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A few weeks ago, Chris Shott reported that Shaw’s Tavern, the restaurant that was denied a liquor license after a series of management debacles that included forging a liquor license, had a new owner. In December, Siya Sadeghi introduced himself to the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission and was backed almost immediately. It’s not a surprise that neighbors (including yours truly) are jazzed that the beautiful building, which has sat empty for months now, is finally reopening. And with booze, hopefully. Eater has an interview up with general manager Reza Akhavan and chef Joel Hatton, two longtime industry workers who have put all their ducks in a row:
So tell me how you came to operate this space and how things are progressing?
RA: What happened is [the previous owners] did not get the permit at all. So they had to sell the business to the new owner, Siya [Sadeghi], who has hired me and Joel as general manager and chef. So we applied for a new license and he had some restaurant in D.C. so it should be no problem. But we’re still waiting for the license at this time that we’re talking to you. I was hoping to get it this week, but you never know. I think they have three weeks to get back to us.
So right now it’s with ABRA.
RA: Yeah. So all other licenses are good — occupancy, even patio occupancy, everything. So we’re just waiting for that.
The interview underscores to me how ridiculous it was that Shaw’s previous management botched everything so badly. Late last August, there was a lot of handwringing in the blogosphere—-particularly among the policy wonk types who don’t write about D.C. often, but live in gentrifying areas and want nicer places to eat. The argument was that D.C.’s liquor laws are too difficult and onerous to navigate. At the time, I argued that plenty of restaurants somehow manage to get the licensing they need, and that the problems facing the business were of the management’s own making.
We’ll see if the ABC board agrees soon enough, but simply having all of the licensing together—-before even a soft opening—-is a sign that the new management knows what it’s doing.
Photo by Megan Arellano