Dacha Beer Garden Resolves Issues with Neighbors and ABRA

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The ridiculously popular Shaw (mid-Shaw?) beer garden/bacchanalia, Dacha, has resolved, for now, the many legal issues it has with capacity and noise complaints from neighbors and DC’s alcohol regulators. Dacha engaged in some Uber-style lobbying efforts (urging patrons to complain to politicians/regulators with potentially misleading information, firing workers and threatening to sell to a conglomerate, etc.) back in October.

As widely reported earlier this month, Dacha agreed to pay a whopping $42,500 fine to DC and serve a three non-consecutive week suspension for a number of admitted violations of its listed capacity and settlement agreement. Despite some paperwork indicating an applied-for-capacity of 190 people, Dacha’s official occupancy load was only 126 people; this limit was exceeded all the time.

Dacha was shuttered Thanksgiving week (Mon. Nov, 23-Sun. Nov. 29) and will be  closed, in a shrewd bit of punishment by the ABRA Board, at the prime, good-weather-is-back-again time the first weeks of March and April. Any violation of DC’s liquor regulations in the next year will result in an automatic 19-day suspension. Little noticed, but just as significantly, Dacha admitted to 3 “primary tier” violations and 9 “secondary tier” violations. If Dacha gets another primary tier violation within the next four years, its liquor license will be revoked or it will be fined $30,000 and have its license suspended for 30 days.

In exchange for accepting these punishments, the local ANC and Dacha recently entered into a settlement agreement that increases the capacity and clears the way for Dacha to open a three-story restaurant/bar in the adjacent property at 1602 7th St. NW (the first floor, a deli/market, opened recently).  The agreement:

  • Increases official capacity to 250 people outside and allows 250 inside, for a total of 500 (Dacha had asked for 600, so this is very much a win for the bar);
  • Requires seats for 200 people outdoors by next December;
  • Permits Dacha to serve booze, not just beer and wine (Dacha told me earlier this year that they wouldn’t serve hard liquor in the beer garden, but this is not part of the agreement; I’m pretty sure this can’t be part of one);
  • Retains current outdoor closing times of 10:30p on weekdays and midnight on weekends (the interior will likely be open until the standard 2a/3a);
  • Prohibits outdoor speakers and forbids Dacha from opening any windows;
  • Withdraws Dacha’s request to build a terrace over the beer garden;
  • Requires valet parking (what?) to be offered to folks eating at the restaurant;
  • Mandates sound insulation including a sound-insulated fence on the west side (towards 8th St.) and sound dampeners under the bar covering; and
  • Authorizes trivia nights, bingo, comedy, karaoke, and a DJ inside, but no live music after 6p (except during 12 private events each year).

ABRA approved the agreement on Thanksgiving Eve, though struck the agreement’s original requirement that Dacha maintain a vegetation buffer. Stay tuned for plans inside the bar.

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The Speak Speakeasy Gets Busted by ABRA – With Pictures!

I imagine this is just like 1930s Prohibition raids
The Speak on Halloween: I imagine this is just like 1930s Prohibition raids (Credit: ABRA Investigative report)

The Speak, a basement “speakeasy” bar underneath the old Tattoo Bar at 1413 K Street NW, was recently shuttered by the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) for not having liquor license, though it had been operating quite publicly for a half year. As first reported by Borderstan, ABRA shut the bar down after an investigator, acting on an anonymous tip, visited it during “Halloween Enforcement” (big night in the liquor license biz) and found the liquor license and certificate of occupancy  covered the closed Tattoo Bar and didn’t allow any people, let alone booze, in the basement. The Speak’s purported owner, Ajiboye Laosebikan, listed as the owner of the upcoming caviar bar (to replace Tattoo Bar) Odessa, claimed to the investigator that the liquor license had been transferred but in fact neither the bar’s lease with the building nor the liquor license covered the basement and the transfer was simply pending.

Little do these revelers know that this is the last night The Speak's in business (Credit: ABRA Investigator Report)
Little do these revelers know that this is the last night The Speak’s in business (Credit: ABRA Investigator Report)
Old school players (Credit: ABRA Investigative Report)
Old school players (Credit: ABRA Investigative Report)

The investigator’s report is worth checking out: photos of the Halloween revelers (almost as crappy as Barred in DC), the fake mirrored door, social media posts from earlier this year, and pictures of the manager on duty on Halloween night as well as Seth McClelland, who claimed to be the owner in press reports earlier this year and also when Barred in DC visited in May.

Uh, this isn't the right liquor license
Uh, this isn’t the right liquor license (Credit: ABRA Investigative Report)
The Speak on TV like a real Speakeasy (credit: ABRA Investigative Report)
The Speak on TV like a real Speakeasy (credit: ABRA Investigative Report)

This is not the first time Laosebikan has gotten accused of using the wrong documents. A former manager of Love nightclub in Ivy City, Laosebikan was working at Da Luft on H Street in March and claimed to a visiting investigator that he was the ABC Manager on Duty (bars must have either the owner or a licensed manager on premises at all times). He did not have his manager license on hand, but said he would text the investigator a copy later. When he did  text the investigator a couple days later, the investigator “observed abnormal pigments on the photo copy.” The investigator and the owner of Da Luft later confirmed that the manager’s license number was actually the license number for Da Luft’s resident DJ, and Laosebikan had no current manager’s license.

Apparently not a real ABRA Manager's license
Apparently not a real ABRA Manager’s license

Barred in DC does not foresee The Speak reopening anytime soon and the caviar bar Odessa being quite delayed. Stay tuned.