Neighborhood Watch: Dancing? On U Street?
The Issue: Local 16, a U Street bar and restaurant owned by Aman Ayoubi, allegedly violated its voluntary agreement with neighbors. A local resident, Allen Smith, complained to D.C. Councilmember Jim Graham about a "long-standing issue regarding noise," claiming that Local 16 "[operated] more as a night club than it [did] as a restaurant." But, one complaint rang loudest—that Local 16 operated an illegal dance floor on the second floor of its building. Graham enlisted the help of the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) to look into the allegations.
Goin' Undercover: Days after ABRA investigators warned Local 16 about the noise violation in early January, investigator Donnell Butler went undercover to check out the alleged dance floor. According to the ABRA case report, Butler "observed people consuming what appeared to be alcoholic beverages, conversation, and dancing ... [he] did not observe any tables or chairs on the second floor, although he was unable to determine that this was a designated dance area." Two more ABRA investigators backed up Butler's report after visiting Local 16 the following weekend; they observed "no tables and chairs on the second floor ... the area was crowded with people dancing."
Just Dance: When another ABRA investigator visited Local 16 to ask questions about the dance floor, Ayoubi said that it was "difficult to stop the patrons from dancing if they wanted to." Ayoubi also argued that he had a good relationship with the community, claiming that Local 16 is not a nightclub.
What's Next? Kick off your Sunday shoes! Last week, the city's Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board voted unanimously to levy a $500 fine against Local 16 for noise violations. As for the dance-floor faux pas? ABC Board member Nick Valenti said "there was a lack of evidence to substantiate that charge."
Image courtesy of Smithsonian American Art Museum