Category Archives: Bars

Georgetown Venues Race for Tavern License

As reported by WBJ last week, due to the former Saloun liquor license being allowed to lapse, a new tavern license is available in Georgetown. The Post reported yesterday that two existing venues, Gypsy Sally’s and Smith Point, were the first through the door to try to claim the new license.

Bit of background: There a several different types of liquor licenses in DC. Of relevance to this discussion are restaurant licenses and tavern licenses.  A holder of a restaurant licences is required to get a certain portion of its revenues from the sale of food, and must regularly report its sales to ABRA to certify its compliance. A tavern license, on the other hand, comes with no food sales requirements. Thus tavern licenses are often viewed as desirable by bar owners.

Georgetown has been subject to a liquor license moratorium for several decades. That moratorium has both an overall cap, that applies to restaurants and tavern licenses combined, and a specific cap on just tavern licenses. No new tavern license may be issued until the number drops below six. (Which is different than saying there may not be more than six period. The moratorium limit of six was set at a time when there were more than six out there. Over time they’ve steadily been converted or abandoned.) Once Saloun failed to renew their license (which was, frankly, stupid of them) the number of taverns dropped below six and consequentially a new one may be issued. Continue reading


Filed under ABRA, Bars

Two Big Decisions From ABC Board

Yesterday, the ABC board handed down two significant decisions for Georgetown. As reported by the Current and the Citypaper, first they approved the extension of the liquor license moratorium with an additional seven new licenses available. Second, the rejected CAG’s and the ANC’s request to apply a moratorium on the Georgetown Court complex.

GM has discussed both these issues before. The first issue appears to be a commonsense response to the current situation, namely that the market price for liquor licenses in Georgetown have skyrocketed. Moreover, even with these seven new licenses and the sixteen or so licenses in safe-keeping, there would still be fewer licenses available in Georgetown than there were at the time the moratorium was first enacted. GM still thinks that the lack of a use-it-or-lose-it provision for licenses in safe keeping is more to blame for the excessive price of liquor licenses, but this will certainly help. At least for a little while. Continue reading


Filed under Bars, Restaurants

Georgetown’s Liquor Licenses Held in Safe Keeping

Two weeks ago, the Current dug into the story about how ABRA is considering adding two more liquor licenses to the Georgetown Moratorium. One of the bigger issues that stem from the moratorium is the issue of liquor licenses held in safe keeping. Which got GM wondering, who’s holding on to those anyway?

Quick background: There is a moratorium on new liquor licenses for Georgetown. Thus, ABRA cannot issue any new licenses for bars or restaurants in Georgetown (hotels aren’t subject to the moratorium).  They can, however, buy licenses from people or entities that already have one.

This legislated scarcity has reportedly pushed the going rate of a liquor license in Georgetown up to $70,000. As the Current reported, the most recent five year moratorium period is coming up, and ABRA is proposing to add two more licenses to the total. The stated reason for these two new licenses is, in the words of ANC Commissioner Bill Starels, to “dampen the bidding wars.”

But who are they bidding to? An active restaurant or bar isn’t likely to sell its liquor license, so any new establishment must look to the defunct restaurants and bars that are still holding on to their inactive licenses (known as licenses held in safe keeping). Continue reading


Filed under Bars, Restaurants

Nathans Signs Lease

Nathan's Signs Lease

Carol Joynt sent out a email blast last night announcing that Nathans has signed a leased to remain at the corner of Wisconsin and M. This comes after years of uncertainty for the restaurant. This is great news for the neighborhood.

If there are any gray clouds to this silver lining, it’s that the lease is not tied to a specific term. Continue reading

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Filed under Bars, Restaurants

Nathans Lives to See Another Day

Nathan's to Remain Open

GM hasn’t stated it directly, but it’s worth celebrating, at least a little bit, that today, April 1st, Nathans lives to see another day. As you may remember, today was supposed to be the end of Nathans. The lease was supposed to expire last night. As any reader of Carol Joynt’s blog could tell you, it appears that long negotiations with the landlord have resulted in a stay of execution for the restaurant. While the details are not widely known, Joynt told WUSA recently that “I think you’ll see us here for the foreseeable future, but it’s also predicated on the economy not getting worse.”

Not exactly the most optimistic words, but nonetheless today we all have something to celebrate because Nathans lives on.


Filed under Bars

Television Free Europe(an Bars)

The New York Times ran an interesting article last weekend; writer Glen Collins sought out bars and taverns in Gotham without televisions. This interesting idea got GM thinking, what bars and taverns in Georgetown are T.V.-free? The answer: not many.

Continue reading


Filed under Bars

Champions Comes Back from the Dead

Blue Gin is Dead

This isn’t terribly newsy news, but GM only just noticed this: Blue Gin closed recently and re-opened as its old incarnation: Champions Sports Bar.

Blue Gin opened to sizzling press back in 2004. It took over Champions’ space after the bar and its notoriously lenient ID-checking habits had its liquor licensed pulled.

Well then was then and now is now, and apparently after a steep decline Blue Gin closed up shop sometime last November. GM can’t report on the ID leniency of the new Champions (he’ll leave that to Vox Populi), but according to first-hand accounts, Champion’s has quickly reverted to its loutish ways. It’s like it’s the 90’s all over again; if you close your eyes you can almost hear the 3rd Eye Blind.

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Filed under Bars