Adams Morgan’s Shenanigans gets eight-day shuttering after underage patrons were served

August 23, 2013

The Adams Morgan bar Shenanigans will be closed from Sept. 8-15 after inspectors from the city's Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) found multiple instances of underage drinking in the bar in February 2012. (Appeals and multiple hearings kept justice from being served until August 14 of this year.)

This isn't Shenanigans' only brush with the law. In March 2012, when the bar was called McNasty's, an ABRA inspection uncovered "seventeen patrons under the age of twenty-one who were in possession of alcoholic beverages inside the establishment. Thirteen of the patrons possessed fake identification documents. Two of the patrons possessed an identification document belonging to another person. And two patrons were under the age of twenty-one, and they did not have fake identification documents in their possession." Two months later, two undercover ABRA agents, aged 18 and 19, were able to purchase beer without being asked for ID. In response to these two incidents, ABRA held a hearing in February, and suspended Shenanigans' liquor license for 10 days, from June 1-10.

ABRA's latest action means the bar will have been forced to close for 18 days this summer for violations that occurred in 2012.

While underage drinking is a crime and no laughing matter, a few short passages from ABRA's findings in the February 2012 case shed light on the board's most recent decision to temporarily shutter Shenanigans.

The story begins on February 17. ABRA officers Abyie Ghenene and Ileana Corrales are driving through Adams Morgan.

Investigator Ghenene observed a large crowd of patrons standing outside the Respondent's establishment that appeared under the age of twenty-one.

The officers watch for a few minutes as the doorman looks at IDs without a flashlight, an ID scanner or an "ID checking book."

The investigators then approached the establishment's doorperson, showed their credentials, and requested to speak to the establishment's owner or manager. The doorperson told the investigators that the owner was in an office in the rear of the establishment. As the investigators walked through the establishment, Investigator Ghenene observed numerous patrons that he believed to be under the age of twenty-one.

Only one way to find out, right?

Both investigators then requested the identification of two female patrons inside the establishment. The female patrons were consuming beer in plastic cups. The investigators identified themselves, explained that they were monitoring the establishment for compliance with the District's underage drinking laws, and requested that the patrons show the investigators their identification.

 

The first female approached by the investigators appeared nervous and dropped her beer when the investigators requested her identification.

Ruh roh.

She told the investigators that her identification was in her jacket, which was located on the establishment's second floor. Investigator Ghenene accompanied this patron to the second floor. The young woman handed Investigator Ghenene an identification document that the woman described as being a fake.

 

Investigator Ghenene identified the document as a fake Florida driver's license. Investigator Ghenene observed that the identification provided by the first patron had heavy creases in the laminate. Investigator Ghenene noted that normal identification documents do not crease, but instead crack or break. Investigator Ghenene also used an ID TECH device that identified the document as fraudulent, because the Florida driver's license lacked the required hologram, microprinting, and contained a blurry and faded barcode. The female patron stated that she was nineteen years old, but fled when Investigator Ghenene asked her for her real identification.

We like the use of the verb "fled."

Investigator Ghenene asked the owner to check the identification of patrons, but the owner ignored Investigator Ghenene's request. Investigator Ghenene first checked the identification documents of two patrons and they were over the age of twenty-one.

See? Not all bad.

He also approached another female patron and requested her identification documents, but she refused to comply and fled the establishment.

Where exactly were all these underage women fleeing to?

Investigator Ghenene approached another female patron who possessed an alcoholic beverage, and he requested her identification. The female patron presented a Michigan driver's license that indicated the bearer turned twenty-one on February 9, 2012. Investigator Ghenene inspected the document and noticed that the driver's license expired on February 9, 2012. In addition, the photograph on the driver's license did not match the female patron. Specifically, the patron's nose and hair color did not match the individual featured in the photograph.

Hey, she could have gotten a new haircut and cosmetic surgery since her last trip to the DMV, right?

The female patron also admitted to Investigator Ghenene that she was twenty years of age. Finally, Investigator Ghenene took a picture of the female patron and she returned to the party at the establishment.

Wait -- she returned to the party? She didn't flee? Bold move.

At the May 1 hearing, according to ABRA, representatives of Shenanigans argued that the bar "should not be blamed for this violation, because the patrons obtained alcohol using fake identification and lied to the establishment."

Unfortunately for Shenanigans, ABRA didn't agree, and said that the bar "failed to take reasonable measures" to discover "obviously fake identification documents."

Shenanigans was ordered closed for four days and fined $2,000 for each of the two counts of sales to a minor. Two more days of closure were suspended, to be enforced if Shenanigans is caught in more underage shenanigans at any time in the next year. The full PDF of the board's report is available from ABRA.

Fritz Hahn has covered bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003, but he also writes about everything from Civil War battlefields to sailing classes. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram.
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