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"D.C. Liquor Fight Entering A New Round" (WashPost)

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  • Mark Lee / ATLAS
    RE: D.C. Liquor Fight Entering A New Round (WashPost) ________________________________________ The owners of the Blue Room learned the hard way that serving
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 15, 2003
      "D.C. Liquor Fight Entering A New Round" (WashPost)

      RE: "D.C. Liquor Fight Entering A New Round" (WashPost)


      "The owners of the Blue Room learned the hard
      way that serving fine cuisine is not the best
      business plan in Adams Morgan. Diners in the
      18th Street NW entertainment corridor ignored
      the restaurant in favor of more modestly priced
      ethnic food.

      "But as the Blue Room's restaurant was
      hemorrhaging money, its bar was raking in
      the cash. So co-owner Bill Thomas did what
      made sense: He scrapped the beef tenderloin
      and crispy Asian oysters, along with most of
      the rest of the food menu.

      "'We made the transition out of necessity,'
      said Thomas, whose establishment is now
      thriving by concentrating on selling drinks
      and occasionally catering parties with
      hors d'oeuvres.

      "This week, however, a D.C. Council
      committee will begin studying proposals
      for new Alcohol Beverage Control Board
      regulations that could put Thomas's
      business -- and many others like it -- in
      jeopardy again. . . .

      "Among the most debated regulations are
      those that would require that businesses
      designated as restaurants sell $1,500 worth
      of food for every seat each year; reduce the
      number of parking spaces that restaurants
      with 400 seats or fewer must have, because
      many establishments say it is difficult to create
      parking lots in crowded areas; and change
      how community groups and residents may
      protest a restaurant owner's petition for an
      operating license.

      "The package was developed by two task
      forces, the ABC Board and the office of
      Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D). City leaders
      say they are seeking a balance between
      encouraging a vibrant nightlife in the District
      and making neighborhoods near those
      entertainment districts livable. That is
      particularly important as the city markets
      itself as a fun and hip place for young
      professionals in an effort to make good on
      the mayor's goal of attracting 100,000
      new residents. . . .

      "Industry representatives . . . contend that
      the regulations are too strict and could put
      many restaurant owners out of business.

      "'Are they supposed to fold up tent and
      kiss their investment off?' asked Frederic
      Harwood, executive director of the D.C.
      Licensed Beverage Association. "The percent
      of food sales has nothing to do with whether
      it's a well-run establishment or not.' . . .

      "The city's laws and regulations have long been
      a hodgepodge of measures, some dating to
      the 1920s and often conflicting. . . .

      "'We want to create a climate for businesses
      to do a healthy business, because tourism
      and hospitality is a major industry here in the
      District,' said D.C. Council member Sharon
      Ambrose (D-Ward 6), chairman of the
      Committee on Consumer and Regulatory
      Affairs. . . .

      " . . . [S]ome say the proposed regulations
      are an attempt by a few unhappy activists to
      control the culture of the city. Under current
      regulations, groups as small as three people
      can sign so-called voluntary agreements with
      bars . . .

      "'Their contention that restaurants masquerade
      as a nightclub is a complete farce," said Barrett
      Atwood, head of the D.C. Nightlife Coalition,
      which was founded a year ago to fight restrictions
      on bars. 'It's just another way to control nightlife
      in the neighborhoods.'

      "Harwood, of the Licensed Beverage Association,
      said he will lobby the council to give all existing
      restaurants that cannot meet the food sales
      requirement 60 to 90 days to get a bar or
      nightclub license and to allow them to change
      classifications without protest.

      "Bill Thomas said he has striven to make the
      Blue Room a responsible neighbor in Adams
      Morgan, where he and his business partner
      live. 'But until some of the neighbors recognize
      our right to exist, there will be problems,' he said.

      "To those who demand that he serve more food,
      Thomas replied: 'We tried that for four years.
      We lost money month after month after month.
      Now that we're a successful business in the
      neighborhood, they want to change what we are
      doing? I don't understand that argument.'"

      The Washington Post
      Sunday, November 16, 2003
      The Washington Post Metro

      D.C. Liquor Fight Entering a New Round

      Businesses, Residents Debate How Far
      Council Panel Should Tighten Regulations

      To view the entire news article, use the following link:


      Mark Lee
      PO Box 53025   Washington, DC 20009-9025
      ATLAS InfoLine   202 331 4422
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