Housing Complex

Bear Necessities: Will Booze Fuel Bloomingdale’s Renaissance or Regression?

(Photo by Darrow Montgomery)

(Photo by Darrow Montgomery)

On a breezy Saturday afternoon, the only sounds in the Big Bear Café at 1700 1st Street NW in Bloomingdale are the tapping of laptops and some hushed conversation, with the occasional shout of a finished sandwich or coffee order from the counter. Ceiling fans whirr overhead. Large open windows make it feel like an open patio, with people spilling out of the café onto the sidewalk.

Shortly after 3 p.m., a group of teens poke their heads in, scoping the serene scene. Suddenly, three of them dart to the counter. One grabs the tip jar. All three race out the open door and down the street. Two patrons jump up and give chase, but no matter; the boys are faster and quickly disappear around a corner.

The pursuers walk back, frustrated. Lenora Yerkes, working the register, hugs them, and is consoled by other patrons. It’s not so much the money in the jar as the feeling of shattered peace and trust. Because that’s the kind of place the Big Bear is: Staffers lent out shovels to neighbors during February’s snowstorms. Since opening in 2007, the café has hosted poetry readings, friendly barista competitions, and champagne breakfasts for people who want to watch the sun rise.

But the tip-jar snatching was a reminder that the Big Bear is still very much alone in the immediate neighborhood, where even after a decade of steady gentrification, the retail landscape remains largely defined by liquor stores and carry-outs. And, in recent weeks, something else has upended Big Bear’s tranquility. Owner Stu Davenport decided to apply for a liquor license.
For all the fanfare that followed the first bonafide sit-down restaurant to open in Ward 8—an IHOP—the fact that Ward 5 is similarly underserved has gone largely unnoticed. Davenport’s plan for an expanded Big Bear menu, including beer, wine and specialty cocktails, would finally pop that cork.

Naturally, the neighbors are worried about getting drenched. “You open up Pandora’s box,” complains Ed Jones, who lives across the street from the cafe. “You open up one bar here,” he says, strolling past several empty storefronts along 1st Street later that afternoon, “and you have a whole lot of bars along this strip here. I’m sure that Adams Morgan wasn’t like that originally. It doesn’t take much to interrupt the pseudo-peace of the neighborhood.”

Davenport, a general contractor who purchased the two-story painted brick building for $400,000 in 2006, has been running the gauntlet of local community groups in recent weeks, campaigning for their support of his expansion plans.

“The idea is to create an environment that’s responsible, that I would want to live next to, and have it be financially viable to stay open,” he calmly told members of the Eckington Civic Association on Tuesday. “And one of the main ways to do that is to expand our menu, and one of the things that we want to add to that menu is alcohol.”

Several elderly ladies in the audience exchanged knowing looks.

Davenport is getting used to the glares.

In early May, he formally brought his plans for alcohol service before the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission 5C. Since Davenport himself is a commissioner, Big Bear employee Yerkes made the case on his behalf, seeking a stipulated license that would allow the cafe to serve alcohol while its official application to the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) is being processed.

The room in St. George’s Church that night was packed with Big Bear supporters. It was a central casting image of the new, comparatively white, Bloomingdale; many thumbing their mobiles throughout the proceedings. They spoke impassionedly of how going to the café had brought the community together, and all they wanted was to be able to go get a glass of wine in the evening, too. Someone in the back held up hastily scribbled signs reading “BIG BEAR YES WE CAN.”

Under pressure from commissioners, Yerkes proferred 600 letters of support from nearby residents, and she claimed to have notified all of the immediate neighbors of Big Bear’s ambitions. But she apparently missed a few. Two detractors stood up to protest, arguing that an alcohol-serving Big Bear would make nearby parking impossible, bring trash and noise, and attract thieves seeking to take advantage of tipsy rubes. The commission tabled the vote, and Davenport began negotiating a voluntary agreement with neighbors that would potentially limit his hours of operation.

“There’s a misconception that if I get 600 people to sign, that constitutes a preponderance of support,” observes Bloomingdale Civic Association president Robert Brannum. “ABRA responds to protests, not shouts of hosanna.”

The quality of life concerns seemed to underscore a deeper fear: a sense that Big Bear’s alcohol program would drag the neighborhood backwards. Before the spot was a café, it was Big Bear Market, which dispensed alcohol just like Sunshine Liquors, still operating across the street.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s black people on a corner drinking beer, or whether it is young white folks on the corner drinking wine out of a pretty glass—it doesn’t matter who’s drinking it, or what it looks like, I don’t want it on my block” says Tracey Campfield, who moved to the area in 1998 (and, like nearly all Big Bear detractors, is African-American). “I have fought the good fight, with drug dealers, and dirty alleys, and rats in the alley, and people drinking on the corners...I don’t want to fight that fight again.”

ANC Commissioner John Salatti, among Big Bear’s biggest supporters, dismisses that fear as irrational. “Stuart turned that market, which was a hellhole, into something nice,” Salatti says. “Now, all of a sudden, him having that option turns us back into the drug-dealing, crack-smoking, 40-ounce land of 1990 or 2000?”

To some long-term residents, Davenport is only piggy-backing on their hard work to improve the neighborhood. “Efforts from people like me, when we came in, of getting rid of the drug dealing that was going on, and getting rid of the theft, made it possible for other people like the Big Bear owner to come along in 2004 and say, ‘Hey, this is a viable neighborhood for my home, as well as my business,’” says Eric Woods, who moved to the 100 block of S Street in 1995. “Coming here in 2004, I don’t see that being a pioneer.”

That’s what it felt like, though, to Big Bear co-founder Lana Labermeier. When she and Davenport moved to the neighborhood six years ago, she felt unsafe walking the streets, and got a dog to protect herself. The couple started the café to provide a place for people to gather, and even then dealt with accusations that they were gentrifying the neighborhood.

“A lot of these same old-time residents felt that this was a place in the neighborhood that seemed to be attracting these young white kids,” she says. “The Big Bear was blamed for being the cause of it. It was the easiest thing to point to.”

Labermeier says the couple had always planned on one day offering beer and wine. But liquor license battles in nearby neighborhoods provided a preview of what they’d have to go through, and she was scrambling just to keep the café afloat. When the former husband-and-wife team eventually split up last year, Davenport moved forward with the alcohol effort on his own.

“Providing liquor is almost like opening up a second business,” Labermeier says. “I was just too exhausted to think about a whole new endeavor.”

Pat Mitchell, president of the nonprofit group North Capitol Main Streets, worries how the Big Bear debacle may impact future development along 1st Street, which the Urban Land Institute recently recommended as a better corridor to cluster new retail and dining establishments than congested North Capitol Street.

“I think it sends a pretty bad message to the business community, really, whether it’s a restaurant or a coffeeshop or a flowershop,” Mitchell says.

A lot of the hullaboo has to do with the fact that the local ANC has never before dealt with restaurants serving liquor, just retail liquor stores (and, as Salatti points out, the ANC hasn't been particularly zealous in regulating those). Given Ward 5’s lack of eateries, and the large amount of expected development in the area, ANC Commissioner Barrie Daneker is currently collaborating with neighboring ANCs to draft common guidelines for evaluating future applications. As a model, he says he’d like to use the state of Rhode Island, where his father uncle was the state liquor commissioner.

Of course, there are working models a lot closer to home: Prolific restaurateur Joe Englert found the structure quite accomodating when pursuing his vast plans for nightlife on H Street NE.

“ANC 6A is a refreshing place to do business because they research a subject and applicants before they jump to conclusions,” says Englert. “Business owners are treated like adults not would-be criminals....Protestants have to substantiate claims and objections and are questioned just as vigorously as applicants.”

Even the arbiters of the process want to see ANC 5C get a proper sit-down restaurant. ABRA community resource officer Cynthia Simms was called to last week’s ANC meeting to better explain the process—but ended up giving her opinion as well: “I promised my director I was not going to say it, but I can’t help myself. I live in Ward 7, and I would die for a restaurant over there where we are! I just would.”

Comments

  1. #1

    Given the daily drunkfest at Florida and North Capitol, its funny to hear Ed Jones and Tracey Campfield say they don't want alcohol sales. Please be honest with everyone and just say "Better blight than white." And don't forget to whine about the lack of investment in the inner city.

  2. #2

    It's all about gentrification; nothing more.

    To compare people sitting down enjoying a glass of wine to crackheads and drunks is just astoundingly stupid and shows you what the issue really is: race and class.

  3. Robert Vinson Brannum
    #3

    There is a reason why many people distrust the media. Ms. DePillis takes a response to one question and uses it to frame a response to a different thought. While Ms. DePillis has a right to write what she pleases, I would have expected her to place my response accurately to the issue discussed. It is regrettable Ms. DePillis did not write my comments that members of the Bloomingdale Civic Association expressed support for the Big Bear license.

    Robert Vinson Brannum, President
    The Bloomingdale Civic Association, Inc.

  4. #4

    Its not a race or class issue. Ed and Tracy come to the cafe often. We've lived together for years.

    People simply don't want the corner to get out of control. They want to make sure we at the BBC know what we are doing.

    We are taking our time. We are trying to figure this out together. If we do come to a good agreement - and I think many of us are on the same page - it will be better for all of us in the future.

    We're all trying to get away from bullet proof glass, police lights and video cameras.

  5. #5

    The first two comments (from Manor and Skipper) are incredibly frustrating. Communities of color have to constantly deal with privileged folks telling them how to "invest" in their own neighborhoods, without truly engaging in equitable or sensitive dialogue on how those "investments" should actually be made. Manor, to dismiss the concerns of Bloomingdale residents as a "better blight than white" attitude is a gross over-simplification of a REAL hardship that wealthier, whiter communities don't have to face: having business owners (who often wield greater political and economic power) push their own agendas, without listening to or taking seriously the concerns of people who actually LIVE there. This is not to say that BBC is uninterested in having that kind of conversation; it's only to point out that disparaging community members for raising their concerns, and to implicitly dismiss their opposition as racist, is fucked up. If anyone is actually "[whining] about the lack of investment in the inner city", I imagine that they're REALLY trying to talk about the fact that business owners will only invest when they can do whatever they want and be totally unaccountable to the residents.

    This is also why Skipper's comment is so infuriating, who mentions gentrification as if it isn't a hardship that disproportionately affects people of color and lower income. It is NOT stupid to raise concerns about bringing alcohol into an establishment that caters largely to affluent, white, young people -- and if you can't appreciate the objections raised by a person like Tracey Campbell (who has obviously had to deal with a lot of shit in her own neighborhood), then it might be better for you to try to learn something about those concerns, rather than dismiss them out of hand. Experiences like Tracey's are too often disregarded by people like you, which does nothing but demonstrate YOUR ignorance and privileged obliviousness.

    The veiled suggestions here that racism and classism are the motivations for Bloomingdale residents' concerns totally disgusts me. Clearly, neither Manor or Skipper have much experience with being on the losing end of gentrification. Maybe y'all should actually try to LEARN something from folks like Tracey Campbell and Eric Woods, who probably know a LOT more than you do about what it takes to rebuild a neighborhood.

  6. #6

    I enjoyed this article. It highlighted the communities valid concerns. I know Big Bear does not take these concerns lightly and will continue to live up to a standard that promotes community involvement, togetherness and the desire to live in a loving, involved community.

    I am new to the community and am impressed with the passion I see from everyone. Kudos to the work that has been done here. Kudos to this community.

    Stay positive. In life, we are all in this together.

  7. #7

    Calling that area 'rebuilt' in any sense is a cruel joke. Its probably one of the worst neighborhoods in America if judged by daily public drunkenness, literacy of residents, employment of residents, life expectancy of residents, and virtually any other indicator we can think of. Maybe Campbell and Woods should realize they've enabled a permanent underclass and that's about all and let folks invest in that area. I'm glad they've created good lives for themselves in the process, but that doesn't give them the right to exclude others who have every right to live and invest.

  8. #8

    as a new resident/owner to the area, I appreciate the struggles of the "pioneers" of the late 90's in cleaning up the area. those are the folks that give neighborhood its strong sense of community. I'm sure that they envisioned, one day, for 1st st to become something more than a hangout for junkies and drunkies and to have real businesses & cafes & restaurants make the block vibrant. Big Bear took a chance on Bloomingdale and, after several years of a track record of being a good 7 responsible neighbor, it seems fair that the community take a chance on Big Bear. heck, give 'em a test run and see how it goes. but to outright deny the chance for this business to expand in Bloomingdale would not bode well for any other small business owner who has the massive amount of cash required to open up a place AND is interested in Bloomingdale. They will look elsewhere. in the meantime, we'll end up with more liquor stores and check cashing places that way. Like many of you, I'm looking forward to a sit down restaurant just steps from my house...and it starts here with Big Bear.

  9. #9

    I wish Big Bear Cafe much luck. The Bloomingdale neighborhood deserves better than just corner liquor stores and bullet-proof glass take-out places.

  10. #10

    There's a racial component here for sure!

  11. #11

    The concerns of two residents should dominate the desires of a community of 600? That's racism, not fairness.

  12. #12

    Although I can't say for sure, I highly doubt that all 600 signatories are residents of Bloomingdale. Additionally, it seems pretty unreasonable to believe that ONLY two residents have concerns about this issue.

    I, for one, would not be opposed to having alcohol served at BBC. But I don't live in Bloomingdale, and I would defer heavily towards those that do, particularly those whose voices are not consistently met with respect and sensitivity (as evidenced by so many of the comments on this article).

  13. #13

    @JY: Blah, blah, blah. Go to Big Bear Cafe and see if they have any cheese to go along with your whine.

    Comparing people sipping wine from a glass in an outdoor dining area to crackheads on the corner is absolutely stupid.

    End of discussion.

  14. #14

    Skipper, I think you're missing the point. If you actually read the comments made by the residents quoted in this article, you'll see that no one is comparing crackheads to folks sipping out of wine glasses at BBC. As I read it, they're talking about their concerns with introducing more alcohol into the neighborhood, based on experiences that people have had in the past.

    Good talk, though, and nice pun. It really put me in my place.

  15. #15

    FUCK THE TWO RESIDENTS!, majority rule here, PERIOD!

  16. #16

    @JY: From the story -- “It doesn’t matter if it’s black people on a corner drinking beer, or whether it is young white folks on the corner drinking wine out of a pretty glass—it doesn’t matter who’s drinking it, or what it looks like, I don’t want it on my block” says Tracey Campfield.

    And yes, she is comparing a bunnch of drunks on the corner outside a liquor store with patrons of a restaurant having wine with dinner.

    Therefore, stupid.

  17. #17

    First let me make clear that is was my uncle that was the RI State Liquor Commissioner and not my father, although my father did run a restaurant in RI call the Pine Grove Inn.

    Furthermore, I liked hearing that ANC 6A has a process that examines the applicant and the business. As previous stated Ward 5 ANC's A, B and C will have this on the agenda of the joint meeting held quarterly.

    Commissioner Ransom has done extensive research on the applicant and the various aspects such as zoning, public space and the ABRA process, I think it is very important to note these findings. BBC has not obtained the proper occupancy certificate for this business since it open, therefore it has operated outside of the law for almost 3 years. Their occupancy is currently 3 people, although they came before the ANC two years ago to get a letter of support for zoning expectations to go before BZA for an exception and for the occupancy to be raised to 49, it was never followed up on. The application was just file this year in January. This gives some indication on the management of the business. It's obvious that getting the proper permits for occupancy and the use of public space (outside patio) wasn't important. It appears that running your business without proper permitting was just fine by BBC management team. Frankly I feel this is a major negative to the BBC application.

    Now we have to consider the kitchen, this will be a tiny kitchen with a fryer and a grill, which means very limited food service--sandwiches, salads, etc. We won't be seeing any great entree's being served at BBC, which leads me again to why I encouraged BBC to pursue a DR instead of a CR license, which goes more in line with a cafe that will have light-fare for a menu. Full service sit down restaurants should be getting those CR licenses. There are plenty of development projects coming to ward 5 and we don't want every little (and I mean little) cafe to have the ability to serve booze. We need to limit the establishments that will be serving…this is the reason we have a DR and CR license in the first place. Full service restaurants invest a lot more into their businesses and kitchens, and staff, etc. Let’s face it the city need revenues and giving a CR to a café and not having an available license for a full service place down the line seems out of quack. Giving a CR to a half service restaurant isn’t the way to go.

    Now to the bloggers

    @Skipper and Manor--this has nothing to do with race or money, it has to do with whom should have a DR and CR license and if that business has been managed well and been a good corporate citizen for DC.

    @JY you have some good insights
    @ Q St Dude--Did you know that BBC has been running a business without proper permitting now for almost 3 years. That's now a good corporate citizen. If they were they would have gotten that resolved before they even opened. I know you are new and welcome to Bloomingdale, but I live by a rule, "Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear." These facts and documents will be on hand at the next ANC 5C meeting and I suggest you attend so you have a realm of history and facts to see. I agree BBC has been a good coffee shop that has been making money, but a business in "good standing" is questionable.

    @Sally--I agree with you, but BBC will be a half service sit down food service establishment, which is why I suggested they get a DR (beer and wine) which frankly had great support form the ANC commissioners.

    @JY--you are correct that petition was given to all patrons of BBC which don't live in ANC 5C.

    @JM--who mention color...it appears you are the racist. People are people the last time I checked, black, white or green with an eyeball in the middle of their head, they are all still voting, residents of DC. You should check yourself!

    @Rick--well it's obvious you are very ignorant. Your obscene language is not called for, and those tow people live right next to BBC and they will be effective and should have a bit more weight than some coffee drinker from Ward 3.

  18. #18

    I support what JY articulated very effectively about the sentiments of existing residents regarding gentrification of neighborhoods. Because neighborhoods are composed of many different types of households (by race/ethnicity, profession, income, family size, age, wealth, education, etc.), each person must choose carefully where to set up residency and live comfortably. Similarly, business owners must conduct market evaluations and review the data to determine the appropriateness of a location to the business's vision and financial viability prior to moving ahead with plans. Residents do NOT want changes to the neighborhood they bought into imposed upon them without a voice in the matter. That is the heart of the matter with the BBC.

    500 signatures on a petition, many coming from people who likely do not live in Bloomingdale, does not constitute a market assessment. Many neighborhood issues have been expressed that ought to give BBC pause as to whether this is the best location for the proposed business model. These include street parking, noise, trash, crime - all of which will impact a several square block radius and not just the intersection of R and 1st ST.

    In the present communications environment, a comparatively small number of people have been afforded the opportunity to give input into this business expansion. BBC expects the rest of the neighborhood to live with the imposition of the business expansion. Those residents, myself included, may not want this part (or any part) of Bloomingdale to become neighborhoods surrounding H St NE, or 18th St NW, or Columbia Rd. If that's what we wanted, we would have moved there in the first place. If BBC wants to be that type of business operation, perhaps it should have done better market research and found a space along those corridors.

  19. #19

    @EW So people actually move to Bloomingdale to not be around restaurants or a nice place they can get food with some wine or beer? My friends moved there instead of 18th, Columbia, or other neighborhoods because it was affordable, not because they never wanted to have a place like BBC or otherwise. They saw/see the potential of the neighborhood and the possibility of having their own neighborhood cafes, merchants, maybe even - gasp - a cool bar? As for being imposed upon, it seems as if BBC is going through all the proper channels and people are having their chance to weigh in, both the yea- and naysayers. None of that has to do with market research, it just has to do with the hoops the city has in place. I doubt the people who don't want BBC to sell alcohol have done a huge amount of market research. Maybe you could do it for them and produce it at one of these meetings.

  20. #20

    What is the make-up of the 5C comission, like white, black, so on?

  21. #21

    Commish: Along the same lines, if the DC gov't were to inspect your property, would they find not a single building code violation? If they did, shouldn't you be held to the same high standard you're trying to hold BBC: namely, that you're an elected official with illegal conditions at your home?

    What Bloomingdale seems to need is some new leadership in their ANCs.

  22. #22

    It's insane how a lot of people commenting on this article jump to overwrought conclusions based on simply-stated opinions. J, for example, conflates EW's statement ["Those residents, myself included, may not want this part (or any part) of Bloomingdale to become neighborhoods surrounding H St NE, or 18th St NW, or Columbia Rd. If that’s what we wanted, we would have moved there in the first place."] into some declaration that "people actually move to Bloomingdale to not be around restaurants or a nice place they can get food with some wine or beer".

    First of all, J's definition of what is "nice" may NOT be shared by some Bloomingdale residents. By saying this, I do NOT mean that the OPPOSITE of BBC is the paradigm of "nice" for Bloomingdale residents; I'm just trying to point out that what YOU consider nice is not universally appreciated.

    Second, J's reply doesn't take into account the people who didn't "move" to Bloomingdale -- their families may have been there for generations. They didn't necessarily choose to live there, and they may not have the money to leave.

    But even that is beside the point. Regardless of why the residents are in Bloomingdale, they still have a true, vested interest in what goes on there. It's their home.

    What this entire debate should come down to is the fact that communities need to have a meaningful say about what is imposed on their neighborhoods. Their concerns should be taken seriously, addressed with respect, and considered a top priority. When they AREN'T, when they are dismissed callously by people like Manor, Skipper, Rick Mangus, and J, when changes are implemented without their consent, it's called gentrification. When YOU are the one marginalized, ignored, and called "stupid" by the people who perpetuate gentrification, you'll know why it's awful.

  23. #23

    1. The BBC certificate of occupancy is for a "restaurant" with 49 seats. The information above is incorrect.

    2. The cafe is licensed as a restaurant, and the kitchen is approved and inspected by DOH and DCRA. The commenter above has never seen the kitchen of the cafe, nor has he reviewed building plans, or set foot in the BBC. His statements are based on false assumptions.

    3. There has never been a BZA case for the cafe, nor was a BZA case ever proposed as a part of the BBC development plan. A BZA case is irrelevant for an evening cafe with a CR license.

    4. Statements necessarily associating a CR license with a table service restaurant are either misleading or show a lack of understanding of ABRA law. Also, any proposition that a class CR license issued to the BBC would limit the number available to future restaurants is false.

    This online debate is continuing to confuse the issues.

    If anyone has questions for how the BBC operates you can contact me directly at studavenport@gmail.com.

  24. #24

    JY- The BBC is owned by a neighborhood resident, and a large majority of the employees are neighborhood residents.

    Over 500 of the 600 signatures of support were from residents within walking distance to the cafe. There are also letters of support from all abutting neighbors and residences within 150 feet.

    I fully agree with your statements.

  25. #25

    Stu, thanks for clarifying, and for your understanding. I hope the conclusion of this debate is equitable for all, and accountable to the varied feedback of Bloomingdale residents.

  26. #26

    There is nothing at all wrong with gentrification! The Bloomingdale area has been decrepit and run-down for too long, it's about time for change!

  27. #27

    Stu, I think you and Lana have done an amazing job in building a business that caters to both Bloomingdale and the DC community at large. I hope that you eventually get the go-ahead to start serving alcohol and to continue to build your business. We need more people like you and Lana in this world.

  28. #28

    Rick - Your argument that gentrification is a "good" thing and your insinuation that it is the only (or at least best)alternative to that which exists in Bloomingdale is counterproductive and incendiary.

    If anything, the best thing about a liquor license for the Big Bear is the lack of impact it will have on the neighborhood. Nothing more, nothing less. To make the argument that the Big Bear will facilitate gentrification (and call that a good thing) disrespects those residents who stuck through the neighborhood's worst, most dangerous times, and sounds like very poorly veiled racism to me. A white neighborhood is not synonymous with a better neighborhood. A safe, secure and friendly neighborhood is a better one, regardless of its composition.

    I vehemently support the Big Bear's application for a liquor license because I believe that it will serve its loyal customers better with minimal impact on our community, and nothing more than that.

  29. #29

    @Commish

    I am amazed at the facts as you present them. It seems quite counter to what was said at the ANC5c meeting of a few weeks ago.

    You suggest that your family history entitles you to decide how someone else should run a business. Well Sir, I too have family that has been involved in restaurants and I have managed bars and taverns. Though my experience like YOURS,is NOT from DC. I know a full bar allows a restaurant to make the necessary profit to remain in business. Your suggestion that a DR license would be sufficient for a business implies that YOU know what is best for the business model Big Bear is proposing. It is QUITE presumptive of you. We heard at the ANC5c meeting that a DR license is strictly beer and wine. This is not what Big Bear is looking to do. Is your money invested in Big Bear? Is it invested in the ANC5c community in any business? Do outside people tell you how to run it if you have such an investment?

    Your posting is basically ill informed at best, rude and inciting at worst. I can only hope that you think you have the best interests of the community at heart but I think you have some personal objective or agenda which I can not fathom. Are your hands so clean that you should be throwing stones?

    I live on the Unit block of R Street NW. I support Big Bear getting a full liquor license. It allows them to stay open later and make the money necessary to do so. It will serve our community not detract from it. I know some of my neighbors object to any alcohol being served because they are afraid of a regression to the way this area was five to ten years ago. But I too have to wonder what about all the package liquor stores? A restaurant...even one that only serves light sandwiches and salads, beer, wine and alcohol will not be the problem these package liquor stores already pose to the neighborhood. In fact if Big Bear stays open later is is likely that there will be less crime and public drunkenness in the area not more.

  30. #30

    It's quite clear to me that TheCommish - better known as ANC 5C commissioner Barrie Daneker - is more interested in operating through falsehoods, misinformation, and an overwrought sense of familial and official pride ("my uncle was a liquor commissioner" and his commenter handle bear this out) than in an honest dialogue about why he opposes Big Bear's CR license. Does anyone with a sense of honesty and decency live in his neighborhood and wish to challenge him for his seat in the fall? I'll help your campaign in any way I can.

  31. #31

    I don't k]understand why people are so concerned about allowing alcohol at a sit down establishment in Bloomingdale.

    Currently, across the street from BB people drink and smoke drugs daily at the park on 1st and Florida. When I bring my child there I have to pick up numerous empties and endure contact high.

    And what about the group that hangs out at the BP on Rhode Island and Florida?

    Or the group that hangs out outside the mini-market by the Yoga place?

    Maybe the patrons of BB should go with the flow and just BYOB to drink at the outdoor seating like the rest of the neighborhood does.

    one last thing- I dont not see parking as a big concern. As it currently stands BB is often crowded on Sat and Sun but their crowd doesnt add to the parking issue.

    Rather Sunday's are horrible due to the numerous churches in the area.

  32. #32

    @TheCommish (AKA Barrie Daneker): "There are plenty of development projects coming to ward 5 and we don’t want every little (and I mean little) cafe to have the ability to serve booze."

    Such as? Which developments are you referring to? Baraki, who was unable to secure the final financing? Whomever is allegedly taking over their space? Boundary Stone? My husband is looking to open a restaurant or other "small cafe" in DC and *refuses* to consider Bloomingdale, despite the fact that we live in the unit block of R St, after seeing how you and some of your ANC croanies have treated the BBC. Why would anyone want to even TRY to open a business here after having to deal with someone like you and some of the other "Commishes?"

    Bloomingdale residents, there is one way to fight this fight. You need to show up on voting day. You know which ANC commissioners get it and which don't. We need to vote these guys out of office. People who make comments like TheCommish without having the facts and WITHOUT EVEN SETTING FOOT into the establishment they are criticizing have GOT to go!

  33. #33

    I am really concerned about the amount of mis-information being posted on this issue. I am working on the fact-finding report for 5C's use in determining whether to "not to object to" the requested BBC Stipulated License and the proposed voluntary agreement.
    1. There seems to be confusion about what BBC has requested to serve, only beer/wine or those and liquor.
    According to just recent emails between Stu & me, and others by his rep, and what has been said at meetings, it will be beer, wines. NOT LIQUOR.

    An response email from Stu to me yesterday, (5/31,11:07am)- "..As discussed, we do not intend on adding a bar well for spirits, etc. Our focus will be on wine and beer that will require a fridge and perhaps a tap if we serve locally made beer. I will review with Ms. Jenkins exactly what it means to have a "substantial change" if we do minor alterations at the cafe. I agree that although the cafe will not significantly change, some changes will be made - so I will clarify this with ABRA."

    However, in a followup email (5/31, 2:57pm), Stu states the following-"4. With a small menu of coffee liquor drinks, specialty cocktails, etc. the BBC will not need a sink-well because of the scale. The current coffee bar will basically remain the same. I will check with ABRA on what constitutes a "substantial change."

    So what's it going to be? If only beer/wine, then a DR seems reasonable. If CR, means the intent to seve liquor, be straight w/the people, but more importantly, be straight w/your fellow commissioners.

    2. Contrary to what Stu states in his post above (5/29, 9:49am), there is a BZA issue related to this location. Your community is zoned R-4. What Stu didn't share in his post was last week, he finally filed for a BZA variance. Why? Prior to Stu starting the BBC, the prior use of the location was a Market. This market was grandfathered in back in the 50s when the zoning of areas started. When Stu started the business, there was a change in use w/the BBC, therefore, by law, he was required to obtain a variance. He was not suppose to rely on the status of the previous market.

    Further, it is my understanding that about 2 years ago, Stu came before 5C requesting a resolution of support for a BZA variance of C-2-A for his business' location in this R-4 area, which he received. He is finally truthful in stating he has never previously filed. Recent emails from Stu stated he was having the file re-activated, knowing there was never one.

    What does this mean, BBC has been operating without the proper zoning permit, in my opinion, the most important document a business should have, before any other one.

    I have the ABRA Notice of Public Hearing, which I will post on the Bloomingdaledc listserv, along with these emails.

    Let's all take a breath. Contrary to what I may feel about the situation at this time, as I first intended and what should be required, I will be writing the fact finding report according to the status of the documentation submitted w/the ABC license app, and the DC codes according to related govt required documentation, with recommendations.

  34. #34

    could the commish post actual name of the person posting an not speak for the entire commission?

    title below the name will suffice.

  35. #35

    @Sally--No there are no violations on my house and I had stipulated in my purchase and sales agreement if there were violations it would be cover by the developer who re-built the property in 2005, would be held responsible. To answer the broader question you bring up, I would think that Commissioner Davenport would have gotten his business in order and not in violation of any code prior to inviting the public and the commission to weight in on his application for a CR license. Secondly, if you feel that way about the leadership; don't sit on your hands, get out and run for the position. If you think you can handle it, go for it! Remember it's not paid and it's all a community “give back” with no rewards other than doing the right thing!

    @Stu--when was that 49 occupancy approved? Have you ever operated BBC without the proper occupancy in place? How long did that occur? Are you saying that there are unlimited CR licenses available in DC, because if so I want one and so doesn't every person in DC. CR’s are money makers, and I am certain that the residents of DC don't want a CR license on every corner of there block! Let's see if there was a BZA case of the change of occupancy? Again Stu, you have every resident abutting the BBC in agreement with your plans? The commission should see all that documentation. You have built your CR application around a “sit down” restaurant. Now that isn’t the case at all and is not going to be the case. Be transparent here, it is risking you and your associates creditability, namely Commissioner Salatii who is Chair of the Permit's committee, who should have help no only you but the commission to vet this application and BBC. Also let's make it crystal clear who owns BBC it's you and your ex-wife!

    @DanP-- My family ties do make it possible that I have some sense, some idea about the topics being discussed. It makes me somewhat knowledgeable about liquor licenses and the restaurant business, on top of that being an accountant helps too! So I have seen many business models and have seen them work and not! Again, I have no personal interest in BBC. Other than the fact is that it will be a “self serve” café with liquor…. there will be no real meals, entrees, etc,; there will be no table service; there will be small salads, sandwiches, etc; no fryer, no oven, we hear a grill. So if you’re looking for a McDonalds or a sandwich shop that sells liquor for on-site consumption, where when you get your food you'll be looking for a seat if you can and eat….then BBC is your ticket. But if you listen to what BBC is purposing you will get a difference idea of a “sit down” table service restaurant where one can have beer, wine and liquor. As for the DR license, I haven't heard one person say they were looking for a martini, and a DR would better suit a small establishment, that's why we have DR's in the first place, so that smaller established food service place can offer beer and wine to go with items on the menu. Frankly did you Know I was the one who encouraged BBC to go for a DR license, and would still support that movement, provided all others barriers are resolved. As for being ill informed, I suggest you attend the next ANC meeting and see just how informed I and my fellow Commissioners are. As for my hands being clean, Mr. DAN P they are so clean I suggest you can eat from them. If you would like I am more than willing to sign-off so that you can obtain my FBI file for the record. You will find it to be quite clean! Any potential scandal is widely known, and I often tell people about my speeding tickets, etc. You will find nothing of interest to use! Frankly, you suggesting it, leads me to believe others are not so clean!
    @ John---It will not be a “sit down” establishment...so understand that fact, first and foremost. As for your complaints about the loitering at the ABC’s and Liquor stores, I suggest you contact Stu Davenport or your ANC about that. Until BBC came up we have heard nothing about issues with ABC’s. My SMD has a 2 VA’s and both are in good standing. I have had very few issues with these business for the 4 years I have been commissioner, therefore I can only speak about what is in my SMD unless it comes up for a vote of the whole ANC. As for not having the facts, The ANC has spent the last two weeks with various DC Departments, getting the facts so you can hear the truth and not some one-sided BBC propaganda. There are two sides to every story then there is the truth which is what the ANC is gong to get to. So get involved and come out to the next meeting and see for yourself, get the facts, get the full story before you accuse me or others about being wrong comes see the documents filed by BBC in black and white.

    @ Jason---I suggest you attend the next ANC and see all the facts around BBC and its application, operations, etc. I think you will find many elements of this application are not in order and have a lot to be desired. As for running against me, I welcome a challenge. Don't mis-interupt my honestly delivered bluntly as stupidity or arrogance, it is surely not the intention, but rather the intention is to get attention to the real issues and not just the whims of the vocal and organized BBC patrons. There is a lot to consider in this application. I tell it the way it is weather you like it or not! I have no personal interest in BBC or its application. It will not affect me whatsoever! I frankly I make my own coffee and honestly haven’t had that many good meals in DC to venture out to a small self service café for dinner or should I say the self service café where I will have to stand for my dinner and drinks and hopefully find a seat to eat! After all that effort, I might as well stay home and cook and sit and enjoy dinner and not just something to eat. Dinner is about sitting, eating and enjoying your food in a full service atmosphere with some delightful conversation, that’s the difference between getting something to eat and having dinner.

    @CJ--I suggest you attend the next ANC meeting to see the real evidence and what has been presented. As for Baraki, we never got an application so I cannot speak to that, although I am aware he wasn’t able to get financing, it’s a bad for everyone these days with the credit crunch. As for Boundary Stone, it will be a full service restaurant, it will have table service; I will be approving that application, not baring any other outstanding items that have may come to light. The residents of ANC 5C want a full restaurant, not a self service stand in line for your snacks and beer.

    @CJ--I wish you were objective. Do you know about BBC running there business with out a COO for two years. Do you know they have been claiming it will be sit down and it won't be! Do you realize it's not even a half of a full service kitchen and there are no plans to expand it. I suggest you show up to the next ANC meeting and get the facts that the ANC Commissioners have been gathering from the various DC agencies and hear the real truth and not just what the BBC and it's staff and supporters have told/telling the community. As for your husband opening here in Bloomingdale, we the ANC would love to see him open a full service place for the community to enjoy!

  36. #36

    I am not one to comment on message boards very often but the comments of ANC Commissioner Daneker, one of many elected ANC commissioners I may add, profusely offended my sensibilities. Your presumtious attitude, underscored by youre quite appropriate message board name, that all proponents of big bear cafe are white "coffee drinkers from Ward 3" is both offensive and misguided. I for one am a white coffee drinker from Ward 5 and I have lived in Bloomingdale going on 3 years. I, like you, more often than not make this delicious caffienated beverage at home but when I am feeling ever so frisky I walk the 3 blocks down 1st street and patronize Big Bear Cafe. I, unlike you, feel very grateful at the opportunity to have an establishment in my neighboorhood that would even be willing to consider expanding their services and hours of operation so that residents such as myself could enjoy a beer, wine or meal when we felt so inclined. Furthermore to be so dismissive of supporters of BBC that dont necessarily live in the neighborhood as somehow having less importance of those that do live in the neighborhood (myself included to remind you) also illustrates some short sightedness on your part. I would consider it a good thing that there is a business in our neighborhood that attracts customers from all over the city and positively contributes to the reputation of our Ward. Certainly people from Columbia Heights, Capitol Hill and Woodley Park arent driving in on the weekends for the delightful ambiance of Dragon Carryout or Sunset Liquors. I suggest before you start casting doubt on the motives of the owners and supporters of Big Bear cafe or make unfounded assumptions about where they are from and what they look like, you actually for once step foot inside big bear, enjoy a fresh cup of coffee,sit in that comfy chair in the corner, and then use their free Wi-Fi to log onto WCP.com as "The Commish" and post more ridiculous comments.

  37. #37

    Okay, that's enough.

    What a sad time for Bloomingdale residents, new and old. Their hopes for the neighborhood have been bulldozed and forgotten by people who were chosen to represent them. Whatever opinions they may have on the BBC development have proven to have no place in the decisions to be made. Supporters and protesters alike have been ignored time and time again. What a sad time.

    (No need to "@Lindsey" me, Commish. I will not read what you have to say anymore.)

  38. #38

    I disagree @Lindsey - but maybe I'm just an optimist. Yes, most of this debate includes people talking past each other, finding excuses to dismiss the other side. But ultimately I think this chain of comments could yield something valuable - it's easier to look critically at the pros and cons when reasoning is public. And frankly, I think our neighborhood is at a turning point, and discussion about the future is a good thing even if it's frustrating.

    That said, it's depressing, too. By far the most awful comments have been from people superficially like me (young, white, relatively new to the community) but who are horribly racist. Big thanks to @JY for taking them on. We all need to.

    As far as the commissioners - instead of a discussion about the future of Bloomingdale or what you want from BBC, pretending it's about a CR vs DR or 'good corporate citizenship' seems like making excuses (read more about licensing types here: http://abra.dc.gov/DC/ABRA/Education+and+Services/Knowledgebase/License+Types+and+Classes - CR just means some liquor). By all accounts, BBC has been good for the neighborhood, so far - and Stu seems more than willing to discuss concerns.

    And there are valid concerns - while I look forward to someday getting back from work and sipping a beer at BBC, the last thing I want is it to become less of a community gathering place and more of an outpost of gentrification, which is, sadly, a possibility.

    That said, concern that commercial development will start springing up on first st is not a valid reason to block BBC's CR - it's a reason to keep a critical eye on future proposals.

  39. #39

    @Anthony-- my intention was not to offend you however this blog has brought up race as a fator, which frankly has no business being brought up PERIOD! So please read the entire blog becaue you stated "all proponents of big bear cafe are white “coffee drinkers from Ward 3″ is both offensive and misguided" I was responding to a blogged who brought up race see above Rick and JM. Frankly, i don't stnad by in my community when racism is presented. I speak up! It's not tolerated in Bloomingdale. As for the ward 3 comment, I didn't introduce race in my comment at all, so please read it again. What i said was that people who live right next door to BBC should have a bit more weight in being heard than a parton of BBC who lives in Ward 3. I though my point was clear on that, and that race wasn't an issue. I surely don't believe that everyone in Ward 3 is white, frankly I know many who are not. As for being grateful for service in Bloomingdale, what you might want to know is that I am very supportive of business expansion, done right, with the proper permits, etc. What the public needs to understand is that a fellow commissioner is making a request, which means we as a Commission must vett it extensively, otherwise I am sure we would be hearing even more about the outcomes. As for asuumptions, I stay away from those. I use only the facts and what is presented. Frankly, there in lies the issue with the application and it's presentation, as a "sit down" restaurant, the only one in Ward 5. With the issues of zoning, occupancy, public space permits, etc. It's not an easy applicaiton to review. Understnad there are many factors to consider. I hope this clarifies your questions.

    @Lindsey--Sorry that you might not read this. However, I will respond with "The hopes for this neighborhood have not been bulldozed and forgotten by the people who represent them" They are being vetted very well in this unusual case. As for Supporters and protesters being ignored, that is ao far from the truth, this commission has heard from so many residents and partons of BBC. My phone an email along with my fellow commisioners have been off the charts. We do not dismiss their voices in the least.

    What's sad is that the applicant was not properly prepared for this vetting which has resulted in pleaty of misinformation in this case. Thanks to the Chair along with Commissioner Ransom and some other commissioners, we have gather documents and information to be reviewed in detail on this application. The Commission has further done the right thing to delay a vote on this applicaiton in order to review all aspects of this applicaiton. I am very proud of my fellow commissioners stepping up to the plate and not shying away from the controversey created here.

    I hope as a reporter you har both sides, and keep your own opinion out of the press. I was shocked to see your words that you would not read what I have to say, I wonder what offended you because I was taking the stand to defend my community against the wild accusations, mis-information and racism displayed on this blog, not to mention the obsense language that your paper failed to respond to. But rather you and your paper choose to repsond to my blunt statements against the displays of discrimation and intolerance witnessed here.

  40. #40

    Daneker, you're a blathering fool. I look forward to helping defeat you this fall.

  41. #41

    Just so folks aren't left with the wrong impression, The Commiss seems to have conflated/confused Lydia DePillis, the author of this story, with the commenter Lindsey.

  42. #42

    I'm with Anthony. If "The Commish" took all of the time spent writing these nonsensical responses (there *is* spell check in the comment box, people!) and instead applied those 30 minutes to walking down to Big Bear Cafe, maybe he'd begin to see things differently.

    Says Daneker: "The residents of ANC 5C want a full restaurant, not a self service stand in line for your snacks and beer." Well now, how would you have any idea what THIS resident of ANC5C wants if you've never talked to me about it? Our wants and desires as residents of this neighborhood are certainly not monolithic and the fact that Daneker has the nerve to define "dinner" versus "eating" for hundreds of people is quite galling.

    Tell me when and where to meet you, Jason, because this north-side-of-Adams-Street resident is tired of her ANC not working in the best interests of Bloomingdale.

    Finally, because I'm feeling especially petty at this point, those who leave comments on an article are not "bloggers" and "Lindsey" is not the journalist who wrote this article, Lydia is.

  43. #43

    @EmilyHaHa: If you or anyone you know from your neighborhood is willing to run against Daneker this fall, you've got a campaign manager in me. Email me at jason dot mogavero at gmail dot com.

  44. #44

    Resorting to immature ad hominem attacks and snarky posturing doesn't help the pro-BBC selling liquor side. At best it makes those in favor appear inconsiderate and unaware of the dynamics of our neighborhood.

    Not saying "The Commish" has been great - but that doesn't mean those in favor of BBC's CR application should strive to be so obviously in the wrong.

  45. #45

    To all readers:

    I hope you all understand, but I speak up! When things are not being stated truthfully and transparent, I speak up. I speak up because some of my fellow commissioners avoid confrontation; it’s not everyone’s desire or cup of tea, nor it is mine. However, in this matter, ANC5C has been hit with a tsunami of public outcry based upon the premature rallying of supporters by BBC, Stu and Commissioner Salatti, Chair of the ANC5C’s Permits Committee.

    What has followed has been mis-information and outrageous accusations directed towards me and my fellow commissioners. As the public will see at our June meeting, much work has been done by this commission to get to the truth. The application was frankly a mess! The facts have not been presented properly and the applicant has not been as forthcoming with the commission and its direct questions. Furthermore, the Permit’s Committee Chair (who I understand was very active in this application and rallying BBC supporters) should have done a better vetting of the application before it even came before the whole commission.

    In the meantime, this commission has been unfairly targeted, therefore someone has to be outspoken about this. And I have chosen not to be fearful, but rather blunt and honest! So if you have been offended by that, please understand that someone has to speak up!

    @Lydia-- My deepest regrets, I thought it was you and was shocked; which is why I should have paid better attention! I didn’t read it properly and I offer my deepest apologies to you and your paper.

    @Jason--Thanks for your input, I look forward to the challenge. I have a long, positive and well established history of representing this community and the District. I have many supporters and mostly due to my frank responses which are honest. I have the guts to ask the hard questions and get to the truth, which sometimes the truth hurts; but it’s still the truth. There has been a huge out lash against this commission for doing our due-diligence on this application. Also because a fellow commissioner is the applicant, even more scrutiny needs to be applied. I am certain if we did not, there would be an even worse out cry that we showed nepotism in this case.

    @Elle--Thanks for pointing out my mistake. We're all human. I have sent my regrets and apology to Lydia. Thanks again, perfect I will never be but we all strive for it.

    @ EmilyHaha- Sorry but I did the comments on my iphone and it doesn't have spell check when using this blog. As for the will of what the people want, as the ANC has heard over and over, along with the residents of my SMD; Bloomingdale Civic Assoc.; Stronghold Civic Assoc.; along with the recent petition started by Commissioner Salatti to stop Mr. Choe from opening another Dry Cleansers on First Street. It states they want full service restaurants among other service orientated businesses in Bloomingdale. Not that I agree with the whole petition, because I believe it could harm new business from coming to Bloomingdale and “competition is good” in theory for the consumer; but it clears states their wishes. This is where I and many of the Commissioners are getting input. The Commissioners were also told (DeBorah Steiner has it on video tape) that BBC was planning a “sit down” restaurant inferring it would be full service with table service and the community is pressing for just that. As for your comment about “bloggers”, I stand by my use of the term. If one leaves a message on a web-site in the comments section, they are considered bloggers; your comment made me refer to reference materials and the dictionary, to be certain I was using the proper term. As for seeing Big Bear, I drive by everyday, I am very well aware it has been a great addition to the community, I have never said anything different. I have been to BFM and many community functions held at the park and the little triganle at Florida, 1st and R St’s NW. I have no personal views on the establishment, other than I know the community likes this coffee shop. But all aspects of the application need to be examined. There are zoning issues, there are permit issues, and there are COO issues. Just because the community wants something doesn’t mean that it will be granted or it’s good. As for your personal opinions and feedback and the fact that I have not personally reached out to you for your input, I have to say I cannot be everywhere and speak to everyone. However to be fair, have you been to any community meetings? Have you picked up the phone to call me? My number is listed, it’s on the BOEE website and the ANC website. Have you attended BCA or SCA meetings to express your desires? Have you been to the ANC meetings? I am at all these meetings to get input from the community members. Have you made any effort or attempt to speak to me about your interests? I have 2000 constituents in my SMD it is impossible for me to reach them all, even though I would love to. This position as Commissioner, as you should very well be aware (and not that I am complaining) is unpaid, non-partisan, and part-time. I do have to a job and personal life, but I give much back to my community.

    @Martha-- I agree whole heartily with your comments. I do hope you understand why I have tried to defend the actions of the commission. It is not easy to do without offending someone. However the comments left need someone to response sternly to these outlandish and ill informed commentaries. Thanks again for your insight and comment.

  46. #46

    JY gets to the heart of the issue: the demands of certain presumptuous people that everyone has to "kiss their ring" when ever they so much as wish to use the lavatory. Many residents who are the sort that get concerned about things and ANC commissioners are the sort of people who, with so little control over their own lives, need to feel like they're important and are at least in control of something by making local business owners like Stu Davenport dance when they say "dance." Lots of people have these fantasies of being a "community godfather" where business owners come over with gifts begging for approval to start a new venture. It makes them feel powerful and useful. Those of us with jobs and lives mind our own business and are happy for business owners who manage to succeed in Bloomingdale as long as their presence doesn't cause a fuss or contribute to neighborhood blight.

    Mr "TheCommish": the only intolerance and anger we're seeing is from you and the people raising their voices in hostility against an honest business owner doing a pretty good job, and with some inappropriate seething against the possibility that there may be *more* cafe owners who may wish to serve alcohol, not to mention his open disdain for the idea that someone might wish a casual meal served with alcohol. This sort of attitude is absolutely unacceptable, particularly from a public official. If Mr "TheCommish" doesn't like it, he needs to accept the rule of "tough noogies" rather than filibustering endlessly about what does and does not consider the sort of "sit down" restaurant you would consider acceptable or that he personally would like. All I'm hearing from you is a lot of whining, perhaps stemming from the fact that Big Bear Cafe became successful and got a lot of active support when your input and contribution was neither asked for nor needed. Finally, that crack about BBC being patronized by people from Ward 3 was really a transparently disingenuous attempt to act like BBC is some kind of "outsider" presence-- local Bloomingdale residents aren't going to find that kind of preening believable: it's a disingenuous attempt by him to pretend that he's "standing up for the community" hoping that people will like that he's mocking outsiders. Please spare us.

    I think TheCommish demonstrates very well the sort of institutional problems that face many ANCs. If this is the sort of behavior and attitude that is considered acceptable, then there is serious, serious trouble going on here.

  47. #47

    @The Man
    I my state I too have a job and life outside of the ANC. Your comment about intolerance is completely false and my stern responses to bloggers are appropriate because it was out of line; I will be vocal about intolerance it in this community. Race and socio-economic traits of this community have nothing to do with this issue.
    As for the honesty of BBC, that has a lot to be desired; it was a big injustice to this community and the Commission as to the information put out by BBC. Come to the next ANC and see the all the documents for yourself and compare what was presented to the community and the ANC, they are very different. Furthermore, I have no objections to the concept BBC is going for. I’ve been to Cork, on 14thst, I get the concept. What I was concerned about is the hours of operation of this business in an R-4 zoning area, the use of the sidewalk and public space permits and that live entertainment and noise outside occurring until 1am in the morning. You must understand that Stu has purchased a "pig and a poke" building, one which had a grandfather corner store on the first floor from 1950 when there was no zoning, which is located in an R-4 building that has a residential component and surrounded by only R-4 zone buildings. It's not that simple; if it was zoned C-A-2 there would be little discussion over this ABRA application as it would be a matter of right. Also understand there have been issues of occupancy at BBC since day one as it has/d occupancy of only 8. As for the other cafe's wanting to open, we already have another submitted application and with development in Ward 5 planned and financed there will be a ton of ABRA applications coming forward. As for my attitude, its honest blunt and to the point; I holding nothing back as people usually like to hear the truth instead of some half baked story with a lot of fluff. As far as not liking BBC, again BBC's CR license will not affect me personally. However I have a duty to vet the applicant, when they re asking for a stipulated license. I ask the tough questions, which the supporters of BBC don't want to hear or take my questioning as a complete disapproval of the license, which is within my realm of responsibilities. However, you and others would be first in line if we (ANC) didn't do our due diligence; there would be complaints we showed nepotism towards a fellow commissioner. As for my whining, I being asked for something by BBC which requires an educated decision because my vote is needed. I have a duty to fulfill, and I have a right to ask these questions to ensure the commission and the public that nothing shady is going on. As for the comment about Ward 3 patrons and being outsiders, they are! I wasn't mocking anyone! If you live in Bloomingdale, do you really care what a Ward 3 resident has to say, other than they like to come to BBC and support our local businesses? All politics is local and I represent this community. My point was that people from the immediate area should be the loudest voices heard. That doesn't make sense to you? As far as the success of BBC, I am very happy it came to Bloomingdale. Although, I might not go to BBC, doesn't mean that I don't support businesses here and encourage other to come to Bloomingdale.
    Unlike Commissioner Salatti, who now has an online petition attempting to keep Mr. Choe from opening up another dry cleaning firm at First St and Seaton Place NW in Bloomingdale. It's a commercial space and Mr. Choe can open whatever he likes there if he has the permits, etc. But Salatti believes competition with the existing dry cleaners on RI Ave, is not appropriate for Bloomingdale and wants him to stop construction and re-think the business proposal and open something else. Sounds a bit like competition is not wanted and BBC and Boundary Stone is the same issue and maybe why Commissioner Salatti, our ANC Permit's Chair didn't vet the ABRA application for BBC, but rather spent his time rallying support instead of doing the due-diligence, in an attempt to support only the existing business and not spur new interest and investment in Bloomingdale. Since he is an attorney, I bet he knew there were issues with BBC zoning, permits and occupancy and maybe the rallying of support was to distract people from those issues. As for the petition, now that's a very anti-business measure to take.
    Now let’s take a broad look at any applicant for a permit or license….if the business is operating illegally in any fashion currently than that is an issue, and cause to not grant anymore permits or licensing until those matters are resolved and proper consideration, fines, or maybe even a year delay in any further issuing of permits to encourage business to adhere to the law. Questions have been raised about the proper permitting of BBC, and if it is true then it’s a major of the management of ability of BBC. Do you reward someone for breaking the rules? If they are not following the rules and laws now, what assurances does the community have that they will conform because a CR license was now granted?

  48. #48

    I would like to begin by stating that I am huge supporter of BBC getting their license. I own a home on the unit block of R St and had a very interesting conversation with some of my neighbors last night that I thought I would share.

    So much of this issue has boiled down to the correct or incorrect perception that race is a motivating factor. I will not argue for or against either side of that. But I was out last night talking with some of the "old time" residents of my block -- people who have own their homes on this street for decades who do all happen to be African American. (I have only been living here a short while and am caucasian.) We are always chatting it up on the street and last night the subject of BBC came up.

    One of my neighbors in particular pointed out that, at his count, there are approximately 26 homes on our block owned by African American families. I do not doubt that this man knows every single one of them. He said that they *ALL* opposed BBC getting the license. When I asked them why, he explained because absolutely NOBODY has come talk to them about it to explain to them what this means.

    This may be fact or it may be his perception, but it is THESE people who need to be convinced, or at least talked to. They do not come to ANC meetings, they do not go the BBC to get a cuppa, and they do not go online to seek out information on BBC. They do this the tradition (and some might argue, proper) way -- face to face.

    They all know who Stu Davenport is. Rumor has it that he lives on the same block, but as much time as I spend outside on the street, I never see him out there. They claim to have brief conversations with him time-to-time, but say that he has NEVER approached them to discuss BBC with them. They also with further dismayed that he allegedly has not talked to even a single pastor in 5C03 (a very important step with the Africa American community on my block).

    I am not going to argue how much of this is fact and how much is perception. But I am pointing out that there is the PERCEPTION that this proposal is not friendly to the immediate neighbors, specifically those who have been here a while. If people are serious about getting traction on the BBC license, I encourage people like Stu to talk to them. They are not going to come to you, ANC meetings, or the BBC. But if you really want to argue for neighborhood support, you need to get these people on your side too, not just the patrons of BBC.

    Lastly...

    @TheCommish: you have talked about all of these false assumptions made about BBC and your statements, and yet you have made one about me as well. You assume that I have not attended an ANC meeting to hear things. In fact, I have. However, despite your claims that the application filed by Davenport with Salatti's support was really bad, I find you and your ANC croanies arguments equally bad and difficult to follow. I get nothing out of these meetings other than a tremendous amount of frustration. If you want everyone else to be informed about their own arguments on this page, please respect me and do the same.

  49. #49

    CJ-

    I live on 1st a few doors from the BBC.

    We've been knocking on doors, and we had a community meeting 2 weeks ago with residents of 1st and R to discuss the plans and the issues involved.

    I hear your point about perception and face to face communication. We should be having another meeting with immediate residents in the coming 2 weeks - so we will work to get the word out.

    Thanks for your comment. If you would ever want to meet and talk send me an email. I can walk up.

    -Stuart

    studavenport@gmail.com

  50. #50

    ""He said that they *ALL* opposed BBC getting the license. When I asked them why, he explained because absolutely NOBODY has come talk to them""

    This statement is a scathing indictment of DC culture.

    Perhaps there are some who would prefer that all home sales and commercial changes go through only after a "council of elders" gathers in Crispus Attucks Park.

    The BBC is a law abiding business which has been more of a victim of neighborhood crime than a cause of it. People move to Bloomingdale BECAUSE places like the BBC are there.

    Someone standing up in front of the ANC and opposing the liquor license because "Stu didn't kiss my ring!" should be laughed out of the meeting. The fact that these attitudes are considered sources of votes from ambitious ANC commissioners instead of targets of derision strikes me as a sign that a bad neighborhood attitude has been allowed to fester *encouraged* my many ANC commissioners.

    Even John Salatti, praised here in this thread, has problems himself: starting a petition to oppose the opening of a dry cleaner's only after significant investment and time has gone into renovating the formerly vacant building and putting the business together and without, it should be added, any offers of investment money or cooperation with any local entrepreneurs.

    I realize that Stu has to work within the system he's found himself and has to play the hands he's been dealt, and that means making nice with the "council of elders" before he's allowed to do anything, but the fact that this kind of thing is considered normal and *encouraged* by the other ANC commissioners is a big problem.

  51. #51

    @CJ -- I never assume! I suggested you attend the next meeting. (have to check sing in sheets to see how many other than BBC you have attended, would be fair to see how involved you are on other issues than just this one you choose to be so vocal on, no judgement here!) Offical copies of records from various government agencies will be on hand. You will be able to track the history of severalthings like use changes, coo, zoning, permits, etc. There are many questions unanserwed and must be addressed. Is no easy when your talking about an r-4 zoned area and a CR license. I also noted you made a comment about the culture of Bloomingdale? Seems you don't like it so I wondered what attacted you here? DC in general? Just curious...ps no spell check

  52. #52

    Did you like it?

Leave a Comment

Blogs Linking to this Article

  1. Bear Necessities: Will Booze Fuel Bloomingdale’s Renaissance or Regression? | Business Plan Strategic

    [...] Read more on Washington City Paper [...]

  2. City Paper on Big Bear alcohol license pursuit « Bates Area Civic Association

    [...] Posted by Lydia DePillis on May. 27, 2010 at 04:13 pm http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/housingcomplex/2010/05/27/bear-necessities-will-booze-fuel-... [...]

Comments Shown. Turn Comments Off.
...