A More Conciliatory Dacha


Last week the note said:

“Our ANC forces us to limit the number of people in the garden to 126. Please tell your elected officials that you want Dacha’s capacity increased to 350”.

Stay tuned.

1600 7th Street, NW

74 Comment

  • clevelanddave

    Still arrogant and presumptuous. Maybe you won’t get a capacity increase at all.

  • Ask forgiveness, do what you want anyway. Ask forgiveness, do what you want anyway. Ask forgiveness, do what you want anyway.

    I sense a pattern.

  • I think they’ve done a terrible job communicating about all of this, but 350 for that space is completely reasonable. They really need some PR help.

    • Would 350 people outside your house be reasonable? After one day of it, you would agree it’s absurd. On a busy day, you can hear them a block and a half away, and there are families living in every direction of the beer garden except the north side.
      The only benefit of 350 is being shoulder-to-shoulder and lining the pockets of the owners.

  • What’s the backstory here? Can someone lay it out in a few sentences?

    • Dacha opened to the pleasure of neighbors. Nobody knew how big it would be and they always hoped to expand, so they opened with a low occupancy number that everyone agreed would be expanded later. It got very popular quickly, and rather than getting things figured out right away quickly they waited.
      When Dacha tried to get permits for the neighboring building it all blew up in their face. Anti-dacha neighbors teamed with anti-gentrification neighbors to blame Dacha for sound coming from the nightclub/ethiopian place down the street.
      There’s a lot of support out there for Dacha, but they’ve handled the situation poorly and are now in a tight spot.

      • So the real source of the problem is 1) neighbors and 2) the Ethiopian place down the street.
        I’d add a third: Dacha’s seriously bad PR on this issue.

      • Yes, basically. I could be a little biased because I don’t live near by and want to support it. But basically some people have been against it from the beginning and have misrepresented or exaggerated some of the problems. Other people support it, but Dacha’s terrible PR has made things worse.

        • I live very near by and the Ethiopian place is zero part of the problem.

          The real source of the problem is that Dacha did not follow its agreement. Then asked for a larger occupancy on top of the occupancy it was already exceeding.

          I love Dacha. I want them to succeed. I want the occupancy to be higher than 125 and less than 350.

          But blaming neighbors, Ethiopians, and anti-gentrifieers for Dachas failure to follow the rules it agreed to is not accurate.

        • This is the first I’ve heard that it is a small group of neighbors that have a problem with Dacha. Based on the comments on the last Dacha post, I got the impression most of the immediate neighbors have an issue with the noise.
          I also think the issues go beyond PR to Dacha ignoring the existing capacity limits for months (whether the limits are unreasonable or not).

        • Accountering

          I live on the same block and enjoy going there. I walked by last night and the Ethiopian place is not the problem (nor has anyone blamed it.)
          The problem is Dacha reneged on their deal with the neighbors, and is now trying to shoehorn in a MUCH larger crowd than was agreed on, and they haven’t done nearly enough to abate the noise (including not building a building on the back of their lot that would have blocked a ton of noise.) Dacha hasn’t acted in good faith here.

          • They did build a pretty tall fence along the back of their lot though, with a video camera installed and everything, which should bring the neighbors some comfort to know they have cameras on their alley. I’m not sure what building they were going to build there. There isn’t a ton of room between the alley and where the bar is to build anything.

            Perhaps Dacha owners should consider something similar to what El Rey does with a mostly open roof but walls all around? Although that will completely ruin the garden effect and likely kill their business. No one wants to roast inside in the summer.

          • It’s a plywood fence with batting. The fence does nothing for the people across Q street, and nothing for the second story of the neighborhing homes. Absolutely nothing.
            More importantly, the fence was supposed to be a 2 story building, that blocked noise and eliminated outdoor drinking in the rear of the lot. The additional noise generated by them expanding their outdoor drinking to the space behind the bar is greater than the noise reduction provided by the fence.
            The camera on the alley isn’t a big deal, but they were supposed to install them in 2013. They only did so this year because they’re trying to make a showing for ABRA.
            Just be aware that the things Dacha and you’re lauding are less than the minimum promised.

          • The ANC cannot require someone to build a building on the property. So that they didn’t is not really relevant. You can determine whether 150 or 350 is the right number, but you cannot condemn the owners for not building a building there that they weren’t required to. Perhaps you don’t reward them with a capacity limit that assumes the space is usable for something other than a building, but you do not get to tell them they have to build something there.

            Across from Q Street is a massive apartment building with ground floor retail (eventually) that was built pretty recently and opened at the same time if not after Dacha. There are rooftop bars going in across 7th street from that very same building. It’s a commercial strip.

            I can empathize some with the neighbors on the other side of the alley, at least the very nearest house. But beyond that, I just find it hard to believe it’s that terrible and imagine the people upset by it are pretty limited in number.

          • Agreed with Accountering: “The problem is Dacha reneged on their deal with the neighbors, and is now trying to shoehorn in a MUCH larger crowd than was agreed on, and they haven’t done nearly enough to abate the noise (including not building a building on the back of their lot that would have blocked a ton of noise.) Dacha hasn’t acted in good faith here.”

          • It’s in the settlement agreement Truxtoner. It was based on the construction of a Dacha-like building (a Russian summer house) which was foundation to their concept in 2013. Kind of related to why it’s called Dacha… May 1st was the deadline to construct the building or cease operation. We didn’t try to jam them up on that deadline, because the goal isn’t being a dick, despite your characterizations. The goal is to have a beer garden that can coexist with neighbors.
            Here’s a picture of PoP from their original promised building that everyone supported, and was perfectly happy with. Not only that, some of us testified before HPO to help them get it permitted.
            Alternatively, you can believe that seasonal layoffs are because of an ANC protest, that neighbors who publicly supported Dacha are NIMBYs, that 350 drunk people are actually very quiet, and that there will be no Christmas at Dacha if they can’t quintuple their capacity.

        • “Too Bad”. Name one person who has been against Dacha from the beginning. One.
          In a city where some neighborhoods will protest outdoor seating for a restaurant a few blocks away, this neighborhood welcomed a 100 person beer garden right next to their homes. So it’s unequivocal BS to suggest that Dacha is just dealing with some NIMBYs.
          To your other point; are you saying that the family that says 350 drunk people outside their house makes a lot of noise is an exaggerating?
          What specifically has been exaggerated?

      • I’ve been through all of the public meetings in person going back to 2013. This is what actually happened.
        In 2013 immediate neighbors supported Dacha opening, in exchange for two main promises; 1) Dacha would limit the crowds to a level that could coexist with the surrounding residents and 2) Dacha would construct a building on the empty lot to reduce the outdoor drinking space and provide a 2 story noise barrier. Dacha described their vision as something similar in scale as Garden District (99 people), and provided renderings of the proposed building.
        Dacha barely got the support of the ANC. If neighbors hadn’t been supportive, Dacha would have been protested out of the gate, and they never would have opened.
        After 2 years of growing pains (portapotties, regular overcrowding by hundreds), during which neighbors continued being patient and supportive, Dacha announced that not only were they not going to construct the promised building, but that they were seeking an capacity expansion to 600, and were going to build a double-decker beer garden. They also expanded their outdoor capacity in the rear of the beer garden, closest to residential neighbors where they were supposed to put the permanent structure.
        Neighbors tried to work with Dacha on the scope of the outdoor component of their plans (no one cares about the indoor expansion); and they didn’t even ask for Dacha to honor its original commitment. Dacha’s response has been not only to ignore any attempts to compromise; they have engaged in a public campaign to smear the neighbors that they lied to, in an effort to intimidate them and steamroll them.
        This is not just ‘bad PR’. After flaunting DC’s liquor laws for years, breaking every meaningful promise to neighbors, lawyering up instead of sitting down to negotiate, they’ve pursued a public campaign to smear and intimidate the people whose main mistake was expecting the owners to be men of their words.

  • i’m not understanding the issue. do they think they are above the law? or is the law unjust?

  • As a neighbor I have very conflicted feeling on this. I love going to Dacha but I support the limits. The noise and crowds can get hard to deal with in the past. But I do have to say this–I walked by there yesterday with a line around the block bc of the 125 people capacity issues and the place looked empty with just 125 people in there. Whole picnic tables had no one on them.

    • I agree that 125 seems too low but 350 might be too much.

      Maybe both sides can agree to something in the middle?

    • The 125 was never a realistic number. Basically they got it to open up with the understanding things would be changed later. It shouldn’t have been a problem, they can operate fine with 325, but Dacha f-ed things up with their approach and some of the groups who were against them from the beginning pounced. I really hope they fix this. I think it’s great for the neighborhood.

      • Just curious….do you have a dog in this fight? You mentioned above that you don’t live in the neighborhood but also seem to know a lot of the inner workings of this issue. For what it’s worth, I’ve been to Dacha plenty of times. I like it more when it is less crowded (i.e. just a little over capacity) than when it is mobbed (300+) and it is impossible to get a beer.

        • I should add that I’d really like Dacha to be able to operate at a capacity level that allows them to stay in business and make a profit. I don’t know if that is the case at 150, but there is probably a compromise where everyone wins here.

        • Honestly I live nearby-ish and just want to be able to walk/bike down 9th/7th without fear of getting shot. I think Dacha and other establishments opening up are the best way to make that happen.
          Check out details from the old ANC meetings on the SALM blog if you want all the details.

      • That is absolutely untrue. Making sure the capacity stayed small was always the commitment. They had local support, not local opposition. The commitments and the support weren’t secret. They were made in public meetings.

    • I walked by yesterday too, and have to disagree with you–it looked pleasant at 125, in contrast to the mob scene it usually resembles. I live a block away but don’t ever go because I see no need to press against a sea of humanity for a beer when there are other good bars in the area. I keep thinking I’ll go when it’s not as crowded, but that seems to be…never. Until now I guess.

      That said, I’m all for people doing what they like, and a lot of people clearly like it. 350 is ridiculous and would allow Dacha to continue running as a loud, drunken, open-air club which must completely piss off everyone who actually lives within earshot, but maybe there is some reasonable number in the middle here.

      • +1. I have no skin in the game regarding the limits as I don’t live nearby. I’ve only been to Dacha once, a while back now, and I stayed a grand total of 3 minutes. It was unpleasantly packed on the patio. I felt like i couldn’t find anywhere to stand that was out of the way. I left without consuming a sip of beer, and I’m not in a huge hurry to return either.

    • Ashy Oldlady

      It’s pretty ridiculous that instead of finding another place within a few blocks that is every bit as nice, people will wait in a line that wraps around the block to get into this place. Welcome to Washington D-Sheep.

  • I drove by there around 3:30 on Saturday and I couldn’t believe that 50 people were lined up to get in. Is it that great??

    • What was great about it was the fact that it was relaxed and not the kind of place you’d ever have to wait in line for. It’s popularity has unfortunately dented its charm.

      • You understand that makes no sense right? Clearly a great deal of people think it’s still a great place to go even when busy or there wouldn’t be a line.

        I’ve only been a few times, both busy and slower. Never had a problem getting a beer either time. If your capacity restriction is to keep noise down, is that successful when you just have another 50 – 100 people waiting in line on the sidewalk? Seems then all you’re doing is pushing the crowd out on to the sidewalk.

        • “Nobody goes there anymore…it’s too crowded”

        • Accountering

          I think it makes plenty of sense. It was a wonderful place, that a limited number of people knew about/were interested in attending. WAY more people now know about it and want to check it out, but it is less awesome than before, because it is too crowded. The Yogi Berra-ism works here well indeed.

          • justinbc

            Yeah, the whole point of that quote is that it’s not “your type” of clever, ground-breaking people going anymore, it’s the crowd-followers. These people shouldn’t pat themselves on the back too much about enjoying a beer garden before other people “found” it, it’s not exactly anything revolutionary. I also always have wonder about people who complain about inabilities to get beers with regard to their expected threshold and how hard they’re trying. I’ve been in probably a handful of places in my entire life where it’s truly hard to get served.

          • No one commented on the type of people. At all. Anywhere in this chain. Except for you.
            Neither I nor Accountering said it was hard to get a beer.
            All I said was that more crowded = less relaxed and charming. Clearly this is my opinion, and was not stated as fact.

    • Yes, if you like $11 beers, it’s fantastic! Come on down to the latest and greatest in robbing yuppies bank accounts!

      Also, they’re trying to up the capacity so that they can get a bigger amount of money because they want to sell it to some mega German beer producer, so I’ve heard.

      • So? Honestly, of what relevance is any of that? The great thing about the free market is if people do not want to pay $11 for a beer, they don’t have to. No one is getting ripped off when they are willing to pay $11 for a beer.

        And who cares if they want to or will sell it? Another great thing about the free market. Perhaps the new owners will be more accommodating and nicer to the neighbors. That someone who opens a business might want to make a profit on it doesn’t seem to be particularly earth shattering news.

  • I’m not sure what the right result is here, but I used to live nearby Dacha and I will say that it is REALLY, REALLY loud. There was a HUGE difference in the amount of noise in the neighborhood when they first opened. I never got in their way or tried to keep them from expanding, but it is not like there is nothing legitimate to complain about.

    • It’s weird to me the trend on Popville is also that if someone complains about sirens, loud music, etc. from passing vehicles they are told to move to the suburbs. When people complain about neighboring businesses, they are applauded and there’s more empathy.

      At least the latter tends to raise your home values of if you do decide to move to the burbs for peace and quiet, you’ll have more money for it.

      • The former is also out of most people’s control. Businesses (particularly those serving alcohol) are held to certain minimum standards through their liquor license or voluntary agreement with neighbors/ANC.

      • I would guess the difference here is one person complaining about sirens is not the same as a ton of people complaining about a larger noise source.

        • A ton? Based on where Dacha sits, I’m not sure what neighbors are even complaining except those along Q behind it. Down 7th in either direction are either businesses or that tall apartment building – the Jefferson, which is new enough that no one living there can rightfully complain as they moved in the same time Dacha did. And only the end apartments in that building even face Dacha.

          7th street seems rightfully commercial enough that this just sounds like a lot of NIMBYs to me.

      • If you think that the trend on PoP is for people who complain about neighboring businesses to be applauded, you clearly haven’t been following PoP for that long. In fact, in most cases the neighbors who raise concerns about the impact of a proposed bar or restaurant on their existing quality of life are denounced as NIMBYs and told to move to the suburbs if they want peace and quiet.

      • Sirens and cars with loud music are quite temporary lasting at most a few minutes. However, living next to or near a noisy business? Depending upon operating schedules, it could be every weekend, for several hours. Not really fair to compare the two complaints. One is about city life, the other is about quality of life.

  • I don’t see why it was so awful to ask people to call their elected officials. I’m sure the people trying to close them down are doing so.

    • I think the issue was that Dacha blamed the long lines and staff layoffs on the ANC/neighbors, when (1) the capacity was part of their liquor license from the beginning, they had just been violating it and racking up fines for months, and (2) they unload staff every fall as the weather gets colder and their business slows.
      If local residents want to take sides with their ANC or councilmember, that totally makes sense. Telling patrons from out of the ANC/District to email/tweet the local rep is just strong arming and harassing.

      • Patrons don’t have the right to voice their opinion on the matter to the relevant rep unless they live there?

        That’s absurd.

        • Voicing a complaint to an elected official that doesn’t represent you is absurd. The ANC/Councilmember represents people from this neighborhood or part of the city. Telling patrons from Georgetown, MD, or Virginia to call and email the local ANC/Councilmember is akin to you calling a Virginia delegate in Richmond because you don’t like the traffic on 66 the two times a year you drive through NOVA.

          • If I live across the line from that ANC and patronize Dacha frequently, there’s nothing absurd about asking the ANC rep where Dacha sits to consider some aspects of their decision. We’re all residents of DC. And Dacha sits literally on the boundary of two ANCs. So by your logic, residents across the street shouldn’t have a say in what happens there either. And I’d imagine the vast majority of the resident of ANC 6E aren’t actually impacted by the capacity extension because Dacha sits on the boundary of the ANC.

          • I’d also point out that I live closer to Dacha than half of the relevant ANC residents do and by your logic, I have no say.

        • It’s not so absurd. That’s like saying Andy Harris has a say in DC issues because he has constituents who work in DC or come here.

          • Sorry, hit post too quickly. I’m not saying patrons don’t have an interest here, however, it seems that residents of ANC who are affected to a greater degree by the situation have a larger stake in the issue and should therefore have a larger voice.

          • Reaching out to tell an ANC rep how you feel is not the same as Andy Harris legislating on behalf of DC residents when he doesn’t live here. Besides the face, the non-residents reaching out are doing so on behalf of the owners of a business in that ANC. Your analogy isn’t really applicable. Honestly that mentality makes me surprised any business would bother trying to make it work in DC.

            Meanwhile, people are literally mugged, assaulted and shot within two blocks of Dacha frequently and people are complaining about the noise from a beer garden that frankly is one of the most popular establishments in that neighborhood and is precisely the type of business that has made that neighborhood as popular as it has become. I get some of the old fuddy duddy neighbors who have lived there when God was a boy don’t like change, but I bet they sure love their skyrocketing home values.

    • Skirt the regs. Politicize. Skirt the regs. Politicize. Skirt the regs. Politicize. I sense a pattern here. Hint: politics is not needed if you just follow the rules that every other business does.

      • These guys are cheaters, plain and simple. Why even try to do a deal with such pathological liars. If the council buckles to them, then it’ll be inviting a deluge of con artists who will be copying the Dacha playbook.
        If Dacha goes, something better will replace it in a heartbeat.

  • If Dacha is interested in working something out with the neighbors, it seems like a no brainer to meet somewhere in between 125 and 350. Personally, I think 350 is overboard and understand why folks are upset. Dacha simply doesn’t have seating/standing room, restroom facilities, or security capable of handling such a crowd.

    What about the rumors that Dacha is going to sell the place? If that’s the case, they aren’t interested in the neighbors. (I assume that they aren’t interested in the neighbors much anyway as their clientele is mostly from across the river anyway.)

    • I go to Dacha all the time with friends of mine and none of us live across the river. Perhaps you’re stereotyping by the crowd, but welcome to the new DC. Most of those people now live in DC (in Shaw).

      • Ach, maybe. I made the assumption based on the difference between Dacha and some of the other bars in Shaw (All Souls, Bistro Bohem). Even more astounding is the difference between Dacha and Petworth bars. Here’s to hoping the Dacha crowd never finds them.

  • It seems both sides are too hung up on 125 versus 350. It did look kind of empty when I drove by and saw the huge line to get in. Surely there is a middle number? Maybe its a 6 month probationary period of 200 people? then if that is managed maybe a bump next summer to 225. I know its easy to blame gentrification, crazy ANCs, poorly run businesses but honestly this doesn’t seem that complicated. It just means neither side is going to get exactly what they want. I get that Dacha thinks the number is too low to operate and make a profit but they had to estimate the profits when they agreed to the licsense. ABRA rules can feel arbitrary but these are legally binding agreements and ignoring them only makes it 1000 times worse when you have to renegotiate. Dacha should be happy ABRA is letting them operate while they work this out.

    • Accountering

      Sounds like the reason that it looks empty at 126, is that they expanded into that back area, putting in many more tables and expanding the size of the restaurant. Had they built a building here, like they were supposed too, 126 would fit more comfortably and appropriately in the remainder of the space.

    • We had 225 people at our wedding, and I have to say that’s a huge crowd for a residential area even if most of 7th is commercial.
      Having lived here long enough to remember when this area was crackville, I wholeheartedly join the people who want to see Dacha succeed. But it’s hard to support an establishment that takes such an aggressively selfish and antagonistic stance toward the neighborhood. I can’t understand the do-or-die number of 350, especially when that changes its nature as a beer garden. When you get to crowds that size, you have to think about moving somewhere else.

    • The price of beer should increase as the crowds do – Dacha should implement dynamic market pricing. Then Dacha will always be able to make a profit and still be able to abide by a reasonable crowd size (175 max is probably the sweet spot). I have no issue with Dacha fleecing the weekend warrior Brohemians for all they’re worth 🙂

  • all this Blah Blah on the internet doesn’t matter.
    Here is the LAW.
    Dacha has to wait FOUR YEARS to change the agreement of 120 capacity. Unless the ANC agrees.
    Short answer.
    FOUR YEARS. And the ANC will not agree to a change. Hence. ABRA will not modify or change the 120 capacity agreement.
    But feel free to keep flapping your gums on the internet.

    § 25-446. Settlement agreements; approval process; penalties for violations.
    (2) The Board may accept an application to amend or terminate a settlement agreement by fewer than all parties in the following circumstances:
    (A) During the license’s renewal period; and
    (B) After 4 years from the date of the Board’s decision initially approving the settlement agreement.

  • claiming that an ANC forces them to do anything is ridiculous. not knowing the details, it sounds like Dacha entered into a settlement agreement with the community to avoid an ANC protest of the liquor license application, and then Dacha has had difficulty respecting the agreement that they entered into. not a good way to do things.

  • Truxtoner is a bratty owner of or shill for the bars and nightclubs. He constantly characterizes residents who are defending their property rights as fuddy duddies and “old”. He sounds like a wheedling, narcissistic drug pusher, which all liquor establishments essentially are. I mean it’s not exactly as if the owners of bars and nightclubs are Ph.D.’s working on cures for cancer or world hunger, like some of the put upon residents are. Quite the contrary, the mentality it takes to run a nightclub or bar is usually the lowest of the low, which explains why Dacha and its shills pathologically lie in their pursuit of money.

    Dacha needs to be made an example of. Otherwise, the gangsters are right: the politicians in DC are old, toothless, fuddy-duddies who can be bamboozled with the right intimidation and demagoguery.

  • Talk about a Reality Distortion Field. Conciliatory? I see nothing conciliatory in that notice. Dacha is openly blaming its neighbors for inconveniencing its customers. Way to shift blame and play the demagogue.

  • If you’re a residential real estate owner in the District, you need to address your politicians about the increasingly flagrant and aggressive bar and nightclub noise that’s now spreading across the neighborhoods. dcnightlifenoise.com describes what it’s like to have adjacent restaurants surreptitiously morph into nightclubs. These clubs can install 100dB+ subwoofers (jackhammers, really) that blast vibrations deep into the earth and up the foundations of neighboring buildings until 3 or 4 in the morning, most days of the week and weekend, for years on end, and without any interference from government officials, who actually provide police protection despite the DC noise ordinance.

    Then again, this is a Banana Republic that openly flouts the Constitution’s Second Amendment, which is part of the Bill of INDIVIDUAL Rights, whose INDEPENDENT CLAUSE plainly states that the “right to bear arms SHALL NOT be infringed”, which is implemented dutifully and faithfully in virtually 98% of the country, but given the DC population’s infantile reading level and tendency towards ignoring laws, both civil and moral, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that DC’s Noise Ordinance is in fact nothing more than scribbles on toilet paper.


    First they deprived the Adam Morganites of sleep, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not an Adam Morganite.

    Then they deprived the Georgetowners of sleep, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Georgetowner.

    Then they deprived the Duponters of sleep, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Duponter.

    Then they deprived me of sleep—but everyone had already fled to the suburbs.

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