Group aims to strip club of ABC license

Photo by Bill Petros/The Current
The owner of JP's, a Glover Park strip club, plans to sell the business and its liquor license.
The owner of JP's, a Glover Park strip club, plans to sell the business and its liquor license.

By Julia Fisher

Current Correspondent

 

Michael Papanicolas and his father before him have owned JP’s Night Club since 1986, but when Papanicolas sought to renew his liquor license this year, he met a protest from 16 neighbors of the Glover Park strip club. The D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board heard the case last Wednesday and is expected to vote on the license within three months.

The strip club at 2412 Wisconsin Ave. has been on a three-year hiatus since it burned down in January 2008. Papanicolas is set to take possession of a newly constructed building on the site on June 1. He plans to sell the liquor license to a new owner, who he said would continue similar operations.

Community members who filed the protest last week claimed the license renewal would negatively impact the increasingly family-oriented Glover Park.

Papanicolas’ attorney, James Charles, said the claim that the club would change the neighborhood was absurd considering the business’ longevity.

 “There was not one solitary violation of ABC regulations” during the 22 years JP’s operated, Charles told the board.

Papanicolas signed a voluntary agreement with the advisory neighborhood commission to pre-empt a protest in 2007. The club was in complete compliance at the time of the fire.

“There can’t be any ground for a protest in light of the fact that the premises had been burned and [JP’s] wasn’t operating,” said Charles.

But protesters argued that the demographics of Glover Park have shifted in recent years, and a strip club no longer seems appropriate.

Glover Park advisory neighborhood commission chair Brian Cohen pointed to 2010 Census results that show that Glover Park has seen a 60 percent increase in children since 1990.

“The crowd at JP’s is a different crowd than at, say, Z Burger,” Cohen said. “To some extent there are intrinsic problems with this kind of a facility.”

Protesters also worried that JP’s would cause further parking problems in an already-congested area, that crowds gathering outside the establishment would act disruptively, and that crime would rise.

Police reports listed 12 calls from the club’s address between 2002 and 2007, seven of which were for assaults, said Cohen.

Charles said it is possible that some of the emergency calls reported the address incorrectly.

Protesters also accused Papanicolas of lying when he told the advisory neighborhood commission last fall that he was not planning to sell the license.

Charles explained that the sale had looked likely to fall through at the time.

Papanicolas said he is now in the process of selling his license, and the prospective buyer needs only to work out a lease before the transaction can be completed. He said the buyer, whom he did not name, has agreed to follow the existing voluntary agreement and to provide valet parking and an outdoor smoking area to alleviate congestion in front of the club.

The club’s ability to operate as a nude-dancing venue was grandfathered into city regulations -- an arrangement that prohibits the license from moving to another location.

Another strip club, Good Guys, operates across the street from JP’s at 2311 Wisconsin Ave. Charles asked why JP’s was singled out for protest, considering that Good Guys has been the site of violent crimes, unlike JP’s. “What direct danger does JP’s pose to those children over and above other ABC establishments?” he asked.

“All we’re trying to do is go back into business,” Charles said. “It is truly a commercial strip. It’s not a quaint little neighborhood like it was maybe 40 or 50 years ago.”

But protester Lauren Biel disagreed: “We are a quaint neighborhood,” she said. “People can’t believe we’re getting a second strip club in the neighborhood. We don’t have a toy store. We don’t have things that actually cater to the neighborhood.”

After the hearing, Biel said, “Nobody wants to feel like they’re being the puritan. … We’re not trying to be a bunch of prudes. … We feel that this type of establishment brings a series of other effects.”

Former neighborhood commissioner Melissa Lane referred to two prostitution rings that were shut down in the neighborhood in 2007. “We were concerned that there was a connection [between the prostitution and the strip club], that one type of operation made it easier for the other to move in,” she said.

Biel testified that she finds it difficult to answer her 2-year-old son’s questions about what will move in to the site of construction that so fascinates him.

“I believe people should operate a business where they want to,” said Jon Wolfsthal, another protester. “But I believe [other] people should have the ability to decide what businesses they want in the neighborhood. People who drink during the day, who get whipped up into a sexual frenzy through nude dancing, are gonna be loud and boisterous, and with the children, that’s a volatile mix.”

“We’re trying to make a hard case,” Biel said after the hearing. “We know that these types of licenses make a lot of money for the city. … There’s a lot of incentive for everybody to pass this through.”

Throughout the hearing, Charles Brodsky, then-chair of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, scolded attorney Charles for interrupting witnesses and asking leading questions. “Mr. Charles, you’re simply testifying from your bench,” Brodsky said. He threatened to dismiss Charles from the hearing several times.

 

This article appears in the June 1 issue of The Georgetown Current newspaper.

0 Comments For This Article

thefrontpage

This idiotic opposition to strip clubs in general and this insanely stupid opposition to the great, fun, law-abiding and generally greatly entertaining JP's is simply moronic, idiotic, and rooted in blind fear and ignorance. There is literally nothing wrong with having a strip club in a neighborhood--really. It is an adult business, legally operating, for the adult entertainment of men in the community. That's just about it. Kids see worse than the storefront on their phones, their computers, their Ipods and Ipads and notebooks and whatever, and they hear far worse every single day in school. Now, that's reality. The only thing anyone sees with a strip club is the storefront and a sign. That's it. No children can enter a strip club. There is nothing wrong--nothing-with a strip club. As the owners noted in the story, JP's operated 22 years without a single violation--I and others dare these moronic people in opposition to find another place with that great record. I attended JP's every year that it was in business--and there was nothing wrong with it. Nothing. No one should oppose JP's, and people who worry about strip clubs need to get a life, and get a firm grip on reality.

Free DC

Hold up a second!!!!

A business just redeveloped their land with a beautiful new buidling and The City needs all revenues it can find. Both should be working hard to open doors as soon as possible. I would venture to guess that at least 20 women would find a living wage level job there.

I have lived within five blocks of JPs since 1989. I have lived in DC for 30 years. I used to eat ice cream at what was called "Bob's Famous" next door to JPs in 1981. I was a kid then, and knew there were two strip joints, and thought that was okay. It didn't harm me or my sisters, or anyone else.

The cultural censors who are trying to engineer how we spend our money or what options we can have here in the Land of the Free are dead wrong on this. What if they didn't like dogs or pets? Would they challenge a pet store? What if, like me, they didn't like the increase in preppy entitled college kids who run roughshod through our neighborhood, acting like Glover Park is a plaything for their disposal - causing fights, littering, keeping us up late. At least Good Guys and JPs make an effort to calm their patrons who are usually less drunl than the kids who wear pink lacoste shirts with popped collars. But I don't. They have a right to be here, as long as they act within the law.

If you want to attack people who do not have any regard for Glover Park, go after the punks who hang out at Gin n Tonic - or the two MPD officers who stand there salivating over the girls, allowing the sidewalk to be blocked. I smell more pot being smoked outside the other unnammed businesses than Good Guys or I ever did at JPs. I walk the Avenue late night before closing time at least three times a week. The only problem I really see is the drunk entitiled college kids who block the walkway at Gin n Tonic.

On the contrary, Good Guys is a patron and sponsoor of Glover Park Day each year!! JPs should do the same. Good Guys makes an effort to reach out to people at their booth every year. They are not bad people. In fact, they are good people. Nothing untoward happens inside these strip clubs. Not a lap dance - or even a table dance. There are no trafficked humans.

So to Mr. Cohen and the ANC (African National Congress) leftist censors I say this: move.

People who want to dictate what kind of businesses are acceptable on their main street of the world's Capital of Democracy and Capitalism should go live in gated communities - not our city.

In fact, I'm going to the proprietor this afternoon to enlist my support for his establishment. I hope others will join us.

NOTE: Glover Park is the highest percentage of Democrats in any precinct of this city. Advocates for the basic values of freedom of expression should be beating back Mr. Choen and his facist social engineers who are force-feeding us their dictums! We should rally in front of the homes of thoese closed-mided fools to make clear that they have overstepped the lines of everything Dems stand for: freedom of expression, the pursuit of happiness and standing up for the vicitms of tyrannical conrol.

Shame on all of the NIMBY's who oppose this. On behalf of the long-term residents of Glover Park, true Deocrats and the values of freedom and capitalism, I say this: Go live in Bethesda, Mr. Cohen and Mr. Wolfsthal, and Ms. Lane!

And while you are at it, try not to repress your sexualty. You may get whpped into a frenzy and hurt some children.

Furthermore, Ms. Lane's claim of two protitiution rings opening nearby is full of holes, ahem. Examier should to excatly that: examine that claim.

JPs should be expedited for a quick opening!

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs. Freedom, Freedom, Freedom.

Anonymous

Have you ever seen a proposed strip club with so many windows. yawza!

Anonymous

There are so many other stores and restaurants that Glover Park could better use. I am part of te youn professional crowd in GP and most of the people I know are very against this. But... If they are allowed to operate hopefully there will be a lack of commission from the people in this area and it will have go close sooner than later. Strip clubs (like good guys) bring a very different feel to this beautiful neighborhood.

Anonymous

Only of tangential interest, I loved the headlines in the two recent lead articles....."STRIP club of ABC license," and "raise the BAR" at ABC Board. Somebody has a sense of humor.Hebert,ownoth

Anonymous

Well written! I have lived in Glover Park for 10+ years and am appalled by the behavior of some of the locals. There is nothing wrong with continuing an adult entertainment establishment in this spot and these people need to get a life. I LOVE how the liberals are all about freedom of speech, etc. until you mess with their agenda's. Pffftt...