Barred in DC has learned that Bar Charley, the six-month old spot in north Dupont, has reached a settlement agreement with neighbors, allowing it to serve alcohol two hours later each night. As a result, the establishment can stay open until 1a on weekday nights, 2a on weekends; doors will close to new patrons 30 minutes before that.
In exchange for the dropping of the protest (which was discussed earlier here), Bar Charley has agreed to the hours just mentioned (it had been seeking full hours-2a/3a), sound mitigation, trash collection procedures, offering full menu (kitchen must be open 90 minutes before closing), keeping tables in dining space until close, and other restrictions intended to placate neighbors who want it to prevent from turning into a full-fledged bar rather than a restaurant.
ABRA still has to approve the settlement, which should take place shortly, before Bar Charley can be open past midnight for the first time ever. Soon, it will be joined by a promising whiskey-focused joint across the street, Rebellion(which can be open until 2a/3a if it keeps the liquor license as the previous tenant, Mum Mum; together with the nearby Jack Rose, the area will soon have a number of spots for adults to enjoy.
The snow gods granted the wish of Irish-wannabes in DC-OPM closed the government today, on St. Patrick’s Day. Our social media overlord have thus deemed this Snow Patrick’s Day (clever), and so I’ve compiled this list of DC spots open during the day for day-drinking, some of which already we’re going to be open for St. Paddy’s Day festivities (Irish bars are highlighted in green). A handful of these came from WCP, Washingtonian, Post, & Eater’s roundups.
Although bars are guaranteed to be amateur night and a cluster, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are still usually good times. As March 17th is on a Monday this year, many bars/people will actually celebrate on the Saturday before, but pubs will nevertheless be jam-packed on the actual holiday itself.
To help you plan your green-themed celebration, I’ve listed any events at bars, both Irish and non-Gaelic, that have been announced, continually updating as places announce their events and paid journalists/bloggers post their round-ups. [3/13 Edit: Roundups from Post, Washingtonian, DC After Five]
There is no cover unless otherwise stated (covers aren’t the worst thing, they lessen the crowds slightly). I’ve also highlighted (in green, of course) those bars who are actually having events on St. Paddy’s Day itself (in addition to Saturday or other days)
The folks behind the cult favorite dive bar The Codmother appear to be set to soon open a new dive in the upstairs space at 1334 U St. NW formerly home to the Touchdown Sports Bar & Grill (a popular stop on the recent Barred in DC Circulator Bus Tour).
Keeping this week’s theme of interesting names for new bars (a new Columbia Heights bar will be called Tipsy Peacock) the name of this bar will apparently be Handsome Cock, according to a new Facebook page launched this week (hope your work/browser filter doesn’t flag this post). The Codmother announced the new bar in mid-February on its Facebook page, and I’m 80% confident that this not a moderately elaborate joke; phone calls made to the listed number for Touchdown were not answered, and Touchdown’s home page is currently down for “maintenance.” Both the new bar and The Codmother asked for some knick-knacks to decorate the bar:
Handsome Cock needs assorted craps for decoration purpose , from a unwanted Barbie Doll ,to your used dildo and everything between. You can donate your craps to The Codmother and make the most beloved farm animal very happy.
Tuesday I relayed the surprising discovery that many bars in Adams Morgan and nearly all H Street bars are forbidden from hosting bar crawls. Yesterday I explored how and why this restriction is imposed, and explained how a Brightest Young Things Zombie Takeover event in October 2012 led to thousands of dollars in fines for H Street pubs. However, one H Street bar, Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar, refused to settle and admit it did anything illegal, so a hearing proceeded for ABRA to decide whether a violation occurred.
At the October 2013 hearing to decide this issue, the bar defended itself, explaining that it did not offer any discounted drinks so it did not technically participate in an unapproved bar crawl. The bar’s owner, Mark Thorp, explained that two of the specials-$3 Stroh’s & $4 DAB tallboy beer-weren’t even specials at all as they were offered at their normal everyday price (according to the hearing transcript, Thorp didn’t even explain this fact to BYT; I’m sure some of the attendees would have been miffed that they weren’t actually getting a discount). The other special offered, a free shot of Bulleit bourbon, did not actually cost the bar any money, as the local Diageo distributor (who makes Bulleit) provided 2 one-liter bottles of Bulleit to the bar to give out as part of the event. Thorp claimed that this meant it wasn’t technically discounted (though he conceded a normal Bulleit drink would cost $8).
Unfortunately for the bar, ABRA soundly rejected all of Little Miss Whiskey’s arguments, finding that it participated in a pub crawl in violation of its settlement agreement. ABRA stated that “[b]y agreeing to participate in the event” Little Miss Whiskey’s “permitted BYT to act as [its] agent … [so that it] is not entitled to argue that it is not responsible for the actions taken by BYT to promote the event.” The ABRA board found the bar’s testimony unpersuasive that the beers offered weren’t considered discounted drinks due to two facts: 1) the BYT advertisement listed them as “SPECIALS”; and 2) Zombie crawlers had to “pick up a coupon book and present coupons to take advantage” of all these “SPECIALS” including those at Little Miss Whiskey’s. It further found that the free shot of Bulleit bourbon, despite it being provided for free by the distributor, was a discounted drink because it was provided for free by the bartender; according to ABRA, the “source of the beverages served by [the bartender] is completely irrelevant to the determination whether discounted drinks were offered by the bar.” The Board imposed, for all that trouble of a hearing, a $500 fine, similar to what was paid by most of the other H Street bar participants.
Fortunately, aside from Adams Morgan and the bulk of H Street, organized bar crawls and pub tours are still permitted in most of the city. In addition, if you want to stop at a spot in those neighborhoods, in spite of these restrictions, as part of going bar to bar, you can still do so (you just might not be able get any specials from the bars for your group as part of your self bar crawl). You can also go on unconventional bar tours like a Barred in DC Bus Bar Tour; such an event technically is not a “pub crawl” under DC regulations, as the stops are notwalking distance from another. Notably, at the Little Miss Whiskey’s hearing, one investigator testified that he “walked to every single bar without physical challenges” and did not have to rely upon a vehicle or public transportation.
Barred in DC turns one year old today! Thanks to all of the readers, Twitter followers (over 640 at last count!), Facebook fans, lurkers, commenters (even the spam commenters!), Redditors, and real-life friends and family who’ve given such valuable input and supported the site in many ways. I’ve learned a lot and interacted with tons of great people over the past 365 days.
In case you didn’t know, the bar originally was designed to feature reviews from DC bars; I had been to over 200 as of last year and folks were fans of my restaurant spreadsheet. After launching with threebarreviews, I quickly realized that I also enjoyed the bar news aspect, breaking a few stories and doing round-ups of events for holidays (the best moment was hands-down being referred to in a Washington Post story: “The story was first reported by Barred in DC”). The Bus Bar Crawls have been terrific fun too. Hopefully I’ll publish more reviews (especially for the new bars and old favorites) in the next year.
I’ve listed the most (and least) popular stories of the year below:
Yesterday, I wrote about how a BYT Zombie Takeover event in October 2012 led to thousands of dollars in fines for H Street establishments. I discussed how bars in DC often enter into voluntary/settlement agreements with neighbors that contain restrictions on how they do business. Nearly every single bar on H Street has a voluntary agreement that prevents them from participating in bar/pub crawls. I also looked into what constitutes such a crawl, which is actually defined in DC’s regulations. Today, I’ll look into why neighbors don’t like bar crawls and reveal how the ABRA investigators discovered the zombies and their illicit bar crawling.
Why ban bar crawls?
So, what’s the deal with bar crawls? Luckily for me, the ANC 6A’s website provides official insights into its negative stance towards crawls. Earlier last year, a member of ANC 6A’s alcohol licensing committee explained that “in the 90s, there were some ‘really bad’ bar crawls [on H Street], which led the ANC to decide to oppose these types events across the board.” (Aside: there were bars on H Street in the 90s???). Late in 2012, the same committee rejected a request from Atlas Flats, a new apartment building in the neighborhood, that several bars be granted a one-day exception to participate in a promotional bar crawl; the committee didn’t want to open the floodgates for more exceptions. Earlier, in May 2008, this ANC unanimously rejected a request to amend the standard agreement to allow pub crawls even for charity events, finding little “enthusiasm from the committee or the audience” and that
[b]usiness owners … said they view pub/bar crawls as a way to promote cheap liquor or beer and excessive drinking. One stated he doesn’t ever want to be attached to anything called a pub crawl and doesn’t want to [be] shanghaied into reducing prices.
After I posted Part 1 of this story, Jay Williams, an ANC 6A commissioner responded, explaining in a seriesofTweets that “ANC 6A is exploring way to relax this restriction. [A]lso, we’ve tried our best to work with organizers to not run afoul of [definition] of pub crawl … but too many organizers just set up the event and let bars deal with fallout.”
Local residents have also, unsurprisingly, expressed their dismay with bar crawls. In one 2001 Washington Times article about the problematic Adams Morgan Bar Crawl (which stopped being held soon after the article was published), one local neighbor colorfully explained, referring to bar crawl attendees:
As far as I’m concerned, these guys are a plague on the land. They promote filth, dirty trash, loud noise and disturbance to people who don’t happen to be drunk.
In fact, a recent decision shows that this disfavor towards bar crawls has been taken into account by ABRA itself. A new bar in Adams Morgan, Libertine, recently refused to negotiate a settlement agreement with its neighbors when requesting later hours for its sidewalk patio, taking its chances with ABRA as the neighbors protested the request. In September 2013, ABRA denied this protest, granting Libertine’s request. However, in a potentially far-reaching decision, ABRA ruled, as an express condition of the bar’s liquor license, that it could not participate in bar crawls, one of the restrictions sought by the neighbors in the settlement agreement. This was included explicitly to address the neighbors’ “specific concerns regarding noise that may be considered generic to establishments in Adams Morgan and that may reasonably be anticipated to disturb the neighborhood in the same manner [which] involve pub crawls and amplified music which historically have disturbed the peace, order, and quiet in the neighborhood.”
What happened in the BYT H Street Zombie Takeover?
So how did a fun little zombie event by BYT turn into so many headaches for H Street bars? According to investigative reports, ABRA received an anonymous tip a week before the Zombie Takeover that BYT was promoting a bar crawl without pre-approval. After confirming that BYT had not obtained this approval, ABRA investigators went “undercover” (which sounds like the lamest undercover operation in the history of law enforcement); a pair of investigators bought tickets from BYT, and, using the coupon book and wristband given to them after that purchase, stopped by many participating bars (Dangerously Delicious, Rock and Roll Hotel, Atlas Arcade, SOVA, Church and State, Little Miss Whiskey’s, The Queen Vic, Red Palace, Smith Commons, and Sticky Rice all participated) to get (but not consume) the shot or drink they were entitled to. Another pair of investigators went to these same bars later in the night to cite these bars for violating its settlement agreement. Most of the bars cited settled with ABRA staff for fairly modest $250, $500, or $750 fines, though (likely because of its repeated previous violations) the now-defunct RedPalace (recently replaced by Vendetta) was fined a whopping $2,000. Interestingly, while The Queen Vic agreed to a settlement agreement with ANC 6A when it opened back in 2010, the agreement was never submitted to and approved by ABRA until last summer, and the bar escaped any sanctions. At the time of the publication of this story, BYT had not responded to my e-mail request for comment.
One bar, the hipster dance spot Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar, however, did not agree to settle with ABRA staff and pay the $500 fine ABRA requested. Tomorrow, I’ll explore why it fought back and what happened when it did.