City Paper Widget

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Heritage India/The Zanzibar: DC "Will Permanently Ban" Entertainment, Promoters

DC's Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board "will permanently ban" entertainment, including DJs, from the establishment known as the restaurant Heritage India during the day and at night as The Zanzibar or The New Zanizbar (1901 Pennsylvania Avenue NW), the Board said in an announcement on Friday, January 16. As part of the ban, the establishment will be forbidden from charging a cover, having live music, or engaging promoters.

The latest word from DC government
However, the establishment may still be able to re-gain its liquor license pending further deliberations by the ABC Board, the announcement said. This might allow the establishment to continue functioning as a conventional restaurant.

The decision to ban entertainment came in the wake of a January 3 incident where a patron was stabbed in a late-night melee.

At its regular monthly meeting on January 14, Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle voted unanimously to send a letter to the ABC Board which urged the establishment be permanently shuttered.

"ANC2B believes this event indicates an emerging pattern of violence at this establishment," the letter said.

The letter recalls that, in November 2011, the establishment, operating at a different location in Dupont Circle, was the sight of a gunfight in which one man was killed and five wounded. The next month, the ABC Board cancelled the entertainment endorsement on the establishment's liquor license, ordered the establishment to close by midnight, and ordered a security plan.

The letter continues:
In the Spring of 2014, Heritage India approached ANC2B and requested changes to their negotiated settlement agreement to allow for entertainment and other late-night activities at the Pennsylvania Ave location. The ANC was willing to negotiate a new agreement with the owners and one was reached in May to allow for entertainment and promotion activities.
At the January 14 meeting, ANC2B Commissioner Stephanie Maltz recalled: "I spent a lot of time on this. They brought a very detailed security plan and hired a firm with a proven record in DC."

However, according to information given at the ANC meeting (citing a police report on the January 3 incident), when push came to shove, the staff did not follow the security plan. A Washington Post article on the melee said there were only four staff members on duty for "250 to 275" patrons, in violation of the security plan which mandated one guard for every 50 patrons. The Post article also says security camera footage shows club employees mopping up blood before the police had a chance to investigate, in spite of efforts of one of the victim's friends to wrestle the mop away to preserve the crime scene.

"They clearly didn't care," said Commissioner Patrick Kennedy, visiting ANC2B from neighboring ANC 2A/Foggy Bottom. "There is no remedy short of revocation."

In its announcement, the ABC Board said it had referred the case to the DC Attorney General's office to bring formal charges against Heritage India. If charges are brought, it may generate the need for further ABC Board hearings. The Board promised to announce any future hearings on its web site.

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