Thursday, November 11, 2010

We May Not See Any New Bars in Eastern Market

As I reported earlier in the week, there have been many recent restaurant additions to the Eastern Market/Barracks Row neighborhood. Not surprisingly, ANC 6B has something to say about it.

The Hill is Home recaps Tuesday's ANC 6-B meeting, specifically highlighting talk of new liquor license moratorium. If you're not familiar with ANC's, they can effectively block new bars and prohibit expansions of existing ones (a la Dupont Circle's Hanks Oyster Bar, this past summer).

Apparently, Eastern Market's 9th street residents are concerned about the noise, trash and increased foot traffic that may come from the new Moby Dick's House of Kabob and Nooshi. Both restaurants plan to lease the building formerly occupied by pet store Chateau Animaux. Chateau Animaux closed, co-owner Dennis Bourgault explained, due to an inability to remain profitable with their increased operational costs.

When Hill is Home originally reported the news, they anonymously quoted one local resident as saying, "The 'drums of war' are already beating, and I believe there will be major opposition, on the principle that enough is enough." The 8th street corridor in SE is already a popular bar and restaurant strip, with retail mostly clustered on the end closest to the Eastern Market metro station.

According to Hill is Home, all the businesses that approached the former Chateau Animaux space were restaurants. As Bourgault's comments imply, the increased popularity of 8th street is leading landlords to raise rents...making bars (with higher profit margins) more likely to consider 8th street locations.

In other words, 9th street residents may be fighting a losing battle against the market.

As of this week, ANC 6-B has issued a blanket restriction on all new liquor licenses. An information-gathering meeting to further discuss the issue has been set for December 6th.

It looks like all or almost all existing Eastern Market liquor licenses will be renewed, assuming that each restaurant or bar will sign a new Voluntary Agreement (VA). If you're unfamiliar with the ANC/VA process, 14th and You writes a wonderful explanation of Voluntary Agreements that I highly recommend you read.

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