QUICKTAKES: TONIC’S QUEST
- Tonic applies for first liquor license
- D.C. law prevents approval
- City Council amends law
- Tonic applies for second license
- University, community groups file formal protests with city
- Tonic currently negotiating hours of operation, “entertainment” options
The University filed a formal protest in opposition of Tonic’s liquor license request, adding another obstacle to a process already hindered by local community groups.
The school said they support the restaurant serving liquor but not under the terms proposed in the current application. The hours of operation and an overly vague description of entertainment events were two problems noted by University spokesperson Tracy Schario.
Tonic requested it be permitted to stay open until 2 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekends – the maximum allowed under law. They also asked to have live entertainment, which Schario said needed to be clarified.
“There are perceptions that there is going to be loud music and loud dance extravaganzas, so if they could just define the entertainment it would help dispel some of those concerns,” Schario said.
The application could have been approved at a meeting of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board Wednesday, but now that meeting will serve as a forum for public concerns. The parties will have to reach a compromise privately before the application can continue.
Tonic’s first liquor license application was denied in February because of a D.C. law that prevents retailers from having such a license in a residential area unless there is a similar one already existing nearby. This summer, the D.C. City Council passed an amendment changing the law slightly – allowing Tonic to be eligible for a license. Now, as the restaurant reapplies with the possibility of approval, the University and local groups are voicing their concerns.
“We had hoped that when they resubmitted the application they had taken into consideration some of the feedback that neighbors would have shared with them,” Schario said. She added that a midnight closing time would be more reasonable.
The Advisory Neighborhood Commission and other community groups said they are against the license – and the amendment allowing it – because it creates a dangerous example for future establishments. “I think that the general concern is that it sets a precedent for allowing alcohol establishments in neighborhoods,” said L. Asher Corson, chairman of ANC 2A. He added that he could not comment further because the ANC is currently in negotiations with the restaurant.
TONIC owner Jeremy Pollok said that he has met with the University and would like to enter into a voluntary agreement.
“It’s done this way on purpose. Unfortunately some restaurants open without restrictions and all sorts of stuff happens that is detrimental to the neighborhood,” Pollok said. “And that’s not fair to the neighborhood.”
He added that they applied for the maximum amount of hours because it will help him negotiate effectively with the neighborhood.
“Are we going to be open until 2 and 3? I doubt it,” Pollok said. “We’re not a disco, we’re not a nightclub, but it’s part of the process.”
Over the weekend, the restaurant was encouraging customers to sign a petition in support of its license. Pollok said he wants to prove that local residents support them serving liquor and that many of the concerns have arisen from a vocal minority.
“(The petition) is a way to show the ABC and the ANC that we’re not crazy: there is support for us in the neighborhood,” Pollok said.
This article appeared in the September 17, 2007 issue of the Hatchet.