A dispute with its landlord has caused the abrupt closure of a popular Columbia Heights restaurant. Apparently, the dispute was brought to a head when the landlord refused to sign off on the restaurant’s liquor license application, which is a requirement under DC law. Now the parties have sued (and counter-sued) each other in DC Superior Court and the restaurant’s owners are looking for a new location.
I, of course, have not seen the lease at issue here, but this story should demonstrate how critical it is for restaurant owners to include liquor license provisions in their restaurant leases if they are planning to serve alcoholic beverages. Never assume it is understood you plan to apply for a liquor license — get it in the lease, or there is no obligation on the part of the landlord to cooperate in your efforts to get one.
It appears the this restaurant owners have learned from this experience, noting that, while their restaurant concept and execution is proven, “It’s just a matter of having a very good lease.”