Applicants Camp Out for 4 Liquor Licenses in Georgetown

[UPDATED April 11 with list of applicants from ABRA.]

This morning, TV news crews reported on restauranteurs waiting overnight to submit their applications for a liquor license in Georgetown to the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration at 8:30 a.m. The small line-up of tents in front of the Reeves Municipal Center at 14th and U Streets, NW, looked like people waiting to buy concert tickets or the latest electronic gadget. Applicants had to wait in line because of ABRA’s policy of “first come, first served.”

Here is the list of applicants from ABRA:

1. Restaurant Enterprises, Inc. trading as Smith Point (applied for a tavern license)

2. AN & JM (trade name is TBD) (applied for a restaurant license)

3. FR & LH, LLC (trade name is TBD) (applied for a restaurant license)

4. Ching, LLC trading as So MI (applied for a restaurant license)

5. Luke’s Lobster VIII, LLC trading as Luke’s Lobster (applied for a restaurant license)

6. Georgetown Restaurant Partners, LLC (trade name is TBD) (applied for a restaurant license)

7. Restaurants, LLC trading as Yummi Crawfish and Seafood Restaurant (applied for a restaurant license)

8. Prospect Dining, LLC trading as George (applied for a tavern license)

Within the Georgetown Historic District, there are three restaurant liquor licenses and one tavern liquor license available. D.C. law allows six tavern licenses and 68 restaurant liquor licenses in Georgetown. There has been a liquor license moratorium in Georgetown since the 1990s. A tavern license allows an establishment to have a smaller percentage of food to alcohol sales.

Ben Conniff, vice president of Luke’s Lobster, which has one of its seafood restaurants on Potomac Street, arrived yesterday to pick up the proper paperwork from ABRA and decided to stay at the Reeves Center in the line. “A co-worker brought me a tent for the evening,” said Conniff, who was fifth in line. One of those in front wanted a tavern license. So, being at least fourth in line, Conniff said he was hopeful of getting a restaurant liquor license.

Of the available licenses, Amir Yeroushalmie told a Fox5 reporter, “I believe we’re going to get one.” He wants to open an upscale sushi restaurant on Wisconsin Avenue. Another person on line wants to open a crayfish restaurant.

Liquor licenses rarely become available through ABRA in Georgetown. When Gypsy Sally’s recently obtained a tavern license, it had been 20 years since such an opening.

In an earlier Georgetowner report, advisory neighborhood commissioner Bill Starrels, who heads the Alcohol Beverage Committee, said the newly available licenses were “not performing” and said he was “absolutely appreciative of what ABRA is doing here. It showed due process.” Some licenses can sit for years before put back in circulation, so to speak.

“We have some serious restaurant people looking at Georgetown,” Starrels said. “We cannot have licenses sitting on the shelf.” Fox5 News described Georgetown in its April 9 report on the liquor licenses described Georgetown as “red-hot.”

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