Thursday, September 11, 2008

The ANC meeting and the wine bar

A lot happened at the ANC meeting, but first I'm going to write about the wine bar, Room 11 at 11th and Lamont. Stay tuned for future posts from the meeting about a new bar, a farmer's market, a possible hardware store, etc.

Basically, the owners came before the ANC to discuss their "voluntary agreement," which is, basically, how the ANC can control a bar's hours. If the bar owners don't agree to sign it, the ANC will protest their alcohol license application, which would be very bad for the owners.

So before one of the co-owners got up to speak about it, an agitated man in the audience got up to voice his disapproval. He was displeased over what he thought was a lack of notice about the meeting, though the ANC members pointed out that the bar owners had been to ANC meetings twice before and the license was posted on their door, and the man's ANC commissioner, Samuel Johnson, said this was the first opposition to the bar he's heard of. The man had a number of other concerns, about trash, noise, size, etc, so one of the owners then read the voluntary agreement in full. I spoke to the man after the meeting and he said he lives two houses down from the bar site. He asked not to be identified, but he wasn't William Jordan (who actually spoke at the meeting - more on that in another post).

The agreement stipulates that the place will have 25 patio seats and 20 indoor seats, the patio (called a "summer garden" in legalese) will be open as weather permits, they won't have loud music or live bands, they won't sell food or drink outside after 11 pm from Sunday-Thursday and midnight Friday-Saturday, that the noise must be a level that it can't be heard inside neighboring residents or across the street, that the dumpster will be fenced in, and that garbage is picked up 3 times a week.

The man wasn't satisfied with any of this. He continued to argue, though ANC chair Dotti Love Wade pointed out this wasn't a debate, and that most of the things specified in the agreement were part of the Alcohol Beverage Commission law, so the ANC couldn't change it. The man also complained about the patio being called a "summer garden" in the agreement, and wanted "summer" and "loud" defined. However, I think "summer garden" just a term for outside seating with no connection to the season. When the ANC was about to vote (they voted unanimously in favor of the bar) he yelled that this was being "railroaded" and Wade beat her gavel and called him out of order.

When I spoke to him later, he didn't believe that the owners would fence in the dumpster, said it would be noisy, etc. I told him if it was loud, he could call the police, but he didn't like that answer. I have a feeling that no matter what, he will be opposed to this bar, and that's his prerogative.

I disagree with all of his claims, basically. I don't think the place will be loud at all. It's a wine bar, not Tom Toms. As for the garbage, one of the owners (whose name I didn't catch, but not Paul Ruppert) said he used to manage Temperance Hall and that trash pickup 3 times a week was sufficient. He also said neighbors complimented Temperance on their cleanliness.

So that was that. The bar owners go in front of the ABC Board on September 29. I bet the man will be back.


  1. Lol.. what an incoherent hothead he sounds like.. African American by any chance? Has lived in the neighborhood for many years and does not like just about anything that is changing?

  2. He was a middle-aged white guy, for what it's worth.

  3. Those are the worst kind. :D

  4. Sounds like our future William Jordan-in-training, DC Dire Wolf...or Frank Winstead!

  5. I also don't think it was DC Dire Wolf.

    I disagreed with the man and also thought he was obnoxious. That being said, I, too, have been shouted down by ANC commissioners when I've tried to make a point, and they can really abuse their position (only some of them). I wasn't even sure who to root for in the exchange between him and Dottie Wade -- but I enjoyed seeing both of them pissed off.

    Dan Searing is the guy from Temperance Hall. They will certainly fence the dumpster in and take care of trash. The 11th Street Deli was very, very poorly run, which is why it was out of businesses, and there was a ton of trash generated by that place. This wine bar will be different, I guarantee it, as it is run by a large group of longstanding bar and restaurant owner / managers who have impeccable reputations in DC and know what they are doing. They have tried to reach out to this man and other neighbors repeatedly and are highly interested in addressing any concerns in a constructive manner. I continue to believe that if you (as I did) buy a property adjacent or in close proximity to one of the two commercially zones streets in CH, you can't really complain when commercial enterprises open up close to you.

  6. You should really take some time to view this from a civic point of view, instead of from a "me me" standpoint.

    First, lining 11th Street with bars is not a good idea in the long run. And doing so with little planning and narrow community involvement is an even worst idea. The capacity is not there.

    Those in this community pushing this idea did not take a broad based approach to getting input from those who might disagree and have concerns. Bar owners are driving the development of a residential area this is not smart and we have surrounding neighborhoods as a testament to this.

    The ANC is actually a sworn office, they really have an obligation to do this right and not to a convenient double standard that many want.

    Maybe people just want quality change implemented with integrity. You guys do us a disserve by not taking this seriously.

    BTW: African Americans were most responsible for pushing change. The beef has only been the quality of the change.

  7. i cant imagine living next to the wonderland, its so loud outside all the time. i think this man is right in opposing a bar with outside seating.

  8. Wonderland can be noisy, but I don't think this place would compare. As I usually argue, it's a wine bar. People don't go to wine bars to get rowdy and hoot and holler.


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