Saloon 45 (Swann Dive) Denied Liquor License at 18th and Swann St, NW

1821 18th Street, NW

Back in August we learned that there could be trouble for Saloon 45 (to be renamed Swann Dive) after:

“Ward 2 Council Member Jack Evans has submitted a letter supporting the protest and asking the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board to full-out deny the new license application.”

Well, on Wed. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board denied Saloon 45 their liquor license in the former Sandy’s Flower Shop on 18th Street near Bar Charley and Lauriol Plaza. ABC wrote in part:

“Specifically, the Board finds the Application inappropriate, because the establishment’s intention of having its entrance on Swann Street, N.W., along with outdoor seating, will bring loitering and other patron-related disturbances to a residential area.”

You can read the full ruling below:

Saloon 45 – Order on Denial of License – 9 24 2014 (PDF)

29 Comment

  • Ugh, such a cool concept, too. We need more businesses expanding into the residential blocks. We need this to be a mixed-use city.

    • Perhaps you should get involved in the District’s effort to re-write the zoning code. Do you suppose an amendment such as “cool concepts should be allowed anywhere” would be a good opener?

      • I have been involved, and while “cool concepts” isn’t exactly the stuff of rewrites, a form-based code and ending the single-use zones born of the 1950s would be a good start.

      • I get the snark, but the lack of neighborhood bars in DC is a damn shame. One of the things I miss most about Baltimore is walking down the block to your corner bar that’s likely old and smelly, but really makes the block feel like a neighborhood.

        • The lack of neighborhood bars is definitely a shame, but it’s a direct result of the culture of these neighborhoods’ inhabitants, after neighborhoods were desegregated in the 1950s. The white, blue-collar families that still inhabit Baltimore are far more tolerant of having a bar down on the corner than the Southern Baptist African Americans who lived in much of DC before gentrification changed things.

          • Have you been to New York City? You realize that it’s possible to have neighborhood bars in all sorts of neighborhoods, right? This is a zoning issue, and while affluent areas will put up more fight because they have more awareness and leverage, it doesn’t mean that affluence means people don’t want mixed use…

    • Why do you need business to encroach into residential neighborhoods?

  • There’s a billion bars and restaurants a couple of blocks away for all to enjoy and support. Let’s keep some spaces as they are in fairness to those who decided to live and buy here. Thanks Jack!

  • I admit that I am curious about where the outside seating was going. There isn’t place on the front or the side really – is it the cement pad in the back? If so the residents in the house that abuts that would be totally screwed. The neighbors directly across the street would only be slightly less so.

    I wonder if they would have gotten a different response if the nixed the outdoor seating and/or had the entrance be on 18th. Of course that would have changed the calculations by the would-be proprietors.

  • Eh, can’t get overly riled about this one. There are more than enough bars in that area. Saloon 45, you’re more than welcome to come my way 😉

  • Extremely bad precedent. Sure, it would be nice to keep “family friendly” blocks as is, but this particular block is already thriving with loud drinking establishments. I can imagine that for more than one investor this will make a difference.

    • Swann street does not have any drinking establishments, loud or otherwise. 18th street? Sure, but this wasn’t about 18th street.

      • The facts don’t align with your view, but no point in arguing with a NIMBY.

        • What “facts” are you talking about? Name one bar on Swann Street, please. I think the pertinent fact here is that their license was denied. Oh, and I’m far from a NIMBY, but nice try. I’d welcome this place on my street.

          • Read the Board’s Decision (in the link), specifically the background in the “Findings of Fact” Section: “Saloon 45 has submitted an Application for a New Retailer’s Class
            CT License at 1821 18th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. Notice of Public Hearing….”

        • That is the mailing address. The entrance would have been on Swann… which means trafic and noise on Swann.

          Facts are indeed good to have at hand.

          • I don’t think ‘Los’ has ever walked down Swann street. it’s a very nice peaceful tranquil space that should be preserved. I don’t live there, but I love walking down it to take a step out of the noise of the city!

  • Very disappointing.

  • “Saloon 45” was a terrible name choice when going into this wealthy, NIMBY-infested neighborhood. They should have picked some vaguely bourgeois name (“The Proletariat’s Revenge,” “Local Bricklayers Union 233,” etc.) and served food & $15 cocktails. Then change the name at a future date, after the license is granted.
    “Saloon” just screams tacky loud bar to the local NIMBYs.
    FAIL on everyone involved in this mess.

  • I used to live on that stretch of Swann. It really would not be a big deal at all to have an entrance and outdoor seating there. Once you get to the end of the block, the noise is already deafening from the crowds at Lauriol Plaza, and the five other bars within yards of this spot.

    Plus, on crowded weekend nights, you have people loitering on this corner all the time as they wait for a table at Lauriol Plaza. Hey, it took them an hour to drive in from the suburbs and find parking on nearby residential streets so that they don’t have to pay for valet at Lauriol, they don’t mind waiting outside and blocking the sidewalks for two hours, just so as they get their very underwhelming “Mexican” food!

    • Maybe if they had a neighborhood bar to go into, it would DECREASE the loitering on this corner!
      Bad call, ABRA!

    • similarly, I used to live on S (next street down), right by 18th. Rosemary’s Thyme has outdoor seating that extends around to S. DIdn’t raise much issue.

      And if you live in that area, you’re getting noise and traffic regardless of where the restaurant entrances are – a lot of cross street traffic between the restaurants on 18th street and those on 17th Street.

  • I love having bars and restaurants in the neighborhood, but I can completely understand the Board’s decision here. First, the garden would be pretty much on Swann St, and asking for hours til 2am S-T and 3am F-Sat would be terribly loud for the neighbors. Bar Charley closes at midnight on the weekends and 11pm on weekdays, which is much more reasonable. Second, they wanted to have a standing section – which are always over filled so although they claim 36 people outside, you know they would pack in more. Third – there was no kitchen proposed Fourth – the proprietor had no experience.

    All of these combined would just have led to a drunken loud mess right on the front of Swann St. Good for the board to recognize legitimate concerns. Maybe they can figure out something that works better for everyone involved. If not, they can always try this concept further up 18th st in one of the many empty storefronts in Adams Morgan.

  • Too bad. Love the idea of small bars on residential corners.

  • This was a sensible decision. Commenters throwing around the NIMBY epithet, would you really want to live next to an outdoor bar that goes to 3:00 am on weekends?! Do you really think that neighborhood lacks places to get a drink? This was an exceptionally bad idea and resulted in an exceptionally rare flat-out license denial.

    • agreed. If people want to live next to a bar, then they can move next to an existing bar. There are plenty already, and there are plenty of people stuck living next door to them who would probably be happy to swap real estate with you!

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