It’s not every day that an angry neighbor complains to city officials about the local bar closing too early. Quite the contrary. But in the case of Duffy’s Irish Pub & Restaurant, Young & Hungry’s favorite spot for wings now four years running, nearby residents seem willing to make an exception.
WRC-TV weekend anchor Craig Melvin, for one. “I’ve complained many a time to the owner that he should be open later,” says Melvin, who resides along Florida Avenue NW, just across the street from our beloved Buffalo sauce and blue cheese mecca. “I get home late and frequently the kitchen is closed by the time I get there.”
The anchorman’s critical remarks came Wednesday during a protest hearing before the District’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board. At issue: Duffy’s existing voluntary agreement with neighbors, which, among other things, legally binds pub proprietor Andrew Duffy to announcing last call at the unsightly hour of 11:30 p.m. on weeknights.
Duffy is desperate to get out of the pact. He’s been waiting for the first possible moment to appeal and alter the written agreement. “We’ve got the most restrictive [voluntary agreement] in the whole neighborhood,” he says.
Extending the hours of operation are his top priority. He points out that patrons watching Monday Night Football, for instance, are sometimes pushed out before the end of the fourth quarter—an inexcusably early exit for pigskin-oriented wings fans.
Duffy estimates that a later closing time could potentially double his weekly income. He also aspires to offer a sidewalk cafe and maybe more live entertainment, both prohibited under the current agreement.
Most neighbors who turned out to Wednesday’s four-hour hearing, which covered everything from closing time to the placement of bike racks outside, spoke in favor of Duffy’s.
But not everyone is a fan. The bar’s chief critic, elderly neighborhood resident Lorraine White, lives right next door. Her son, Charles White, appeared on her behalf to speak at the hearing. “It hasn’t been all peaches and cream and an avuncular shopkeeper giving out candy,” says White, adding that his mother is bothered by all the smoke and the cigarette butts that make it into her lawn.
The younger White further asserted that Duffy hasn’t lived up to all his obligations under the agreement. For one thing, he charged that deliveries to the restaurant sometime come to the front door, instead of the back.
The ABC Board will rule on Duffy’s fate at a later date.
Photo by Scott Reitz