Buddha Bar Update

The Downtown Neighborhood Association (DNA) arranged a small forum to bring together the ownership of Buddha Bar and residents of condo buildings adjacent to the 455 Mass location. Over 30 residents from 400 Mass, 555 Mass, The Sonata, and Madrigal gathered to listen and ask questions.


Image of Buddha Bar Kiev from flickr user strizh

Below are my notes from the forum:

Ownership / Concept

  • Maryland based ownership group is licensing concept from original creator George V Eatertainment.
  • This will be the ownership group’s second Buddha Bar with Kiev being the other location
  • Ownership group has a 15 year presence in the DC Market and has been seeking a Buddha Bar site for 2+ years
  • Ownership group will invest $4-5 million in build out from cash flow (not financing)
  • Focus is to be a high quality Pan Asian restaurant rather than a bar. Specifically mentioned their goal to score 26 or 27 Zagat food rating and rank tops for Asian-Fusion/Pan-Asian in the downtown DC market (ed note: FWIW, Buddha Bar NYC & Paris scored <20 on food with Zagat).
  • Creator George V was involved in the selection process for the new DC location
  • Restaurant will be one of 12 Buddha Bars worldwide and stay true to theme
  • Will play the George V branded Buddha Bar ambient music.


  • Site is larger (9455sf) than Las Vegas’ Little Buddha (7000sf) but smaller than NYC’s Buddha Bar (15000sf)
  • Estimated to have seating for between 180 and 220 patrons
  • Bar will have 20 stools, no dance floor on premise
  • Will have outdoor patio seating during warm months – no outdoor music
  • Will create over 100+ jobs
  • Will have all services on Eye Street (parking, valet parking, loading)


  • Class CR ABC license application has been submitted
  • ANC 6C ABC licensing committee should discuss application in April
  • Currently working on permits and design – could begin buildout in 4-6 weeks
  • Too early to really say, but November ’09 soft opening may be possible

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  1. 3

    tom veil says

    Thanks for posting! As a resident of 300 Mass, I think Buddha sounds like they want to be excellent neighbors. I especially appreciate them keeping an eye on I St, which is kind of creepy-abandoned at night so long as the DuMont is unfinished.

  2. 5

    Lou says

    Does anyone know the status of Buddha Bar? It doesn't look like any construction has even begun…

  3. 7

    local resident says

    Why are they allowed to have valet parking on Mass Ave? Driving by the place on a Friday night is a nightmare. The valet service completely disrupts traffic flow (particularly the Circulator).

  4. 8

    Seth says

    Good question local resident. I have inquired about this with the local ANC and with DDOT. For anyone interested, they are also applying for a 65 seat outdoor space as we speak. Given that I live across the street and can hear noise from the valet stand and people outside the club (lets call it what it is), I am concerned about the seating, which they are requesting to be allowed to use until closing time. I have contacted Charley Docter, who is an ANC Commissioner, at charleydocter@yahoo.com and was glad I got in touch – he told me there is an ANC transportation committee meeting this Monday June 7 at 7 p.m. at the Cosmopolitan Condo at 715 6th Street, N.W. and a full ANC meeting on Wednesday June 9 at 7 p.m. at the Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Ave., NE when the recommendation of the Transportation Committee on the Buddha Bar application will be considered. I suggest that anyone with issues about the valet stand or can foresee noise issues with the proposed outdoor seating should attend and be heard now while you still can.

  5. 9

    MVTer says

    I saw MPD make the valet move in the Buddha valet zone today. Perhaps they are no longer allowed to stop cars in that space?

  6. 10

    D-Man says

    drove home on Mass ave today and notice that the Buddha Bar now has a different valet company, but still causing the same traffic problems on Mass ave, is anybody doing anything about this? do the police notice this? or who the hell do they have on their payroll to be able to get away with this?

  7. 11

    Seth says

    I mentioned it at the ANC Transportation Committee meeting yesterday. Nobody else showed up except a Buddha Bar rep. If you have issues like I did, complain to someone who can actually do something about it.

    Based on the meeting yesterday, Buddha Bar has agreed to limit the outdoor space to 11pm on weekdays, not keep a hostess stand outside, and have umbrellas or canopies to try to limit noise to the residents across the street.

  8. 12

    D-Man says

    walked over to 455 Mass and observed the Buddha Bar valet hold a car in front for more than a hour contacted police over and over but they never came, luckily it was an actually crime. But the trip did yield some information

    1.there was a fundraiser for a certain council member (now I know why police never came when called)

    2.they have a new valet provider because the other company did not want to take cars on Mass ave anymore

    @ seth maybe you know about this, I was told the neighborhood association arranged a meeting awhile back where the Buddha Bar said it would have its services including valet parking done on eye st, is this true?

  9. 13

    Tony says

    I just cut and pasted this from the Specs above:

    * Will have all services on Eye Street (parking, valet parking, loading).

  10. 14

    D-Man says

    I have been away the last couple of days due to work issues, was anyone able to attend the last ANC meeting? was anything resolved or proposed regarding the Buddha Bar valet situation?

  11. 15

    Seth says

    The outdoor seating was approved with the changed times, etc.

    With regard to the valet, the manager of the newly hired valet company spoke and stated his belief that they could keep everything orderly and not have cars parked on Mass. Ave, etc. and that they would try to keep the noise down. The ANC gave them a month to address the issues raised and it is going to be on the agenda at next month’s meeting for further review.

    Nobody else showed up at this month’s meeting – without objection the ANC has no reason not to approve their requests.

    While the valet manager was nice and indicated that they have a better system to keep cars off Mass., last night there were still cars 6+ deep standing and blocking the lane coupled with taxis dropping off and tons of people milling about waiting for cars, just like before.

  12. 16

    D-Man says

    Thanks Seth, do you by chance know the date for next month’s ANC meeting? I would love to personally hear this better system of keeping cars off Mass ave that they have

  13. 19

    RobA says

    The Full ANC 6C meeting is on the second Wednesday of the month. The various committees meet:

    Alcoholic Beverage Licensing – Commissioner Anne Phelps (6C04), Chair, this committee meets on the first Tuesday of the month at 7:00 pm at the NW One Library, 155 L Street NW.

    Grants – Commissioner Lena Brown (6C03), Chair – no regularly scheduled meetings

    Planning, Zoning, and Environment – Rob Amos (6C resident), Chair,
    This committee meets on the first Wednesday of the month at National Public Radio, 635 Massachusetts Ave. NW

    Public Safety – Commissioner Mark Dixon (6C02) – no regularly scheduled meetings

    Transportation and Public Space – Jon Kelly and Joe McCann (6C residents), Co-Chairs; This committee usually meets the first Thursday of the month at 7:00 pm at the NW One Library, 155 L Street NW.

  14. 20

    @anonym says

    Sorry for the late update but there is an ANC 6 meeting tonight at 7pm at 214 Mass Ave. NE where issues relating to Buddha Bar will be addressed. I suggest if anyone has issues relating to noise, valet stand, etc. to show up or at a minimum contact ANC members Charley Docter and Keith Silver to lodge a complaint. I would also suggest contacting the Department of Public Works, the ABRA Board (alcohol regulation) and the Metro Police Department with any complaints. It is really now or never to get involved as the same issues regarding outdoor seating and valet parking are currently being addressed with the Engine Six Bar coming soon right across the street at 400 Mass.

    FYI, from my understanding and from documents I received after the fact, Buddha Bar was illegally operating its valet stand for the first couple months of business without paying any rent to DC. They first submitted an application to the public space committee in early June for a permit. Neither the bar owner, their Counsel, or the Public Space Committee itself informed the ANC of the application; therefore it was not formally addressed at last month’s meeting. Based on that, the Public Space Committee granted the permit despite the ANC’s request for a continuance so that they could provide their position on the matter. Dirty pool if you ask me, but the permit needs to be renewed every year…

  15. 21

    D-Man says

    thats why I stopped complaining about the Buddha Bar Valet stand, you say dirty pool, I’ve heard their valet company has a few people in their pocket this just proves it to me, wonder how many donations or what they provided to members of the public space committee, no wonder when cops were called about this problem they would never show up

  16. 22

    Jon says

    Too bad they didn’t keep to their promise to have valet services on I Street. The Mass Ave valet stand creates unecessary traffic during rush hour. The fact that the next door UPS uses Mass Ave as its own parking stall exacerbates the problem. How can we get both off Mass Ave?

  17. 23

    Seth says


    It has certainly not improved at all. They are only allowed to have 2 cars parked on Mass per their license; sometimes there are 10 with taxis double-parked in the center lane! When it gets really backed up, the manager of my apartment told me to call DC’s 311 and make a non emergency police report. I did that last month once and 2 police cars were there within 5 minutes and sent all the valet guys scrambling and they packed up the umbrella and stand for the night.

    The issue is supposed to be revisited by the ANC again in the spring so if you have issues, you can make complaints to Keith Silver and Kevin Wilsey and the other ANC members as well as the Department of Transportation and Alcohol licensing board.