TONIC liquor license may not get approval

A proposed restaurant and bar at 20th and G streets may be denied its liquor license, said a D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Association spokesperson.

The proposed restaurant and bar, TONIC, has already experienced construction delays due to the time it took to obtain construction permits. The food venue is expected to open in January 2007, said co-owner Jeremy Pollak, a GW alumnus.

There are two legal snags TONIC owners face, said ABRA spokesperson Jeff Coudriet. The first is that a bar cannot be within 400 feet of a high school. Coudriet said although the School Without Walls is within 400 feet of the proposed restaurant, this law will probably not be a serious problem since another restaurant and bar exists within the limit in another area of the city.

The law that will most likely result in ABRA denying TONIC their license prohibits any commercial liquor license in a residentially zoned area, Coudriet said. While there are exceptions to the law, hotels and businesses that obtained licenses before the law was enacted, he said that TONIC applied to neither.

“If I was going to be a guessing man, I’d say the regulation board is going to follow the law,” Coudriet said.

The property TONIC is leasing from GW used to house a pharmacy, Quigley’s, which had a license to sell alcohol but not to serve it.

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, which oversees ABRA’s operations, is holding a public hearing Wednesday to hear public comment on the issue.

The Foggy Bottom/West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission voted to oppose the restaurant this summer, citing concerns with legal issues and late hours.

Pollak said the original submission, which put closing times as late as 3 a.m., is open to negotiations. He said hours might be scaled back due to community members’ concerns raised at ANC hearings.

“We’re hopeful to come to any conclusion and agreement,” Pollak said.

The University is willing to incorporate input from Foggy Bottom residents into the plan for the restaurant and bar, said Nancy Haaga, director of Campus Support Services.

“Representatives from the University and TONIC are working with the ANC and interested community members to address concerns that have been raised with respect to the application filed by TONIC,” Haaga wrote in an e-mail.

Freshman Harry Baumgarten said the alcohol would provide more of a disruption than a benefit for the community.

“While there are some benefits to it, such as it would be open late and its location is phenomenal, its detractors overweigh its good,” he said. “The type of environment it would bring to the campus is not what GW’s looking for.”

Sophomore Cielo Villasenor said she thought TONIC would be a perfect addition to GW’s campus.

“I think it would be a good idea for a number of reasons,” she said. “The first one being that having a go-out place on campus makes it safer for students. Secondly, it would be convenient and quite pleasant.”

-David Ceasar contributed to this report.

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