Yesterday ABRA announced that the four Georgetown liquor licenses have been claimed. GM has received an unverified (but reliable) tip as to who claimed them. And while it isn’t as bad as he expected it still demonstrates that the moratorium remains a problem for attracting new restaurants.
So who got the licenses?
- The Georgetown AMC
- Lady Camelia Tea Room
- Chaia Tacos
- Unnamed Greek restaurant on Prospect
Here’s GM’s take on each:
It’s unclear why the theater needs this liquor license. It’s in the same building as the Ritz Carlton, and hotels are not subject to the moratorium. Even if it’s not covered by the hotel exemption, it ought to be. Either way, this license is obviously not going to result in a new restaurant.
Lady Camelia is a successful tea room from the team that had less luck opening Macaron Bee on Book Hill. Now the stores are essentially merged, and finger foods are offered with the tea. It would appear that they also want to offer liquor (mimosas?), which sounds like a good idea. But if that’s true then it still means that this license isn’t producing a new restaurant.
Chaia tacos is not even open yet. They are moving into the old woodshop on Grace St. GM’s had their tacos before, and they’re amazing. We’re lucky they’ve decided to open here. But again, they were already going to open without the license. So again, it’s not like this license is inducing a new restaurant to open.
And then there’s the unnamed Greek restaurant on Prospect St. GM has learned that the group behind this license is the same group that was behind M Cafe. As you probably don’t recall, M Cafe was a restaurant that was supposed to open on Prospect St. across from Peacock Cafe. As you probably do recall, it never opened.
Why? Because Iraklis Karabassis, the man who wanted to open the restaurant, wanted to do so in the property he owned. But he had a law firm tenant that exercised an option to extend the lease. Last year, ABRA got fed up with Karabassis sitting on the license and revoked it.
So, if what GM has learned is correct, he just went and claimed it all over again. According to the transcript from his 2014 hearing, the law firm’s lease has been extended to 2016. So once again we’re back into a waiting game.
So that’s that. Four new licenses, zero new restaurants induced any time soon. Don’t get GM wrong; it’s great that you’ll be able to get a beer at the movie theater, the tea room and Chaia tacos. But that was always a good idea. That the moratorium would have otherwise prevented that but for these four new licenses happening to become available is merely evidence that the moratorium added nothing to the situation.
Here’s an idea: how about whenever it’s a good idea for a restaurant to open or to start selling booze, they simply go down to ABRA and get a license? That’s how it works (almost) everywhere else in the city. There’s no reason to treat Georgetown differently any longer.