After repeatedly ruling that JP’s Night Club (2412 Wisconsin Ave.) could reopen without community comment, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board last week decided to investigate the strip club’s new interior configuration before opening its doors to the public.
Since January 2008, when a fire destroyed the original JP’s building, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3B has asked the ABC Board several times to consider revoking the club’s liquor license. The ANC has raised questions about the club’s changing ownership, the club’s appropriateness to an increasingly kid-centric neighborhood, and, most recently, its plans to add semi-private performance spaces to the rebuilt club’s interior. The ANC argued that these spaces would increase the likelihood of illegal hanky-panky between performers and patrons and that it constituted a substantial change from the old club’s operations. By law, any substantial change must be approved by the liquor board.
On June 5, the board denied ANC Commissioner Jackie Blumenthal’s written request to investigate the semi-private spaces as a substantial change. But on June 12, after the JP’s ownership applied to reactivate the club’s dormant license, the board decided to hold a hearing on the matter after all. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration spokesman Bill Hager did not respond to emailed requests for comment, but a knowledgeable source outside the agency says that the hearing is likely to involve testimony only from an ABRA investigator. If the liquor board determines that the new interior layout of JP’s constitutes a substantial change, it must then decide whether the change is acceptable, which might involve a second hearing with community input. If the board sees no substantial change to the bar’s operations, it would likely reactivate the liquor license, allowing the club to reopen.
The fact-finding hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 19.