City Paper Widget

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

All Souls Bar Meets Opposition to Outside Service

David Batista, owner/operator of All Souls Bar (725 T Street NW), came before the liquor licensing affairs committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street on February 18 to re-open the question of outside service. He met opposition from neighbors, at least one of whom is on the committee.

Lot on the left, normally grassy, was recently snowy.
"We've been open for 14 months. We've been good neighbors," Batista said.

Batista asked the committee to consider approving a patio to be located on a large grassy lot (see photo) adjacent to All Souls Bar on the west, facing 8th Street. Batista characterized the area "a city lot that we maintain". However, everyone agreed, it is not public space in the sense that the sidewalk is public space. Public records available at Property Quest, DC's public land-use database, indicate that the grassy area and the bar building are located on a single lot of property. The place in the database where the name and address of the lot owner normally appears is blank.

There is a much smaller paved area in front of the bar, and allowing outside seating there was discussed as a substitute for or an addition to the outside seating as Batista requested it.

Batista also told the committee that his appearance was supposed to be the beginning of a dialogue and no official request had been filed. Batista said he hoped the outside seating could be open until 11pm Sunday to Thursday and 1am on Friday and Saturday, and that there would be no music, live or recorded, outside the bar.

In June 2012, All Souls Bar was granted a liquor license by DC's Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) despite strong opposition centering on the bar's location across T Street from Cleveland Elementary School (1825 18th Street NW). Unusually for a liquor license application, the hearing of the case of All Souls Bar in March 2012 generated TV news coverage from WJLA (Channel 7) -- see video here.

Batista told the committee he had intended to have outside seating from the bar's opening but had withdrawn the request from his original application in the hopes it would make the process go more smoothly. 

Of the four people who came to the meeting to object to outside seating, none of them identified themselves as having a connection to Cleveland Elementary School. All of them self-identified as neighbors. 

"We don't want a patio," said one neighbor, who is also a member of the committee.

Another neighbor, who owns an abutting property, told the committee that the neighbors had fought for a settlement agreement with All Souls that excluded outside seating, and that they did not want the agreement changed. The tenant of the same abutting property also appeared and said she was against outside seating.

Yet another neighbor said he was against the bar at its opening but was now a customer of All Souls Bar. Still, he said, he was against outside service.

No vote was taken on the request. ANC1B Commissioners will take on the difficult task of finding common ground between the parties and negotiating an agreement

See the 2012 ABRA order issuing a liquor license to All Souls Bar here. The settlement agreement with the neighbors is attached as the final two pages of the 13-page .pdf document.

The 2012 application was the subject of coverage in many blogs, including Borderstan, Popville, GrassrootsDC, and Greater Greater Washington.

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