Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Restaurants vs Taverns vs Nightclubs

Okay, I did not write most of this post. I am re-posting something left by Joe Fengler as a comment to an earlier post (also see this post if you want more info on these establichments, but do understand that these are not the most current descriptions) on the topic of these same bars. I'm doing this because Mr. Fengler is an ANC commissioner and I believe his comment clearly explains the differences among the definitions for restaurants, taverns & nightclubs. Because currently we just keep seeing the vague term "bars" getting tossed around, and I think we should look at what is actually on the table here. Also, Mr. Fengler explains the process a license applicant must go through.

Joseph Fengler said...

Just a few comments (well maybe not so short).When Joe Englert
appeared at the ANC 6A Alcohol Beverage and License (ABL) Committee, he did so because he wanted to. He felt it was important to discuss his applications before he filled them. I do believe he plans on filing liquor applications this week. Assuming he files this week or next, Commissioner Beatty will request that he appear at next month’s ABL committee and discuss the specifics of the applications (May 17 at 7:00pm at Sherwood Recreation Center). Our Commission has developed a very detailed and extensive voluntary agreement for nightclubs, taverns and restaurants (which can be on our web site) – that cover noise, litter, sidewalk maintenance, hours among a few things. While I can’t speak for the ABL committee, it would be reasonable to expect that they will ask him to sign an agreement for each of the licenses. When Englert was applying for the Olympic and Showbar, he initially filed for a CN (nightclub). Based on the ABL
committee’s concerns, he voluntarily downgraded the both applications to CT (tavern).

Note. What is the difference between nightclubs, taverns and
restaurants? From DC Law, Title 25, Alcoholic Beverages "Nightclub" (CN license) means a space in a building, and the adjoining space outside of the building, regularly used and kept open as a place that serves food and alcoholic beverages and provides music and facilities for dancing."Tavern" (CT license) means a space in a building which: (A) Is regularly used and kept open as a place where food and alcoholic beverages are served; (B) May offer entertainment, except
nude performances, and may allow dancing for its patrons only; and (C) Does not provide facilities for dancing for its employees or entertainers.A tavern license (CT) shall be issued only for a tavern. The size of the dance floor in a tavern shall not exceed 140 square feet; provided, that the licensee whose establishment on September 30, 1986 contained a regularly used dance floor in excess of 140 square feet and who is occupying the same establishment shall not be disqualified under this limitation."Restaurant" (CR license) means a space in
a building which: (A) Is regularly used and kept open as a place where food is served; (B) Keeps its kitchen facilities open until 2 hours before closing and for which sales of food accounts for at least 45% of the establishment's gross annual receipts; and (C) May offer entertainment, except nude performances, and facilities for dancing.A restaurant license (CR) shall be issued only for a restaurant. The licensee shall file with the Board quarterly statements, on the dates and in the manner prescribed by the Board, reporting for the preceding quarter: the gross receipts for the establishment; its gross receipts for sales of alcoholic beverages; its gross receipts for the sale of food; its total expenses for the purchase of food and alcoholic beverages; its expenses for the
purchase of food; and its expenses for the purchase of alcoholic beverages. The Board shall make a licensee’s quarterly statements available for the purpose of allowing a protestant of a license to determine the gross annual receipts of a licensee.I anticipate one of the questions folks will ask Englert is whether or not any of these proposed tavern applications can be downgraded to restaurant applications. On face value, that seems like a reasonable request. But, given the above restrictions, and that you can lose your license if you don’t hit 45%
of gross receipts, this request needs to be put in the proper economic context. The real question is: Will our community support a restaurant (meaning dining) that has a liquor license? And finally, this is not an easy request because it requires a more robust investment to have a larger kitchen than one might have with just a tavern.That being said, I do plan on working with Englert to see if we can’t convince him to change some of the planned taverns to restaurants. Maybe the ideal situation is one restaurant for every tavern. Like I said, it is an easy request; but then it is not my money on the line. Englert prefers
taverns – his version of a tavern has a very robust menu – to avoid situation of having to hit food targets. Also keep in mind that none of these establishments fall in my single member district. I have the south side of H Street between 8th and 13th. All of the Englert establishment currently fall in Robyn Holden’s (north side of H Street from 7th to 13th) or Marc Borbely’s (south and north side of H Street from 13th to 15th) single member districts. But all of these applications fall in ANC 6A.In close, I am a relative new comer to H street issues. But I have been working on zoning and development on H Street for close to three years on behalf of our ANC. While I have to wait for all the facts, I am very happy that someone of Englert’s reputation is willing to take a risk. I
hope to see you all at the next ABL meeting on May 17th to hear the facts first hand.

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