Club Heaven and Hell Sent Straight to Hell – Record Setting Fine and Suspension

Club Heaven and Hell, the long-time Adams Morgan club (opened around 1991), suffered a massive blow last week when the DC Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) fined it a whopping $90,000 and suspended its liquor license for 90 days (November 1st-January 29th). This is believed by Barred in DC to be a record fine by ABRA (Halftime Sports Bar was fined $60,000 in Dec 2018, and never re-opened) and record liquor license suspension (though ABRA has revoked liquor licenses before).

The severe punishment mostly results, coupled with a history of violations, from an August 2018 incident where the bar illegally outsourced its security to a promoter of a live music event and violated the terms of its mandated security plan. Specifically, it allowed the promoter to check IDs and control ingress/egress into the club (per DC law, bars can rent out their spots to a promoter but the licensee must control the bar and security staff) and it did not have two bouncers and check everyone’s IDs as it opened (as required by its security plan). Also, the infamous “Yellow Death” cleaning fluid Long Island Iced Tea incident was factored in the penalty: the bar owner admitted accidentally adding Yellow Death cleaning fluid (instead of sour mix) in the drink in November 2018. The bar wasn’t actually punished directly for the mistake by ABRA; instead it was docked because it failed to fill out an incident report and log it in its security log as required by the security plan.

All the ABRA commissioners present found Club Heaven and Hell to be liable, though one recommended revocation of the license. The huge fine and lengthy no booze sales outage (which likely means closure during the period) may be crippling for a bar (known for 80s Dance parties on Thursdays)-it might not reopen. Thus, it’s likely that a motion for reconsideration and/or appeal to DC Court of Appeals will be filed shortly. Stay tuned.

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