Liquor license gold rush on again in Georgetown

March 28

As first reported by the Washington Business Journal yesterday, the ABC board is about to release four liquor licenses into the Georgetown moratorium zone. And one of them will be the coveted tavern licenses. But we’ve been down this path recently, and the result may leave many disappointed.

The heart of Georgetown is covered by a moratorium on new liquor licenses. There can be no more than 68 in total, including the inactive licenses being held “in safe keeping.” This moratorium has been in place since 1989, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be removed any time soon.

There are benefits and drawbacks to the moratorium (that I have written about here). But the primary impact is that if you want to open a new restaurant in Georgetown, you have to buy one of the inactive licenses on the secondary market. I have heard from establishments that paid around $90,000 to buy one. This is a significant disincentive for new restaurants in Georgetown.

Several years ago when the moratorium was being renewed, the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration and the ANC worked together to make seven new licenses available. This was an acknowledgement of the problem described above. It was hoped that quality restaurants would take the opportunity to snatch up the virtually free licenses.

It didn’t work out exactly as planned. Like the original gold rush, speculators rushed in. Here’s how those licenses were claimed:

[Continue reading Topher Mathews' post at The Georgetown Metropolitan.]

Topher Mathews blogs at The Georgetown Metropolitan . The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

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David Alpert · March 26