On Wednesday, DC’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board issued $1,000 fines to two DC bars/restaurants, District Soul Food (Barracks Row) and Red Lounge Hookah (14th and U) for violations of ABRA’s Phase 2 regulations that followed from the Mayor’s Phase 2 order. These violations stemmed from incidents July 4th weekend. These are the first penalties Barred in DC has seen in Phase 1 or Phase 2 in DC as ABRA has been focused on education, but the infractions were serious enough that warranted immediate punishment.
Barred in DC (exclusively? probably, but who cares) requested and obtained copies of the investigative reports (with pictures) in this matter which state what happened.
For District Soul Food, the spot got dinged for a Friday July 3rd incident for:
- Allowing employees to walk around w/o face masks while interacting with patrons
- Manager even approached the ABRA investigator without one, c’mon
- Allowing patrons to sit and drink at a bar while a bartender was working behind the bar
- Owner said that they were waiting for food they ordered, but that’s not allowed.
- Allowing on premises alcohol consumption w/o food purchase
- Not placing chairs and tables six feet apart indoors and outdoors
- Owner first said he didn’t know that said that though 1) investigator herself had told him during Phase 1 and 2) ABRA had literally been there 2 days before.
The restaurant had already received a warning for playing music louder than allowed during Phase 2; otherwise they may have gotten off without a fine. Read the report here for more details and pictures.
[Edited: District Soul Food responded to ABC 7, claiming they were singled out due to being a black-owned business]
The next night, Red Lounge was cited for:
- Operating past midnight (ABRA investigator showed up at 1am)
- Allowing patrons to walk around without masks
- Not placing booths and seats 6 feet apart
- Allowing patrons to sit at 2nd floor bar when bartender was working
- Having a DJ.
The owner told the ABRA investigator that she thought the only Phase 2 restriction was that patrons have wear masks (owner wasn’t wearing one because “she forgot to use” when speaking to the investigator). She thought she could close at 3am.
Because of the late hour, the spot was forced to shut down (40 people were still left), though it took 30 minutes for everyone to leave. One person even was “upset” because she had called the owner beforehand who said they could close at 3am. The report for Red Lounge can be read here.
If you think these penalties are low, note that currently the ABC Board is generally postponing all of its penalty decisions (unless business agrees to one) due to pandemic emergency but they may have been allowed to impose a limited penalty like this now. Additional penalties may apply to either spot in the future.
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