Bloomingdale’s Big Bear Cafe Faces ANC Opposition for a Liquor License

Ah so maybe this is why Bloomingdale has been waiting so long to get a neighborhood bar. Though in fairness Big Bear is seeking a restaurant’s license. Big Bear Cafe (1st and R Streets, NW) is already a hugely successful (in certain circles apparently) and crowded coffee shop. The Housing Complex has a great write up of last night’s ANC meeting in which Big Bear’s liquor license application was discussed:

Big Bear asked that commissioners vote to support a stipulated license that would turn into a regular restaurant license in 45 days unless someone lodged a protest. The café’s representative, Lenora Yerkes, presented a petition with 600 signatures, endorsements from immediate neighbors, and many promises to keep noise and disruption down.

But a few audience members rose in opposition. Wanting to hear more, the commission ultimately voted almost unanimously—with John Salatti strongly objecting and Stuart Davenport, the Café’s owner, recusing himself—to table a vote until their next meeting.

In the two hours of debate that intervened, the fundamental dynamics at play in Bloomingdale were plainly evident. Big Bear is asking for the first restaurant license in an area that’s had only liquor stores, and longstanding residents fear the café could just be the first droplet in a wave of similar establishments.

Somewhere ‘dcdirewolf’ is dancing in the streets…

116 Comment

  • big bear is a huge asset to the community, and even though i’m not a coffee drinker, i do happen to enjoy their brew. having said that, is it just me or does anyone else find their service staff to be a snobby? i’ve had several experiences there where the staff acted a bit holier than thou. strange for such a neighborhood joint.

    • yep. “Coffee with an Attitude”

    • They’ve never been anything but cordial to me.

    • I love walking to Big Bear for a bagel and an iced latte. Service is unusually long, it is normally difficult to find a spot to sit, but I also respect their efforts as an independent coffee shop.

      I am sure they don’t perceive it as an attitude, more a hipster aloofness, if anything. Could they be a bit more bubbly? Yes. I think even more disconcerting is the sea of rude laptop people who scorn you for talking aloud. The customers are way more attitude-y than the staff.

      Not a good place to have a conversation; it’s like a study hall in there.

    • No it’s not. It’s a huge asset for the hipsters in the area, not the “community”. Make no mistake, when the hispters move or grow up, this place will fold.

      • There’s a steady, endless stream of young hipsters to replace those that grow up, remove their eyebrow piercing and join the workforce.

        I wouldn’t worry about clientele.

      • I work for a major contractor in a government office, am well out of college and grad school, own a condo in the neighborhood, and really like Big Bear. Good to know I’m still a “hipster.”

        • What are the chances you live there in 10 years? Bloomingdale is a nice place with families and it has been displaced by scum, including you.

          • Wow, way to be a asshole. Seriously.

            Really, no need for that here. Or anywhere.

          • —:
            Wow. . . That’s pretty obnoxious.

            Apparently my family, in our thirties and forties, and who own a house, have steady professional jobs, oh, and kids, go to community meetings, shovel our elderly neighbors’ steps in the snow, and *shocker* patronize Big Bear regularly, are not part of the nice old Bloomingdale with families, but are scum?

            Just wow.

          • Your response speaks for itself. Thank you.

          • Where did Bloomingdale get displaced to? Have they moved it to NE?

  • Are the long-time residents opposed to any an all changes, or do they just really enjoy the liquor storescape? I don’t agree with either stance, personally, but not having been at the meeting, I am curious about the specifics of the opposition.

    • It’s second-hand (friends who live in Bloomingdale) but in the past the problem usually stems from people who try to block ALL changes to the neighborhood. If you click through on the link provided to the write-up of the meeting, it sounds like that’s what’s happening again. (My favorite is the idea that Big Bear getting a restaurant license will lead the way to Bloomingdale turning into Adams Morgan. Riiiiiiiiiiiight.)

      • Not Adams Morgan, think more along the lines of Wonderland. The current place works fine as a coffee shop, but they do not have the kitchen space for a full dinner, so this will just be a place to drink.

        Unfortunately, given the hip/cool factor it’s just not a quaint cafe where you would sip wine.

        • No, Wonderland was not cited by the critics on the ANC or the two (2) people who showed up to complain. They specifically said that allowing Big Bear to serve alcohol would lead to Bloomingdale becoming Adams Morgan, a ridiculous charge that deserves not much more than contempt.

  • I don’t know why BDale needs another food serving establishment. Don’t they have “Chinese” chicken take-out joints already? Who is going to consume all that food?

    • Don’t worry, they won’t be serving that much dinner food, so Full Yum won’t lose its customer base ;)

  • Not dancing in the streets, I don’t live in Bloomingdale, or near it really, and I think it’s up to their own local community to decide what they want or don’t want. I am encouraged that it seems the ANC is willing to consider a range of opinions in an orderly fashion and not just railroad through the license. My opposition has generally been to more bars on 11th Street that are turning the quiet, residential street into an entertainment corridor and cater to one economic demographic representing a minority in the neighborhood. I don’t hate bars and restaurants in general and have no real opinion on Bloomingdale.

    • Aren’t the ANC’s at least partially at fault for creating “entertainment corridors”? If bars were allowed to spread themselves into neighborhoods, maybe the noise would be dispersed with them.

    • We are not so much a minority in the neighborhood anymore, not to mention the majority of the tax base.

      • Well, around 11th Street, can’t speak for Bloomingdale, most of the newer residents seem to be renters, and mixed in with working class renters, with mostly (but not all) old timers as owners, so I dispute the tax base claim. I do understand that gentrification is a foregone conclusion, so eventually, the yuppies and hipsters will be a majority, but I don’t think that’s the case just yet. I don’t have the numbers to prove it, going on observation here.

    • The opponents of the license on the ANC do not live in the Bloomingdale neighborhood, either: and nowhere near Bloomingdale. Ward 5 is pretty big.

      I don’t see why we can’t have a restaurant (or two) in a place like Bloomingdale. Isn’t that what neighborhoods are supposed to have?

  • Sounds like a gentrification battle to me. It’s sort of funny that they are worried about late night trouble when the hood is already soaking in liquor.
    (It’s OK to have ‘established’ drunks roaming the streets, but not yuppie or university ones!)

    I think the true test of the validity of this argument is the opening of a late night frozen yogurt shop.

    Future Post Headline:
    “Sugared -up yuppie freaks out and goes on fro-yo fueled spree of late-night violence in Bloomindale.”

  • Why does a coffee shop need a liquor license?

    Starbucks doesn’t serve liquor…

    Or is this another end run around to establish a more lucrative bar?

    • is starbucks your only model for a coffeeshop?
      did you ever go to XandO? it was a coffeeshop with a bar.

      the model at big bear won’t produce a crazy bar scene. look at the prices. they will have high quality but expensive beer and wine. few will be able to saddle up to the bar and drink all night.

      and if they do, so what?

      big bear has always been very open with their business plans and the hope for a liquor license has been in the game since the beginning. they’ve been the absolute most community oriented business in all of bloomingdale. no business has done more.

      • As is SOVA….but the question is whether it is just another end run around the bar license hurdles. It’s not a new game…start as a ‘restaurant’, be a good citizen for a year, then apply for a liquor license and suddenly the food menu goes to crap and it’s impossible to revoke the liquor license. Neither SOVA nor Tryst have outdoor seating though. Big Bear is way to small NOT to have outdoor seating. There are legitimate reasons to have a liquor license. However, the ‘coffee shop’ closes at 6pm. Are you going to extend the hours? Are you going to allow patio seating until 10pm with drinks if you change the hours? How is that noise going to affect the neighbors?
        There are legitimate reasons to oppose this type of establishment in a residential area.

        So before everyone jumps on the anti-gentrification bandwagon I thought I’d ask some fair questions.

        • The way Big Bear is situated in the neighborhood and the model they are looking to follow seems very low-key, not that different from Room 11. There is plenty of indoor seating for what they are trying to accomplish-small, cozy spot for a glass of wine or a nice beer. NOT a “let’s go hit the bars” bar.

          Outdoor seating would be along R St, with the park directly south across the street and neighbors across an alley to the west. Neighbors to the north and east should not be impacted by any noise. I’m sure they could attempt some noise reduction measures. Staying open until 11pm during the week and 12am on the weekends, the way they are situated on the block, should not bother anyone.

        • standard protocol is to always protest a liquor license. that is the only way to get a voluntary agreement ( note irony). its virtually how it happens in every case in dc residential hoods. are their exceptions? anyone know?

          but big bear isn’t seeking a tavern license, so the issue of an overrun bar is not valid.

          • I agree, 11 and 12 would be a pretty standard voluntary agreement for their proximity to their neighbors and lack of neighbors to the south.

          • Until recently, all the Dupont south/”Midtown” bars on 19th/M/Connecticut liquor licenses were not protested. The local ANC now officially calls the area “Club Central” (haha terrible) and now has or is about to create policy to protest any renewals that change hours or occupancy levels.

  • New Hampy — Agreed. I live a block and a half from Big Bear and rarely go there because of the attitude. I appreciate what the place has done for the neighborhood, but won’t patronize a place where EVERY SINGLE PERSON I’ve dealt with has acted as though it is incredibly inconvenient for them to take my money.

  • There must be somehow to help this process along. It seems like the old guard establishment in Bloomingdale/Eckington are prepared to sink both Boundary Stone and Big Bear just because they are uncomfortable with a little change.

    Can’t a compromise be brokered? Where we get a limited number of establishments with liquor licenses, but there are other rules enacted that prevent the type of environment developing like Adams Morgan or U Street… like no new construction of big condo buildings, several different commercial tenants in the same building, etc etc…

    What can residents do? When I emailed my ANC Rep about a street light, I didnt even get a response.

    I dont feel like any of the ANC reps care about what I think, not even my local one.

    • saf

      Email, sure. Also, show up at the meetings. Talk to people. Bring it up in the community comment period.

      Visibility helps.

  • Does anyone honestly believe this will have a credible dinner service? There’s quite a leap from toaster, sandwich press, and small cooktop for eggs to dinner. The half hour bagels don’t speak well towards that.

  • Look, people against this and presumably those who will oppose Boundary Stone are not against it because they really fear crowds of drunks roaming the streets or Bloomingdale becoming some kind of Adams Morgan style nightlife mecca.

    They are against “gentrification,” plain and simple, and any establishment that strives for a level of service higher than bullet-proof glass takeout will face similar opposition.

    • This is exactly what is going on. I laughed my ass of when I read the Ad-Mo comparison. Even if there were enough commercial spaces for similar volume of bars, there wouldn’t be enough patrons! I am glad I live JUST inside the Ward 2 line because we have more hope for neighborhood establishments à la Veranda on 11th…

  • It seems to be simply a racial issue, some black residents are doing whatever they can to waylay what they consider the advancement of “The Plan”. It will take a long time to work out and won’t be civil until the older generation dies or is incapacitated, unfortunately.

    • its not race. it is the difference between people who like the neighborhood as it is, and people that want more business.

      that desire isn’t based on race or age, or even income.
      you downgrade the conversation by sullying it as racist.

      • I disagree and feel I’ve got the years of experience in DC to support myself. But hey, we all get to vote and that’s how we can express ourselves. I just feel ignoring the obvious racial undertones is naive and ultimately self-defeating in that you’re arguing the wrong issue in the wrong way. Anyways, best of luck to all, I don’t live there and will soon abandon DC for greener pastures.

        • whatever.
          i’ve live in the neighborhood. i actually know the people involved and also have years of experience in dc. but i’m sure you know better. so leave already and take your wisdom with you. we don’t need it.

        • yes, i agree that it is ass backwards to ignore the blatant racial issues here. anyone who disagrees that there are definite race biases in effect needs to wake up out of their stupor. youre only adding to the problem, and guess what? ‘they’ dont like you as an apologist any more than they would as a realist.

          • lol.
            “they”?
            who exactly am i an apologist for again?
            and exactly how does bringing racism into the conversation further anything?

          • omg, like totally.
            ‘they’ meaning the people with the mentality that blight is better than white.
            you are (or at least come off as) an apologist for the group of people that ‘they’ dont like or want in their neighborhood.
            bringing racism into the conversation doesnt really further anything other than understanding the situation. i am trying to explain to you that racism is a huge factor in the whole idea of keeping out new business. understand?

          • you sound like you don’t know this situation, or much about bloomingdale.
            read this:
            http://blog.inshaw.com/2010/05/big-bear-and-liquor-license-concerns.html
            also, there were not racists stopping the abra approval of the future baraki, but there were neighbors that protested. again, protesting a liquor license is par for the course.

            while you pretend to be wise, your bitching about racism is harmful and divisive.
            this is nothing like the bebar or queen of sheba conflict. this is all about neighbors trying to shape their community.

  • It’s interesting looking at the different comments for support comparing Boundry Stone and Big Bear. The only difference that I can tell is that the guys opening Boundry Stone appear to be a bit more open regarding their plans. Openhouse, menu, etc than Big Bear. Even though BB’s liquor license intentions were in the works for a while, getting community support almost appears to be an afterthought or perhaps assumed

    • Um, where have you been? Big Bear has been considering seeking a liquor license for ages! No, it was not a secret at all. There was no reason to publicly seek approval from the various community organizations, though, until the licensing procedure was already underway. At which point Big Bear approached all of the neighboring community groups, and the ANC. And the ANC kept putting Big Bear off.

      Boundary Stone is a NEW business – you have been hearing about it since they decided to go public. Do you think they had not been mulling over the process for at least a year before they went public (um, trust me, they were). Big Bear is an established business. Tell me exactly how they would go about holding an open house? Doing so with alcohol would immediately tank the liquor license application, correct?

      As for the menu, Big Bear has stated that it intends to have a small, constantly changing, locally sourced food menu. How exactly should it publish that? Just because Big Bear does not intend to be your average cookie cutter restaurant doesn’t mean you shouldn’t support it. Indeed, that is a reason to support it even more!

  • Keep shooting down new bars and restaurants, Bloomingdale. That just means more for the 11th st party zone!

  • houseintherear

    I just want to clarify that the problem last night was not with residents opposing the BigBear liquor license, but with the ANC’s reaction to the entire issue.

    The residents who had oppositions at last night’s meeting were a few young-ish people who live right by BigBear, and were voicing their concerns over noise and parking in respectful ways in the appropriate venue.

    Unfortunately, many (not all) of the commissioners took it upon themselves to make grandiose speeches about “back in the day” and “we’ll become Adams Morgan”.

    The meeting was an example of what democracy has become in this city, and it needs to stop NOW.

    • I never have understood the ANC model. It’s a farcical notion of governance — no one runs for it, no one goes to the meetings, and yet the members of the ANC have almost the single-handed ability to hold the rest of their 30,000 or more fellow Ward residents hostage to whatever peculiar notion of “community” suits them, all while hiding behind the veil of “democracy.” I can understand the generational ethos from which it emerged, but in 2010, it’s hard not to look at a case like this and either (a) audibly sigh, (b) laugh out loud, or (c) cry.

      • Actually it works quite well to deal with neighborhood issues and frees your city council person from this kind of issue. Our local ANC is well run and when important meetings come up, people show up. But, you actually have to get involved…. You can get elected on 40 friend showing up, so rather than whining about the failures of democracy, you could just participate.

        Without going to the meetings, everyone is taking BB management’s portrayal of the events at face value. Seeing as how the ANC hasn’t piped into this discussion and that BB has an obvious financial interest in playing up their side, I’m not sure you can assume that their portrayed position is 100% accurate.

        While no one likes drunks on the street, some people prefer the drunks they know, to a public bar full of people from Gtown, because it’s the next “big thing” in DC.

  • First Toque petition, then Veranda’s patio, now this. I live in Shaw. I love Shaw. I really feel the animosity lately. I guess tomorrow the the possibility of the coffee/deli place on P and 3th will be stomped out permanently because of building permits? Jeessh!

  • There seems to be a disconnect between what many of the older black community things about a bar/restaurant and what the newer residents think about it. I’ve seen numerous comments from older residents who fear drunks roaming the streets or drunk people from the bar hanging out in the neighborhood. Yeah, cause the drunks in the park across the street are going to buy a $6 beer at Big Bear. NO, they are going to buy a $1.99 single at the liquor store across the street.

    Also, Florida ave is right there, its not really a super quite location to start with.

    • houseintherear

      But THEY are not the ones protesting at meetings, this is the big problem… As I just wrote above, last night’s protestors had legitimate concerns and were young-ish professionals who live right next to BigBear. They were worried about noise from music events, and parking. Very legitimate concerns.

      The people who voiced concerns about “drunks roaming the streets”, etc at last night’s meeting were the COMMISSIONERS WHO DON’T LIVE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD. The protestors worried about “drunks roaming the streets” at the Bloomingdale Civic Association a couple weeks ago were the ASSOCIATION LEADERS who were speaking ON BEHALF OF ABSOLUTELY NO ONE, because no complaints from residents had been lodged up to that point, only petitions of support.

      Big, huge, horrible disconnect here. A number of elected leaders are without a doubt abusing their power at the community and ward levels. This needs to STOP.

      (YES I’M YELLING, I’M FAIRLY ENRAGED AT THIS POINT, SORRY GUYS.)

  • I also suspect that a lot of the opposition to new bars and restaurants in various gentrifying neighborhoods in DC comes from the fact that the old timers know that these new places are not for them. Sure, they would never be turned away or overtly discouraged from using them, but with few exceptions, they are designed, priced and marketed toward the gentrifiers. Nothing illegal about that of course, but can you blame people who live in the neighborhood from opposing places that they aren’t really there to serve them? Seems natural to me.

    • Seriously. If someone tried to open a go-go club on Connecticut Avenue in Cleveland Park, can you imagine how crazy-insane the overwhelmingly older, white residents would go?

    • So the answer is to block it?

      I agree with your suspicion — I think so much of what happens in cases like this gets back to a sense of cultural ownership/belonging in the neighborhood. But there’s a flipside to that, too — all these hipsters, young professionals, etc. have equal rights to be in the neighborhood and to have businesses that they want to patronize, too. “Back in the day” is, to me, euphemism for “before you were here.” And that’s an indefensible position from where I stand — there’s no litmus test that should be applied to who is part of the community.

  • The neighborhood old-timers will probably succeed in blocking Big Bear’s liquor license, because frankly, the recently-arriving yupsters are not the most motivated people, as a group. While many long time residents have years of experience in having to fight for their ideals, the younger newcomers are mostly of a class who are used to having what they want handed to them, and who would sooner sit around in a coffee shop, complaining about the lack of bars in their neighborhood on their blogs, than show up en-masse at an ANC meeting.

    • I am a ‘young person’ who chose to move to Bloomingdale, and have ‘recently-arriving’ friends in the neighborhood that work in international development, environmental protection, and volunteer around the city. As a group, many people you may assume are ‘yupsters’ actually follow local politics, care about this neighborhood, and have had to work for what they got. Stop generalizing and start actually talking to people.

    • So, Jeff Comeblood, how is going through the difficult task of negotiating the Draconian DC bureaucracy to petition for a liquor license “not doing anything about it?” How is indulging the kind of entrepreneurial spirit that can revitalize and energize neighborhoods “not doing anything about it?” Seems like this very discussion is exhibit A that someone actually is trying to do something about it, since we wouldn’t be having it otherwise.

    • Good then, I hope you all prove me wrong, because I’m certainly in favor of this sort of development in neighborhoods like Bloomingdale.

  • Jeff Comeblood – we’ll see. There were between 40-50 people there last night supporting Big Bear, the real test will be seeing how many show up at Catholic next week.

  • For those on the Eckington listserv, Stu Davenport just emailed about this issue. If he is ok with it and agrees that tabling the vote is the right move, then shouldn’t the residents respect that? I agree with houseintherear that the issues from R street residents were legitimate.

  • Hey Pigtails, a go-go would not succeed on upper Connecticut, but Big Bear with a liquor liscense will. Its fear of change (read GENTRIFICATION) thats driving this issue-if you build it the hipsters will come; like they are not already on the way. This is why I love DC- what fun would it be if there wasn’t any friction?

    • Hipster is a slang term that first appeared in the 1940s, and was revived in the 1990s and 2000s often to describe types of young, recently-settled urban middle class adults

      trust the wiki!

  • I’m completely for any establishment where we can walk to and sit down for breakfast/lunch/dinner and meet more of our neighbors. Big Bear was just one of the reasons I choose to live here, along with friendly people who acknowledge you when you’re out walking, the Farmer’s market, Windows, Timor, and close proximity to Metro.

    As for the comments about Big Bear staff being aloof/rude. Really? If you feel that you are getting poor service, or someone is being rude, speak up to the management. I’m sure they want to be profitable and have repeat customers. I’m there at least once a week and I’ve never had a rude experience. Sure I’ve had to wait in line to order, wait for food and coffee, but so what. Sorry folks, it’s not Micky D’s and you shouldn’t go there with the intention of being out the door in under 3 minutes.

    What I’m not a fan of is having liquor and convenience stores making up the majority of businesses in Bloomingdale that seem to survive on selling singles and add ZERO value to the community.

    • +1

    • Actually I just decided to take my money to sova. Two strikes and you’re out.

    • The staff IS aloof, and service is NOT fast. I know that, and I still go to Big Bear 3+ times/week. I frequent it as much as I do because I appreciate a small, independent, unique and pretty green business in my neighborhood. It adds immense value to the community.

      It is still has it’s quirks! Not the best place to go for lunch with a gaggle of loud girlfriends… I’m usually in and out because it is so quiet and chill in there that I feel like I am an interruption!

  • the main concerns were parking

    the church goes on sunday create ridiculous parking issues for me. do we close down the church? they cross the street anywhere they want, they congregate on the corners pre/post services.

    all in motion to close all the churches in bloomingdale say aye

    • Prince Of Petworth

      We had an epic discussion on church parking here:

      http://www.princeofpetworth.com/2008/07/friday-question-of-the-day-60/

      • it was one of the comments made during the ANC meeting. the link to the post is a bit old, shouldn’t this issue be revisited?

        • Why revisit it? Nothing will change – no politician will ever go against the churchies on parking and risk losing votes, even if it is very few votes since most churchgoers live in MD. It’s the perception.

    • I live right next to St. Martins and have been double-parked in on a Sunday on a number of occassions. However, the issue of parking reminds me a lot of the discussions during the snowstorm, and ultimately it’s public parking. The double parking and parking on bridges is a little ridiculous, but it’s only a few hours a week, not steady state.

      • im sure everyone who lives 2 blocks away from big bear will get into their hummer and drive a block to park right across the street.

        if the parking is public, then one has no control over it. and should be treated as one of the elements
        stopping business from expanding because of that is a bit silly, don’t you think?

        • I was responding to both of your comments. Regarding the Big Bear parking issue, this just reminds me of the open debate over protecting parking spots that someone has shoveled out. Ultimately it’s just two different opinions with neither side compromising. Regarding the church parking, I agree with you that it’s hypocritical; however, I do not live on R street. I personally get frustrated with church goers blocking my car in, but not to the point that I would actively lobby against it. I don’t think Big Bear can be connected to the church issue. Are you saying that the same residents lobbying against the parking issue that Big Bear will create can’t also be ok with the church street parking issue?

          • as i said, if you don’t have a drive way, the fate of your parking is not in your control, whether its churches, restaurants, or tourists.

  • Demographics is destiny.

  • I would just like a place that is within close walking distance to sit down and have a beer with friends after work. Is that too much to ask Bloomingdale?

  • I’m in the process of moving to Bloomingdale, I’m really excited about the progress the neighborhood is taking on. Just enough places to go and hang out, but it’s not U Street.

    Honestly – looking though the comments on this story it appears the majority of the negative comments come from people that want to hold the city back from progression to a GREAT World Capitol.

    And, so what if the hipsters frequent places like this. At least they have the balls to move into the more “scary” parts of the city and work on making it better. More power to them!

    I support this as well as Boundary Stone!

    • Painting everyone who doesn’t agree with you as trying to hold back the city is kind of lame don’t you think?

      It shows a certain level of disrespect.

    • is this really still considered a scary part of the city?

      anyway, i have lots of neighbors here that do not want bars in bloomingdale. these are hardly people that want to hold back progression in the city. but they are people who like bloomingale right now, for what it is, and they want to hold things together. some of them are the same people that liked things as they were before crack hit these streets, and they held things together then too. they fought crime, they fought developers tearing down our beautiful architecture here. they established networks to watch the neighborhood. many have renovated their homes, they promote progressive causes in the city such as dc gov economic transparency, pro gay marriage, etc… they are not anti gentrification.

      but -some- of these folks like it that the people walking around in the neighborhood actually live in the neighborhood. they like that they can easily go outside the neighborhood to drink and party, then they come home to their neighbors. bloomingdale is and has been a relatively quiet area. some are very slow and cautious to embrace a change away from that.

      to call these people names, and to say they are anti-progress is deeply ignorant.
      newer residents that haven’t established a deep connection and lifestyle here simply don’t understand this. we have been used to going elsewhere to go out for generations. and we are used to a tight knit local community.

      now, i’m totally for all these potential restaurants and bars to open. bring it. i love it. and lots and lots of long time residents are for it. but when you dis those against it, you dis my community, and that’s more important to me that a nearby watering hole. i’d take my neighborhood over an area with bars anyday. thats why most of us live here. so don’t insult people that have different opinions. try to figure out where they are coming from. it’s not worth destroying our neighborhood over. your power to vote is more dignified than your power to insult others.

  • OCrrect me if I am wrong, but haven’t the Big Bear owners themselves been in opposition to other places garnering a liquor license? Too funny.

    I personally can’t stand the place or the pretentiousness/segregation that goes on there.

    • Um, you are very wrong. At no time have the owners of Big Bear been in opposition to other places obtaining a liquor license.

      And, um, what segregation?

    • Any segregation at Big Bear is self-selected. Several of the neighborhood characters filter in and out, get a glass of water, use the facilities, shoot the sh*t, whatever, it doesn’t seem to bother them or other patrons. I’ve never seen anybody hustled out of the door for not “belonging”. Some folks might FEEL like they aren’t welcome, but doesn’t mean they AREN’T.

      People can sling veiled arrows of racism on both sides of this issue all day. Or they can do something productive and sit down and talk about sense of community, inclusiveness, class struggle/identity, conformity, economic impact, zoning, politicking and the million other things that tie into the big G word. I see precious little of the latter on either side and it’s saddening, especially when it’s coming from elected ANC leaders.

  • I live 3 blocks from Big Bear. People worried about hipster scum should go out more. hipsters aren’t the ones selling drugs on the corner of my block. Since when are fast food and liquor stores the sign of a healthy, happy community?

    “the first droplet in a wave of similar establishments.”

    We can only hope.

  • “hipsters aren’t the ones selling drugs on the corner of my block.”

    No, but they are the ones buying them.

    • I watch the dealers who stand on the corner of my block constantly and I have never seen any of my neighbors patronize them.

  • 12 May 2010 3:16 PM | Anonymous —

    Don’t agree with that one bit. I currently live on a block with a known drug house and the people that are buying the drugs are NOT hipsters! I bet we can all agree for the most part “they” sell themselves – and people that come in from MD and VA.

    ANYWAYS! This is distracting from the CHANGE and PROSPERITY that the city is undergoing.

    If you want – poor, fast food filled, trash lined streets – I guess it’s time you move out of DC.

    • If by prosperity you mean high income levels, I think the economy is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. I expect poverty to remain in the city for a long time, sadly.

  • I don’t know the cafe but the ANC has entirely too much power.

  • It’s good that ANCs have power; the only problem is an ANC that may not be responsive to the neighborhood. Over here, the 16th St. Heights / Petworth ANC (4C) is fantastic about finding a balance between taking action to end nuisances and supporting local businesses.

    The only difference between a good and bad ANC is the commissioners. Frank Winstead (the anti-ping-pong guy in Forest Hills – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Winstead ) nearly sailed to re-election two years ago because nobody ran against him until the last minute.

    The ANCs are up for election this year–know how your commissioner votes, and run for ANC if you want a change from the current one.

  • What do you think a business would do if it started clearing an extra $300 a night serving alcohol but along with the $$ comes noise complaints or occasional public urination / puking by patrons. They would of course stop serving alcohol right? (Not picking on Big Bear) I think residents should be concerned but reasonable.

    If people are claiming that new businesses consistently face backlash from older residents then at some point you would think these new business owners would get out in front of these matters reach out to the neighbors / ANC beforehand.

    captcha “sketchy industries”

    • Ok, I don’t know why every time there is a liquor license discussion public urination comes up. Let me tell you, my NEIGHBORS who are sitting on their stoop, or standing on the corner, with their beer are the ones PUBLICLY urinating on the side of my house every night. My NEIGHBORS are the people having sex against my car on my parking pad in the alley, and leaving their used condoms, cigarette butts and roaches on my property.

      I don’t think customers of Big Bear will be the culprits of an issue that already exists. Has anyone ever seen the sidewalk outside of Guilford Liquor on 5th? It is literally paved with bottle caps. People who are opting to illegally drink outside tend to be the problem in terms of public urination, not customers of an establishment with a restroom.

      • I was thinking of the houses around wonderland.

        • And what does the Wonderland have to do with Big Bear? The Wonderland is a bar of the down-and-dirty watering hole variety. I love it but like I said before, Big Bear is clearly going to be more like Room 11 (I doubt they have problems with customers publicly urinating or puking).

          It is safe to say the clientele will be a bit more mature and won’t differ much from the coffee drinkers during the day, who are quiet and laid back.

          hahaha, my captcha is “verve that”

  • I feel bad for people in bloomingdale. I love having my local bar to meet friends at. Last night I just met my friend at Looking Glass Lounge for a couple beers. The local bar a valuable community asset.

  • Valuable asset or nice amenity?
    I reject the notion that you cannot have a nice neighborhood without having a place serving alcohol. It may not be what I envision as the ideal urban model but please do not claim you NEED bars.

    • Yes – we NEED bars. Or at least alcohol. It is the foundation of civilization. Really – historically – look it up. From the dawn of civilization in the Nile delta to British sea power to the colonization of North America (OK – maybe not the best thing depending on your viewpoint) Alcohol made it happen. When coffee & coffee houses came along things got even more interesting – i.e. enlightenment etc.

      So a coffee house/bar is always the best of all possible worlds.

  • I am not trivializing what is going on around your home but are you saying serving alcohol will not potentially attract a new clientele? Are you saying in an establishment serving alcohol people will not potentially get drunk? Like I said I am not picking on Big Bear I am saying any business would ‘inconvenience’ their neighbors a little if it means the bottom line will look a lot better.

      • ugh, I had a long thing typed out and I lost it.

        I don’t think that there will be a whole lot of new clientele generated by the natural progression that will take place when Big Bear adds a couple craft beers and some wine. This will not attract drunken rowdies. I will probably put the baby in the stroller and walk over for a glass of wine on the patio in the evening. This isn’t a bar on U or AdMo and people who are looking for that experience will go to U or AdMo not BB.

        The people that will be drinking at Big Bear are also not the same people that pee on the side of my house. Or, the people drinking and playing dice on any old corner in this neighborhood, for that matter.

        I believe that in a community as small and conscientious as Bloomingdale, business owners place enough value on the community to not be 100% driven by the bottom line.

    • And if the “bottom line” looks better, that means there are more tax dollars flowing to support all those demanding city services.

  • Given the huge response to this post, I can only assume that those who are passionate about this issue will respond to the ANC Chairwoman’s invitation to send her letters or emails in support of or against this request. The email address is in the Housing Complex piece linked above. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
    As pointed out above and in the responses to the Housing Complex thread, some neighbors raised legitimate concerns about noise and parking. Those concerns should not be overlooked. I’m not saying they should control the decision, but they should not be ignored. If I lived next door to a coffeshop that planned to become a bar, I’d definitely be concerned. People often see the NIMBYism in those who oppose certain kinds of development in their neighborhoods but at the same time fail to see their own form of NIMBYism – favoring development because it won’t be in their backyard and they won’t have to deal with the brunt of the negative effects.

  • protesting the license is not really the same thing as blocking it outright. it’s part of the negotiating.

  • just to make it easier for everyone – Anita Bonds (ANC Chairwoman) e-mail addresses (according to Housing Complex article) are
    Anita Bonds e-mail address is

    5c01@anc.dc.gov

    and

    dcbonsa@yahoo.com

    captcha “designed dreamed”

  • i support big bear cafe getting a liquor license but do have concerns of what may happen if they sell the place. what happens then? is the initial anc protesting of a liquor license the only way to ensure a valid “voluntary agreement”?

  • the vote on this is tonight if anyone wishes to attend

    Time:
    7:30pm – 9:00pm
    Location:
    Catholic University – Pryzbyla Center
    Street:
    620 Michigan Avenue

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