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Brian Harrison, owner of The Reef, is the latest Adams Morgan restaurateur to publicly complain about his restrictive voluntary agreement with neighbors. Appearing before the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board on Wednesday, Harrison described his efforts to be a good neighbor—supporting “every bunny-hugging cause out there,” he says—and expressed frustration about being treated just the same as less cooperative bar operators along the densely liquor-licensed party corridor. “I’m lumped into the same group as other places…that have a skeletal staff, don’t give a crap about anybody, sell cheap booze and don’t care who comes in or goes, but I have to deal with the exact same agreement,” says Harrison.
The Reef isn’t the first Adams Morgan nightspot to try to terminate its voluntary agreement, which legally binds operators to specific hours and methods of operation as a condition of their liquor license. Nearby bar and live music venue Madam’s Organ has petitioned to terminate its written pact with neighbors, as well. Harrison says that his binding agreement makes normal business changes a hassle, since “even subtle changes” trigger an opportunity for public protest that can take weeks to resolve. If he’s successful in breaking the deal, Harrison says he’ll use the freedom to seek higher occupancy levels throughout the bar. A follow-up hearing is slated for July 13.
Logo courtesy of The Reef