Monday, March 08, 2010

Big Bear Cafe's pursuit of a restaurant-class liquor license

What do you think about Bloomingdale's Big Bear Cafe pursuing a liquor license -- specifically, a restaurant-class (and not a tavern-class) liquor license?

Keep in mind that Aleks Duni, owner of the not-yet-opened Baraki pizza tavern at 1st & T Street NW, went through a community process -- leading to a voluntary agreement -- for a tavern-class liquor license. So Bloomingdale has already survived the voluntary agreement process for a restaurant-/tavern-class liquor license.

See this slightly edited copy of a recent post at Mari's InShaw blog regarding Big Bear Cafe at the 3/1/2010 Bates Area Civic Association (BACA) meeting.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Big Bear Beer II

Sometime after all the youth/school related stuff at the BACA meeting, about an hour into it, we finally got to Big Bear and their general ideas of pursuing an ABC liquor license. There were two persons from Bog Bear, one being Matt Sellers, the other guy a blond barista.

Big Bear is aiming for a CR license. For those of you unfamiliar with the wonderful world of ABC licenses, a class C Restaurant license is one for places where at least 45% of revenues come from food sales. It is different from the class of licenses for bars or corner markets. There was one objection mentioned, coming from a Baptist minister, presenting his concerns about people getting drunk and hanging out in the park. This was countered by the Episcopalian church secretary reminding him of Jesus' first miracle at the wedding at Cana, turning water into wine.

There were questions about Big Bear expanding and the space they have. The bear is kind of landlocked and the space above is leased to tenants, so in the near future, nope. Maybe, years down the road. Another question was the issue of vagrants/ neighbor characters. Characters do drop by to get a glass of water and to use the
bathroom and for the most part they don't cause a problem.

The idea is Big Bear has a vibe as a cafe, hang out and they have no intention of becoming a bar, they just want to expand their food service options. I asked the barista (m) if the idea is to offer something like Teaism, and he answered in the affirmative. As far as I can tell despite having a small park area and a restaurant/bar across the street, the Penn Quarter Teaism fails to produce drunkards rolling out of its doors.


Some additional info supplied by your moderator:

Here is the definition of a Class C license from the DCRA ABRA ABC Licensee Handbook

Retailer – on-premises
(restaurant, tavern, nightclub, hotel, multipurpose facility, common carrier)
 Class C: may serve beer, wine, and spirits

Annual food sales requirements §23-2101; 25-101(43)(A); 25-101(43)(A); 25-113(b). Food sales for both class C and D restaurants must meet 45 percent of gross annual revenue or a particular dollar amount per seat: $2,000 per seat for class C restaurants and $1,500 per seat for class D restaurants.


IMGoph said...

if this is what it takes for stu to keep the business alive, more power to him.

fact is there will be a vocal group opposed to this because "there are already enough liquor stores in the neighborhood." i heard that tired meme trotted out a million times in response to the application for a license at baraki. for whatever reason, some people either can't or refuse to understand the difference between a place where you can carry liquor outside and away from the premises, versus one where you can only drink on-site.

Anonymous said...

Recently I called the police about a character hanging out outside the Big Bear -- in the evening, after it had closed. In fact, it is Big Bear being open that has had such a great positive impact on the neighborhood. In my opinion, having a reason to stay open in the evening too is a great thing. I am all in favor of a restaurant-class liquor license for Big Bear Cafe!

Pat said...

Bloomingdale is in desperate need of a place to enjoy an adult beverage. I think the fears about drunkards are baseless. First of all, it's not as if people don't already drink in Bloomingdale. People drink in their homes, on their porches and stoops, and sometimes in the street. I'm not bothered by any of it. Second I think it would be great for the community. Having place in the area to grab a drink is better than having to hike up to U Street or over to Logan Circle. Also, kudos to the person who shot down the minister with the miracle at Cana argument.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for it. An existing, responsible business wants to expand its offerings in the neighborhood. There are currently no establishments with food and alcoholic beverage services in the neighborhood. Expanded hours would mean more eyes on the street at night. It would be a huge positive for the community.

Unknown said...

While Bloomingdale is in need a place to enjoy alcoholic beverages, I'm not on board with Big Bear being that place. It doesn't have much of the bar food selection, nor the television playing the game. When I want coffee shop, Big Bear shoots to the top of the list, but when I want a night out for the game or something, I think greasy bar food, lots of room for great friends and DC United beating whomever they've got that night.

So if they want it, I say let them go for it. But Big Bear really seems to run counter for where I want to hang out at night.

Anonymous said...

SHOCKING that this should even be considered. Wasnt it BIG Bear, Stuart etc that railed against alcohol in the neighborhood when he opened the place.

I live on the block of R street where Big Bear abuts. We do not need liquor on the street or rules bended for the convenience of a few

Sean Hennessey said...

i'm in favor of Big Bear getting a restaurant-class liquor license.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how much of a kitchen they will have? The current hot plate and sandwich press doesn't really scale out to a full dinner service. I'm all for it as a restaurant, but it should have a fairly restrictive anc agreement to ensure that it stays a restaurant and not a bar w/ a class CR license.

Amanda on 2nd St. NW said...

Certainly in favor. It sounds like Big Bear is not going to become a "bar" per se, but a coffee shop that also offers beers. Kind of like Tryst, but on a much smaller scale and with a clientele reflective of the Bloomingdale neighborhood (not Adams Morgan god forbid!:)

Anonymous said...

I haven't read through the link to the regs, but I'm guessing coffee sales count towards the "food" column when calculating percentages? If they do extend hours but only serve booze after a certain time then they will probably be OK. The neighborhood will be well-served by a place to grab a beer with friends. And I disagree with the "no TVs, limited food" angle noted above. Frankly we could do with establishments that encourage low key interactions with your fellow bar patrons. See the Saloon on U St, fantastic place to just hang out.

I really don't get the opposition to places wanting to open on premise beer/wine sales in a neighborhood already chock full of corner liquor stores. The folks who rail against these thing foresee visions of problem drunks being drawn in droves to Big Bear and then wreaking havoc on the neighbors. Does anybody really think that the "problem" drinkers will frequent Big Bear just because they can get a beer? A likely $4-5 bottle of beer when they can go grab a cheap pint of high test rotgut literally across the street for the same price? Why not focus on places enabling that kind of chronic alcoholism that in turn causes issues for the surrounding streets? It seems that those who want to stop additional legitimate businesses from running a profitable (and likely very safe) enterprise don't want those questions asked and answered.

bamoll said...

I'm in support, and the sooner the better!

Anonymous said...

I support the other 3 bars attempting to open in Bloomingdale, but I don't support this. I generally find Big Bear problematic. No black employees in a neighborhood that has a huge population of people of color? Really?

Anonymous said...

Good lord will SOMEONE open a restaurant in our neighborhood where alcohol can be consumed? This is just ridiculous! I would love to meet more of you but we don't even have a decent restaurant open evenings that doesn't serve alcohol. This is a huge source of frustration after moving from the Columbia Heights area and having the opportunity to meet tons of new neighbors through evenings out locally.

Rosenrosen said...

The BP Station at the confluence of Rhode Island and Florida Avenues doesn't have a liquor license but it doesn't have a corking fee, either...

Anonymous said...

I agree with the poster who does not support BIG BEAR because of staffing complexion. The white man comes into Bloomingdale and expects every door to be opened for him. He holds an elected position to help meet his personal goals and ultimately supports his and his own,

Arrogantly he ignores all of the residents of color who have lived here long before he even knew we existed. Support black owned business and respect the people

Anonymous said...

It's OK for Davenport to be racist because he's a Democrat and he has shown sufficient respect to CM Thomas, every white developers friend.

Anonymous said...

Stu is racist because there are no black staff at Big Bear? I haven't been there in a while, but there certainly used to be.

Anonymous said...

yeay! Absolutely a great idea!! And, btw, the people commenting on the Bear not having a diverse enough staff, they obviously don't go in there often - there are several minority staff members. I think always falling back on the "race card" when there is talk of any sort of change in the community is a weak-minded approach. Let's just leave it out and focus on the ISSUES, okay?

Steve on First said...

There is every reason in the world why Bloomingdale needs Big Bear to expand their hours and menu. The neighborhood is blooming and people are meeting, networking, families growing, the community is alive. We all need a place to relax and unwind with our neighbors instead of driving to H Stret, or U Street or CH. We need a place to call home after 6PM, our own little restaurant, bar, tavern.

Don't throw the race card are clearly out of touch if you haven't noticed the staff at BB nor the contribution Stu has made to the neighborhood...of all races.

Don't throw the number of liquor licenses in the neighborhood at it. You are not fighting to reject the mini marts that pop up and down in the neighborhood...and they do more harm to our neighborhood than any other place in the area. We need restaurant liquor licenses, not marts where a drunk can pick up a can of beer or bottle of cheap wine to drink as he walks down the street, tossing it into our yards, and pissing on our front steps (happens almost every night, you know what I mean).

I say close the marts, give us one good restaurant and you will see a major change.

Go Big Bear, go. We will fight for you and with you. You have improved our neighborhood almost more than any single contribution (though there are many significant improvements, don't get me wrong). You are here for us, we are here for you. We need you and we need you to open at night and keep our community in the community.

Damian said...

In a city and neighborhood where there is a racial majority, is it fair for the black majority to pick on a small, minority-owned business for being owned by someone of a different race? Imagine if we were living in Vermont. Would it be fair for the white majority in Vermont to pick on someone for opening a black-owned business and hiring a few of their friends/relatives? I say let's support the minority-owned business known as Big Bear Cafe and encourage increased diversity in the neighborhood. Or, is diversity bad now?

Anonymous said...

I wonder kind of conversation all these people crying "racist" would have, for example, with the African-American family in the neighborhood whose home was decimated by fire. Big Bear stepped up to support them like no other community buisness. Or consider the coffeeshop's long-term committment to supporting development in Haiti, which precedes the earthquake by many, many years.

Don't be jerks to people who aren't.

Anonymous said...

You crackers should move back to Nebraska.

Anonymous said...

Liquor licenses in residential neighborhoods are normally not good. People drink and some get loud and obnoxious, especially at closing time when quiet is a positive neighborhood attribute. In addition, people drink and urinate all over the place and otherwise become nuisances. Unfortunately, we already have that in our neighborhood. Our current neighborhood bar room is Sunset Liquor and the lounge across the street called Florida Ave., Park. It sells liquor by the can and shot (cups are provided), which is then taken into the Park, the alleys and streets and consumed. It provides no restroom facilities so our alleys and stoops stink of urine and defecation. Trash is not a problem for them because it's just deposited all over the neighborhood. In addition, the drunks congregate on the corner or merely wander the sidewalks terrorizing our wives and children. I'm for Big Bear getting a liquor license as long as Sunset Liquor disappears. That would be a neighborhood improvement.

David said...

crackers back to Nebraska?
I guess if we consider that then we should kick all people of color out of Le Droit Park since it was originally an all white neighbohood.

Amazing that a conversation about a business has to be turned into a degenerative argument about race. Neighbors should support neighborhood businesses regardless of who owns them.

Anonymous said...

As for drunks being released into the neighborhood by big about all of the people who sit in the Florida Ave park drinking all day? Don't they concern you?

Anonymous said...

Big Bear has been a great asset to the community; however, we need to be mindful of when assets become liabilities. Currently, the neighborhood is a better place now that the liquor-serving Big Bear is now gone. People who know I live in the neighborhood think it's great to have "a cafe in walking distance". I think their tune would change if they had to deal with noise and parking problems at all hours--I know I would. I find it ironic that we would see it as acceptable to have liquor served, from the same location, as being more acceptable when served in glasses or single serve bottles, when we didn't like liquor sold there before. Bloomingdale is not Dupont, Adams Morgan, U St. or Gallery Place--nor should it be. It is a small neighborhood, which has residents who may enjoy those other neighborhoods, but not nightly and not when it disrupts their rest and comfort. Big Bear usually closes soon after residents are coming home from work. Once weekly, there is a poetry/open mic event that creates parking challenges for residents. Imagine our challenges if there are events and late night activities taking place several nights a week? Most attendees to these events will drive, as do some people who come to the cafe now. From May to November, residents are already inconvenienced by the parking challenges that come with the popular farmer's market. The benefit of the market, however, makes the inconvenience tolerable. Late night parking inconvenience is not tolerable. Look at what we are experiencing by having this never-ending public works project disruption. There have already been a couple parties at Big Bear that have taken place later in the evening--with loud music as well as loud patrons leaving. This gives me a glimpse of what this might be without a liquor license--and I'm not pleased. This is not the type of programming that this transformative establishment was supposed to support. Yes, it's great to have a cool spot to hang out at that is walking distance; however, we don't need a night spot in this community. I doubt that the goal of this license is to allow mimosas can be served with bagel sandwiches, so I am firmly against seeing Big Bear become the next Cheers or any other late night establishment.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

business people.

Anonymous said...

I think we should give greater weight to the opinions of those who live nearest to Big Bear. They are the one who will have people urinating, defecating and vomiting in their backyards.

IMGoph said...

of course. any time a place with a liquor license opens, most of the patrons, after a meal and a drink, walk next door and take a crap in the neighbors front yard. just look at dupont, georgetown, silver spring, bethesda, clarendon, old town, and rockville. patrons taking an after-dinner dump are a huge problem there!

the good thing is that's only a problem at places with liquor consumed on-site. all of the carry-out corner stores in the city have never had that problem.

hurrah for your idea!

Anonymous said...

people already urinate and defecate in my backyard. not daily, but often enough.

Bloomingdale is only "residential" because business has abandoned her. Bloomingdale, at least my block, is not "quiet". there are and have been loud drunks since i moved here.
i'm told by neighbors that there used to be places to buy drinks, but they have long since closed. parking gets worse and worse every year. a place that is open later and longer will only speed up this. but it's getting worse regardless.

the comparison of big bear cafe to big bear liquors is ignorant. nobody was fighting the fact that big bear liquors sold alcohol. the problem was very different. drugs. defecation. urination. harassment and fights. litter.

when i read stuff about big bear cafe being racist so they should not get a liquor license or about how this is a sleepy little neighborhood. or how we're not Dupont Circle, it makes me despise the ANC and voluntary agreement process. You're not fighting a chemical waste dump, or a paper factory, or a motorcycle training course, you're fighting and everyday business trying to offer something that many neighbors are demanding. and getting elsewhere. they still come home loud and drunk.

i'd rather they can simply walk there. wherever. if the dry cleaners wants to serve beer on site. i'll support it.

if the chinese takeouts want to serve beer ill support it.
if soul day spa wants to have a wine bar, i'll support it.

as long as all provide a bathroom.

Anonymous said...

My dog rolled in human defecation in the little park across from Big Bear. You know it's poo-poo from a pig person because you find something used as tissue on top. How may bathrooms is Big Bear proposing to add? How much expansion? Is this in line with Big Bear's original proposal? Where will people park?

Named said...

"you know what would be great in the hood? a police substation with public restrooms."

The city's budget deficit is in the triple-digit millions. If they raise taxes, your idea might work, but then we'll have another debate about how city taxes are already too high.

Bryan on North Capitol said...

Awesome! Sooner the better. This is one of the reasons why I invested and purchased a house in this great neighborhood.

To those who claim Big Bear and it's owners are racist, you are just showing how truly stupid you are.

Anonymous said...

I am sick and tired of these middle-age white professionals crapping in my yard.

Scott Roberts of Bloomingdale said...

The agendas for tonight's Bloomingdale Civic Association meeting and tonight's Eckington Civic Association meeting include Big Bear Cafe's liquor license pursuit.

Bloomingdale Civic Association Meeting Agenda

From Robert Brannum, President, Bloomingdale Civic Association.

Bloomingdale Civic Association, Inc.

March Monthly Meeting
Monday, March 15, 2010 - 7:00pm
St. Georges’ Episcopal Church
2nd and U Streets, NW


I. ANC/Bloomingdale Grant – Update
II. Bloomingdale Beautification – Update
III. PEPCO - Service Information
IV. 2010 Census
V. Presentation – LeDroit Park: Dog Park
VI. Big Bear Liquor Pre-Application

A. Office of Councilman Harry Thomas, Jr.
B. Executive Office of the Mayor
C. ANC Commissioner John T. Salatti

VII. Community Announcements

Robert Vinson Brannum
President, Bloomingdale Civic Association, Inc.

And, from Ted McGinn, President, Eckington Civic Association.


March Meeting 7pm 3/15/2010

Our meeting will be held at the North Capitol Main Street Office, 1703 North Capitol Street NE

The snow is melting and Spring is on the way. ECA is getting ready for the chance in season. Join us to plan our first Saturday outdoor greening project.

1.Our agenda for this month will include a presentation from Big Bear Cafe about their desire to obtain a ABC licence.

2. ECA has been asked to join other area Civic groups in hosting community meetings that will showcase Mayoral, city wide council and of course Ward 5 council candidates. Jim Berry, former ANC5C Chair and current leader of the Bates Area Civic Association is spearheading this effort. Find out about this endeavor and ECA's role.

3. ANC5C02 Rep. Sylvia Pinkey will provide a SMD update.

4. Eckington will be part of this years National Cherry Blossom Festival. Come and hear all the details.

5. Learn about new programs at Emery Education Campus and ways you can support your local public school.

6. Gospel Rescue Ministries will present info about their job training program and the use of the lot north of the unit block of R street alley.

We are sorry about holding this meeting later in the month then normal and will get back to the first Monday of the month in April.

== Scott Roberts, Bloomingdale Neighborhood blog moderator ==

Anonymous said...

I think it's a great idea!!! I'd love to enjoy a beer out on the patio on a nice spring/summer/fall afternoon or evening. Also, if it gives Big Bear a reason to be open past, 6:00, great!!! By the time I get home from work they are closed, and so many evenings I'd love to go there and relax or work. I think concerns over public drunkness are silly - the drunks will get drunk wherever, whenever they like and they aren't going to go pay Big Bear prices for their alcohol. Big Bear is a positive thing in the community and when it's open and busy I think it makes the neighborhood safer..then just being another dark corner.