ABRA Last Call Newsletter: March/April 2016

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  Last Call Newsletter

March/April 2016

New Alcohol Law Provides Business Opportunities for District Farmers Markets, Alcohol Manufacturers


A new alcohol law is in effect that provides new business opportunities for District farmers markets and alcohol manufacturers.

“This legislation gives a growing sector of the District’s economy a leg up connecting them with consumers right here in the District,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser. “Together, we will continue to find innovative ways to expand economic opportunities for our small businesses and create more pathways to the middle class for District residents.”

As part of the Omnibus Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Act of 2015, a District farmers market could apply for a new license to allow District breweries, distilleries and wineries to serve as market vendors. Under a farmers market license, a District alcohol manufacturer could provide tastings of its products at no cost and sell sealed bottles of its alcohol for off-premises consumption. In order to apply for the license, a farmers market would need to meet a host of qualifications and submit an application to the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA).

In addition to being able to operate at licensed farmers markets, other provisions of the new law will allow District alcohol manufacturers to host events such as weddings and corporate functions.

For the first time, a manufacturer could apply to ABRA for a permit to provide entertainment. A brewery, distillery or winery issued an entertainment endorsement could host a live band or DJ; provide dancing facilities; and charge a cover for admission. In addition, the legislation allows District alcohol manufacturers to extend their operating hours to 8 a.m.-midnight, daily. Manufacturers were previously only able to operate from 1-9 p.m., daily. In order to apply for an entertainment endorsement or to change operating hours, a manufacturer would need to submit an application to ABRA.

The legislation also clarified that alcohol manufacturers can sell and serve pints of beer, glasses of wine and cocktails with spirits at private events that are produced by other manufacturers. Any alcohol—produced by an outside manufacturer— would need to be purchased from a District-licensed manufacturer or wholesaler. A manufacturer continues to be restricted to only selling and serving alcohol it manufacturers for non-private events.

The Omnibus Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Act of 2015 was passed by the District of Columbia Council, approved by Mayor Muriel Bowser and completed a 30-day Congressional review period. The law went into effect on March 9. Complete details of the new law are available online.

Licensees that have questions can contact ABRA by emailing or calling (202) 442-4423.

ABC License Renewals Due By March 31


Time is running out to renew alcoholic beverage licenses.

More than 1,100 licenses are due to be renewed by March 31. This includes all alcohol-licensed restaurants, hotels, theaters, museums, trains, boats, clubs and caterers in the District.

As of Wednesday, March 16, the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) had received approximately 22 percent of applications due for renewal.

“Licensees are strongly encouraged not to wait to renew licenses,” said ABRA Director Fred Moosally. “If you can't make it into our office during regular business hours, we hope you'll take advantage of the agency's office hours on Saturdays during the month of March."

In an effort to make the renewal process more convenient for licensees, ABRA is providing additional office hours on Saturdays for renewals to be completed. Licenses can be renewed any time before March 31 during the following hours:

  • 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Monday-Friday; and
  • 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Saturday, March 19 and 26.

Renewals may only be completed in person at ABRA’s office, which is located at:

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

Applications not returned by the required deadline will be subject to a late fee beginning Friday, April 1 of $50 per day—not to exceed the cost of the license—and cancellation.

Alcoholic beverage licenses are required to be renewed every three years with all licenses of the same type expiring on the same date. The next sets of licenses requiring renewal will be all taverns and nightclubs, which will be due by Sept. 30. Renewal notices will be mailed to taverns and nightclubs in mid-August. 

Complete details on license renewals are available on ABRA's website. Licensees that have questions can contact ABRA by emailing or calling (202) 442-4423.

Attend the Glover Park Moratorium Zone Hearing March 30

Glover Park Moratorium Zone Map

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (Board) wants to hear from the public on a proposal to modify a limit on liquor licenses in the Glover Park neighborhood. A hearing will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, March 30.

The Glover Park Moratorium Zone has been in effect for 22 years and is set to expire on May 3. As a result, the parties that originally requested the regulation—Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3B and the Glover Park Citizens' Association—submitted a proposal to the Board regarding the future of the moratorium. It requests lifting the limit on the number of restaurant licenses that can be issued in the neighborhood and renewing the moratorium for a five-year period.

Currently, the moratorium only permits 14 restaurants to sell and serve beer, wine and spirits in the zone, which stretches 1,200 feet in all directions from 2436 Wisconsin Avenue, NW. It also prohibits any new alcohol licenses to liquor stores, nightclubs, taverns and multipurpose facilities. 

Members of the public that want to comment on the proposal can visit ABRA's website for details. The hearing will be held at the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board Hearing Room:

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

Georgetown Moratorium Zone Decision Scheduled March 30

Georgetown Street

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (Board) is scheduled to announce a decision regarding the future of the Georgetown Moratorium Zone at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 30.

In making its decision, the Board is considering all of the public comment it received on the issue to determine whether the moratorium should be continued in its current form, modified or allowed to expire.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the Board's announcement, which will be made in the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board Hearing Room:

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

Maintaining Your Form


Early morning yoga-dance parties are a new trend in the District. Business owners looking to host these events need to consider several factors before allowing yogis to strike a pose in their establishments. 

Any event held at an alcohol-licensed establishment—whether alcohol is being served or not—is required to occur during Alcoholic Beverage Control Board approved business hours. 

If an establishment is not licensed to operate during early morning hours, the licensee could apply for a one-day substantial change license to expand its hours for an event.

A licensee or an ABC Manager would also be required to be on duty at all times during the event regardless of whether alcohol is being sold and served. 

Licensees that have questions about obtaining one-day substantial change licenses can contact ABRA's Licensing Division by emailing or calling (202) 442-4423.  

Only Two ABC Licenses Left for District Liquor Stores

District Street Scene

The District is running out of available alcohol licenses for liquor stores.

A law caps the number of class A licenses that can be issued for new liquor stores District-wide at 250. As of March 16, all but two of the licenses had been issued. Once the cap is reached, the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) will cease issuing licenses to liquor stores until the number falls back below 250. 

The 250-cap only impacts stores permitted to sell spirits, beer and wine. A separate law limits the number of class B licenses that can be issued to stores permitted to sell beer and wine at 300; however, there are only 246 licenses currently issued.  

Follow ABRA on Twitter and facebook to get the latest updates on liquor store licenses in the District. 

Attend ABRA's April Training Sessions

ABRA Training

The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) will hold a variety of training sessions during the month of April. Alcoholic beverage licensees and their staff are welcome to attend any of the following seminars.

Learn to Spot a Fake ID - April 22-24

ABRA will hold a special ID compliance training from April 22-24. 

Law enforcement trainer and ID specialist Sgt. Christopher Bartolotta will lead the training and cover a host of topics, including: tips for spotting fake IDs; techniques for properly verifying IDs; and information on underage drinking.

A total of nine training sessions are available on Friday, April 22; Saturday, April 23; and Sunday April 24. Attendees only need to attend one of the two-hour training courses. Complete details are available on ABRA's website.

Books and Records Training - April 28

Hotel and restaurant licensees can learn more about food sales requirements at ABRA's Books and Records Training on Thursday, April 28. 

Training will cover food sales requirements; food sales reporting; quarterly statement filings; and books and records tracking.

Licensees can attend one two-hour training on Thursday, April 28 at either 9 a.m. or 2 p.m. Learn more on ABRA's website.

Orientation Training - April 14

New and existing licensees are invited to attend ABRA’s orientation training from 2-4 p.m. on Thursday, April 14 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,
  • Noise abatement and sound management, and
  • Best practices.

Attendance for this class is strongly recommended for new license holders. Visit ABRA's website for more details.

Training Location 

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

Updated Codes Available on ABRA's Website

ABRA Code Book

The latest copy of District alcohol laws and regulations is available for review on ABRA's website.

The new edition of D.C. Official Code Title 25 and D.C. Municipal Regulations Title 23 contains all legislation approved by the District of Columbia Council, Mayor Muriel Bowser and Congress since last spring. 

Of note, the Omnibus Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Amendment Act of 2015 was added, which includes the new farmers market license; extended hours and entertainment endorsement provisions for alcohol manufacturers; clarity regarding penalties for primary and secondary–tier-violations; and new requirements for record keeping.

In addition, Chapter 16 of Title 23 was overhauled. As part of ABRA's Procedural Amendment Approval Resolution of 2015 (PR21-0309), chapter 16 now provides the public with a comprehensive process for hearings held before the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. Further, topics were grouped together for clarity and rules were also added to include hearings not previously mentioned in the chapter. Changes have also been made to align the rules with nuances in current law. 

Licensees that have any questions about the law can contact ABRA by email or call (202) 442-4423.