Starting next week, for the first time in 27 years, restaurants in Georgetown will be able to apply for new liquor licenses. The District of Columbia’s Alcoholic Beverage Control today voted not to extend its decades-old moratorium on liquor licenses for restaurants, which had been set to expire on April 8. The moratorium was instituted in 1989 in response to the trash, noise and (some would say) mayhem that came from Georgetown being not only one of the city’s top nightlife destinations, but also home to (my alma mater) Georgetown University and its thousands of students. In the ensuing years, however, some have blamed the license cap for Georgetown lagging behind the rest of the city in attracting new and exciting restaurants, which have proliferated in other parts of the District.
Some have questioned whether the lifting of the moratorium will make much of a difference, given the number of dormant liquor licenses that are in safekeeping with the District’s regulatory agency. Those licenses were being held, however, because many of the holders were seeking to extract a significant (think mid-five figures) fee in exchange for a transfer. That might have been cost prohibitive for smaller operators – particularly in the fast casual space. Now that gatekeeping expense will be no more.
As was the case in Adams Morgan, which had its own moratorium on restaurant liquor license lifted in 2014, the moratorium on new tavern and nightclub licenses in Georgetown will remain in effect. Next up will be the cap on new licenses in Georgetown’s neighbor, Glover Park, which is set to expire on May 3 of this year if not extended by the Board.
If you are interested in the possibility of applying for a restaurant liquor license in Georgetown, please do not hesitate to contact our office.