ANC approves outdoor dining

A new restaurant set to open next month received support from the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission to open an outdoor seating area and garden in the summer.

Stephen Gavula, the owner of Circa, presented his request to receive a 45-day trial for this outside space at the ANC’s monthly meeting Wednesday. The ANC commissioners passed it unanimously.

The restaurant, located at 23rd and Eye streets, will have an outdoor seating area along the sidewalk.

There will be approximately 126 seats indoors and 76 seats outside once the restaurant fully opens. About 14 of these seats will be bar seating.

Gavula said he is “willing to negotiate” the hours that the outside café will be open. The restaurant is currently scheduled to be open until midnight Mondays through Thursdays, until 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays and until 11 p.m. Sundays.

“We want to be good neighbors,” Gavula said. He added that neither of the restaurant’s locations have received any landlord or resident complaint.

At the same meeting, the ANC rejected a proposal by local nightclub Shadow Room, located at 2131 K St., to build a summer garden outside of the venue.

Commissioners voted 4-0 Wednesday against the construction of a summer garden – a small outside seating area for the club’s guests – citing concerns over noise control, property damage and safety issues.

Commissioner Florence Harmon said, after almost a year of dealing with Shadow Room, she has lost patience.

“We’ve been to hearing after hearing,” she said at the meeting. “I don’t have a lot of confidence that you will move these people anywhere or take any responsibility for your guests.”

This isn’t the first time the ANC has opposed the Shadow Room’s business operations. Conflict between Shadow Room and the ANC began last October when five residents filed a complaint against the club, asking for the Alcholic Beverage Control Board to reject the renewal of its liquor license.

Then, in January, Shadow Room’s owners applied to add a new club on the floor below, to be called Sanctuary 21. The ANC voted unanimously against both the liquor license and new club application.

The ABC Board gave a different ruling in both cases, renewing Shadow Room’s liquor license and then accepting the application for Sanctuary 21.

Shadow Room owner Swaptak Das said he is hopeful the ABC Board will act similarly in the current case of the outdoor area, saying his club has never been convicted of any violations by the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, an agency that overlooks the ABC Board.

“We’ve got a good track record,” he said. “And we stand by that.”

The ANC’s vote will be given to the ABC Board for a formal hearing, which will take place following a period of negotiations between Shadow Room and the ANC. The date of this hearing has not yet been set.

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