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July ANC 6C ABL Committee Meeting

The ANC 6C Alcohol Beverage and Licensing Committee will meet tonight (July 5th) at 7pm in the Banquet Room at the District Chophouse (509 7th Street NW).

The agenda includes a discussion and vote on the liquor license application for TEL’VEH – the new wine bar coming to 401 Massachusetts Ave NW. The meeting will also discuss violations of the voluntary agreement of Chinatown Market (519 H St NW).

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More on Sixth Engine

Tuesday night’s ANC 6C ABL Committee Meeting afforded me the opportunity to gather more details on the Sixth Engine restaurant/bar concept aiming to open in the firehouse space at 400 Mass.

Ownership/Venue

  • Ownership group currently owns and operates The Dubliner near Union Station and Town Hall in Glover Park
  • Ownership was attracted to the character of the firehouse space and the residential population of the Mount Vernon Triangle
  • Working closely with Mark Tennyson, curator of the DC Fire and EMS Museum, to secure artifacts to display including the original brass fire pole.
  • The firehouse is the oldest surviving in the city. It was founded as Metropolitan Hook & Ladder #1 in 1855. In 1876 it was reclassified as Engine 6 and was in operation until the 1940′s when the engine company moved to 1300 New Jersey Ave.
  • Sixth Engine will occupy the two story firehouse space plus the adjacent commercial condo
  • Space is roughly ~7900 SF Total with 2000 SF on the second floor of the firehouse and the remainder on the ground level
  • Main entrance will be in the commercial space next to the firehouse.
  • Firehouse will host main dining area downstairs and a flexible space upstairs that will be used as an event space, overflow dining, and a bar as needs arise
  • Seasonal Outdoor dining for 64 will occupy the brick patio in the front of the firehouse
  • The venue will have an entrance on H Street as well, however this will simply access the kitchens and a long corridor to the front of the house.
  • Ownership has contracted The Heiserman Group for architectural and design services

Concept

  • American Bistro fare serving lunch on weekdays, brunch on weekends and dinner seven days per week
  • Plans to position itself as mid-priced neighborhood restaurant and bar
  • Lunch entrées will be priced from $8 to $19.
  • Dinner appetizers and sandwiches will be priced from $7 to $16 while dinner entrées will be priced in $17-$27 range.
  • Sixth Engine is not seeking an entertainment endorsement and therefore does not plan to host live music or DJs nor will they charge cover charges
  • Hope to open in the March/April 2011 timeframe

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July ANC 6C ABL Committee Meeting

There are three items on the July agenda for ANC 6C’s Alcoholic Beverage
Licensing Committee meeting.

Tuesday, July 6 @ 7pm
155 L St NW (Northwest One Library)

  1. Sixth Engine, 400-438 Massachusetts Ave., N.W. (Class T, Tavern) 6C09
  2. West Wing Cafe, 300 New Jersey Avenue, N.W. (Class R, Restaurant) 6C09
  3. New York New York, 33 New York Ave., N.E. (Class T, Tavern) 6C04

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Update on Hill Country

Last week the ownership group looking to bring Hill Country to 410 7th Street NW spoke before the ANC 6C Alcohol Beverage Licensing committee. The committee provides a forum for more in depth discussion of the Class C-Restaurant application than is possible in the context of a ANC6C full commission meeting.

Nature of the Business
Hill Country opened in the Chelsea area of Manhattan in June of 2007 operating in a two-level 11,000 square foot space with 250 seats. The concept is patterned after Kruez Market in Lockhart Texas. What does that mean? It signifies that the meat is prepared in the same Kruez dry rub style and smoked slow over Texas post oak. The dining arrangement is not centered around the typical restaurant table service. Patrons order food at the counter, watch as it’s prepared, and bring it back to their tables. The New York location features live country music nightly as an amenity for diners – there is no dance floor or large standing area around the stage. The experience has been described as a family restaurant (they have 24 high-chairs in NYC) that gradually shifts to a younger crowd after 10pm. The focus truly is on the food which accounts for 78% of receipts at Hill Country NYC.

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Upcoming ANC6C committee meetings

ANC 6C committee meetings upcoming next week:

ANC 6C Planning, Zoning and the Environment Committee
Wednesday, November 4th, 7:00pm
NPR – Board Room West
635 Massachusetts Avenue, NW

  1. Sixth and K Sts NW (550 K St NW) – Request for 2-year extension to begin development. Representative: Chip Glasgow Holland & Knight. Hearing Nov. 20.
  2. 225 E Street NE – HPRB case, removal of existing two-story addition to the rear of the house and construction of a new two-story addition. Representative: Greg Zahn (Architect). Hearing Nov 19.
  3. NPR Concept design, 1111 North Capitol St N.E. Representative: Maury Schlesinger, NPR Hearing Date: unknown

ANC 6C ABL Committee
Tuesday, November 3rd, 5:30pm
Specialty Hospital, 700 Constitution Ave. NE (entrance on 7th St.)

Draft Agenda
1. New license application for Carmine’s

CARMINE’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT
425 7th St N.W.
CR (restaurant) license

NATURE OF OPERATION
New Italian family style restaurant with occupancy load of 720 featuring southern Italian cuisine and a summer garden with 18 seats.

HOURS OF OPERATION
Sunday through Saturday 7 am – 2 am

HOURS OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE SALES/SERVICE/CONSUMPTION
Sunday 10 am – 2 am & Monday through Saturday 8 am – 2 am

SUMMER GARDEN HOURS OF OPERATION AND
SALES/SERVICE/CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES
Sunday through Saturday 11 am – 2 am

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Recap of DNA ABL Public Meeting – Level

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.

I recapped the Muse portion of the meeting yesterday

LEVEL LOUNGE
The applicant for Level, Pouya Yousefi, introduced himself to the attendees and briefly overviewed his concept during the first few minutes after he was given the floor. Much of what Yousefi shared echoed the information that has been included in this blog’s ongoing coverage of Level.

Yousefi began by describing Level as a third home (commonly referred to as a Third Place) and community anchor. [REACT: A Third Place would be a very cool outcome for the Triangle. However other widely accepted Third Places in the district (Tryst, Busboys, Open City, etc) all have CR-Restaurant liquor licenses.]

The specifics of the application were outlined – Level is seeking a Class C Tavern license with operating hours until 2AM on weeknights and 3AM on weekends. The stated occupancy limit is 299. The venue will be seeking an entertainment endorsement which will permit coverage charges.

The applicant shared his concept for each level of the venue which can also be found on his website (www.leveldc.com).

Basement: Subterranean. Urban lounge with a very intimate look and feel offering a variety of my favorite music and artists. Offered comparison to ANDALU in Dupont Circle.

First Floor: Ground floor. Where the neighbors gather for coffee, tea, Mediterranean sweets, ghalyoon, and drinks. Free wifi to surf the net and plenty of flat screens to cover all the world’s sports. Offered comparison to Hamilton’s Bar and Grill near the U.S. Capitol.

Second Floor: Mediterranean restaurant seating area with full executive kitchen. Dining hours would run until 10 or 11PM nightly.

Third Floor: Exclusive Member’s Only Lounge.

Fourth Floor: The owner’s private residence.

At this stage attorney Dimitri Mallios chimed in with disgust that the meeting was being held at all barked that the proceedings were a waste of time since the ANC 6C already expressed it’s intent to protest during a vote on June 8th. This was his snake like attempt to undermine the process of residents organizing. The meeting was very necessary. The resident community needs an experienced ally to guide it through the protest process and the Downtown Neighborhood Association is that resource. However for the DNA to have standing in the protest they needed to conduct a public meeting with ten days notice to engage residents. That is an ABRA requirement and there is no doubt that Mallios would have attempted to throw out the DNA as a protestant at the hearing had they not met this requirement.

After this distraction the meeting continued with questions and answers between the attendees and the applicant. Below are paraphrased elements of the discussion. Some of the questions and answers are composites of a more choppy back-and-forth between the applicant and audience. I did not take comprehensive notes so do not consider the below to be a full list of issues addressed.

Q – Please explain the Stop Work Order.
AWe felt the rear fire escape was in a condition that made it a safety hazard. Our judgement was to take immediate action. In hindsight we should have collected the permits first.

Q – How is this not a night club?
AOnly the basement level will feature music. We will not charge cover charges or maintain guest lists for entry to Level. There will be no queue outside the venue. The entertainment endorsement is to allow the flexibility to occassionally charge covers (or accept donations) for certain entertainment events in the basement level.

Q – Why are you applying for a CT-Tavern license as opposed to a CR-Restaurant license?
AThe CR-restaurant license mandates that 45% of revenue be sourced from food sales. This is very restrictive. Four bars in the city have been closed down for failing to satisfy this requirement. Others, such as Cafe Saint Ex, have sought to change from the CR to the CT during license renewal. We would be agreeable to a CT-Tavern license with a food requirement governed by the voluntary agreement and set at 25%.
REACT – The proposed compromise of 25% is barely more than half of the CR-Restaurant requirement. I checked which way the wind was blowing after the meeting on this proposal and universally that figure was not well received.

Q – The alley is already congested by current users. Your property has no private space along the alley unlike the other properties. How will you ensure you will not infringe on the public space?
AWe will not park in the alley. Our security will do rounds of the alley and have cars towed. With regards to trash we have talked to Papa Johns and anticipate working out an arrangement to put our dumpsters on their space. Food deliveries will be only once a week or once every other week – we’ll bring the deliveries through the front door if we have to.
REACT – A little later in the meeting he said he also understood use of the alley for a valet parking stand will not be acceptable. These answers are appropriate to address our concerns if put in a voluntary agreement. However food deliveries every other week doesn’t sound realistic. That may demonstrate a lack of understanding of restaurant operations (but I’m no expert either).

Q – Can you explain how Hookah is allowed under the DC smoking ban?
AThe district does allow venues to apply for a tobacco exemption. Ozio has a cigar lounge and other venues in Adams Morgan feature Hookah. With the exemption both hookah and cigarettes could be smoked in a set aside area of the venue.
REACT – The Department of Health allows smoking exemptions for Tobacco bars. To qualify for the exemption the business must earn 10% of it’s total revenue from tobacco sales. FWIW, I think indoor smoking would not be conducive to creating a Third Place.

Q – Residents are concerned about potential noise from your venue? What assurances can you provide?
AWe’ll be replacing our current windows with double paned glass. Music will only be played in the basement level. The ground floor will only have TVs. The restaurant level and above will not feature music.

Q – Why does your venue need an occupancy limit of 299?
AThat is what we applied for when we anticipated using all five levels. However I now plan to live on the top floor and the 3rd floor is more of a private lounge.
Q – If your concept no longer requires 299 why not lower the occupancy?
AKeeping it at 299 allows us flexibility.

Q – What are you plans for security?
AI would contract out the security to one of several firms I have worked with in the past. In addition to providing security inside the club I would task them with keeping order in front of the property and in the alley. I will be living and working here. I’ll have a strong sense of the security issues and ensure they are addressed.

Q – What experience do you have running a bar or restaurant?
AI’ve never run a restaurant. I’ve been going to clubs since I was 20 years old. I’ve known Frank (points to Frank Morello of Muse) for years.
REACT – While Pouya didn’t include this in his response – his resume includes event promotions at MCCXXIII (1223 Connecticut Ave). Numerous times, including when he gave me a tour of the building’s interior, he’s stated that operating a lounge is his area of expertise and that he only lacks of formal ownership experience.

The representative from Pathways housing spoke of nuisance issues she’s encountered as an immediately adjacent neighbor of this property. During the last several years, a period when the property was under ownership by Yousefi’s uncle, Pathways has incurred troubles from a chemical leak and a colony of rats sourced from 315 H Street. Pathways requests for action from the property owner were ignored. Resolution only came after complaints were filed with government agencies. Pouya replied that he’s only had the project for 3 months and should not be held responsible for actions from years ago. He claims he’s committed to being more responsive to issues under his watch.

Please discuss in the comments section.

Comments are now closed for this blog post. Constructive discussion has seemed to run it’s course. The only incoming comments still arriving in the moderation queue are attacking people not critiquing ideas. Pouya and I have both provided our emails. If you’d like to get involved rather than just rant anonymously contact us and we’ll tell you how.

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Recap of DNA ABL Public Meeting – Muse

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.

MUSE LOUNGE
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.

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