City Desk

Will Mt. Pleasant Go To Haydee’s? Owners, NIMBYs Await ABC Ruling

haydee'sHaydee Vanegas is confident that city regulators will ultimately rule in her favor. "We expect a good answer," she tells City Desk.

The co-owner of Haydee's, a Salvadorean restaurant at 3102 Mt. Pleasant Street NW, sparked a neighborhood fight earlier this year when she decided to apply for a CN-class nightclub license, a move that would unburden her eatery from the city's stringent food-sales requirements and allow her to expand its hours of operation.

After months of arguing the issue on neighborhood Listservs and meetings of the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission, Vanegas and her detractors finally got to duke it out in front of the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board on May 26.

At the hearing, though, Haydee's opponents were thrown for something of a loop. A group of five nearby residents who had formed to protest the nightclub license were not allowed to testify because they had not filed the proper paperwork.  While the Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Alliance's Sam Broeksmit was permitted to testify, the topics that he was allowed to discuss were more limited than he had anticipated.

Broeksmit had planned to argue that a tavern license would meet Haydee's needs, that many of the signatures on the petition in support of Haydee's application were not from Mount Pleasant residents, and that Haydee's food sales are consistently above the 45 percent threshold it needs to meet as a restaurant. The ABC Board, however, only allowed him to speak to issues of peace and quiet, property values, and parking.

"They basically instructed Sam saying, 'You've got to defend the assertion that the conversion to a nightclub will cause problems under one or all of those categories,'" says ANC Commissioner Jack McKay, a supporter of Haydee's application. "He really wasn't prepared to do that."

"I definitely had to change on the fly," Broeksmit admits. "I guess I would say it was uneven. There was a very narrow box being put around what we could say and then a broad box around what Haydee's could testify to and what the Board to ask questions to."

The limited scope of what he was allowed to testify about was just the latest hurdle in what has been a "frustrating" process for Broeksmit.

His neighborhood association has pushed without success for Haydee's to instead apply for a tavern license with an entertainment endorsement, a compromise Broeksmit says would let Haydee's achieve its desired goals of longer hours for dancing, greater capacity, and a lower food-sales requirement but without near-total lack of restrictions that comes with a nightclub license.

"We support almost everything she wants, yet she wants it within a nightclub for no clearly articulated reason," Broeksmit says.

Given the bad blood between Broeksmit and Haydee's, though—the two were foes in the 2008 battle over the ban on dancing and live music at Mt. Pleasant Street restaurants—it's perhaps unsurprising that Haydee's is resistant to the tavern compromise. Haydee's owner Vanegas says she feels Broeksmit's group is "anti-business" and that the tavern license would come with "too many restrictions."

"They would still be at the mercy of the MPNA, and that's basically what Haydee objected to," McKay says. "I think largely because they have such a long history of conflict with the MPNA, they don't want anything to do with the MPNA."

The ABC Board has 90 days after the hearing to review and decide the case.

Photo by CarrieA, Creative Commons Attribution License

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  • Jack

    I'd like to point out that Sam Broeksmit is a reasonable guy, and he's certainly not responsible for the "long history of conflict" between Haydee's and the MPNA. For a decade, up until a year or so ago, the MPNA was led by Laurie Collins, and the restaurateurs have unhappy memories of painful dealings with Laurie. Sam's got quite a challenge on his hands, attempting to overcome that history.


    Where is my girl Laurie Collins on this issue? Is she still living in Mount Pleasant or is she living in Cleveland Park these days?


    I've met Laurie in the past, but I don't know her well. She seemed to really care about her neighborhood and she didn't want to see it trashed by uneducated lower class peasants urinating, intoxicated, drinking alcohol in public, and trashing her neighborhood. I admired Laurie fro standing up to the political correct white liberals in Mount Pleasant that happens to support illegals and their bad behavior. You go girl!!!

  • MtPer

    She's gone, and good riddance. Maybe now our neighborhood can heal.

  • Bill

    @MtPer Heal from what? Why do the same old few people obsess with Ms. Collins. She's a beautiful, intelligent woman maybe? (yes she is).

    Ms. Collins did the right thing to leave idiots like you who have no balls to address the blight that Mt. Pleasant was drowning in and that only her organization would even address.

    Jack is incorrect, and is no better than the few of you who have no substance other than to put blame on a person. Ms. Collins got along very well with the businesses. I've seen her interact with them and she's a thoughtful, caring person. What she has, that you don't is substance.

    When you have no substance, no facts, no basis in which to fight for whatever it is you believe in, all that's left is to attack a person. That's you, MtPer.

    But back to commenting on this article, I do not want to see nightclubs in Mt. Pleasant.

  • J

    Indeed she is an attractive, smart woman, but more importantly a pioneer for many important issues not only for the neighborhood, but for the city. One who was always fair and willing to compromised. A true loss to Mt. Pleasant.

    The ABC Board needs to wake up on this one.

  • downtown rez

    A nightclub license isn't necessary to drink and dance until 3 AM. The existing restaurant license could be modified to allow that. And if Haydees "Restaurant" can't manage to meet the 45% food requirement, a tavern license would suffice.
    For sure somewhere Andrew Kline is laughing.

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    Jack Mckay is a flake and his credibility should always be questioned. Haydee shouldn't trust you because you flip flop on issues- remember the Mural?

    During these tough times, any means of growing one's business should be supported. Mt. Pleasant isn't going to be overrun by club going vandals because of this and it will only benefit the residents who already utilize her establishment.

    ANC in Mt. Pleasant is a joke.

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  • Sam

    Yesterday the ABC Board denied the nightclub application. Only one member of the board voted in favor of the conversion to a nightclub license.