“Please tell your elected officials that you want Dacha’s capacity increased to 350”


A couple weeks ago we learned “Dacha seems to be in very big trouble with ABRA”. Think they can rally enough support to save themselves? If not, CityPaper reported:

“Dacha Beer Garden owners Dmitri Chekaldin and Ilya Alter are laying off half of their staff and negotiating to sell the business amid a battle with the Advisory Neighborhood Commission over their capacity level.

Meanwhile, the owners are in negotiations to sell the business to a big German beer brand (which Chekaldin declined to name) that has plans for several beer gardens in the U.S.”

Think Dacha would survive/continue to thrive if it’s bought by “a big German beer brand”?

1600 7th Street, NW


73 Comment

  • Ashy Oldlady

    Unless their outdoor space is far larger than it looks, I would think that 350 people would make it annoyingly crowded.

  • I don’t think that Dacha’s patrons will really care if a “big German beer brand” buys the place. I can see how neighbors wouldn’t want Dacha to be able to nearly triple the bar’s capacity considering how loud the place is now. The only people who want 350+ people packed into the bar are the owners, who will be able to fetch a higher price when they sell based on the higher capacity.

    It also seems a bit disingenuous to blame the ANC for the decision to lay off a bunch of staff. This sounds an awful lot like Filomena blaming Obamacare for changing their operating hours.

    • I’m sure neighbors will find a “big German beer brand” cares even less about appeasing them.

      • If they continue flaunting the capacity limits, they’ll be closed down. “Big German Beer brand” likely doesn’t care about the daily profits the way the current owners do. To them, it’s just a marketing ploy. If nothing else, they’ll actually benefit from the increased desirability/exclusivity (same demand, limited supply).

      • justinbc

        If the current level is zero then it seems like they would have to go doorbell ditching to piss the neighbor’s off even more.

    • +1 to “I can see how neighbors wouldn’t want Dacha to be able to nearly triple the bar’s capacity considering how loud the place is now. The only people who want 350+ people packed into the bar are the owners, who will be able to fetch a higher price when they sell based on the higher capacity.”
      I guess people who aren’t in favor of the increase can tweet to Muriel Bowser, Charles Allen, and ANC 6E too?

    • Most likely a spinoff of the Paulaner Brauhaus. They have one on the Bowery in NYC and locations all over the world. Hofbrau is also opening “brauhaus” locations in the US at a torrid pace.
      That said, I wouldn’t think Dacha would fit their requirements. They want an indoor space so they could operate 365 days. Either way, something more permanent is going to be constructed on this parcel of land. It’s too valuable for it to remain a glorified lot.
      Also, “laying off half the staff” is what Dacha would do anyways because they will be closing for the winter season. No need to blame it on the ANC.

      • Well they have the building next door. Its used for the kitchen right now, but I think that’s it right? I thought the plan was always to renovate that building so that they could operate 365 days.

        • justinbc

          Yeah that’s what was announced here a long time ago. Not sure what’s been going on with that operation, but I always saw that as a way for them to relieve some of the outdoor seating / standing capacity issues.

  • It seems clear “Team Dacha” willfully ignored clear occupancy limits for a long time. This is a bad precedent–flout the rules, create a situation like this (lines, empty tables) as a result of your mismanagement, and then use the resulting mess to try to push through a change.

  • I’ve been at Dacha when they were well over the 126 person capacity (there were maybe around 225-250 people) and it was MISERABLE. If they received a liquor license for 126 people., i don’t see why they feel they are being unreasonably restrained now.

  • jburka

    That place makes Garden District seem quiet. I can’t imagine it with 350 people crammed in.

  • Why should the ANC care about the opinion of people who don’t live there?

  • Dacha gets packed to the gills. I assume that means they’ve ignored the capacity restriction in the past.

  • justinbc

    I don’t think the people going there give a damn who owns it.

  • It is oddly coincidental that staff layoffs are occuring as days are growing shorter and colder. Not sure the ANC is the problem. And ignoring occupancy limits in favor of making more money doesn’t garner much empathy from me.

  • Step 1: Repeatedly violate code-mandated occupancy limits
    Step 2: ???
    Step 3: Profit!

  • There’s absolutely no chance of the capacity being raised. The owners are selling the place – this is just to help them get a higher valuation.

  • I used to love Dacha, but unfortunately it’s become a victim of its own success. I now avoid it because the owners have no qualms about already violating their maximum occupancy limit. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw ABRA shut them down one day for having nearly 350 people on the premises on a weeknight. I feel bad for anyone who lives within earshot of this place.

  • I am a little confused…Dacha was approved for a certain capacity limit and then proceeded to break the rules and do whatever they wanted, and now they want me to help them fight to continue to break the rules?

    Just because you can theoretically fit more people doesn’t mean you should.

  • When it opened, Dacha was a great place where you could actually meet your neighbors and talk to people. No TVs, no music, just drinks and communal tables. It has become too crowded now (lots of non-DC folks) but it’s still very nice in the morning before it gets crowded. I think it was a significant step up from the empty lot and brought. I was happy to see it, despite the noise. I hope the new owner doesn’t blast hair bands (like Sauf Haus) and football games with all 126 people screaming at the same time.

    • justinbc

      Aside from seeing them pull up and get out with a different license plate, how do you know if someone lives in DC or not? (and even then, you are making an assumption they’ve properly registered their vehicle)

      • Ashy Oldlady

        I wouldn’t put it past some people to wander around checking license plates. The jurisdictional snobbery here is so petty and weird, though I suspect it’s mostly limited to folks who are fairly new in town and want to think they’re living somewhere more special than it actually is.

        • I don’t think calling a crowd “non-DC” is that insidious or provincial. Seems more like an indicator of when a place goes from being a neighborhood spot to a destination. Not a bad thing, but a different thing.

      • All I was saying was that it’s not a neighborhood spot anymore. I don’t think that’s debatable even if some of the people I think are from VA are actually from Foggy Bottom.

  • palisades

    These owners are idiots. Funny how quickly this place went from the coolest place to go to an embarrassment. It’s overrun with bros now, they won’t care who owns it.

  • I was at dacha Friday night when they were strictly adhering to the limit of 126 people inside. It was very quiet in there, with lots of room to move around. I’ve avoided dacha many times because of the crowds, but I even had to admit they could have easily added another 75-100 people in there comfortably. The bartenders were bored. Seems like they should be able to find a compromise greater than 126 but less than 400.

  • This is where DC again shows its unique ability to ruin a perfectly good thing.

  • Even their signs are disingenuous! They have applied for a substantial change for a 600 capacity spot–250 inside when they do whatever they are going to do to the building with the kitchen and 350 outside. Six hundred people! Setting aside neighborhood concerns (which are more legitimate than not), that just seems incredibly unsafe from a fire code standpoint.

  • A couple thoughts:
    1.) Dacha was a cool neighborhood bar for a couple months but it is now an entirely different beast. If I were a neighbor, I wouldn’t give them the same sort of leeway that I would when it first opened. They should be treated like any other bar. I don’t blame them for it becoming this way, no one will turn down easy money, but I rarely go there because it is far overcrowded with a completely different crowd.
    2.) I am not sure how 350 people would fit in that space. I would guess that most nights they are over the limit but I can’t image 350 people being safe.
    3.) The people that go there now won’t care if it’s sold. They come from the ‘burbs or other parts of town and just want to get a selfie of them there for facebook.

  • Hey Dacha – here’s a pro-tip: when you want to bill yourself as a “neighborhood bar”, might be a good idea to stop pissing off the neighbors at every possible turn. Most of us stopped going a while ago precisely because when it was a smaller crowd, it was more fun, but as the crowd has shifted, you’ve turned into something else.
    You might as well rename the bar “The Clarendon Experience”, since that’s what you feel like now.
    If you want a 600 person outdoor nightclub, move to an industrial area where you can do that without any trouble. If you want a cute, fun, neighborhood beer garden, then act like it. Start having “loyal locals” nights where Shaw residents can get discounts (to encourage any of us who are still willing to come back) and stop antagonizing everybody. You used to be cool but now you’re just whiney and it’s not pleasant to watch…

    • Does any bar in the city have a “loyal local” night? For a popular spot it doesn’t make a lot of fiscal sense, but I am curious as to whether anyone does run this type of promotion.

  • About six months ago, Dacha held a town hall meeting for folks in the neighborhood. My roommate went and was very excited – she said they proposed offering some percent discount (10-20%) and line-jumping powers to people who lived within one block of the beergarden.

    Sounds like this never happened. It’s too bad, really, because I love this space and what it’s done for the surrounding area. And I really do think that the owners care about the neighborhood – I see them shoveling and de-icing their sidewalks in the winter (when they’re closed) and they invested what seems like a lot of money in noise-dampening fences. But they clearly need to do more outreach to people in the immediate vicinity.

    Hopefully some sort of compromise can be reached. 350 seems like way too many people, but maybe 250 would be reasonable.

    • In the event of snow and ice, they’re legally required to clear the sidewalks in front of their property whether they’re open for business or not, so I’m not sure I’d give them much credit for that.

      • justinbc

        Yeah. You have even less excuse to not clear your sidewalk if you don’t even have to worry about getting the rest of your business open for the day.

    • justinbc

      I don’t recall the source, but I do remember reading somewhere that neighborhood discounts like those are technically illegal in DC, although many places still do them (several of which I won’t name because I enjoy going there a lot).

    • What I have learned from dealing directly with Dacha for 3 years, is that the owners will say anything to get what they want. After they get what they want, they deny they said they’d do anything.

      • @Q – I’ve heard that before. Many, many times. Let me tell you, the things my neighbors have told me about the Dacha owners have made me hyper-vigilant to any attempts by anyone who has ever been affiliated with that place to get any more liquor licenses anywhere else in town. DC has so many good operators of bars and clubs – we don’t need to grant any additional licenses to people who take advantage of the community and then trample them on the way out when they sell to the highest bidder!

  • Dacha is not in Ward 6. Why are they telling people to tweet Charles Allen and ANC 6??

    • They are in Ward 6. Specifically in SMD 6E01.

      • No… Dacha is in ward 1, but the ANC that it’s in spans across 2 wards (1 and 6).

        • Oops I mean it is in ward 2.

        • You know, it’s not hard to look this up. Dacha’s location was in Ward 2, and got moved to 6 in the 2010 redistricting.

          Address: 1600 7TH STREET NW
          Address ID: 311079
          Status: ACTIVE
          Zip Code: 20001
          SSL: 0420 0039
          Type: NON RESIDENTIAL
          Latitude and Longitude: LAT = 38° 54′ 40.61″ N (38.91128) | LONG = 77° 1′ 19.86″ W (-77.022183)
          Boundary Information
          Ward: 6 Vote Precinct: 18
          Advisory Neighborhood Commission: 6E Police District: Third
          Single Member District: 6E01 Police Service Area: 308
          Census Tract: 004901 Neighborhood Cluster: 7
          There are no ANCs that span two wards.

    • Allen is on the DC Council’s Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs Committee which is in charge of the ABRA. But I don’t know why they picked him out specifically.

    • jcm is right – it actually is in Ward 6, but only has been for a few years now since they changed the boundaries. It’s super confusing. But you can double check here if you don’t believe me: anc.dc.gov . I only know this for certain from going to ANC 6E meetings.

  • Suuuuuuuuuuure they are.

  • Not bloody likely.

  • So, on top of regularly crowding in hundreds past their licensed capacity, and going back on promises to the community that supported their opening, they are trying to blame seasonal layoffs on the ANC? Despicable.

  • Dacha sucks…get over it.

  • Um., no?? I find pleas of businesses for citizens to lobby elected officials on their behalf for no other reason than increased profits to be pretty sleazy. If you want the capacity increased, go to the council meeting yourself and make your case. I blame Uber for this obnoxious trend.

    • Nonsense. Our entire country is built on businesses urging/coercing/bribing citizens to lobby officials on their own behalf. Sleazy? Sure. Regular business? Definitely! Can citizens take the power and refuse to be manipulated? Of course. Do they? Rarely. You can blame Uber for bubonic plague if you want, but it was really gerbils.

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