Behavior of McFaddens’s patrons upset neighbors

McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon may have to watch its patrons more closely in response to local community groups’ protest of its liquor license renewal.

Members of the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission, who make zoning recommendations to the city, and the Foggy Bottom Association, have cited several problems with the restaurant’s patron conduct. Complaints include noise violations as late as 2 a.m. and public fornication, which they demand to be addressed before renewing the license.

ANC member David Lehrman said he does not have strong personal opinions about the issue, and that he is supporting fellow member Richard Price’s resolution against McFadden’s. He added that since Price lives close to the restaurant and bar, he has a better understanding of the situation.

Located at 2401 Pennsylvania Ave., McFadden’s is a popular hangout for GW’s over 21 crowd. The bar occupies the ground floor of a residential and retail building.

“When you have personal experience with people behaving in ways that you think are horrible, and the restaurant doesn’t do anything about it, you are going to try to do something,” he said. Price could not be reached for comment last week.

Earlier this month, McFadden’s general manager Brian Westlye said he felt it was “pointless” to engage in debate with the ANC. “We have residents above us that don’t have problems with us but people five or six blocks away who do,” he said.

McFadden’s case was brought before the Alcohol Beverage Control Board on Sept. 15 for a roll call hearing to address its liquor license renewal, which must be done every two years for businesses serving alcohol in the District.

Cynthia Simms, community resources officer for the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration, said the protests were presented at the hearing and that the control board will make a decision at a Nov. 17 hearing.

“There’s a number of things that can happen,” she said. “Most likely they will enter into a voluntary agreement with the community. Things like their license being revoked could not likely happen.”

Simms also noted that McFadden’s is at a disadvantage due to its location on Pennsylvania Avenue; it is surrounded by condominium complexes and a hotel across the street. She said that unlike other downtown D.C. bars, the saloon is in a primarily residential area.

Jackie Duke, general manager for the 2401 Pennsylvania Ave. condominiums, located directly above McFadden’s, refused to comment on the recent protest, citing pending legal issues.

Steve Keup, general manager of the Melrose Hotel across the street, said that while he is aware of the complaints, his patrons have never complained about late night noise.

“I’ve never had one complaint from my guests here,” Keup said. “I even have proof. I stayed in this hotel for four months when I first lived here and I slept with my windows open and was never bothered.”

“When I’m here late at night I do see crowds of people over there, but they don’t bother us,” he continued. “I think (the complaints) are blown a little out of proportion, personally.”

Simms added that McFadden’s has “absolutely” had problems in the past with the ABRA, including complaints of long lines outside, noise violations and disruption of peace and order.

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