Dear PoPville – Outdoor bar space closing at midnight?

by Prince Of Petworth June 23, 2014 at 12:25 pm 28 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user ekelly80

“Dear PoPville,

Any idea what’s up with outdoor bar space lately? On Friday evening, I stopped by Etto, Rebellion and Bar Charley, and all had closed their patios by midnight. Is this a new law, or something just recently enforced?”

This is has always been the law. When Bars/Restaurants apply for liquor licenses hours are always listed on the placard for indoor space and outdoor space. Outdoor space (except for some roof decks) almost always close by midnight on the weekends (11pm during the week) to be considerate to neighbors who live nearby. Can anyone think of a patio that has hours later than midnight?

  • Anonymous

    ” Can anyone think of a patio that has hours later than midnight?”
    Most places on U Street – El Rey, Dodge City, The Gibson, Velvet Lounge, etc.

    • nw_dc_1988

      + Nellies

      • ShawGuy

        Nellies is a roofdeck, though, not a sidewalk patio. Does that make a difference?

        • Duponter

          Not if you’re counting el Rey.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve always been confused by the law on H Street – H Street Country Club closes its rooftop at midnight but Rock ‘n Roll Hotel next door keeps its rooftop open all night. Anyone know the reasoning? Does H Street Country Club have a different license?

    I’m not sure if it has anything to do with it, but Rock ‘n Roll Hotel has an enclosed rooftop with with fencing around it whereas H Street Country Club’s rooftop is more open, meaning sound can more easily escape to the neighborhood. Thoughts?

    • Anonymous

      Could this have something to do with different types of licenses? (Tavern vs Restaurant)

    • Anonymous

      My guess is different licenses. Rock and Roll Hotel probably has a nightclub license, while HSCC might be only operating as a bar without a dancefloor (having a “dancefloor” over a certain size is a major differentiator in DC licensing). HSCC could also be operating under a restaurant license, which has even stricter rules regarding operating times, but is generally less onerous to acquire.

    • dcreal

      Few weekends ago Cusbah had band playing and a guy was outside on the sidewalk playing at Tuba with people dancing etc, this was around 1am. Yet the hookah bar across the street cant have any music on their patio at all.

      • Anonymous

        The hookah bar probably has a different Voluntary Agreement than Casbah. A lot of the older establishments have more restrictive voluntary agreements than the “newcomers” – this is a major point of contention for places on 14th Street that were the first to arrive and subject to strict Voluntary Agreements, putting them at a competitive disadvantage to the new businesses who operate with more leniency.
        IMHO, they should completely scrap the Voluntary Agreements and go with a standardized set of transparent regulations that affect all similar businesses in a neighborhood equally.

        • saf


        • Duponter

          Then you have a race to the bottom in terms of what is allowed. So nowhere will you have a patio open past midnight. All roofdecks will be shut down at midnight.

          No thanks.

      • skj84

        I was actually at that show(Black Masala) They did get shut down by the cops for noise violations. Good show though.

    • Anonymous

      H Street Country Club definitely has a slightly different license. Their license lacks the LNB certification. LNB stands for Late Night Broes, and that keeps them from being open after Midnight.

  • akb

    I think the outdoor patio/rooftop has to be enclosed. In Columbia Heights, Wonderland is shutdown at 12 but DC Reynolds/Park View Patio/Looking Glass is open all night.

  • C

    I know I’ve stayed out until 12:30, 12:45ish at the Tune Inn’s outdoor space on a weekday…

  • sbc

    Many establishments make settlement agreements with their area’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission. They used to be called “voluntary” agreements but given that many ANCs will protest a liquor license until they come to an agreement (ABRA can still overrule their protest, but it makes it harder for the bar to get a license) they aren’t particularly voluntary.

    Different settlement agreements = different closing hours. What hours go into the agreement depend on where people live with regards to the bar, how noise travels, if there’s amplified music, and just how the ANC and the owner negotiate.

  • Anonymous

    these hours are typically negotiated as part of the “voluntary agreement” that accompanies the liquor license, which in fact is involuntary and often skewed by busybodies in the neighborhood who wish fervently they lived in Vienna, VA not DC.

  • WompWomp

    I could be wrong, but I think outdoor hours are negotiated with the community by liquor license applicants on a case-by-case basis.

  • Johnny B

    Froggy Bottom Pub and Stoney’s usually have their patios open after midnight.

  • MRD

    Isn’t Kramerbooks and Afterwords still open 24 hours?

    • ShawGuy

      I think you’re allowed to be “open” 24 hours, it’s just that liquor sales can’t be after a certain time and outdoor space has different restrictions than the operating hours of the indoor part of the business. After all, hotels are “open” 24 hours a day, but the hotel bars, and even the roofdecks for the ones that have them, do close overnight.

  • Eric

    Townhouse Tavern on 17th and R has people on their sidewalk until whatever time they close, well past midnight. I live nearby and this is incredibly disruptive as they are very noisy. I wonder if there’s somewhere I can complain.

  • anonymous1234

    The difference is the location of the patio—in DC, your business stops at your front window (whether it really does or not) so all sidewalk-adjacent space is rented back from the city; hence, they get to to tell you when to close it. if your “patio” is a roof deck or back yard style space, you are generally able to keep them open until last call—the only issues related to those are noise ordinances.

  • baz

    BARDO is open till 3 am … and its all outside… 500 people…

  • Samwell

    This has always bothered me about Fox and Hounds, which also closes its patio at midnight every night, even weekends. I don’t know how many nights I wished I could have continued sitting and drinking until 1 or 2am there on a nice night. I guess there needs to be a balance, but it just seems like a relaxed patio not playing music is not too bothersome, at least on weekends.


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