ABRA's Last Call Newsletter: September/October 2017 Edition

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Last Call Newsletter

September-October 2017

The Wharf by the Numbers

The Wharf

The District of Columbia will debut its redevelopment of the waterfront neighborhood—the Wharf— during four days of events kicking off Oct. 12. After undergoing years of construction, the mixed-use neighborhood will emerge with a dynamic dining and nightlife landscape.

As of Oct. 12, seven restaurants, seven taverns, three hotels, two boats, a music venue, beer and wine store, liquor store, yacht club and caterer had been approved for liquor licenses at the Wharf by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (Board). Of the 24 applicants, 17 businesses were issued liquor licenses in time to operate for the Wharf’s grand opening on Oct. 12. Each remaining license will be issued once construction is complete at an establishment and all required documents are received.  

A common characteristic among businesses in the area will be the use of outdoor space. Seventeen establishments are approved to have private patios. Eight of which have applied to operate multiple patio spaces, including several rooftop decks. Outdoor patio space at the Wharf will provide more than 2,000 outdoor seats.

In addition to outdoor dining, patrons will be able to enjoy a vibrant nightlife scene that will include music and entertainment. Eleven establishments are currently approved to offer entertainment, which could include a band, DJ or other performance. Ten of the 11 businesses are approved for indoor entertainment. Four are approved for outdoor entertainment. Five of the 11 businesses can also provide a dance floor and four can charge a cover. 

Patrons heading out to enjoy the Wharf’s waterfront dining and nightlife will have a unique option for getting there. Two water taxis have been issued licenses to sell and serve beer and wine while traveling between the Wharf, Georgetown, National Harbor and Old Town Alexandria. Each water taxi can hold up to 149 patrons.

More alcohol-license applications for the Wharf are expected to arrive during 2018 and beyond. A second phase of the Wharf project is projected to commence in mid-2018, according to wharfdc.com

Licensees of the Wharf are encouraged to attend ABRA’s Licensee Orientation training, which is scheduled at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 19. Complete details are available on ABRA's website. In an effort to educate and inform licensees, including those opening at the Wharf, ABRA will be providing an additional training to its schedule, which will take place at 2 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 4.  

Technical Rulemaking Hearing

Title 23

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (Board) will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. on Oct. 18 to receive public comment on its proposed rulemaking that would make changes to several chapters of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations Title 23. 

Proposed changes would affect chapters 1-3, 5, 7-10, 12, 13 and 15-17. The main objective of the proposal is to align District alcohol regulations in Title 23 with nuances resulting from the Omnibus Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. Law 21-260), which took effect in April.  

In addition, the proposal will make several administrative and technical changes, including updating license renewal periods; reorganizing ABRA's fee schedule; requiring parties in protest and show cause hearings to share evidence with one another at least a week prior to a hearing with the Board; and allowing protest petitions to be filed with electronic signatures. Complete details are available in the Board's Technical Amendment Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

Members of the public can provide comments on the proposal either at the Board’s hearing or by submitting written comments. Individuals and representatives of organizations that want to testify in person at the hearing should contact Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) General Counsel Martha Jenkins by 5 p.m. on Oct. 13 by either: 

  • Emailing; or 
  • Calling (202) 442-4456. 

Provide the full name, title, and organization, if applicable, of the person(s) testifying. A witness will need to bring six copies of the testimony to the hearing. 

Members of the public that are unable to testify in person are encouraged to provide written comments, which will be made a part of the Board’s official record. Copies of written statements should include the full name, title, and organization, if applicable, of the person(s) providing comments. Submit written statements no later than 5 p.m. on Oct. 27 by: 

  • Email; or 
  • Mail: ABRA; 2000 14th St., NW, Suite 400 South, 4th Floor Washington, DC 20009.

Complete hearing details are available on ABRA's website.

    East Dupont Circle Moratorium Ends

    East Dupont map

    On Sept. 27, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (Board) voted not to reinstate the East Dupont Circle Moratorium Zone, which expired on Aug. 21. As a result, licensing restrictions in the neighborhood have been lifted after being in effect for approximately 23 years.

    The Board held a hearing on Sept. 20 to receive public input on the Dupont Circle Citizens Association's (DCCA) proposal to retain the cap on nightclub and tavern licenses for an additional three years. The request was later amended to only pertain to nightclubs. Earlier this year, Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B notified the Board that it did not seek renewal of the moratorium. 

    After reviewing testimony from both sides, the Board agreed with ANC 2B. In its opinion, the Board noted that ANC 2B, DCCA, residents and the industry have been able to work together over the years to address many of the concerns associated with taverns and nightclubs. Like the ANC, the Board stated that if managed properly, a thriving and safe nightlife can act as an economic engine by attracting new businesses and restaurants, diversifying the range of cultural offerings, creating employment opportunities and increasing tourism.

    Established in 1994, the East Dupont Circle Moratorium had been renewed five times and modified over the years. Under the most recent regulations, the moratorium limited the number of tavern and nightclub licenses that could be issued in an area extending approximately 600 feet in all directions from the intersection of 17th and Q streets, NW. Restrictions included a cap of two licenses that could be issued to taverns and prohibited the issuance of any licenses to nightclubs. 

    As a result of the moratorium expiring, the Board can now issue all types of licenses in East Dupont Circle. 

    A complete list of neighborhood moratorium zones is available on ABRA's website.

    File Quarterly Statements by Oct. 30

    Oct 30

    Alcohol-licensed restaurants and hotels are required to file third-quarter statements with the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) by Oct. 30. 

    Statements are to report this year's July-September gross sales receipts for food and alcohol as well as total expenses for the purchase of food and alcohol.

    Under the law, restaurants and hotels licensed to sell beer, wine and liquor (class C licenses) are required to meet annual gross food sales of $2,000 per occupant or 45 percent of annual gross receipts. Restaurants and hotels licensed to sell beer and wine (class D licenses) are required to meet annual gross food sales of $1,500 per occupant or 45 percent of annual gross receipts. Hotel sales requirements are based on dining room occupancy.

    Visit ABRA's website to learn more or to complete forms online

    New Food Service Product Regulations

    service ware reqs

    Businesses that serve food or beverages in the District could face fines next year if certain disposable food service products fail to meet the expanded requirements issued by the District’s Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE). 

    Disposable food service products that cannot be recycled or composted were banned this year. Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, DOEE will begin enforcement of the regulations at any business or organization that serves food using disposable non-recyclable or non-compostable products. This includes clamshells, bowls, plates, trays, cups, paper bags with plastic windows, foil-lined deli paper wraps, and other items.  

    In addition, businesses and organizations that serve food will continue to face fines for using disposable containers made of expanded polystyrene, often sold as Styrofoam, which was banned in 2016. 

    Both restrictions were included in the Sustainable DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2014, which aims to better protect the environment. A complete list of restrictions as well as banned and exempt products is available on DOEE's website. 

    Clocks Fall Back Nov. 5


    Restaurants, taverns, hotels, and other on-premises establishments will have an extra hour to operate as a result of Daylight Saving Time. 

    Clocks will fall back one hour from 2 a.m. to 1 a.m. on the morning of Sunday, Nov. 5creating an extra hour in the day. Establishments that normally operate at 2 a.m. will automatically gain an additional hour to conduct business. Establishments will be required to stop all sales and service of alcoholic beverages by 3 a.m. unless the establishment's license states otherwise. No registration is required to participate.

    Licensees that have questions can contact the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration by emailing or by calling (202) 442-4423.

    2018 Extended Holiday Hours Calendar Released


    Nearly 200 restaurants, bars, nightclubs and hotels in the District were able to stay open later during 10 holidays this year as participants in the extended holiday hours program. Next year, enrolled licensees will be able to operate later during 11 holidays. Complete details are available in the 2018 Extended Holiday Hours Calendar.

    The extended holiday hours program allows eligible alcohol-licensed establishments to sell and serve alcohol until 4 a.m. and operate 24 hours a day during certain federal holidays and three-day holiday weekends.

    Licensees are required to register with the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) to participate. Once a licensee is registered and approved for extended holiday hours, the registration is valid for all remaining applicable holidays that year and each year thereafter. 

    On-premises licensees that are interested in participating in the program can sign up by submitting a registration form at least 30 days prior to the first holiday an applicant wants to participate in. 

    Licensees with settlement agreements or Board orders restricting operating hours may not be eligible to participate. 

    Complete details are available on ABRA's website.

    Attend Upcoming ABRA Trainings

    Hands Raised

    The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) has a host of upcoming trainings for licensees and the public.

    Licensee Orientation Training

    New and existing alcohol licensees are invited to attend ABRA's Licensee Orientation Training from 2-4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 19. Training will cover District alcohol laws and regulations (including recent changes to the law); tips for working effectively with the community; settlement agreements; noise abatement and sound management; and more.

    Register online or contact ABRA Community Resource Officer Sarah Fashbaugh by Friday, Oct. 13 by emailing or calling (202) 397-3971.

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

    Community Training

    Residents and community organizations are invited to attend ABRA’s community training from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 26. Training will cover District alcohol laws, protest processes, filing settlement agreements, and ABRA resources and hearing processes.

    Register online or contact ABRA Community Resource Officer Sarah Fashbaugh by Friday, Oct. 20 to register by emailing or calling (202) 397-3971.

    Training Locations

    All trainings are free of charge and located at ABRA's office: 

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