City Desk

Neighborhood Watch: No Voluntary Do-Overs in Georgetown

Washington Harbour

Washington Harbour

The Issue: Six Georgetown restaurants, including four along Washington Harbour, are trying to back out of their voluntary agreements with neighbors. The VAs, as they're often called in NIMBY circles, legally bind the operators to certain hours and methods of operation as a condition of their licenses to sell alcohol. Violations of these agreements tend to draw the ire of the District's Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA). Buzzkill!

It's About Flexibility: On Tuesday, the Georgetown eateries (Cabanas, Los Cuates, Mate, Riverside Grille, Neyla, Tony & Joe's Seafood) formally asked local Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2E to let them back out of their existing VAs. "We need more flexibility to extend a little more hours and also expand," says Luis Merchan, co-owner of Los Cuates at 1564 Wisconsin Avenue NW.  "When we got this place, we got it empty. After six or seven months, this place started picking up and crowding. We see that it needs to be upgraded and expanded."

It's About Decibels: Condo owners at Washington Harbour, at least, are none too pleased at the prospect of restaurants reneging, particularly when it comes to restrictions on amplified music. "As soon as you've got amplified music, then you've got people who speak at a higher voice level because they have to speak above the amplified music," says ANC commissioner Tom Birch. "I would like us not to permit any kind of amplified music. It just deteriorates the scene, aesthetically, socially and civilly."

What's Next? Certainly not cranking the volume. The ANC unanimously rejected the restaurants' request to terminate their voluntary agreements.

Photo by Alex Burchfield

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