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Back in the 1990s, Haydee’s in Mount Pleasant replaced Cafe Bloom, a jazz venue that failed without the upscale, late-night clientele it had tried to attract. Then, the Salvadoran eatery was a “clean and simple family restaurant” that just gave neighborhood families an easy food option besides ordering pizza.
More recently, owner Haydee Vanegas has been trying to reach the late-night contingent as well, with live music and more alcohol and private parties. To do so, she applied for a “nightclub” liquor license, which she has for her Georgia Avenue location—but in Mount Pleasant, the issue has became a flashpoint in the neighborhood’s war between those who would like to liven up the sleepy main drag, and those who’d rather keep their leafy enclave quiet and serene (and, well, leafy—Vanegas ticked off neighbors by taking out a tree in front of her restaurant without permission).
At a hearing before the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration in April, ANC Chairman Gregg Edwards testified on Vanegas’ behalf, and the local business association sent a letter of support. But the anti-nightlife Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Association came to fight the license. “A nightclub is inappropriate for Mount Pleasant because the neighborhood has a higher expectation of peace, order, and quiet,” MPNA president Sam Broeksmit argued, according to notes of the hearing. “If approved, Mount Pleasant’s property values would decline because the area would become a nightclub zone and would influence whether individuals want to move into the community.”
The Board agreed, persuaded by Broeksmit’s evidence that there are lots of families and young children in the neighborhood, and that the parking situation couldn’t stand an influx of partyers. While denying the nightclub certification, the Board encouraged Vanegas to apply for a “tavern” license, which would also allow a higher ratio of alcohol sales, just not unrestricted entertainment.
By making its decision based on the parking and “residential character,” the Board seems to have set a precedent that will be difficult for other establishments in the area to break—looks like Mount Pleasant will stay quiet for a while longer.