Shaw Restaurant Update

Long story short: two new, locally-owned restaurants in my neighborhood (Vegetate and Queen of Sheba) have been unable to get a liquor license due to the activism of a neighborhood church with a mostly suburban congregation. Now at urging of Vegetate owners Dominic and Jennifer Redd, a city council member has introduced a bill which would overturn the quirk in the city’s liquor laws that allows liquor stores to open near schools but prevents fine vegetarian or Ethiopian restaurants from serving alcohol. (Within the 400-foot limit there’s already both a liquor store and Giant supermarket which sells beer and wine.)

Sounds reasonable, right? The DC Council’s Committee on Consumer & Regulatory Affairs will be holding a hearing on the bill this Friday, June 23, at 10:00 a.m. in Room 412 of the John A. Wilson building. Here’s more information about the hearing and how to submit testimony:

Councilmember Jim Graham, Chairperson of the Committee on Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, will convene a public hearing on Bill 16-696, the “On-Premises Retailer’s License Act of 2006”. This notice is abbreviated to allow a public hearing on this legislation

Bill 16-696 would amend section 25-314(b) of the District of Columbia Official Code to allow consideration of on-premises licenses to establishments within 400 feet of a public, private, or parochial primary, elementary, or high school; college or university; or recreation area operated by the D.C. Department of Recreation.

The Committee invites the public to testify or to submit written testimony, which will be made a part of the official record. Those who wish to testify should contact John Adams at (202) 724-8198 before 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 21, 2006. Individual public witnesses will be permitted 3 minutes for oral presentation. Organizational representatives will be permitted 5 minutes. Witnesses should bring 16 copies of their testimony to the public hearing.

If you are unable to testify at the public hearing, written statements are encouraged and will be made part of the official record. Copies of written statements should be submitted to John Adams, Committee on Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Room 112, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, 20004, by 5 p.m. on Friday, June 23, 2006.

Neighborhood blog In Shaw posted the letter she’ll be submitting to the Council. My motivations on this one are purely selfish: if the bill becomes a law I think it will help these businesses succeed, improving the neighborhood economy and giving local residents more local options for dining or drinks. While alcoholism is a problem, I’m not sure a vegetarian restaurant serving $5+ drinks will do anything more than a liquor store stocked with 40s.

Author: Rob Goodspeed


  1. I attended the hearing on Friday. It was five hours long. A variety of people testified in favor of the bill. Opponents consisted almost exclusively of members of Shiloh Baptist Church. Hard to understand their opposition. A friend suggested that they resent actual African Americans coming in and making “their” neighborhood prosperous while they’ve let it languish for years. Who knows?

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