moved that the ANC protest the proposed change on the grounds of "peace, order, and quiet", with the provision that the protest would be withdrawn if the ANC's concerns were resolved. Smith emphasized that he hoped the ANC would withdraw its protest, barring an unexpected appearance of unhappy neighbors who up until now had been silent.

"We don't want you to move," Smith told the owners of Selam Restaurant.

The motion was passed unanimously.

See a copy of a 2008 settlement agreement Selam has with ANC2B and a group of neighbors here.

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