Thursday, December 12, 2013

TGI Friday's says they won't have music, then say they will

Well, this is interesting. You may recall that TGI Friday's announced they were opening a restaurant at 14th and Monroe, which is under the Samuel Kelsey senior housing. The residents of the housing are worried that, among other things, loud live music late at night would be disruptive to sleep and their normal lives.

It's a valid complaint, and the Advisory Neighborhood Commission approved TGI Friday's liquor license if they added soundproofing, though the residents didn't think that would be enough.

On Wednesday, Councilmember Jim Graham met with representatives of the company, who said they didn't plan to have live music at all. That was good news to Graham and presumably to the senior residents of the building.

However, this morning, TGI Friday's attorney told Graham that those representatives of TGI Friday's from his meeting weren't authorized to speak for the company, and that the restaurant would be going for live entertainment after all.

Pretty weird situation. We'll see what comes from it. Graham's two emails are below.

The first email, to the ANC some local residents and ANC commissioners after his meeting
Dear Friends, today I met with representatives from TGIF on the proposed location at 14th and Monroe.
The stated purpose of the meeting was to discuss the signage issues on this historic building.
But when the meeting started the agenda was expanded by the TGIF reps to include broader issues.
I expressed my concern about how live, amplified entertainment would impact Kelsey residents.
At that point, the TGIF reps stated that they had no interest in seeking live entertainment permission.
With that said, I think we can request that the ANC delete the support for within the Settlement Agreement for a future entertainment endorsement.
They promised to continue to take steps to continua the other noise from the restaurant. They believe it can be contained as much as 96% and they are working on the balance.
I am quite sure this will be very good news for Kelsey.
I also mentioned the possibility of deliveries occurring during times the restaurant is not open, from the front of the building on 14th St. As I have in the past, I restated that I would support a loading zone, in order to further minimize the congestion on Monroe--which is already pretty bad.
Bests CM Jim Graham
 And the second, to TGI Friday's and the ANC
TGIF Executives:
You have requested that I speak to your attorney, Mr. Fonseca, concerning whether TGIF will withdraw their request for a Live Entertainment endorsement. I have now done so.
First, a little background...
On November 20, I met in my office with TGIF representatives at a meeting they requested to inform me about exterior signage issues. But eth representatives--not I-- raised the general issues on TGIF. After I mentioned my concern about noise impact on Kelsey seniors, they indicated that TGIF would not seek a live entertainment endorsement. The same day--as I told TGIF I would-- I reported to the community on that communication (see below).
That was a relief since I am certain that nearly no amount of sound proofing will absolutely insure that noise from live music will be contained within the establishment. And here we have a special case: This is the only bar venue I know of in DC with a senior center directly above it.
I am very sad to report that TGIF has now decided that their representatives in that meeting were not authorized to speak for the company on this issue. And that TGIF will pursue live music. (All the various email exchanges are available,)
I have had many experiences with bar related noise problems over the 8 years that I chaired ABRA oversight committee.
Most recently, a similar vexing problem occurred--and I believe is still occurring-- at the Eatonville restaurant on 14th St--despite strong efforts made to contain the noise. There are many other examples.
I fear that the apartments above TGIF will be rendered uninhabitable as a result of the live music noise (not to mention the outdoor patio). What a nightmare awaits those residents!
All of which compels me to raise this issue again, first with my constituents at Kelsey so that they know my experience over the years with noise issues. Of course, if they would like, TGIF may again make their case for noise containment. I wish I could have been at the last meeting, but I was in a plane heading out of town.
I believe
In the recent ABC Task Force I chaired for about a year, and in an earlier review of the noise problem in bars that I prompted, we have wrestled with these noise issues. I wish I could say that we found full solutions. But we did not. We did come up with actions that will help but will not insure the elimination of noise in a situation such as this.
The ABC board is well aware of all of that.
I think this issue is best considered by the full ABC board. But I very much respect the fact that the ANC has entered into a "Settlement Agreement" (SA) with TGIF. That SA supports live entertainment. However, I believe that the ANC was encouraged to agree due to the support that was received from the residents at Kelsey.
After the Kelsey meeting that I am now requesting, when my information is received and considered, there is a chance that the Kelsey sentiment may change. And, in turn, the ANC may wish to reconsider that provision in the Settlement Agreement. That is entirely up to ANC1A.
Whether that happens or not, I am will request the opportunity to testify before the ABC Board on the issue of live entertainment directly below a senior residence.
Bests, Councilmember Jim Graham


  1. For accuracy, the first email was sent to a select list that included no more than 18 people, mostly residents of Monroe Street, and sent on November 20th. Two ANC representatives were included as it was in response to a running conversation they were party to.

    Commissioner Boese


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