Category Archives: Bardo

Quick Update on Bardo River Brewery

ABRA clarified this week the status of the new Bardo River Brewery’s liquor license. As folks from Bardo contended here on the blog, ABRA realized in fact that it did not into a consent order with Bardo after reviewing the hearing transcript. Instead, ABRA issued a manufacturer’s license to Bardo subject to basically the same conditions of the now-vacated consent order and quoted Bardo’s lawyer to show that Bardo made these commitments to do exactly what ABRA included as conditions to the license.

ABRA also explained why it granted Bardo a license but previous applicants (including Bardo) were not successful:

  • Based on the representations and commitments made by the Bardo during the November 16th hearing;
  • It was satisfied that the security plan, camera plan, and restriction on entertainment are sufficient to address ABRA’s concerns
  • It was satisfied that the representations and commitments made by Bardo, as well as the conditions imposed, sufficiently distinguished it from the prior applicants

I doubt this will end Bardo’s court fight, but I plan on being there in March to have a pint of the Marion Berry Lambic myself.

Bardo Officially Moving Permanently Out of Trinidad to Nationals Park Location

Bardo Brewpub officially announced today that it will be permanently closing its Trinidad location, moving to the new Bardo River Brewery just south of Nationals Park in the Navy Yard/Capitol Riverfront neighborhood. This move, which was first reported months ago by Barred in DC, is required by DC law (specifically section 25-303 of the DC Code). Holders of manufacturer licenses are prohibited from possessing other types of liquor licenses, so Bardo’s owners can’t own a brewery and a brewpub at the same time. Bardo hopes to reopen the two-acre Anacostia River site in March 2017 ,just in time for baseball season. [Note: if you’re wondering, Right Proper, which has a production brewery in Brookland and a brewpub in Shaw, is technically owned by two couples, with half of each couple jointly owning each location, as discussed in this April 2015 ABRA hearing.]

The full message from Bardo’s Facebook page is below:

Bardo River Brewery Gets Approval – Can Stay Open til Midnight

[This story has been updated on 12/3 & 12/6 based on comments to the post below, which you should definitely read]
The long saga for the Bardo River Brewery appears to be over. On Wednesday, ABRA and Bardo entered into a consent order, resolving the issues with Bardo’s manufacturer liquor license application for its new Anacostia River location just south of Nationals Park. Bardo had filed a lawsuit against ABRA for not issuing a liquor license, and complained that ABRA didn’t follow the law and had improper contacts with the Nationals and the ANC. In mid-October, following an entertaining fact-finding hearing, ABRA essentially told Bardo that it would grant the license but make it close at 10p everyday.

The consent order, to the chagrin of the sole dissenting member, makes no such restrictions on hours. And, according to commenters (including a rep from Bardo), ABRA may have issued a manufacturer’s license without any restrictions after Bardo supposedly rejected the consent order. If the order does apply, Bardo is required to create a security plan and maintain a comprehensive security camera system and cannot seek permission to have entertainment, such as live music or DJs. The new brewery, which will reportedly replace the Trinidad location, can be open till 7a-midnight. Check Bardo’s Facebook page for updates. According to Bardo, it is  “still pursuing legal measures due to the delays ABRA’s illegal actions caused” and “fuck the ABRA board.”

On December 6th, Bardo sniped at the local ANC on Twitter, warning Bluejacket and other bars to watch out that ANC was now requiring bars to close at 10p. ANC commissioner responded that this was false (which is accurate, they only wanted Bardo to close at 10p); Bardo then tweeted out a copy of the ANC’s letter to ABRA that Bardo is claiming is illegal ex parte communication. Bardo concluded the volley by complaining that the ANC had a policy of protesting liquor licenses if the licensee doesn’t enter into a settlement agreement with the ANC, which is a widespread practice in DC.

Bardo River Brewery Approved – Kind Of, Sort Of

[UPDATE: Bardo is appealing order to DC courts, claiming that ABRA engaged in illegal ex parte communications with ANC and Nationals. See Bardawg’s comment below:]

Yesterday, ABRA issued an unusual preliminary decision regarding the proposed new Bardo brewery just south of Nationals Park. Basically, ABRA is allowing Bardo to operate a brewery on the Anacostia River site but says it can only serve customers on-premises if it agrees to close at 10p everyday of the week. If Bardo doesn’t accept this condition the Board basically says they’ll have a hearing and may deny the ability for Bardo to serve beer on-premises at any time. Concerns that plagued previous Bardo applications-noise, parking, and pedestrian safety-still remain.


Bardo Plans to Shutter Trinidad Location and Sell Cans if Nats Park Location Approved

At a contentious ABRA fact-finding hearing on August 10th, Bill Stewart, the owner of Bardo, told the board that he would close the Trinidad/Bladensburg Rd. location if the ABRA approves his manufacturer’s license application for Bardo River Brewery just south of Nationals Park on the Anacostia in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood. The owner also expects to brew 5000 barrels of beer in the first year of operation, with 7000 barrels to follow (note Bardo in Arlington never brewed more than 2500). He also plans to set up shop like the famous Mcmenamins in Oregon, establishing satellite bars in Virginia and Maryland that Bardo would sell its cans through, as well as selling cans in retailers throughout the DC Metro area. The 150-page transcript is worth a read, including

  • Bardo’s lawyer strongly objecting to ABRA inviting the ANC representative to sort of testify, calling it “illegal”
  • an ABRA Commissioner telling Bardo’s lawyer to basically “Come at me bro” and inviting him to sue him
  • Bardawg officially becoming part of the security plan
  • a discussion about how open air tanks can be targets of shootings and terrorist attacks

Barred in DC will have more on the transcript later. A week earlier, Stewart stormed out of the originally-scheduled fact finding meeting because ABRA had invited folks from the Nationals and the ANC to participate, saying that he’ll lawyer up.

Despite all this, Barred in DC predicts that ABRA will grant the manufacturer’s license to Bardo, and if it doesn’t, its denial will be overturned on appeal.

[9/1 PM Update: Transcript excerpts from DCBeerBill and Aaron Morrissey saved below]




Bardo Tries Again on the Anacostia Riverfront

Bardo’s planned spot on Anacostia (Credit: Bardo Brewpub Facebook page)

After losing its bid for a liquor license for Bardo Big River just south of Nationals Park (as first reported by Barred in DC), the folks behind Bardo are trying a different tack with ABRA. This time, instead of seeking for a bar (tavern) liquor license, the renamed Bardo River Brewery has applied for a Class B manufacturer’s license-a brewery license in other words.

Bardo will likely seek permission to sell and serve beer for on-premises consumption similar to most other breweries in DC. Manufacturer licenses, after a recent expansion in the law, allow beer to be served from 8a-midnight. It remains to be seen if Bardo will ask for the full hours as its closing time was a sticking point with the local ANC in its previous application. ABRA has requested a fact-finding hearing; undoubtedly the ANC will protest once again. Stay tuned whether Bill Stewart, Bardo’s charmingly don’t-give-a-damn owner, has figured out from the previous ABRA hearing and decision and is finally successful in bringing another cool drinking option to the Navy Yard/Capital Riverfront neighborhood.

ABRA Denies Liquor License for Bardo Big River by Nationals Park

[This post has been updated]

Barred in DC has learned that the ABRA Board has denied in full a liquor license for Bardo Big River, the riverfront beer garden across from Nationals Park. The Bardo folks already had started construction and hiring – hoping to start in April or May for the baseball season. Bardo can file a motion for the Board to reconsider (it decides very quickly) and a judicial appeal may follow, but there’s no chance this will be open anytime soon.

A copy of ABRA’s unanimous decision an be found here. In its decision, the Board relied on issues related to noise, parking, pedestrian safety, and egress from Nats games discussed in the February hearing Barred in DC wrote about earlier.Specifically, the board said it was “still not convinced” that

  • Bardo is capable of preventing noise disturbances to nearby residents (who don’t yet exist)
  • the neighborhood has a sufficient parking;
  • Bardo can coexist or be included in the neighborhood’s official traffic plan;
  • encouraging stadium attendees to across Potomac Ave. is safe; and
  • that Bardo can exist without delaying or interfering with people and cars leaving Nats Park after games.

The fact that Bullpen exists a few blocks away was not considered by the Board, since no one ever protested it and as a result it had no findings about it  (“the Bullpen’s appropriateness is deemed presumed as a matter of law”). The importance of not disrupting the Nationals logistics was clearly an important part of the decision, though the parking concerns are to me ridiculous as I wouldn’t expect many people to drive to Bardo specifically.

Bardo’s Beer Garden Just South of Nationals Park Gets the ABRA Treatment

[This post has been edited since publication.] Bardo Big River (25 Potomac Ave. SE), the second beer garden/brewpub from longtime area brewer Bill Stewart, is planning to open its gates to up to 750 patrons sometime in April or early May. An advertisement for servers and other support staff was posted on Craigslist earlier this week. This open-air seasonal (March through November) spot will be located in a empty lot across Potomac Ave. SE south of Nationals Stadium.   Sporting an 80 foot long bar, no structures aside from stacked shipping containers to store beer and other equipment, a dog park open to the public (no booze allowed), the same “rustic” atmosphere/tables as the much smaller Bladensburg Rd./Trinidad location, Bardo Big River, however, still does not have a liquor license.

Barred in DC has exclusively obtained the transcript of the protest hearing held in front of the ABRA Board on February 10th (you can read the 315 pages here). After a fairly contentious and bumpy hearing (neither the local ANC nor Bill Stewart hired attorneys for the hearing, leading to lots of coaching from the Board), ABRA seems poised to grant the liquor license (it has said it will issue a decision either way by May 10th); a previous concept (Riverfront at the Ballpark) from a different operator that was rejected by ABRA in late 2013. Bardo and the ANC were apparently close at some point on the broad terms of a settlement agreement that would have resolved issues much sooner, but Stewart rejected it because it would limit hours to 11p; instead he wanted the full hours (2a/3a), repeatedly citing neighboring establishments such as Bluejacket and Justin’s Cafe and explaining that he thought it would spread out departures from Nationals games, relieving stress on the Metro system (never mind that Bardo would be the opposite way from the Metro for Nationals fans).

Testimony by witnesses expressing noise, parking, pedestrian safety, and crime concerns included an ABRA investigator, an ANC commissioner, the police, and notably, the VP for Community Engagement for the Nationals. Although the focus on burdening parking was a bit much (can’t expect that many drivers, though the Nats expect to lose 3000+ parking spaces in upcoming years as development eliminates temporary lots), witnesses seemed to express legitimate gripes about safety issues for patrons crossing the road from the ballpark to Bardo and the fact that the open riverfront bar could cause noise issues for neighboring residents.

Stewart repeatedly mentioned the operations of the Bullpen (which will no longer be an option for Nats fans, my “shoddy reporting” was apparently wrong ) to contrast his operation while arguing for longer hours that the Bullpen also had:


The first Bardo was also a topic of discussion, including an interesting statement (see pages 89-90 of transcript) that will surely endear Bardo to its Trinidad neighbors:



In the end, despite some fairly strong testimony against the bar by the ANC’s witnesses, ABRA will seems likely (in my unprofessional opinion) to grant Bardo a liquor license to serve beer and wine, but with significant conditions, including a detailed security plan, minimum staffing levels, and a 11p closing time. If it does open, expect it to be there for some time; the lot will not be developed until and when the South Capitol Bridge is demolished and replaced.