On Thursday June 18th the Downtown Neighborhood Association (DNA) hosted a public meeting regarding the liquor license application for Level Lounge (315 H St NW). The meeting agenda also covered the imminent request by Muse Lounge (717 6th St NW) to extend their operating hours by 90 minutes to accommodate soft closings.
I would roughly estimate that the meeting had around 50 attendees. Among those present were the owners of Muse and Level, their lawyer Dimitri Mallios, executive director of the D.C. Nightlife Association Skip Coburn, Renee Childers from the MVT CID, 3 members of the DNA board including our discussion leader Miles Groves. Residents from the Cosmopolitan (adjacent to Muse), the Sonata, Madrigal Lofts, and Pathways housing (317 H St NW), and owner of Savvy Stereo (309 H Street NW) were also in attendance.
The meeting began with the discussion regarding Muse Lounge and their upcoming request to extend their operating hours. Skip Coburn took the floor to provide context on the extended closing hours. The proposal would not extend the hours alcohol can be served – only the hours of operation. Coburn’s DCLNA organization recommends this change for venues across the city as a means to smooth out the load of patrons exiting clubs at 3am. The benefits are purported to be reducing congestion outside venues at closing when patrons are waiting at the valet stand, hailing cabs, or attempting to sober up.
Dimitri Mallios then blurted out the first of his many cranky and pointless objections of the night. He claimed having this forum 4 blocks away from Muse was unproductive and that Madrigal residents have no stake in the matter. However the meeting was advertised to the buildings neighboring Muse and several Cosmopolitan residents were in attendance. Considering Mallios repeatedly expressed disinterest in being at the meeting I’m sure he didn’t want to have separate meetings at both the Cosmopolitan and Madrigal – his objection was nothing more than an attempt to obfuscate.
Frank Morello from Muse outlined a plan to close one level of his establishment each half hour during the 90 minute extension. During this time the venue would serve only water, espresso and red bull.
Cosmopolitan residents objected to the extended hours. They feel Muse presently already violates terms, especially those governing noise, in the existing voluntary agreement. Morello argued that the operating hours extension was unrelated to the disputes surrounding the voluntary agreement. Residents contended that a business that does not honor existing commitments is not worthy of support for extended operating hours. Most notably the extension would increase the hours of music which is an issue they feel is in need of abatement not prolonging. They also expressed discomfort that the proposal of closing a level every 30 minutes was only an example and not a practice Muse would be technically bound to.
REACT: Muse is a bottle service venue with a menu that list bottles of Ciroc for $200 and Cristal for $600. If the venue stays open 90 minutes later – would that just mean more bottles would be bought at 2:55am and consumed over the next 90 minutes? If so, this change would hardly be aimed at helping patrons sober up with water, red bull or espresso …
Recap of the Level Lounge discussion will be posted
tomorrow by Wednesday.