The Arsenal, Bluejacket’s Bar/Restaurant, Opens in Navy Yard Today

Perhaps the most eagerly awaited DC bar this year, Bluejacket Brewery’s bar/restaurant The Arsenal opens today, October 29th, in the Navy Yard/Capitol Riverfront neighborhood, just 1/3 mile east (i.e. 5 Jayson Werth home runs) of the Nationals Park’s center field gates. This new establishment, from the Neighborhood Restaurant Group behind the uber-popular beer destinations Rustico (Alexandria & Ballston), ChurchKey/Birch & Barley (Logan Circle), & GBD (Dupont), may be just the spot that turns the neighborhood into a year-round destination. Offering 20 of BlueJacket’s ales & lagers on top (plus 5 casks), The Arsenel (Barred in DC predicts that the name will be difficult to catch on, as everyone has been referring to the whole place as Bluejacket for some time now) will seat 200 in the Boilermaker Shops, originally part of the Navy Yard’s ships and munitions manufacturing complex.  Expect it to be packed for several months, and then even more so once Opening Day comes around in April.

Here’s a roundup of all the local DC news/blog stories profiling Bluejacket/The Arsenel in the past week (you’d think I’d get invited to the media previews as much news as I break, but then again I am a fake journalist):

[Evening 10/29 UPDATE: adding more stories]

The ArsenelwebsiteFacebookTwitter, 300 Tingey St. SE (near 3rd and M SE), opens at 4p (5:30p for dinner service) everyday, closes at 1a (at least for now), est. 2013

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BREAKING NEWS: Brookland’s Finest Granted Liquor License

New Bar coming to Brookland (Credit: Bozzuto)

Despite protests from the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) and 35 neighbors, Brookland’s Finest Bar and Kitchen (3126-28 Jackson St. near 12th St. NE), the restaurant/bar collaboration from the owners of the popular H and U Street dive bars Solly’s and The Pug, respectively, was granted a liquor license on Wednesday by the Alcohol Beverage Control Board. The establishment hopes to possibly open December 1st.

The Board approved the Tavern license without conditions,” finding that, contrary to the arguments brought by the protestants, the new restaurant/bar, “in and of itself” wouldn’t negatively impact Brookland’s peace, order, and quiet; property values; and parking and pedestrian/vehicle safety; nor would it lead to an overconcentration of bars in the neighborhood.  Notably, the Board explained that, “it is hard to imagine how the transformation of a vacant,boarded-up commercial establishment into a vibrant, well-run neighborhood restaurant would have a negative impact on property values.” Nearly 150 neighbors had reached their own settlement agreement with earlier this summer dictating some of the establishment’s responsibilities, including that it not advertise drink specials “specifically geared towards college students” (Brookland is home to Catholic University).

Brookland’s Finest, seating 75 with an occupancy of nearly 100, along with a patio fitting 40 folks, aims to be a family-friendly neighborhood restaurant, serving American comfort food breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Post, PoPville, and the Ward 5 Heartbeat have shared more details about the spot.

DC Bar News – Week(s) in Review – October 7th – 21st

The 16 day government shutdown finally ended last week, and so did all of the great bar/restaurant specials for feds and non-feds alike that I detailed here.

  • Barred in DC Breaking News – I broke several stories somehow in past few weeks here or on Twitter; roundup of these stories and media follow-up crediting Barred in DC
  • Bar Openings
    • Eat the Rich (Shaw) (Twitter, Facebook, website) – (1839 7th St. NW – at T) . New bar opened on Saturday, October 19th from Derek Brown (The Passenger, Hogo, Mockingbird Hill) and the folks behind Rappahannock Oyster Bar that focuses on oysters and cocktails by the pitcher; just two doors down from Mockingbird Hill. (Post, WCP/Y&H, PoPville, InTheCapital, BYT, Eater, Urbandaddy, Post photos)
    • ENO Wine Bar (Georgetown) (Twitter, Facebook, website) – (2810 Pennsylvania Ave. NW). Sixth location of chainlet opened on Friday, October 18th next to the Four Seasons Hotel. (Eater, Post, Washingtonian, Georgetown Dish, PoPville)
  • New Bar Announcements
    • The Pub and the People (1648 N. Capitol St. NW – at R) (ETA Summer 2014). New 70 seat pub/restaurant (with 100 more on patio); one of owners involved with DC Reynolds (PoPville)
    • National Tap House (Dupont) (1331 Connecticut Ave. NW) enters into settlement agreement and obtains Tavern liquor license. Agreement is with the Palladium condo behind the bar along 18th Street and basically entirely about the proposed 2nd floor roof deck and very specific details on the fencing and soundproofing to be installed. Seating for 30, no music or TVs. No word on opening date. (Exclusive to Barred in DC)
    • Stoney’s (West End) (2101 L St. NW (ETA Dec. 2, 2013). Opening date announced for the 2nd Stoney’s location, sorely needed in area as most bars are in hotels (PoPville)
  • Other Bar News
    • Grand Central (AdMo) fined $1,500 by ABRA for failing to meet food sales requirement for a Restaurant liquor license. Under DC law, restaurants must sell $2,000 worth of food annually per official occupant or have 40% of gross sales be food.  Having visiting this meat market spot/Buffalo Bills bar on 18th Street several times (but not for many years), I find it hard to believe that it’ll ever be able to meet this requirement. (Exclusive to Barred in DC)
    • Blackjack‘s stadium seating removed from back bocce court room (WCP/Y&H)
    • DrinkDC has tremendous post outlining a happy hour crawl along 14th Street: Ghibellina, Masa 14, Bar Pilar, Policy, Lost Society & Piola all make the list.
    • Building that houses The Gibson cocktail speakeasy near 14th & U was sold for nearly $2 million, nearly 6 times its purchase value. Lease for bar runs until 2020, so should have little impact. (WBJ)
    • Awesome/hilarious front door on the Chicago/Detroit-themed bar in Shaw that is slated to open soon, Ivy & Coney (PoPville)
    • Pho Bar and Grill on H Street appears to be closed (PoPville)
    • Gay dance club Town Danceboutique applies to have 125 seat summer garden (PoPville)
    • Car crashes into Bohemian Caverns on U Street (PoPville)
    • InTheCapital highlights The Mighty Pint‘s $1 Happiest Hour ($1 drinks from 4-5p M-F)
    • New paint job on Angles Bar in AdMo (PoPville)
    • Ripple owners may be opening new place in The Reef space in AdMo (PoPville)
    • Bar Charley requests longer hours (currently closes at midnight on weekends, 11p on weekdays), per PoPville. Also, has launched a weekday happy hour (4-6:30p) with $2 off beers, wines by the glass and the tiki tap drinks-lots of $5 drinks then.
    • Renovations on Brookland’s Finest look good (PoPville)
  •  Barred in DC activity
    • Mellow Mushroom (Adams Morgan) – did some day drinking; solid $11 huge 1 topping slice + salad + craft beer lunch deal
    • Scion (Dupont) – took advantage of the Fall Beer Festival to grab some $5 pumpkin beers; many draft beers were out, but enough to enjoy some solid ones on draft. Nice crowd at 10pm, friendly bartenders
    • Crios (Dupont) – also stopped by for the Fall Beer Festival (next door to Scion, owned by same folks)
    • Bar Charley (Dupont) – made it twice in past couple weeks, $7 tiki cocktails on tap, $8 classic cocktails, and a longer list of $10-12 inventive ones.
    • Duke’s Grocery (Dupont) – had a couple tremendous sandwiches, a $5 Port City Oktoberfest (award-winning), and a fun late night there at the new neighborhood spot
    • The Coupe (ColHi) – first trip to the 24/7 diner, had a Columbus Day afternoon beer while I walked around the hood
    • Dacha Beer Garden (Shaw) – impressive new outdoor beer garden at 7th & Q where I held the Barred in DC Furlough Happy Hour, enjoyed a free 0.2L Fruh Kolsh (special furlough special) and several $7 half liters of Weihenstephaner beers. A more spacious/wider version of Garden District without the good barbecue. My first-ever visit to the area of 7th Street between P & Florida.
    • Mockingbird Hill (Shaw): new spot from Derek Brown; ham & sherry bar. A free sherry for feds during the shutdown (my 1st ever one), and some great ham. Cool little spot
    • Jack Rose (Adams Morgan): a rare visit to the 1st floor bar of my favorite bar in DC for the solid weekday happy hour, which goes til 7:30 and offers 1/2 off solid bar food, $2 off drafts (so mostly $5 pints) and $5 wines.
    • Cafe St. Ex (U Street/Logan Circle): checked out the basement bar (Gate 54); much chiller than the weekends I’ve been there.
    • Pittsburgh trip
      • took advantage of my furlopportunity to take in a Pirates playoff game
      • Rivertowne Brewing Company – outfield bar in PNC Park (used to be an Outback for years) that offers $2.50 craft beer drafts after games (sampled the Hala Kahiki pineapple beer-which is as good and bad as it sounds)
      • Redbeard’s on 6th Sports Bar and Grill – downtown across the river from PNC Park, someone I know randomly saw me walking by so I had a couple beers with him
      • Church Brew Works – brewpub located in a old huge church in Lawrenceville. Pretty awesome with lots of different beers made there

The Other Side – the Sticky Rice Liquor License Suspension & Follow-Up

As a follow-up to the story Barred in DC broke yesterday (which gained me 60 new Twitter followers and over 1,200 hits today-not bad for a fake journalist), I took a quick look at the July 2013 Hearing Transcript (you can review yourself) to pull out the statement Jason Martin (Sticky Rice owner) offered at the hearing, rounded up stories and comments reacting to the news, and obtained a copy of the investigative report (which doesn’t add much to the account relayed in the Board’s order).

UPDATE 10/22: Sticky Rice’s Twitter account somewhat cryptically tweeted at 10pm last night (10/21) “don’t believe everything”

Hearing Transcript – Jason Martin Statement

Even I don’t have time to read the 236 page hearing transcript, but I pulled out part of Jason Martin’s prepared statement to the board (pp. 120-26 of the transcript) [UPDATE 10/22: Jason Martin e-mailed me the text of the written statement that he submitted to the Board, which differed slightly than what was transcribed; I’ve now replaced the transcribed version with the excerpt of the text he sent me]:

…  I was alerted by staff that two ABRA investigators would like to speak with the manager on duty.  I introduced myself as the owner of the restaurant.  For some reason—perhaps because they were nearing the end of an undoubtedly long night—the two men met me with very high-energy, acting aggressive and agitated.  It was at this point that I asked the first gentleman (Mr. Apraku) for identification.  Mr. Apraku showed me a black wallet which housed a badge, but no photo identification.  I then asked the second gentleman (Mr. Jones) for his identification he quickly flashed a wallet housing a badge and photo ID of someone who was clearly not him.  I attempted to obtain a closer look at the Identification but was told that I need to remove my hands from the ID.  I complied but after seeing the clearly false identification, I was left with heightened anxiety about the potentially dangerous situation I could be dealing with, such as two random men using tactics to gain access to a back room or office. I was also particularly concerned by the false identification which was shown to me because I knew Sticky Rice was in compliance with paying for extended operating hours on New Year’s Eve and was not sure why any real ABRA official would not already had record of this.

Making sure that security was close I escorted the two men to the second floor sushi bar where the license was displayed in a picture frame.  Due to the fact that there is an entrance to the office located behind the sushi bar, I extended my arm and said “wait right here.”

After retrieving the frame with my ABRA license and putting it on the bar where the two men verified that I did have the extended license to stay open until 4:00am, I asked to see Mr. Jones’ identification one more time.  He complied and when I held his photo ID up for a comparison to who was standing in front of me, it was clearly not him.  I exclaimed: “That is not you! The photo is of someone else!”  Mr. Jones attempted to take back the false credentials, which I allowed him to do after I looked at the photo a third time and stated, “that is a fake ID.”  They claimed that their credentials were real, but with one man showing no valid government photo ID and the second man showing that of a third man (later to be identified as Mr. Stewart), I was still unsure of who they were and I asked them to leave the building since I had fully complied with their requests to view the license.

The two gentlemen informed me that I was not allowed to ask them to leave, which further intimidated me and left me feeling extremely uncomfortable about who these men were and what they wanted.  I responded: “You have now seen my license and that I am allowed to stay open until 4:00am and you have shown me a fake ID, please leave.” They refused, resulting in my calling for security to remove them from the building, which is what my security personnel did.

Approximately 45 minutes later, they returned with a third gentleman who informed me that he was their supervisor (Mr. Stewart).  I asked to see his credentials and when he produced them for me, I found that the photo ID was in fact Mr. Stewart but it was also the exact same photo ID that Mr. Jones had presented to me earlier.  I asked “why he would present me with someone else’s ID?”  Mr. Jones attempted to speak but Mr. Stewart stopped him and said “Please be quiet.”  Mr. Stewart then assured me that their credentials were real and that I was not allowed to interfere with an ABRA investigation, to which I tried to explain to Mr. Stewart that without proper Identification I did not know who they were and this was not alright.

To further put this incident into perspective and how I was approaching it as a seasoned business owner, I would like to point out that if a random patron gained access to my establishment and then presented a fake ID, particularly late at night on a busy holiday, I would have asked them to leave immediately.  Furthermore, if they refused, I would not hesitate to have my security staff remove them from the building.

I am not trying to accuse the ABRA investigators of intentionally trying to deceive me, as it is possible that maybe Mr. Jones simply grabbed the wrong wallet and badge and was not aware until I pointed it out, but it does not make it any more acceptable on the receiving end of it.  In hindsight, I should have called 911 immediately, told them that someone claiming to be an ABRA investigator showed me false credentials, and asked MPD to come investigate.  At the time, however, I felt as though I was being proactive in handling the situation by showing the men what they wanted and reducing the possibility of a scary incident….

Comments/Follow-Up

Mark Thorp, owner of Little Miss Whiskey’s and Jimmy Valentine’s, left this comment on Barred in DC, Frozen Tropics & DCist:

The testimony given by the ABRA investigators does not appear truthful. Jason Martin has over 7 years of intense, hands-on experience with 3 ABRA-licensed businesses, and a “routine compliance check” (in which the investigators simply verify that all relevant business licenses are up to date and that the business is operating accordingly) would not provoke this alleged behavior from him.
Mr. Martin states that one of the investigators did not have ABRA identification, and the other investigator produced an ID that did not belong to him (and which Mr. Martin states belonged to the ABRA supervisor that arrived after the incident). After being shown a “fake” ID, Mr Martin had the investigators evicted by security personnel, which action is completely reasonable and within the boundaries of the law.
The investigators testified that they had proper ID when Mr. Martin first asked for them. If this was true, why would Mr. Martin refuse to show his relevant business licenses? The licenses were clearly in order because there are no ABRA charges to the contrary, so Mr. Martin was not at risk. 8 months after the incident, why would Mr. Martin further jeopardize his business- much less waste considerable time and money on attorney fees- by fighting these charges? The penalty initially offered is always significantly less than the punishment faced by the business if it loses its fight against the charges.
I am a fellow business owner on H Street as well as a former employee of Jason Martin, and I have been witness many times to Mr. Martin’s careful, calm, and considered management of difficult and sometimes confrontational situations. I do not share any financial interests with him, nor do I stand to receive any personal gain by asserting my belief that Jason Martin acted properly and responsibly, and that the ABRA investigators are not telling the truth.
Sincerely,
Mark Thorp

Commenter “nunya”  left this comment on the PoPville story:

I know all these guys and I know the story outside of what’s in that document.

The ABRA people didn’t have their credentials in order at all and were generally acting weird and trying to get into areas of the restaurant they shouldn’t have been going into. I’m not saying that all of the decisions that were made were the correct ones, but there is still a lot of ass-covering going on here and the penalty is way too harsh for what actually happened. ABRA is trying to send a very strong message that you can’t kick their people out under any circumstances, which I can understand, but this is a real ugly way to try to make that point and I don’t believe they’re on the strongest footing.

No, there was nothing illegal going on. No, no one was trying to pull a fast one on anybody. This was just a bad situation on the craziest bar night of the year that started messy and stayed that way.

Update from DCist:

Update: Sticky Rice has not appealed the ruling, according an ABRA public information officer: “ABRA, to date, has not received any submissions from the licensee regarding the ABC Board Order that was issued on October 16, 2013, to Sticky Rice.

Stories Crediting Barred in DC

BREAKING NEWS: Sticky Rice’s Liquor License Suspended for 15 Days for Ejecting ABRA Investigators

Sticy Rice (credit: Capitol City Eats http://www.capitolcityeats.com/2012/07/sticky-rice.html)

As first reported by Barred in DC on Twitter, the hipster sushi/dance party H Street spot Sticky Rice has been severely punished by the Alcohol Beverage Control Board for ejecting two Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) investigators last New Year’s Eve.  The bar cannot serve booze for a 15 day period next month and must pay a $4,000 fine; another 10 days of the liquor license suspension will be served if any violations occur in the next year. Barring any appeals, the bar will be closed from November 13-27, 2013, a staggering blow to the operators and employees of Sticky Rice.

According to the Board’s order, two ABRA investigators entered Sticky Rice for a “routine compliance check” while “monitoring establishments in the H Street [corridor] as part of a [NYE] initiative conducted by ABRA.”  Jason Martin, one of the owners of Sticky Rice (as well as the nearby Dangerously Delicious and Rock & Roll Hotel), accused one of the investigators of having fake identification and refused to let them examine the licenses they had requested to view.  He then “began cursing and yelling, ordering the investigators to leave the establishment, and calling on security to eject the investigators,” and apparently made some physical contact with the investigators. A few bouncers escorted the investigators out; an ABRA supervisor soon showed up and confirmed to Martin that both of these investigators were indeed employed by ABRA.  This did not placate Martin as he continued screaming at the investigators.  The investigators stated that his behavior was “strange,” “incoherent, and “bizarre” and thought his eyes looked “funny.”

The Board did not find credible Martin’s explanation that one of the investigators was carrying his supervisor’s identification instead of his own.  Instead, the Board was “quite convinced that Mr. Martin’s actions and behavior risked causing a dangerous confrontation between security and ABRA’s investigators” and that he “unjustifiably interfered with an ABRA investigation” in violation of D.C. law.

The decision that Sticky Rice violated the law was unanimous; however, the chair of the Board, Ruthanne Miller, dissented from the imposed penalty.  Miller thought it was “unusually severe … not commensurate with the ‘crime’ [and did] not serve the public interest.” She explained that Martin’s actions were “not based on any real intent” and “not rational,” and no one was physically harmed in the incident.  According to Miller, the “problem …was [Martin’s] aberrant behavior” yet there “had been no follow-up to determine if this behavior was a one-night occurrence or whether such behavior is continuing.” Instead of a suspension and fine, she would have simply “monitor[ed] the establishment.”

Sticky Rice has until the end of the month to file a motion that the Board reconsider its decision; it can also appeal to the D.C Court of Appeals.  The H Street/Trinidad blog Frozen Tropics had not received any comment from the bar as of the time of this story’s posting.

UPDATE 10/21: Added follow-up post containing Martin’s statement to the Board, along with other reaction.

Barred in DC Furlough Happy Hour – Dacha Beer Garden – TODAY – 4pm

Dacha Beer Garden (credit: Dacha Beer Garden Facebook page)

Fellow federal employees (both furloughed and the unlucky exempt/essential/emergency), along with everyone else, join Barred in DC today (Wednesday, October 16th) starting at 4pm at the new Dacha Beer Garden in Shaw, located at 1600 7th St. NW (7th and Q) for a Barred in DC Furlough Happy Hour.  The bar is still offering one free small Kolsch beer to federal employees (w/ ID) from 4-6pm, but everyone is welcome.

To get to the bar, walk, take MetroRail to the Shaw-Howard Green Line stop just a block away, hop on a G2 (P Street) or 70 (7th St.) MetroBus, or dock your Capital Bikeshare bike at the station located at 7th and R NW. Enjoy the terrific fall weather before the world ends/government re-opens/etc. tomorrow.  The Post more details about Dacha.  Hope to see many of you there!

BREAKING NEWS: Cafe Japone Closes

Cafe Japone, the Japanese karaoke dive on P Street in Dupont, closed its doors for good in late September/early October [10/15 EVENING UPDATE: Multiple tipsters report that the bar may have closed earlier in September; I actually made a rare visit late on August 30th, so it closed after that].  Open since 1986, the bar’s owners surrendered its liquor license on September 26th, requesting its cancellation immediately; ABRA granted this request on October 9th. A Twitter user took a photo of the bar’s dismantling earlier this month, while a Yelper said the bar was evicted due to “rat and sewage problems.”  Calls to Japone’s listed phone number were greeted by a message that the number has been disconnected.  More details will be added as real journalists report on this issue.