In discussions about the potential renewal of the Glover Park liquor license moratorium—which ANC 3B is voting on tonight—two convenient fallacies have been put forth on the ANC’s website. Convenient, that is, for those who want to extend the moratorium as-is.
The first fallacy is the notion that two full-service (CR) liquor licenses have long been available in the neighborhood, “one of which has been on the market for 3 years.” In fact, the license for Town Hall’s old location, 2218 Wisconsin Ave., was in use until last month, and the license for Margarita’s restaurant, which closed at 2317 Wisconsin Ave. in 2008, went on the market only recently, in response to spontaneous interest from two separate parties. The suggestion that there’s no market for the neighborhood’s currently available CR licenses is incorrect.
The second fallacy is the idea that an attempt to attract new restaurants to the neighborhood by adding three new CR licenses in 2008 failed. “All three new CR licenses were taken by establishments currently operating in Glover Park,” the ANC’s website states.
But only one of those three licenses was applied for by an established Glover Park business, Rocklands (2418 Wisconsin Ave.), and it was granted only over the strong objections of then-commissioner Alan Blevins. Blevins argued that “the ANC’s intent in adding three liquor licenses was to expand business along Wisconsin Ave.,” so the license should go to a new establishment.
No such objection was raised to the CR license applications for Surfside (2444 Wisconsin Ave.) or Breadsoda (2233 Wisconsin Ave.), which won the other two new licenses. And why not? Because they weren’t in operation when they applied for the licenses.
The Glover Park Citizens’ Association first voted to support additional CR licenses in the neighborhood in November, 2007. The ANC did likewise in January, 2008. As soon as the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board ruled to add three licenses in April, 2008, Breadsoda and Surfside immediately applied. Both restaurants had already rented space in Glover Park by then, but neither was open yet. (They both opened that summer, using DR licenses that allowed them to sell wine and beer, but not spirits. Glover Park’s moratorium does not limit the number of DR licenses. After administrative delays, their CR licenses were issued in 2009.)
Breadsoda shares owners with Bourbon (2348 Wisconsin Ave.) and Surfside shares owners with Smith Point (1338 Wisconsin Ave.). The suggestion that both these ownership groups simultaneously decided to open new restaurants in Glover Park without a thought of eventually serving hard liquor—while at the very same time, the GPCA and ANC were publicly expressing their support for additional CR licenses—does not compute. Much more likely is that the public support for new CR licenses attracted two new restaurants hoping to snag them.
In debating whether the moratorium should be extended, with or without alterations, the ANC has much to consider. But they should consider the matter in the light of the true market for Glover Park’s current CR licenses and the true past effect of adding new ones.
This piece reflects the views of its author and should not be attributed to the Glover Park Gazette.