ABRA Last Call Newsletter: November/December 2015

ABRA Newsletter November-December 2015

Record Number of License Renewals Due in 2016

Washington, DC Establishments

Next year is set to be one of the biggest license renewal years in District history. Approximately 1,500 on-premises licenses are set to expire in 2016. As a result, all restaurants, hotels, multipurpose facilities, clubs and caterers will need to renew licenses by March 31, 2016. Taverns and nightclubs will need to do so by Sept. 30, 2016.

“It’s important that licensees take the time now to ensure we have the correct mailing address and contact information on file,” said Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) Director Fred Moosally. “Doing so will help to ensure a smooth renewal process next year and avoiding any late fees or cancellations.”

Licensees that need to update their mailing address, email address or phone number can do so by completing a contact information form available on ABRA’s website. Contact information can be verified by emailing or calling (202) 442-4423.

ABRA will mail restaurant, hotel, multipurpose facility, club and caterer licensees renewal packets in early February. Tavern and nightclub licensees can expect renewal notices in the mail in early August. Renewals must be completed in person at ABRA’s office.

A new feature from the Office of Tax and Revenue will help to make the application process easier this year. Licensees can now complete their Certificate of Clean Hands online. The certificate can be printed out and provided to ABRA as part of the renewal packet.

Renewal periods are one of the few times a licensee that has had a settlement agreement in place for at least four years can apply to amend or terminate the agreement. The request must be filed with the renewal application and is subject to the review and approval of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.

In order to avoid long lines, licensees are encouraged to submit renewal packets to ABRA as early as possible. Renewals can be done anytime before the prescribed deadline. Renewal packets not returned by deadline will be subject to late fees and potential cancellations.

Pending Legislation Expands Manufacturer Operations


District alcohol manufacturers could be a step closer to expanding their business operations. On Dec. 15, the Council of the District of Columbia unanimously approved the Omnibus Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Amendment Act of 2015 (21-401). While the bill still requires final approval from the Mayor and a 30-day Congressional review period, the legislation could be on track to become law early next year.

If that occurs, local distilleries, wineries and breweries could expand their daily operating hours from 1-9 p.m. to 8 a.m.-midnight. During those hours, manufacturers that have the proper permits could provide free samples; sell and serve drinks; and keep patio areas open to customers.

In addition to the expanded hours, the bill would allow manufacturers to provide entertainment for the first time. Manufacturers could host a live band or DJ, charge a cover, or provide dancing facilities by obtaining entertainment endorsements from the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA). Entertainment would be permitted from 8 a.m.-midnight, daily.

Also for the first time, manufacturers licensed in the District could expand their products' reach into farmer's markets. The legislation allows for a farmer's market to obtain one of two types of licenses that would permit alcohol manufacturers to serve as vendors. As a vendor, a manufacturer could provide free product samples as well as sell their products for off-premises consumption. 

A class J farmer's market license would allow breweries and wineries to serve as vendors while the class K farmer's market license would permit breweries, wineries and distilleries to serve as vendors. Both license types would be issued for six-month periods.

In order to obtain either of the licenses, a farmer's market would need to meet a host of criteria. It would need to have at least six vendors that produce their own products; operate each market between two and seven hours; and hold at least six markets in a six-month period among other requirements. 

The legislation was submitted by the Mayor to the Council on Sept. 25. Complete details of the bill can be reviewed onlineStay connected with ABRA to get the latest on the status of the bill.

2016 Extended Holiday Hours


Big changes are happening for the Extended Holiday Hours program in 2016. 

As part of a new law that went into effect this year (D.C. Law 20-270), licensees are no longer required to register for the Extended Holiday Hours program each calendar year to participate. As a result, licensees that are already registered in the program in 2015 are automatically eligible to participate in extended holiday hours next year. The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) mailed letters to enrolled licensees in early December confirming their registrations. 

The program will continue to allow registered on-premises establishments to sell and serve alcoholic beverages until 4 a.m. and operate 24 hours a day on District and Federal holidays and certain holiday weekends. New Year's Day on Jan. 1, 2016, will be the first holiday next year that establishments can remain open until 4 a.m. A complete list of program holidays is available online.

On-premises licensees that are not already enrolled in the program but want to participate would need to register. In order to enroll, a licensee would need to submit a notification form and public safety plan to ABRA at least 30 days prior to the first holiday a licensee would like to participate. Once a licensee is registered and approved, the registration will be valid for the calendar year and each year thereafter. There is no fee to enroll. Complete details are available on ABRA's website

Licensee that have questions can contact ABRA's Licensing Division by emailing or calling (202) 442-4423.

District Council Approves Public Safety Program Updates

DC street

The Council of the District of Columbia unanimously approved rules on Dec. 1 to expand funding of a District nightlife safety program. 

The Reimbursable Detail Subsidy Program enhances safety in the District by funding Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers to police areas outside of on-premises establishments such as nightclubs, bars and restaurants.

As part of the legislation, subsidies paid by the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration will be increased from 50 to 70 percent when covering the costs incurred by licensees for MPD officers working reimbursable details. Reimbursements will be covered for every night of the week and approved outdoor special events where alcohol is to be sold and served.

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (Board) originally adopted the rules on Feb. 18. The Board regularly monitors funding for the program and makes adjustments to the distribution of subsidies when adequate funding is available.

Complete details of the Reimbursable Detail Subsidy Program Resolution of 2015 (21-304) can be reviewed online.

Georgetown Moratorium Zone Extended to April 3, 2016

Georgetown Skyline

On Dec. 9, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board reviewed and approved a resolution from ANC 2E to extend the Georgetown Moratorium Zone 60 days beyond its expiration date of Feb. 3, 2016. As a result, the moratorium is now set to expire on April 3, 2016.

The moratorium zone continues to extend approximately 1,800 feet in all directions from the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and N St., NW and restricts the issuance of:

  • No more than 68 alcoholic beverage licenses to restaurants,
  • Any new alcoholic beverage licenses to taverns and nightclubs, 
  • Any class C alcoholic beverage licenses to multipurpose facilities, and
  • No more than one class D alcoholic beverage license to a multipurpose facility.

In addition, a license holder outside of the Georgetown Moratorium Zone is not permitted to transfer a license to a location within the zone.

All hotels and establishments located in Georgetown Park, Georgetown Park II, Prospect Place Mall, Georgetown Court and Washington Harbor are exempt from the moratorium.

Complete details of the moratorium are available on ABRA's website. 

Attend ABC Orientation Training Jan. 21, 2016


New and existing alcoholic beverage licensees are invited to attend the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration's (ABRA) orientation training from 2-4 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016 to learn about:

  • District ABC laws and regulations (including recent changes to the law)
  • Tips for working effectively with the community
  • Settlement Agreements
  • Expectations of licensees
  • Best practices
  • Noise abatement and sound management

Contact ABRA Community Resource Officer Sarah Fashbaugh by Friday, Jan. 15, 2016 to register:

Attendance for this class is strongly recommended for new license holders. Training is free of charge. Requests for interpreters may be made; however, they must be submitted by the registration deadline.

Training is located at ABRA's office:

  • 2000 14th St., NW, Suite 400 South, 4th Floor, Washington, DC 20009