Alcohol board snuffs out expansion plans by George

Photo by RJSmith

The District's Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) board issued a stinging denial of a request by George, the busy Prospect St. nightspot, to expand its business by lifting occupancy limits and other restrictions.

The May 4 decision called George's petition "inappropriate based on the Petitioner's previous and current failures to comply with the ABC laws," saying that granting George's application would "adversely impact the peace, order and quiet of the neighborhood."

George sought to double its allowed occupancy to 200 persons. The club has generated news coverage for its popularity and occasional disruptions in the complex shared by Café Milano, Peacock Café and Morton's, as well as numerous residents.

In its strongly-worded ruling, the Board also questioned George's claim that it is a restaurant. "The facts elicited during the protest hearing also indicate that George may not be compliant with the definition of a restaurant," the decision stated. "The Board intends to further investigate this matter."

Four of five ABC Board members signed the decision. Charles Brodsky, the controversial chairman of the Board, recused himself at the recommendation of the Attorney General's office following an appearance at a November ANC meeting in which he spoke both as the alcohol chairman and on behalf of one of his businesses, The Nation's Triathlon, which was seeking street closures that require ANC approval.

ANC2E Alcohol Committee Co-Chair Bill Starrels praised the decision. "The teamwork between the ANC, CAG and neighbors with the help of our neighbor and attorney Tim Altemus paid off," he said. "This protest took a lot of time from many people. The team stayed focused and prevailed."

The D.C. Inspector General and the Attorney General's offices are looking into allegations of ethical violations by Brodsky, the Washington Examiner reported.

The two investigative bodies now join the Mayor's office, which has been examining charges that Brodsky reversed longstanding District policy in favor of a liquor wholesaler after it hired an attorney who is his friend.

Brodsky has generated concern across the city in his handling of alcohol issues. "Brodsky has been a disaster as a chair," said Councilmember Tommy Wells (Ward 6), who represents Capitol Hill and parts of downtown. "He has damaged our neighorhoods."

Councilmember Mary Cheh (Ward 3), a law professor, said Brodsky's appearance of conflict of interest could damage the Board's credibility. "Sometimes it is better to remove oneself from situations that generate so much public concern," she told The Georgetown Dish.


 

0 Comments For This Article

Anonymous

Sometimes good guys prevail! Your photo of New Years Eve line up
is not the shorts flipflops and sloppy attire of other nights. Thanks Dish for good timely reporting!

Anonymous

There should be more investigation into the possible wrongdoing of Brodsky's "friend," Emanuel Mpras. The DC Bar should also get involved in this.

Roger Donaldson

"Sometimes good guys prevail! Your photo of New Years Eve line up
is not the shorts flipflops and sloppy attire of other nights."

Ignoring the fact that George is probably the third most upscale bar in Georgetown besides Bourbon Steak and the Ritz, what business is it of anyone's if patrons of George choose to wear shorts and flip flops to a bar on a warm night?

Anonymous

George, a restaurant? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA.

There is no menu, never has been (except for catered private events).

How many restaurants have no kitchen at all?

Charles Bourne

George has always had both a menu and a huge kitchen.

Anonymous

There is a menu and there is a kitchen

Anonymous

I had an excellent steak tartar there on saturday night, and their late night Roast Beef Sandwiches are the best in DC by far.

James Gibson

The Roast Beef is notable, but my true favorite are their fish tacos and burritos. Sondra makes them extra spicy.

Old Timer

"Your photo of New Years Eve line up is not the shorts flipflops and sloppy attire of other nights."

The audacity of these young hooligans to occasionally wear shorts to a bar! What will become of our village?

When reading these propaganda pieces in the Georgetown Dish keep in mind that both the Chair of the Madelon Condominium Association (the building in which George is located) and two residents of the Madelon testified on behalf of George at the Liquor Board hearing. This support from Madelon residents has of course never been referenced in any of Beth Solomon's articles. And despite never citing any actual real people as sources, Beth has no problem making bizarre claims about George, such as it being a "threat" to Cafe Milano (http://thegeorgetowndish.com/thedish/caf%C3%A9-milano-threatened-unruly-...). This, of course, comes as a surprise since Milano's maitre d', Laurent Menoud, personally escorts Milano patrons to George after they finish dining on almost a nightly basis.

Anonymous

Nice one-sided article. Did you even try to get a quote from someone who disagreed with the decision? I don't understand what is hard to understand for these people: more people allowed INSIDE means fewer people waiting (and talking) OUTSIDE where their noise might actually affect the neighbors. Also, people who live two floors up from George say they've never heard a peep from the customers. Meanwhile, Cafe Milano has their stereo wired to outdoor speakers and nobody gets offended by the euro trash music they play for the entire neighborhood to enjoy?

The far bigger problem affecting the 3200 block of Prospect Street is the parade of limousines and Escalades blocking traffic waiting for Cafe Milano customers. Prospect Street is far too busy to block one lane.

Georgetown Resident

Considering that you have failed to report both sides, it is clear that you have an agenda. Also confusing is the linking of an article written in 2007 claiming to be media coverage for George, when the piece is actually about certain individuals posting on a local social networking site and mentions other establishments, Town Hall and Smith Point. George wasn't mentioned in the article because George wouldn't open for another TWO years (August 2009). As the above comment mentions, The Threat to Cafe Milano piece you wrote, which quoted one anonymous neighbor, reads more along the lines of high school gossip than actual reporting. "Well, I heard so and so doesn't like this person." I would think if you had reached out to the said "threatened establishment" or even the owners of George, your piece would have been quite different as George has a great relationship with Milano and other neighboring establishments.

Perhaps if you did reach out to the owners of George, you would learn that they grew up in the area, their parents live in Georgetown, they go to church in Georgetown, and for these reasons, they go beyond the call to be respectful neighbors. You might also learn that just over the past year and half, they have helped raised, I would assume, close to $100k for various charities via fundraisers at George.

As a friend of the owners of George, I am aware of the hearing regarding their Voluntary agreement and since you won't present both sides, I feel I must present two important facts that you have left out. First, your claim that George sought to double their occupancy, while true from a certain point of view, is not the whole story. The Voluntary Agreement they assumed, which was written over 5 years ago for Georgetown Billiards, restricts the occupancy to 50% of what the Fire Marshall deemed permissible (200 occupants). Seems unfair when they are paying to lease space for 200 but are only allowed 99 customers. Second, it should be known that the reason George had to go to ABC was because, despite numerous attempts to re-negotiate the Voluntary Agreement with the ANC, as they do with several other establishments, the ANC was unwilling to do so.

I wish you would attempt to properly report on issues concerning George by presenting both sides and maybe even take the time to at least meet the men behind George. If you were to do this, I think it would be much more difficult to continue to slander their establishment.

Anonymous

Response to Roger Donaldson,

If you don't think people in shorts, flipflops and sloppy attire going into George belies their representation as upscale witH K St.lawyers, I can't explain. The police calls and ABRA (ABC)fines speak to the issue too.

I think your saying George is DC's third most upscale bar proves the point. They have a restaurant license and are required to comport themselves as such and comply with specific restaurant requirements.
Their restaurant license is a beard.

Anonymous

Ms. Solomon

Why do you report on this topic with such a clear disdain for George? Why does it bother you so much? Are you against business in general?

Charles Bourne

"If you don't think people in shorts, flipflops and sloppy attire going into George belies their representation as upscale wit H K St.lawyers, I can't explain."

Sometimes young lawyers wear shorts and flip flops when they go out on spring and summer nights. I know, the horror....

Let me guess -- after you see that George satisfies its food requirements you're going to pull out the ruler to make sure that women's skirts are no shorter than 2 inches above the knee.

Outside Ombudsman

Today Beth Solomon removed the completely irrelevant link to a Washington City Paper article that was linked to the word "popularity".

She then linked the word "occasional disruptions" to a Dish article she wrote about Cafe Milano being "threatened" by George. The article has no reference to any specific disruptions nor does it have any actual sources.

Beth Solomon failed to note that these changes were made either below or above the article.

Another Georgetown Neighbor

Umm. Have any of those who commented thus far taken the time to read the actual opinion which is the subject of the article? Apparently not.

I have. It makes no mention of flip-flops, K-Street lawyers, whether the owners are from the Washington, D.C. area, whether the owners live in Georgetown, whether the owners are nice people or bad, and whether the protestants are good people or bad. Instead, it addresses the evidence presented by the owners of George (through their representative) and whether they were entitled to the relief they sought pursuant to D.C. regulations and laws.

Afforded every opportunity possible to present all evidence they wanted and argument regarding the same, they lost. Not a soul from Georgetown or the Georgetown Dish had a vote.

At least Ms. Solomon took the time to read the opinion before reporting. She also was present at the hearings in question; I know, I was also there.

Does anyone take the time anymore to formulate an informed opinion? Or is the best we can do is try and yell louder? The George opinion is there for the reading. Effort used to be part of our society's vernacular, not a strange word to be looked up in Webster's.

It's a thirteen page opinion. Anyone care to address the merits; or is complaining the sole means of attack?

Anonymous

Why don't we focus on the facts. Here are some excerpts of what the ABC Board found:

"The evidence presented to the Board demonstrates that the Petitioner has a history of violating its Voluntary Agreement. First on September 18, 2009 and September 19,2009 the Petitioner violated its occupancy limitations."

"Second, Mr. ...., one of the Petitioner's managing members, admitted that his establishment violated its Voluntary Agreement's occupancy requirements on another occasion while holding a party for CAG"

"Based on these facts, the Board is entitled to infer that the Petitioner has been regularly incompliant with its Voluntary Agreement and, thus, consistently violating the law. Given this history, it would be a disservice to the Petitioner's neighbors to terminate the Voluntary Agreement when the Board has grave doubts about the Petitioner's willingness and ability to comply with ABC laws."

anonymous

With all we know, is anyone still actually eating (or serving) steak tartar?

To Bill Starrels

It's a pretty flimsy argument to deny George's motion because they admitted that twice over the past 21 months they have had more than 100 people inside. Particularly troubling is that one of these nights the Citizens Association of Georgetown was hosting a private event. The lawyer that represented the Georgetown ANC in this case is the husband of the president of the Georgetown CAG (Jennifer Altemus). I guess it's okay to break the capacity rules so long as a Georgetown neighborhood association is hosting an event. It's quite convenient that the Citizens Association of Georgetown could host this event for a group larger than the stated capacity, and then subsequently tattle on George for having accommodated their event and breaking the capacity rules.

And just to add some context to the discussion, most venues in the city break their capacity limits every single weekend and would likely go out of business if these rules were actually enforced.

Anonymous

What a blatant misrepresentation of ABRA's opinion. Simply pathetic. Care to explain why you didn't mention the ABRA's analysis in their opinion as to whether George even meets the definition of a restaurant because of their failures to abide by several sections of the restaurant code? Any reason you failed to mention that the occupancy violations for which George was sanctioned had nothing to do with CAG? Any reason you failed to mention George appealed those violations the Court of Appeals who found their arguments without merit? Care to explain the relevance of identifying CAG's lawyer?

Sir, facts don't cease to exist because you don't like them. I challenge you to explain to the readers any inaccuracy in the findings identified above. I also challenge you to explain to the readers why you chose to mischaracterize the rulings of ABRA. I'll be looking but not holding my breath. It doesn't appear you care about the truth. I do hope I'm wrong.

Anonymous

No one willing to to stand up for themselves? Just a month ago the supporters of George had no problem expressing their opinion about how wrong the ABRA ruling was. Asked to cite a place in the opinion to support their allegations, things got awfully quiet. Do the owners of George know their friends are making unsubstantiated allegations in the local press?

Curious for response. But why start know?

To Bill Starrels

"Any reason you failed to mention George appealed those violations the Court of Appeals who found their arguments without merit?"

Yes, I didn't mention that because it's not true. The appeals court has neither ruled on the filing nor heard the case.

Anonymous

If it's not true, why then is the very Court of Appeals ruling cited as authority in ABRA's May 4, 2011, opinion?

Is there a reason you've chosen not to defend the remaining allegations set forth in your prior comment?