Hearing on Adams Morgan Liquor License Moratorium Proposals Tomorrow


From the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration:

WHO/WHAT: The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (Board) will hold a hearing on Wednesday, May 7 to receive public input on two proposals regarding the Adams Morgan Moratorium Zone, which restricts alcoholic beverage licensing in the neighborhood. Proposals include:

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1C’s petition to renew the existing Adams Morgan Moratorium Zone for a five-year period with certain modifications [ed. note: would allow for new restaurant licenses]; and
Kalorama Citizens Association’s petition to renew the existing Adams Morgan Moratorium Zone for a five-year period with no changes to current restrictions.

WHEN: 10 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, May 7

WHERE: Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration Hearing Room
2000 14th St., NW, Suite 400 South, 4th Floor

BACKGROUND: The Adams Morgan Moratorium Zone extends approximately 1,400 feet in all directions from the intersection of 18th St. and Belmont Road, NW. The following alcoholic beverage license restrictions apply in the zone:

No new licenses for restaurants, nightclubs, taverns and multipurpose facilities.
No more than 10 licenses for taverns and multipurpose facilities.
A licensed restaurant is prohibited from changing its license class unless there are fewer than 10 tavern and multipurpose facility licenses issued in the zone.
A license holder outside the zone is not permitted to transfer its license to a location within the zone unless it is an off-premise retailer or hotel.

The Board extended the existing moratorium to July 12 to allow time to evaluate both proposals.”

28 Comment

  • There is no reason to change anything. The neighborhood isn’t any more overrun with bars than it was 10-20 years ago. If anything, it’s better now that neighborhoods like U Street/14th Street and H Street NE have grown, and have given 20-somethings other places to show the world they’re bad at drinking.

  • Just what Adams Morgan needs is more restaurants that act like bars and nightclubs. If they lift the Moretorium, that will be the end of the neighborhood. The drunks will take over.

  • Ah! I wish there weren’t so many nay-sayers. When the 14th/U streets moratoriums came up for debate, there was outrage!! that this would even be considered in those neighborhoods. I wish the old residents of Adams Morgan (I’m a resident, too) would realize that we’ll continue to lose to new businesses that instead choose to open along 14th, U street, now 7th, and H NE. Now that there is so much more of a hospitable environment in those locations, it really makes Adams morgan less and less attractive to fill the empty storefronts. Toledo, Slaviya, the old Footaction and Payless, Mixtec, the old Jerusalem café, the California building and Duchess & Queen are just some of the empty stores that continue to appear… and will until the squeeze on business abates.

    • Lose to new businesses? Oh, so I guess Roofers Union, Donburi, Sakuramen, Carriage House, and Mellow Mushroom are old? And a swank hotel won’t be going up in the near future?

      I’ve lived in the area for nearly 5 years now. I’d say the food options have improved and the craziness has steadily decreased. I’m neutral on the alcohol moratorium (since I like how things are now, but I also don’t think there will be a huge jump in drinking places if it’s lifted), but I’d say Adams Morgan is doing pretty well overall… Don’t forget about the gas station being replaced by a mixed development building, as is the old Ontario theater.

      • I wholeheartedly agree with what you’re saying – I’d even add places like Mintwood and Smoke and Barrel and even the Mediterranean Spot to your list of new places that have opened. No doubt the neighborhood has seen momentum in the past few years; my point is only that when looked at it in a comparison to other neighborhoods without these restrictions, we’re potentially limiting our options. I’m all for the forward momentum and am excited to see what’s to come – I just think there’s even MORE potential that we could be missing out on.

        • Amen. The fact that the new uses of the old alcohol licenses have been great places like those listed above (Roofers, Jack Rose, Mintwood, Smoke & Barrel, MM, Black Squirrel, etc, etc..) leads me to believe that we’re missing out on even more potential. Unfortunately, I think too many of my AM neighbors are living in the past, thinking that new alcohol licenses will equal more of the old, stereotypical AM bars.

    • There is something moving into Dutchess & Queen, they are working on it – the Prince knows more…

  • The issue with the moratorium is that it’s allowed sub-standard venues to remain in business – places that would otherwise have closed if they were located on 14th Street and faced stiff competition – simply because they have a near-monopoly on alcohol consumption in the area. New ventures are not allowed to compete, unless they replace an existing tenant where the venue already has a liquor license (example: Roofers Union). Get rid of the moratorium and you’ll see the grungy venues close, as consumers spend their dollars in newly renovated establishments in other buildings.
    This is a pretty textbook case of rent seeking behaviors of existing businesses operating in a closed market. Of course nothing improves if the market is closed to newcomers. Economics 101.

    • +1 on this. I don’t see what the moratorium is doing other than entrenching what we’ve already got. What I would rather see is stricter enforcement of the no-nightclub rule (hello NY Diva NY).

      • I agree with the ANC proposal to allow more restaurant licenses, as removing the monopoly on licences will help create some competition and potentially fill in the many many empty storefronts throughout the area. It will also help some great new restaurants improve their profitability by being able to sell alcohol (sakuraman, donburi).

        That being said, if the licences are abused and not enforced, then things could go very wrong. NYNY Diva is a good example. This is clearly a nightclub, yet it operates as under a restaurant license. Has anyone audited the recipes from this place? There is no way they are selling enough kabobs to meet the minimum food requirements of their license. I believe Chloe was also under a restaurant license, although i don’t think they pretended to even have a kitchen. Without proper enforcement, you’ll continue to have bad actors gaming the system and that isn’t the point of relaxing the moratorium,

  • ANC 1C has my vote on this one: Allow new restaurant licences but no new tavern / clubs.

    And then enforce them.

  • Lifting the Moretorium will not get rid of the dumps like Peyote or Heaven and Hell because the business owners own the buildings as well. This is just a self-serving attempt by the BID to get their members liquor licenses so they can make more money on booze. It has nothing to do with improving the neighborhood. More alcohol equals more $$$ for existing businesses without licenses.

    • In our neighborhood, residents came out in droves in opposition to the proposed moratorium because we liked what was coming in and didn’t want to see our neighborhood stuck with mediocre restaurants of the sort that Adams Morgan has because of lack of competition. This neighborhood is kicking AM’s a$$ because we don’t have a moratorium. Not only that, you’re the ones getting all the drunk college kids. In our neighborhood, the bars and restaurants are too upscale and expensive for that kind of crowd to afford.

      • Uh what? U St is kicking Adams Morgans ass? And Adams Morgan is getting all the drunk kids? Hmm… Why do I see more drunken behaivor and vomit on the sidewaks around U St now than in Adams Morgan? U St is not upscale. Sollys, Codmother, Dodge City, Velvet Lounge are upscale? Not ragging on any of them, but I also wouldn’t equate them with being upmarket either. Now if you’re talking about a few blocks down 14th St (ie closer to P st than U St), then fair enough.

        • I’m talking about everything around U Street except perhaps a few of the older places on U Street itself — all of which you have just identified. When was the last time, say, a Fainting Goat opened up in Adams Morgan.

          I stand by my comment. U > AM

          • Hmmm… like Black Squirrel? L’Enfant Cafe? Locolat? Bourbon?


          • Jack Rose is around 3 years old and Roofers Union opened in 2013. Plus the other places mentioned by Identified. Codmother has only been around a couple years, and Dodge City is less than 5 years old too.

    • The issue with what you’re saying is that nice, new places – like Donburri and Sakuramen – are at a huge competitive disadvantage compared to the grandfathered places that sell alcohol. These new places need to work harder for every dollar they make because they are operating under a disadvantaged regulatory regime. I don’t think that’s particularly fair. And the current regime does nothing to encourage existing businesses to clean up their act, renovate, and provide a nicer experience for their neighbors. They’re basically minting money.

      • You could argue that Domburi and Sakuramen would be less profitable serving liquor because alcohol envourages patrons to linger after dinner, and their model is to turn tables quickly. They are in the fast-casual category because of limited seating and price point. They’d be better off financially with three table turns with no alcohol than two with alcoholic beverages served.

        • It’s possible. However, I take the fact that both the Donburi and Sakuramen owners want to serve alcohol as evidence to the contrary.

    • Nine DC residents out of 10 would rather live in the U Street/14th Street area than Adams Morgan. ‘Nuff said.

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