Brookland’s Finest Signs a Settlement Agreement with Neighbors

12th and Jackson Street, NE

Update on Brookland’s Finest from the Brookland Listserv:

I am very pleased to provide you with the final copy of the Settlement Agreement negotiated with Brookland’s Finest LLC on behalf of residents in the immediate vicinity of the Restaurant’s location at 3126-3128 12th Street NE. This agreement, which was signed this evening, came about as a result of a meeting of those residents held nearly a month ago, where they brought forth their concerns and proposed ways of addressing them. This led to a series of negotiations with Brookland’s Finest, in person and by email, which culminated in the attached agreement. Residents in the immediate vicinity of the Restaurant were present and provided feedback during all of these discussions. I was also well advised during this process by very competent legal counsel who are experts in DC’s alcohol regulations.

I also wanted to take a moment to commend the Brookland’s Finest team for their amazing cooperation in getting this agreement done. They listened carefully to the residents’ concerns and proposed constructive solutions.

Full agreement after the jump.


THIS AGREEMENT is made and entered into as of this _____ day of _______________, 2013 by and between Brookland’s Finest, LLC (hereinafter the “Applicant”), and the designated representative of a group of residents who live in proximity of the establishment in question (hereinafter “Residents”).

WHEREAS, Applicant having filed an application with the District of Columbia Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (hereinafter “ABC Board”) for issuance of a Retailer’s Class “C” Tavern license for the premises of 3126-3128 12th Street NE, Washington, DC 20017 (hereinafter the “Restaurant.”)

WHEREAS, in recognition of the ABC Board’s policy of encouraging parties to settle their differences by negotiating agreements, the parties hereto being desirous of entering into an agreement whereby, subject to approval of the ABC Board, Applicant will agree to adopt certain measures to address the Residents’ concerns in exchange for issuance of the ABC license without need to file a Protest.

NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the mutual covenants and undertakings memorialized herein, the parties agree as follows:

1. Noise Suppression: There shall be no loud or live music performed, nor acoustic speakers placed, outside the Restaurant or on the Summer Garden. Music from inside the Restaurant shall not be audible at any time on the opposite (northwest) corner of Jackson and 12th Streets NE. Reasonable sound attenuation methods will be utilized to minimize noise from inside the restaurant spilling outside; examples may include but are not limited to building a second set of entry doors or use of a heavy curtain separating the entrance from the seating area of the restaurant. The Restaurant’s operation shall at all times be in compliance with the D.C. Noise Control Act. Applicant will encourage employees and patrons, by posted signs or other printed notation on the front door and inside the bathrooms, and verbally as needed, to be considerate of residents in the neighborhood after departing the building, by keeping conversations and other noises at a level that will not disturb the peace, order, quiet and tranquility of residents in the enjoyment of their homes or generate a noise complaint.

2. Summer Garden: The Restaurant will undertake reasonable efforts to deploy vegetation and planters around the outside Summer Garden area. Service of food and alcoholic beverages on the outdoor Summer Garden shall at all times be for seated patrons only, who will be served by Restaurant staff. There will be no service of food or alcoholic beverages at any time to any standing patron at the bar that adjoins the Summer Garden. Patrons from inside the Restaurant shall not be permitted to bring alcoholic beverages and stand outside on the Summer Garden. Once the Summer Garden is closed each evening at the hour listed on the Applicant’s license application, all patrons shall be vacated and the “garage door” separating the Summer Garden from the interior shall be closed.

3. Dining and Kitchen. Restaurant must be maintained as a tavern offering full waiter service and a kitchen that is open until at least two hours before closing every night. Restaurant will maintain a dinner menu commensurate with the menu presented in the original business plan. The restaurant may offer “light fare” or a “light menu” before and after dinner hours.

4. Special Events: The Restaurant will not advertise alcoholic drink specials that are specifically geared towards college students.

5. Trash Pick-Up and Removal: Applicant will maintain regular trash/garbage removal service, a minimum of 3 times per week (days to be decided by owner and business necessity) only during the hours from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, from the trash and dumpster area and see that those areas are regularly kept clean. An exception will be where the city declares air quality or other environmental or weather concerns, at which point the Restaurant will be exempted from the trash pick-up hours requirement for that day. Applicant shall keep dumpster lids tightly closed and incapable of being entered by rodents, in order to limit odors and help control pest and rodent population. Applicant will conduct regular rodent and pest (insect) abatement as needed. Dumpsters are not to be visible from the street or from the next door neighbor, and Applicant must use fencing or planters with vegetation to hide them. Applicant will provide for proper removal of grease and fatty oils from the Restaurant and will not deposit grease or fatty oils in dumpsters or down drains. Bottles shall be dumped into the recycling bins outside only between the hours of 9:00 am and 10:00 pm, and they will be disposed of in bags to reduce noise.

6. Litter and Debris Removal: The Restaurant will comply with applicable D.C. laws and regulations with respect to removal of litter and debris on its premises. Applicant will encourage employees and patrons, by posted signs or other printed notation on the front door and inside the bathrooms, and verbally as needed, to be considerate of residents in the neighborhood by not littering as they are departing the premises. Applicant will petition the D.C. Department of Public Works (DPW) for a DPW-owned and maintained trash can to be placed on the corner of 12th and Jackson Streets, NE adjacent to the restaurant for the benefit of patrons leaving the restaurant, and will post a copy of that petition to the Brookland listserve ( As a service to the community, Applicant will send an employee, every morning before opening, to make best efforts to clean up litter for 25 feet beyond the restaurant property lines down Jackson and 12th Streets NE and their adjoining sidewalks, as well as the abutting alley. It is understood that only best efforts are required, and restaurant will have no liability beyond what is required by applicable D.C laws and regulations.

7. Parking and Bicycles: Applicant shall support community efforts to obtain residential zoned parking on the 3100 block of 12th Street NE and the 1000 block of Jackson Street, NE, at a minimum by writing letters of support to the appropriate government agencies and posting copies of them to the Brookland listserve. Applicant shall petition the D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT), or otherwise work with government officials, for the installation and maintenance of DDOT-approved bicycle racks at a convenient location on the Restaurant’s premises, and will post a copy of that petition or other evidence of compliance to the Brookland listserve. Applicant will encourage employees and patrons, by posted signs or other printed notation on the front door and inside the bathrooms, and verbally as needed, to be considerate of residents in the neighborhood by complying with nearby residential parking zones and regulations.

8. Smoking: Applicant will instruct patrons who are smoking to do so in a limited designated area on the 12th Street NE side of the premises without service of food or alcoholic beverages.

9. Cooperation between Applicant and Residents: Applicant and Residents’ designated representative agree to meet, as needed, to discuss any problems arising from the operation of the Restaurant, or challenges arising from its compliance with the Agreement. The Applicant and Residents both agree to work in good faith to resolve these challenges and problems.

10. Addition to License: The Residents agree not to protest, and agree to the issuance of Applicant’s license upon execution of this Agreement, provided that this Agreement is incorporated into the ABC Board’s order issuing, amending or renewing the license, which order is thereby conditioned upon compliance with this Agreement.

11. Right to Protest: The parties agree that Applicant will be given notice of any alleged violation of this Agreement, and will be afforded reasonable time to investigate and respond to any such complaint (not greater than ten (10) days). The parties agree that if reasonable discussions of violations are not resolved then any failure of the Applicant to adhere to the foregoing commitments would constitute a breach of this agreement and grounds for the Residents to petition the ABC Board for issuance of an order to Show Cause, as provided by the D.C. Regulations.

36 Comment

  • Scrillin

    Blech, NIMBYism at its finest – and before you try to say, “how is it NIMBYism when they came to an agreement and the restaurant can open???”, there shouldn’t have been this much opposition to a nice, sit-down restaurant in an area underserved by such establishments in the first place.

    This is why we don’t get nice things, people. This is why we have a reputation as a small business-unfriendly town. Big business, sure, just throw some money at the council and “community leaders”, but god forbid a nice restaurant opens in an appropriate spot.

    • I see your knee-jerk reaction, and raise you a “and what are you going to do about it?”

    • yet it sounds like you are going to get a restaurant. how hard was it for you, btw?

    • You’re right, of course, but I believe this is more than it seems. From everything I’ve read on the listservs, I think this is a masterstroke. There is now a voluntary agreement in place with the “concerned” neighbors, and this should help clear a spiteful obstacle out of the way.

      • Scrillin

        Yeah, I just don’t like the principle of having to pay fealty to the small contingent of crazy people that hold up the entire process.

        • I agree completely. What I’m saying is that I think this fealty was paid to in order to circumvent the crazy.

          There is now a registered agreement between the restaurant and the “200 footers” that should put all other disagreements to rest, now that those most affected have had their say and are satisfied.

          • It can be that easy, but it can also be extremetly difficult. The almost endless mess that hanks Oyster bar at 17th & Q went through is a great illustration of how the “Voluntary” Agreement process can cause great controversy even long after the initial agreement is settled.

          • What “it could be” said.

            There are gotchas built into this agreement.

            It is kinda like pre-registering every complaint you can think of against a place so that in the event you actually do complain you can cite the agreement which states that it is to be considered by ABC for licensing renewals and amendments (ie I will get your license revoked if you don’t make your paying customers whisper when they are outside!).

            Hopefully relations improve once they’ve moved in, but it looks like the whole thing can come crashing down in a moment as the main gotcha is that the restaurant is essentially responsible for their patrons once they disperse (and it looks like they are supposed to nag them into oblivion while on the premises). So if one idiot yells obscenities at, pisses, or litters on the wrong lawn there will be hell to pay.

            If the rats already in the neighborhood are attracted to the dumpsters as we all know they will… hell to pay, etc.

            Hopefully once it is there the people nearby will like it, but if they don’t there are a lot of ways they can mess with this restaurant.

          • dunning – actually I think that’s incorrect. since the signatories designated the representative to handle disputes regarding violations of the agreement, it would appear that he has some discretion in deciding whether and to what extent to press forward with those disputes.

        • oh noes! letting neighbors have ( a relatively small) amount of sway over what happens in their neighborhood. you want to change that? pack your neighborhood meetings.

    • +1000. obviously i dont know the whole backstory, but this seems like a laundry list of concessions. many of these would be a given for any responsible business owner, so why be obstinate enough to make someone willing to take a risk in an underserved neighborhood jump through hoops to draft a charter to do so?

      maybe im just ignorant and this is just typical rigmarole required to get a liquor license in DC

      • If all men where angels, no laws would be required. If all businesses were “responsible” then voluntary agreements wouldn’t be needed. I don’t know about this particular case, but in general VA’s are pro forma agreements to make sure that businesses conform to reasonable standards of conduct.

    • This is not NIMBYism. This is a restaurant with an outdoor seating area that proposes to be open into the night on a street corner that borders many residences. the vast majority of the residents supoprt this, but they do reasonably want some assurance this won’t have a huge negative impact on their lives. Somewhere serving alcohol late into the night could do so, so seaking an understanding with the owners is perfectly approproiate.

    • I wish we could let the NIMBYs have their own neighborhood. It would basically be an open field with a cluster of houses. They’d be thrilled.

  • I actually don’t think any of these requests are all that bad. Especially if I picture myself living next door to a bar/restaurant.

    • Scrillin

      It’s the protracted fight that bothers me – it shouldn’t be a struggle to be a responsible business owner that’s part of the community. The owners live like a block away.

      • What protracted fight. You mean the ANC not wanting to deal so a group of neighbors created an alternative. I think the whole process was about a month. That hardly seems protracted especially since the ABRA hearing was scheduled and there literally has been no delays because of the process of seeking this agreement. Note I am not talking about the ANC process which frankly is driven by one single ANC.

  • It’s worth pointing-out that the voluntary agreement has not changed the ANC’s vote to oppose the liquor license, and the ANC was in no way involved with the agreement. It is certainly possible that the ANC will now change its vote, but given the past anti-everything actions of the local ANC commissioner (Carolyn Steptoe) who orchestrated the unannounced protest vote without any opportunity for community input, I’m not overly optimistic that this voluntary agreement will avoid the ABRA dispute process.

    • I don’t see why the ANC could possibly have an issue, now that there is a strong community agreement in place. It would seem that after a month of meetings, the immediate neighborhood is now satisfied, correct?

      As Ms. Steptoe herself recently noted in The Mail, “However painful the process, ANCs must remain strong in their commitment to the public trust and their constituents.”. The constituents have now spoken, and I would think the path is clear.

      • I also don’t see why the ANC could have an issue now that this agreement is in place. However, I abandoned hope long ago that Ms. Steptoe is swayed by reason or logic. Hopefully, a few of the other commissioners will rethink their position.

        • Yeah, I agree. I was trying to be sarcastic. I’m sure Steptoe will fight until the bitter end, and probably add some new blood signs to her porch. Apparently she’s refusing to reveal agenda details for the ANC 5B meeting coming up next Wednesday.

  • Why do they call it a voluntary agreement when there is nothing voluntary about it? It seems pretty one sided.. You do what we say or you don’t open..

  • I think a lot of people don’t know the back story to this. What happened was the owners tried to have a meeting with the ANC rep, after it became clear that the majority of the people supported the restaurant, she ended the meeting abrubtly and refused to engage with anyone. She then had the full ANC vote on protesting the license by introducing it as new business at the ANC meeting thus not letting anyone even know it was going to be voted ahead of time. The anc agreed to protest based on a petition signed by 30 people, and still no one even knows where these 30 people live, some suggest they may be members of the nearby churches that don’t even live in the area.

    So a group of nearby residence organized themselves and working with the owners came to this agreement that they will try to get as many residents living within 3 blocks of the restaurant sign. I will sign this even though i woudl like for less restrictions.

    I think this is a great template to use on how neighbors can go around ANC that do not really represent their communities. The ANCs are not the only group that can be involved. Neighbors can organize to advocate for things they believe in.

  • KSB

    I had my doubts that anything could be resolved and that it was done relatively quickly (thinking about Menomale here) is a huge relief. I’m of the opinion that Carolyn Steptoe WAY overstepped her bounds on this one and hope her constituents remember this. My family and I will be walking over to patronize this establishment quite frequently – looking forward to its opening!

  • has there been a case where an establishment didn’t get a liquor license because of lack of anc support?

  • I’ve never heard of an ANC rep doing anything remotely useful. Busybody obstructionists, the lot of them. Wish we could abolish the whole body.

    • my anc has certainly had it’s problems, but it’s also supported abra applications, forced VA’s will problematic liquor stores, denied curbcuts that would limit parking spots. via anc meetings a neighborhood watch had been established, orange hat patrols were once organized ( though less needed these days). developers reported projects to request zoning variances that are sometimes approved sometimes denied. i find them somewhere between useful and useless.

  • do the residents that are opposed to this really think that BF’s is going to transform 12th st into the next Adams Morgan? I live a few blocks away from the proposed spot and i think it will be a fairly quiet joint. I don’t see people from all across the district, VA, & MD flocking to this one place in brookland and disturbing an entire neighborhood.

    • did anyone actually say that?

      • they say things like “if you want restaurants you should’ve moved to cleveland park” and “a noisy bar is a noisy bar”

        • and there are stuff like this “4. Special Events: The Restaurant will not advertise alcoholic drink specials that are specifically geared towards college students.”

          Do they think it’s gonna turn into the roadhouse or somethin?

Comments are closed.