Tuesday night I attended the ANC 6C Alcoholic Beverage Licensing Committee meeting. The committee offers a forum of public discussion of ABC licensing issues including testimony by licensees and residents. The committee will then present their recommendations to the ANC 6C full commission which will ultimately cast the deciding votes. Below is my quick recap of the March meeting.
Cedar Restaurant (822 E St NW) was applying for a class CR liquor license. The business owner spent several minutes describing his business plan for attendees. The restaurant intends to focus on quality food at midscale prices rather than compete on the same level with destination dining establishments like Cafe Atlantico. The licensing committee was most interested in the proposed hours of operation for the establishment and the patio area. Presently the applicant is requesting 1:30am on weekdays, 2:30 on weekends and 11pm for the patio. Committee passed a motion (4-0) in favor of the liquor license provided Cedar finalizes a voluntary agreement with the Downtown Neighborhood Association.
H Street Liquors
Class A licensee H Street Liquors (303 H Street NE) went before the committee to request a single sales exemption for both beer and half pint liquor. The applicant’s lawyer outlined a case for an exemption focused on preserving consumer choice and the applicant’s track record of keeping the immediate area around his store clean and well lit. The floor was then given to seven residents to share testimony. All opposed the exemption and provided account of the impact of single sales on the neighborhood. Panhandlers from Union Station constantly travel to this liquor store to buy singles and plague the neighborhood with loitering, litter, and public urination. Residents have seen improvement in these quality of life issues in the 3 weeks since the ban went into effect and urged committee to deny the exemption. Chair person Anne Phelps stated that she received 19 letters in opposition and none in support. The committee voted passed a motion (4-0) to oppose the exemption request.
Schneider’s on the Hill (300 Mass Ave NE) went before the committee to request a single sales exemption for both beer and half pint liquor. Commissioner Phelps stated that she received over 140 emails in support of Schneiders and two in opposition. The letters of dissent urged the committee to deny all exemptions rather than outlining any issues with Schneiders. Owner Jon Genderson stated his case for the appeal. He lives just one block from the store and is invested not only in his business but the community as well. The store ceased to sell singles of malt liquor and other cheap beer THIRTY years ago. The singles they do sell are high end Belgians typically at a price point of $7.99 and up. For half pints they sell none of the cheap spirits and their best selling half pint is a brandy used for cooking. The owner estimated that beer represents only 5% of the total sales of the store with only 1% as single sales. Several residents testified in favor of Schneider’s and none expressed opposition. The committee passed a motion (3-0-1) in support of the single sale exemption.
Final ANC positions on these matters will be decided at the full commission meeting on Wednesday March 11th.