Young and Hungry

Shaw’s Tavern, R.I.P. ‘We Could Not Survive Without A Liquor License.’

Embattled Florida Avenue eatery Shaw's Tavern is shutting its doors on Saturday. But don't blame the hurricane. Blame the lack of hurricanes. According to a message posted on the restaurant's Facebook's page late Friday night:

Shaw’s Tavern is closing its doors from Saturday 27th of August.
We could not survive without a liquor license. We will re -open when we are allowed to serve alcohol.
To all of our 936 plus loyal fans and 30 dedicated employees, we thank you for your amazing support and understanding.

And so ends the brief life of D.C.'s only 100 percent dry tavern. (For more, read this week's Young & Hungry column, "Tavern on the Wean.")

"I am done here," chef John Cochran tells Young & Hungry. He was just starting to get the hang of the new pizza oven, too. Albeit not so much for pizza.

"I’m not quite sure how much longer that will last," the former Rupperts toque dished about his frustrations with pizza-making earlier in the week. "It’s good bar food for later on, but I’m lovin’ the pizza oven." Soft shell crabs, pork shoulder, vegetables galore—all sorts of foodstuffs got roasted in that pizza oven. Just this past week, the chef began serving meatloaf, a "classic James Beard recipe," he explained at the time. "I heat it up in that 700 degree oven and it just crisps up."

"The last couple of weeks I’m just beginning to feel it out," Cochran said of the fancy kitchen equipment.  "It’s like driving a new car."

Now, he's returning the keys.

Earlier: "Police Bust Shaw's Tavern Before It Even Opens," "Regulators Ponder Fate of Shaw's Tavern."

Photo by Chris Shott

  • TCres

    I hope Steve May doesn't f-up the firehouse the way he did this place. I hope they're able to recover and reopen since the new management seems to have their heads on straight.

  • er

    what's going on with the firehouse? is steve may still involved?

  • Pingback: Shaw’s Tavern, R.I.P. ‘We Could Not Survive Without A Liquor License.’ | Bates Area Civic Association

  • eckington

    from the info obtained at the abra meeting with shaw tavern we were told steve may is out from both projects, what an idiot

  • Shaw Resident

    Steve May should be run out of town for what he has done to this project. 30 people laid off because of one person's criminal activities. He should not only be ashamed but be forced to live in another zipcode!

  • miguel

    The owner might have screwed up his million dollar investment but the law is screwing the neighborhood and the whole city. Why do we need all these dumb license rules? What businessman is going to want to invest in DC when there are all these arcane rules and overzealous regulators? Why was an investigator paid with tax dollars snooping around charity events in the first place? Could a competitor have tipped someone off? Is someone on the alcohol board on the take? We should fire that whole useless department and make licenses more automatic. Businessmen should have confidence that their investments are not going to be jeopardized by useless or corrupt bureaucrats.

  • Let’s be clear

    Shows tavern is accused of forging documents, not a small infraction, and illegal in every jurisdiction in the country.

    This aggressive push on Internet comments and neighborhood list servs reeks of a desperate pr attempt... Similar to announcing an opening every day for weeks.

    Enough with these amateurs and enough with my neighbors who don't care what kinds of people open up a restaurant they just want new stuff.

    Maybe this will give Brian brown the time neccesary to fix his retaining wall that looks like a 13th century torture device. I can't imagine that any project he and Steve may are involved in will last for much longer, including the firehouse.

  • me


    "Dumb license rules?" Every jurisdiction, whether its a 10 person town, or a city the size of NYC has basic and straight forward liquor rules, health code regulations and building codes. The liquor rules of DC aren't new or confusing.

    I wonder how understanding you would be if this guy forged some health code inspections or building permits? I doubt you would be as understanding but oh, since he is illegally trying to sell all the hipsters their $8 beers, its ok.

  • Dubset

    the beauty is martin moulton and others DEMANDING that the city allow them to stay open, despite the fact that they broke the law ("decent, law abiding citizens," right ccca prez)?

    forged documents, serving without a license. if this was a corner store or any other place, martin and the crazies in shaw would show up with torches and pitchforks to take care of the place themselves!

  • Skipper

    Miguel: You should really learn the background story before posting. It would make you look like less of a tool.

  • manonthestreetdc

    Is RIP technically correct, or is it just "on hiatus" until someone else takes up the project?

  • CCCA Prez

    A lot of my neighbors told me they loved having this place nearby. Since the person chiefly responsible for the offenses is now gone, it would have been nice if the Board took the human sacrifice as a reasonable sign of good will from the owner and gave the joint a real second chance.

    Restaurants provide some well paying jobs for servers who like to work hard and lots of back-of-the-house jobs for immigrants, unskilled workers and/or returning citizens getting their lives back together. No one got shot or knifed at the place and it wasn't a nuisance to neighbors, apparently no one was driving home drunk. Many local folks simply enjoyed walking to the place, no need to jump in a car and pollute the environment to grab a good meal.

    Apparently, Chef JC also served up some slamming grub which local residents enjoyed. More than a couple of stay at home moms I've talked with said they enjoyed being able to bring the kids.

    I was hardly a lead advocate for keeping the place open and urging the board take a more lenient option for reprimanding the managers, but I fully supported and give credit to the effort launched by neighbors. I believe Mr Szoka is a lawyer, among many not-crazy and reasonable people who considered that there was a better way for the Board to handle the offenses.

    Someone mentioned that the DC government treats violent and mean spirited criminals better than businessmen and women who try to make a go of things here in the District. I hope Deputy Mayor Hoskins considers some better processes for keeping businesses owners in the District, otherwise they'll just take their and their patrons' taxable dollars into MD and VA.

  • drez

    Businessmen should have confidence that their investments are not going to be jeopardized by useless or corrupt bureaucrats.
    Businessmen should be more careful how they conduct business, not blame others when they lie and cheat.

  • miguel

    @drez businessmen should prostrate in fear and reverence before the great all-powerful board who keeps us safe by granting their royal seal of approval upon charity events?

  • CS

    After watching the ridiculous stonewalling of the AdMo Harris Teeter's ability to sell alcohol a few years ago, there doesn't seem to be anything "basic and straightforward" to me about liquor licensing in DC.

  • CCCA Prez


    According to reliable sources today, ANc2C02 Commissioner Chapple, ECCA President Thorpe and ANC2C Chair Padro have all also voiced support in favor of keeping open/re-opening Shaw's Tavern and not disapproving their liquor license. You should hear more about that shortly. That's about as universal support from the leadership in the community as you can get on top of the individual support represented in the online petition. So, my support is in no way out of the ordinary or unusual (or crazy) and I am happy to support the objectives of others who support smart growth in the neighborhood.

    I've never owned a pitchfork (or a torch) even when I tossed hay on my uncle's farm as a kid, but I always keep my Scalpel handy when I need to cut out of tricky encounters with strangers.

  • Pingback: Lunch Room Chatter: Goodbye, Shaw Tavern | Zersnote

  • CCCA Prez

    from Shaw list:

    Re: [ShawNeighborhood] Re: Shaw's Tavern closing

    ANC 2C is on record supporting the issuance of ABC licenses to Shaw's Tavern, both before and after the incidents which caused the ABC Board to take the establishment's application under advisement.

    Alexander M. Padro
    Commissioner, ANC 2C01
    Chair, ANC 2C

  • Janet

    All of this drama seems to boil down to a hidden agenda of stop revitalization at all costs. Are you nay sayers so scared of loosing control over your fiefdoms that you will do anything to stop revitalization?

    This restaurant made operational mistakes providing free food and drinks to two non profits for two private events. Are you actually advocating prohibition style enforcement over this type of philanthropy?

  • Pingback: What’s So Special About Shaw’s Tavern? - City Desk - Washington City Paper

  • copperred

    @Janet: Yes it's all a secret plot. Also the Tri-lateral commission will be sending its mysterious black helicopters to take you away for uncovering it.

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