It’s been three months since Alcoholic Beverage Control investigators forced Hank’s Oyster Bar in Dupont to shut down a portion of its patio amidst a dispute with a handful of nearby residents over the restaurant’s termination of its voluntary agreement with the neighborhood. Tonight, Hank’s is finally getting its full patio back.
Owner Jamie Leeds learned this morning that the liquor board had reaffirmed the termination of her voluntary agreement. She tells Y&H she will also be bringing back late-night hours on Fridays and Saturdays (closing at 3 a.m. instead of midnight). “It feels like such a relief,” Leeds says. “We’re thankful that it’s over and that we can move on.”
Leeds initially moved to terminate the agreement in 2010 in order to be able to expand into the next-door property. Liquor authorities agreed to the termination with the unanimous support of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2B, which represents Dupont Circle—-but a handful of neighbors took the case to the D.C. Court of Appeals, which reversed the decision. Over the past several months, the liquor board has been taking another look to decide whether the voluntary agreement stays.
The conflict exploded a day before the Capital Pride Parade in June, one of the busiest days of the year for Hank’s. An ABC investigator showed up to say that Hank’s would have to close the expanded section of its patio, pending a decision from the board. Leeds went public with her frustrations, and the incident fueled a debate about how much power small groups should have over the operations of restaurants and bars and led to calls for reform of the liquor license protest system.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery