The Washington Post

City suspends the Reef’s liquor license after reported stabbing

The Reef, which was closed by D.C. police after reports of a stabbing at the Adams Morgan bar last weekend, will remain shuttered for the immediate future.

According to an e-mail from police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump, officers were called to the bar at 2446 18th St. NW in the early hours of Saturday, Aug. 10. "The investigation revealed the injuries were related to a verbal and physical altercation inside The Reef. A suspect was arrested that same day and charged with Assault with a Dangerous Weapon – Knife."

Police Chief Cathy Lanier used her emergency authority to close the bar for 96 hours after the incident, and the Reef had planned to reopen Wednesday at 6 p.m. Before that could happen, the city's Alcoholic Beverage Regulatory Administration (ABRA) suspended the Reef's liquor license with immediate effect.

ABRA public information officer William Hager wrote in an e-mail that the Reef's license was summarily suspended under Title 25-826 of the D.C. Official Code, which says that a license can be suspended or revoked "if the Board determines, after investigation, that the operations of a licensee present an imminent danger to the health and safety of the public."

The Reef's owner, Brian Harrison, said in a phone interview that he planned to file an appeal today. Once ABRA receives the appeal, it is required by law to hold a hearing within 48 hours, and issue a verdict within 72 hours of the hearing. The timetable means the bar will likely remain closed through the weekend, if not longer.

The Reef had already been under ABRA's scrutiny in May, when the bar was fined $1,500 for operating after its approved hours. In August 2012, the Reef received a warning letter after serving alcohol to a minor. These incidents are in addition to an outstanding ABRA investigation of the Reef after reports of a simple assault at the bar in June. ABRA requested a hearing about that case, but the hearing has not yet occurred.

All of these incidents are what D.C. law deems "primary tier" offenses. According to Title 25-830 of the D.C. Official Code, "A licensee found in violation of a primary tier offense for the fourth time within 4 years shall have the license revoked."


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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