Young and Hungry

Hank’s Oyster Bar Get Its Patio Back

It's been three months since Alcoholic Beverage Control investigators forced Hank's Oyster Bar in Dupont to shut down a portion of its patio amidst a dispute with a handful of nearby residents over the restaurant’s termination of its voluntary agreement with the neighborhood. Tonight, Hank's is finally getting its full patio back.

Owner Jamie Leeds learned this morning that the liquor board had reaffirmed the termination of her voluntary agreement. She tells Y&H she will also be bringing back late-night hours on Fridays and Saturdays (closing at 3 a.m. instead of midnight). "It feels like such a relief," Leeds says. "We're thankful that it's over and that we can move on."

Leeds initially moved to terminate the agreement in 2010 in order to be able to expand into the next-door property. Liquor authorities agreed to the termination with the unanimous support of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2B, which represents Dupont Circle—but a handful of neighbors took the case to the D.C. Court of Appeals, which reversed the decision. Over the past several months, the liquor board has been taking another look to decide whether the voluntary agreement stays.

The conflict exploded a day before the Capital Pride Parade in June, one of the busiest days of the year for Hank’s. An ABC investigator showed up to say that Hank’s would have to close the expanded section of its patio, pending a decision from the board. Leeds went public with her frustrations, and the incident fueled a debate about how much power small groups should have over the operations of restaurants and bars and led to calls for reform of the liquor license protest system.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • 17th Street Resident

    And how!

  • Another Dupont Circler

    Pushy neighbors upset woman's apple cart when she didn't sell the apple they wanted, with their branding on her cart. City rules for woman. Neighbors told to find other hobbies; news at 11.

  • Chris a 17th Street Visitor

    @Dupont Circler, Nice to see that instead of lively debate you run to the use of slurs. I am betting that you are one of the neighbors who didn't like the restaurant in the first place. This Business Owner followed the letter of the law and then worked within the law with the support of the neighborhood to change the law for the better of the community. I applaud the work of Ms Leeds and the community.

  • Manuel

    Nice to see rational thinking triumphed here. All voluntary agreements should be terminated. It's a ridiculous system of regulating businesses that sell alcohol. By the way, I live in Adams Morgan.

  • Joel

    "Ms. Leeds, through her attorney, sent a letter to Robin Diener, the President of the Dupont Circle Citizens Association (DCCA), David Mallof, and Alexis Rieffel on January 26, 2010…'We would like to meet with you in an effort to negotiate a mutually acceptable amendment to the Voluntary Agreement.'…did not receive a response to her letter from any of the recipients…Protestants inexplicably failed to respond…we further add that once the Applicant finally obtained a response from the Protestants, the Protestants did not have the right to set preconditions for meeting…Mr. Mallof emphasized that he did not feel he had an obligation to meet with the Applicant until they sent him a proposal that met his own personal expectations."

    The ABC Board's full Order may be viewed here:

  • Douglas

    The complaining neighbors ought to move to Chantilly where they can have a single family home and not interact with their neighbors if they don't want to live in a city atmosphere!

  • Mickey

    This is truly wonderful - finally! On the flip side it is tragic. Jamie has certainly taken a financial toll by having half her patio non-productive during the summer. Some of the employees (from what I understand)were let go when business was reduced. The City has taken a financial toll by missing out on incoming tax revenue. It just seems to me that these 4 or 5 people should be held accountable (possibly monetarily) for their frivilous actions which hurt the entire neighborhood. Come to think of it, the Church bells are much louder than anyone on any patio in Dupont, maybe that will be their next mission -- just say'in!

  • Lance

    "She tells Y&H she will also be bringing back late-night hours on Fridays and Saturdays (closing at 3 a.m. instead of midnight)."

    I think this tells the whole story about the bad faith being shown by the restaurant in this whole issue. Why annoy your neighbors till 3 am? She's been in this for the money (and nothing else) from the start, and now she feels free to show this. I can't wait to see how the neighborhood leaders who supported a business over their own constituents react when the late night noise complaints start to roll in.

  • Bob

    What "bad faith" Lance? Did anyone ever suggest this is anything other than a business seeking to make a profit? Only 5, and I guess you, have some problem with that.

    The fact is,no one, other than those 5 and you, have ever had a problem with this business, even when it previously operated until 3 a.m. No late night noise complaints rolled in.

    The "whole story" is that you and your fellow nimbys want control, for the sake of control, and can't stand it that people might be having fun in the neighborhood. Very pathetic.

  • Lance

    "What "bad faith" Lance? Did anyone ever suggest this is anything other than a business seeking to make a profit?"

    Exactly ... and the city failed us. We have a government and neighborhood leaders who you'd expect to be out there ensuring that the rights of consituents and the businesses that exist to serve us are balanced. But it obviously wasn't the case here. As I understand it, the Gray administration has made clear that it is so hard up for tax revenues, that the ABC board has essentially been ordered to do what it can to get more liquor dollar taxes in. That's really sad when you realize that fully one third of our taxes go toward supporting a dysfunctional and very unsuccessful school system which only benefits a tiny percentage of our residents. ... If, of course, you can consider a poor education benefiting anyone ...

  • Lance

    * 2/3rds of our tax dollars

  • Bob

    yea, Lance, the city failed you 6, and the rest of us are ecstatic to have such a wonderful neighborhood restaurant

    Time to get over it, and yourself.

  • Enough’s enough

    Lance, stop being a complete idiot.

    Hank's has been in business for all these years, and there has NEVER been a single complaint from their immediate neighbors about noise or rowdy patrons. Not a SINGLE complaint from the apartments across the street or the neighbors next door who share a wall with them.

    Nearly TWO THOUSAND people signed an online petition in their support for Hank's. Many of them live closer to Hank's than Mallof, Reiffel, and the other protesters.

    The protesters did succeed in some things, however, They succeeded in costing Ms. Leeds tens of thousands of dollars. They succeeded in making themselves despised outcasts in their own neighborhood. And they succeeded in prompting Council to craft pending legislation to limit liquor license protests - and to limit protestants such as themselves.

    When Council passes that legislation, maybe the Restaurant Association can hold a party in honor of David Mallof. After all, he did for them what they could never have done on their own. And they can invite his misguided followers like you, Lance.

    Have a drink. And some hors d'oeuvrues, Lance. You've earned them. Now, celebrate with the rest of us.

  • Hillman

    Yay for Hanks.

    Seriously, folks. You moved next to a commercial strip.

    Has been commercial since as long as anyone can remember

    What did you expect to go on there?

  • shihab


    A good design and layout plan are necessary for having a good restaurant.

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