Amsterdam Falafel Soft Opening 14th Street Location March 23rd, Without a Liquor License…For Now

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1830 14th Street, NW

“Dear PoPville,

Looks like significant progress has been made at Amsterdam Falafel on 14th. Any news on an opening date?”

Good news and bad news – another reader writes:

“I recently read on the website for the Shaw Dupont Citizen’s Alliance — the group behind the failed proposal for a liquor license moratorium on 14th Street — that the group has unanimously voted to protest a liquor license for the Amsterdam Falafelshop, which as you have reported is set to open at 1830 14th Street. When I contacted the owner to express my dismay and offer my support, he sounded genuinely perplexed by the decision, noting that the ANC has not only not protested but affirmatively supports the new restaurant and explaining that the only alcohol he plans on serving is Dutch beer. The protest hearing is April 9, and the owner would appreciate any letters in support of his application. In the meantime, he will open by only serving soft drinks. He’s planning a soft opening for March 23.

Apparently the SDCA is living up to its promise to protest every new liquor license application of any kind within its boundaries in response to its loss on the proposed liquor license moratorium, which is outrageous because the community could not have been more clear about its wishes. In any event, I write to invite all supporters of Amsterdam Falafelshop to either attend the ABRA protest hearing on April 9 or send letters or send letters of support.

The ABRA hearing is at 10:00 am on April 9 at the Reeves Center, 2000 14th Street NW, Fourth Floor, Washington DC 20009. Those who cannot attend the hearing in person can write ABRA in support of the applicant at abra@dc.gov, referencing Licence Number ABRA-093449.”

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18 Comment

  • hope they hire some people who are a little more focused on service then the Adams Morgan location. I know its a falafel shop but I have given that one on 18th many chances and every time it is a S*#tshow.

    • The nature of your beef is pretty vague. I mean, it’s self-service takeout. Place your order, pick it up, add condiments and grab a table. If you have a specific complaint, then, it would be helpful to provide details and a substantive description, not just a vague complaint criticizing the service.

      Personally, I’ve eaten there many times and have never had an issue with the staff, nor have I found the service lacking for this type of restaurant.

  • sigh… when will dcra rename protest. Everyone always thinks protest means the community wants no liquor license when in reality its the ONLY vehicle for an agreement between the business and neighborhood to get recorded. (ie, no outdoor music in residential neighborhoods after 10pm on a Monday).

    Basically the steps for getting a license are:

    1. apply for a license (only option) of whatever class you want.
    2. community registers a protest in order to add stipulations to the default rules of that liquor class.
    3. community/business discuss and a voluntary agreement is added.
    4. license issued.

    Most good bars/businesses will approach a community well before applying for a license, outline an agreement, hours noise, etc. However even with all this, that agreement can’t become part of the liquor license until a formal protest is filed by the neighborhood.

    Now that being said, it sounds like SDCA is being a dick in this case

    • +10000 on all counts. Nothing inherently wrong with a protest (in some neighborhoods, ANC’s by default protest-for good actors, they quickly put together a settlement agreement).

    • I don’t understand what agreement is needed here. It’s a fast-casual falafel joint that plans to serve beer, located on a main commercial drag that already has many other alcohol-serving establishments.

    • Ditto to the above. What the heck is the protest for? It’s a fast-food place with beer. No bar, no dancefloor, probably occasional music played over a shitty barely-audible speaker, no residences above or next to this building. Let them build it out and get on with it.
      .
      My guess is that the neighbors probably want to regulate their hours. They don’t want drunks buying falafel at 230am. Which makes no sense, as I would want people to eat and sober up as quickly as possible (especially those who will be driving back to MD or VA).

    • Agreed with the above. What agreement does there need to be, above and beyond the terms of the license? I can’t think of anything useful.

    • I question how much of the “community” is really represented by these groups. But as the old saying goes, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” If the squeakiest wheel doesn’t represent your point of view, you need to squeak louder.

    • That’s a terrible way to run a regulatory regime. Set the rules, and make business follow them. The entire “voluntary” agreement process is broken.

    • While I agree with Anon, I strongly agree with “SDCA is being a dick in this case.” Let’s take out the connotations of “protest” and ANY nobility it implies, and call what they are doing an “administrative roadblock”. The primary result is that the business will lose time, money, and resources. The SDCA is using a simple license application to gain attention for it’s cause. A cause that is not supported by the neighborhood that the SDCA purports to represent. The SDCA is doing this with complete disregard for how it will damage this business and since the business is part of the neighborhood, how it will negatively impact the neighborhood. It seems that the SDCA in their singleminded myopic crusade is anti-business and anti-neighborhood. Isn’t this where a bunch of “townsfolk” are supposed to show up and run em out with torches and pitchforks?

  • Thanks for posting this, Dan.

    Indeed the ANC did support a new license for beer and wine only for amsterdam falafal. You can read our support letter here: http://www.dupontcircleanc.net/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Amsterdam-Falafelshop.pdf

    One case where ANCs actually have some authority is in the granting of a “stipulated license”, which allows a licensee to open and sell alcohol while a protest process is ongoing. It has no bearing on the final outcome of the protest. Had we known this was going to go to a protest hearing, we could have considered supporting a stipulated license.

    Meanwhile, I hope everyone supports this great new (late night!) option in our neighborhood.

    • Noah —

      Obviously it’s too late for the owner to ask for a stipulated license before the March 23 soft opening, but I will let him know your thoughts just the same. As for the posters who suggest that the SDCA’s protest in this instance is legitimate, I beg to differ. Their conduct confirms their intent to make life miserable for every applicant for a new liquor license in our neighborhood, period. I applaud the owner here for refusing to enter into a “voluntary” agreement with them.

    • The group (SDCA) is not an official ANC. They formed their own group based on boundaries they set in order for their select members to be a part of. There are primarily only 3 very vocal busybodies in this group and their objective is to eliminate as many bars and restaurants from the U Street area as possible. I support this new establishment and plan to write in to the ABRA to express this.

      • Well-said. I am going to write in to voice my support as well, and I urge others to do the same. Businesses which enrich the culinary options in a neighborhood, increase the vibrancy and safety of the area (through increased foot traffic and greater volumes of people on the street), bring in tax revenue and create jobs should be supported by the community, and not hindered by the self-aggrandizing actions of a few vocal, self-appointed busybodies.

  • I worked at Amsterdam Falafel when I first moved to DC and was looking for an office job. It’s a nice place. I wish Scott and Arrianne all the best. I’m excited for them to open their 2nd store in DC. The dutch beer idea is really good.

    I imagine that they may want to stay open until 4am on the weekends. Personally, I kind of enjoyed working that late. It was certainly a fun crowd. It’s also good for the neighborhood to have a place for people to sober up when the bars are closed. That said, people who are drunk are more likely to make a mess at the topping bar and when it’s super busy it’s hard to keep everything clean.

  • Good for them for not signing an agreement with them. Everyone knows that they have an agenda and that they don’t represent the neighborhood.

  • Shaw Dupont Citizen’s Alliance should change its name to the “Anti-Commerce League of a Few Rabble-rousers Whose Volume is Vastly Out of Proportion To Its Numbers,” a name which would actually more accurately reflect that group’s reflexive anti-business attitudes and unreasonable NIMBY agitation, as well as the fact that it doesn’t properly represent the viewpoints of more than a handful of perpetual and vocal ax-grinders, and, not the community at large.

  • Noah is right a stipulated license could be done. Can’t ANC 2B have an emergency meeting with a quorum attendance and vote to support a stipulated license.? The real solution if SDCA has standing to protest is for the ANC to enter into a Settlement Agreement with the establishment. Once the ANC has an agreement in place, all protests from “citizen’s associations” are dismissed. It’s one improvement in the new law to mitigate the gadfly groups. It’s too bad SDCA learned next to nothing from their disastrous liquor moratorium proposal; they need to re-examine how to achieve their goals.

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