Thursday, July 22, 2010

dc continues to ban fun

As most of you already probably heard if you live in DC and read any number of more timely news outlets out there, the city denied Big Bear Cafe, Bloomingdale's flagship coffee shop, its liquor license earlier this week. And yes, although this can be summed up with the phrase, "What a bunch of bullsh*t," this decision should really come as no surprise. DC has a long history of hating fun.
And the list goes on and on, but I'm sick of Googling, so let's just go with that for now. As you can see, even though the city seems to hate fun initially, after a while, it seems it usually comes around. So, I don't think this is the end for Big Bear Café, which I confess I've only been to once for obvious reasons: THEY DON'T SERVE LIQUOR!

Now, I could just end my essay here letting you believe the city's Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs), the groups in charge of liquor licensing, are just a bunch of teetotalling dicks, but I won't. That wouldn't be fair. See, while that's often the case, it seems sometimes this city's residents are even bigger teetotalling dicks.

For example, it was because of GW student complaints about noise (um, seriously) why it took Tonic a good two years to get its liquor license. In 2008 (maybe after those assholes graduated?), Tonic finally was granted license to begin serving fun.

And keeping close with the young-people-acting-conspicuously-lame tip, I think we have the root of Big Bear's problems -- its neighbors, who presented this ridiculously worded legal resolution against Big Bear to the Commission on Tuesday. Whereas, you're all a bunch of haters...

But perhaps, I'm simply under the wrong impression. I thought Bloomingdale, where Big Bear is located, was the new go-to neighborhood for white people. In other words, I thought it was the new gentrification hotspot. And if there's one thing we know about gentrifying white people, it's that they like wine and fancy beer with their coffee. So, what the f*ck is going on here, huh? Why, Bloomingdale residents, are you all trying to deny who you are?

Maybe this is a grand ploy to keep dirty drunk hobos like me out of your neighborhood. If so, congratulations -- you've won. I will continue not to go to there and keep my stupid dirty drunk hobo gentrification dollars in my pocket. Cheers, Bloomingdale! *glug*


FoggyDew said...

Despite the horrible wording of the resolution, if what it says is correct - improper zoning, no permits for outdoor seating, providing liquor w/o a license, etc. - it seems to me they were totally within their rights and duties to oppose the permit application. There are rules to follow if you want to do business and the owners of the cafe should know this.

Anonymous said...

The "city" didn't deny a liquor license, the ANC voted not to support the application at this time.

Marissa said...


That is an excellent point, but another issue. I'm talking strictly cultural here. Noise complaints from a tiny cafe??? Pfft. This is a city. Sometimes it's a little noisy. If these people don't can't stand whatever little noise Big Bear would even be able to generate, they should move to the suburbs. Just sayin'...


This is probably just a matter of semantics. Let's be clear, "The ANCs are the body of government with the closest official ties to the people in a neighborhood." ANCs are part of the city government structure, hence, I call it the "city" for short. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

Anonymous said...


Not so much....the ANCs, while elected, have no power what so ever, hence the name, Advisory Neighborhood Commissions. The city government, made up of paid employees, actually approves or disapproves liquor licenses. You can snark all you want about DC govt employees, but the ANCs do not govern.

Either way, voting not to support a liquor license application (at this time) is a far cry from ABC rejecting an application.

Marissa said...

Thanks. That's all good information. However, I still don't know why power or pay would matter in this circumstance. No matter the income, ANCs are still an extension of the city government, no? It may be much weaker than, say, the Council, but I'm under the impression that no matter their power (or lack thereof), they're still part of the city organizational chart and not an independent board. Am I totally wrong? If so, the DC city government's Web site does little to negate why any logical person would make that assumption:

If the ANC exists totally outside the DC city government realm, then I will stand down. But if not, then I still don't see why ANC can't be classified as the "city" just as a person could classify any branch of the federal government -- from the President down to a TSA employee -- as part of "the State" or more commonly, "the government."

I'd also be interested to find a case of a liquor license that went through with this kind of dissenting ANC vote. Are there any? (I know the Ethiopia one was rejected but out of default, not out of complaint.)

Thanks for the thought-provoking info, by the way.

Anonymous said...

I know this isn't exactly the same scenario, but here is a recent case where the ANC and ABRA didn't see eye to eye.

I consider the ANCs as extra-governmental since they are unpaid volunteer (albeit elected) advisors. I'd be interested to hear other's thoughts.

Debbi said...

I like the bear photos.

Patty Duke said...

Bloomindale a quiet neigborhood?
Ha! I guessthe criminals are now using silencers on their guns.

BTW, you just let the secret out on gentrification, wine and fancy beer. Anyone want to go in a wine and fancy beer coffee shop?

James Doakes said...

Fact: ABRA is in charge of liquor licensing, not the ANCs.

Marissa said...


I second that. If anyone else wants to chime in.


So do I. So do I...


Ahh, Bloomingdale has less guns now. At least ones that are not printed ironically on T-shirts.

james doakes--

That's a fact, for sure, but when is a case where avid protests from the ANCs still allowed a liquor license to go through???

TheCommiss said...

Bloomingdale is a very diviersified neighborhood and totally up and coming too! We have a ton of development slate in the next 5 years too. What BBC lacks is proper zoning for a CR license along with a few mis steps in permitting. this was the reason the ANC opposed the application "AT THIS TIME". The ANC is very supportive of BBC and it's contributions to Bloomingdale, however the applicant needs to get it's house in order. Had that been the case it would have been approved. On top of that it was billed to the community as a full service sit down food service establishment, which the owner has finally stated it will not be full service, no wait staff, and the kitchen given it's tiny space will be very limited.