Here are the Prospectors

Liquor

Last week, GM griped that the current system of allocating liquor licenses in Georgetown is, shall we say, sub-optimal. Now the identities of the entities who have snatched up the liquor licenses appears to confirm GM’s fears that the only parties willing to camp out in a tent are parties that are simply speculators.

Top Shelf over at the Washington Business Journal got the list:

  • A corporation called AN & JM (trade name TBD)
  • A corporation called FR & LH, LLC (trade name TBD)
  • Ching, LLC trading as So MI
  • Luke’s Lobster VIII LLC (trading as Luke’s Lobster)
  • Georgetown Restaurant Partners, LLC (trade name TBD)
  • Restaurants, LLC trading as Yummi Crawfish and Seafood Restaurant

Rebecca Cooper determined that the first two applicants are tied to the building currently housing Sobilato and John Rosselli Assoc. on Wisconsin, just above P St. Why do they need two licenses? Are they really going to open two restaurants on stretch of Wisconsin that can’t seem to support more than the two that are open there? It all is awfully similar to the Hu’s Wear situation.

Cooper couldn’t find anything about the third applicant, not even a corporate record. Not promising.

The fourth is Luke’s Lobsters, which apparently is now going to seek a liquor license. But here’s the thing: before Luke’s Lobsters that space held Philly Pizza, which attracted such a loud raucous late night crowd that the mayor even came to the press conference announcing that they were getting shut down. So that block is on guard and will fight anything that appears to be raucous-inspiring (and, hey, considering that they currently close at 9 pm, that might assuage fears).

But here’s yet another thing about Luke’s Lobsters. They operate on that block subject to a zoning use special exception. They currently are authorized to sell prepared food. GM doesn’t believe this would extend to selling alcohol. If indeed they need another special exception, they will have to fight some pretty strong headwinds.

As for the fifth and sixth applicant, Cooper also could not find much. The former apparently gave as a business address a Baltimore law firm. The latter apparently doesn’t have a corporate record.

Who knows, maybe they will pan out, but GM is skeptical. The fundamental problem with how the rare free license is issued is that good quality restaurants are not sitting around waiting for them. Top notch restauranteurs don’t work that way. They plan far more in advance, and don’t jump at opportunities like this. As a retail/restaurant broker put it to GM the other day: “Do you think Jose Andres would camp out like this?”

And another Georgetown restaurant-owner recently explained another unfortunate phenomenon on display. A lot of stores or restaurants that are opening in Georgetown right now are being open by inexperienced entrepreneurs who think that all they have to do is open in Georgetown and sit back to count the money. It doesn’t work that way, but GM fears that some if not most of these new applicants will fit into this category.

 

1 Comment

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One response to “Here are the Prospectors

  1. I blame the city (and by extension Georgetown’s officials boards) for handling it this way. Unprofessional, counter-productive and, in a word, lame. One of these days Georgetown may actually create a position of a person who procures and manages restaurant development. It would be a positive turning point.

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