I got some fine Grahamstanding in my e-mail inbox this morning. Councilmember Jim Graham promised to talk to people(!)—even ANC Commissioner Bryan Weaver. The reason? Two Adams Morgan joints lost their liquor licenses two days ago. The ABC Board contended that Bossa Bistro and Bobby Lew’s weren’t selling enough food to qualify for their class of license. Weaver and fellow commissioner Mindy Moretti sent out a statement yesterday. It reads in part:
“While the Adams Morgan Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC1C) does not believe any business should be above the law, we do believe the decision to close these two establishments, especially in these difficult economic times, was wrong and short-sighted.
Our city has had an unending capacity to bend over backwards for large developers and corporations — for example recently providing millions of dollars in earmarks for a parking garage and tax exemptions for a condo developer — yet the ABC Board has chosen now, in one of our most difficult economic times in history, to enforce a law that harms small businesses, will cause people to lose jobs and will shutter storefronts contributing to urban blight.”
Graham responded this morning.
“I am meeting today with the owners of both businesses and Bryan Weaver. Let me hear the case they present.
I am well aware of the community pressure, here and throughout the city, for enforcement of the food requirements for CR licensees. It has been an issue for years. With my alcohol oversight, I have approached this very deliberately: we have added auditors to the ABRA staff in order to get very accurate reports. The ABC Board has held a series of hearings on these general issues over the years, and has established standards. This has been no rush to judgment.
I am also informed that there may be more licensees subject to sanctions of various kinds (including revocation) in the near future.
It is worthy of note that, of the more than 600 CR licensees throughout DC, there are very few noncompliant restaurants (under 20), and most of them are in Adams Morgan. The situation is also impacted by the moratorium in Adams Morgan. In other areas, including U Street, a non compliant restaurant may apply to change the license status, say perhaps to a tavern. About a dozen Adams Morgan CRs did the same thing before the ban on new tavern licenses took effect. Now, that option is unavailable to these noncompliant licensees.”