ANC6B Votes Unanimous Support for LGBTQ Tavern on Barracks Row
by Larry Janezich
At a “Special Call” meeting on Tuesday night, ANC6B unanimously supported the application of Jo McDaniel and Rachel Pike for a liquor license for an LGBTQ bar they will open up at 500 8th Street, SE. As You Are will be a coffee shop, bar, and restaurant and Friday and Saturday night will offer dancing on the second floor. Otherwise, that space will be used for “community meetings, Trivia, book clubs”….
Nearly 100 participants joined the virtual committee meeting, Chaired by Commissioner Corey Holman in his first turn as presiding officer as the new head of ANC6B.
Former chair Brian Ready, who continues to chair the Commission’s Alcohol Beverage Control Committee, referenced the lengthy “spirited debate” in a meeting Monday night among commissioners, neighbors and the As You Are team to craft a Settlement Agreement which would set the terms under which the tavern will operate. The terms of the agreement are meant to protect nearby neighbors from the impact of a potentially noisy and disruptive business while placing restriction on the business that are not so restrictive that it prevents them from succeeding.
Ready announced that such an agreement appearsed to have been reached, and brought it before the commission for consideration.
And that they did, over the course of two and a half hours of a meeting that stood in sharp contrast to the contentious and adversarial meeting earlier this month as reported elsewhere on this blog. Discourse was civil and comments from nearby neighbors indicated that while some still had concerns, most were on board with the terms of the agreement. Nearly 20 members of the gay community voiced their strong support for the new business.
After the public comment portion of the meeting was over and the license application appeared well on its way to receiving ANC endorsement, Jo McDanial became emotional as she summed up how important this project is to the queer community: “We really want to thank this community. Y’all are the reason we do anything – this is our life’s work – and so, to the neighbors who live here who have questions – if we’re going to protect this community this carefully, I promise you your block is safe with us.”
Everything was fine after that, until former commissioner Chander Jayraman and Commissioner Jerry Sroufe raised concerns about the inclusion of language in the agreement which was intended to prevent the tavern owners from being punished twice for the same offense – once under DC law and again for violating the terms of the Settlement Agreement. The language could provide a loophole, absolving As You Are from adhering to the Settlement Agreement. For a few moments, it appeared that the meeting might go off the rails but language was suggested (by a nearby neighbor participant in the meeting) that resolved the concerns.
The final vote on a motion to support the tavern license application with the Settlement Agreement as amended was 10 – 0 – 0.
Holman adjourned the meeting after welcoming Jo and Rachel “and the community already here to restore 8th Street back to its place of pride as the home of queer culture in DC”