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213 Venues Sign Up to Quench Historic Thirsts

By David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 9, 2009

Ready to party till you drop for the inauguration?

You're in luck. A total of 213 bars, restaurants and nightclubs registered with the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration by yesterday's deadline to serve alcohol until 4 a.m. and, possibly, stay open round-the-clock Jan. 17 to 21.

In addition, 73 other establishments have applications that are awaiting decisions from neighborhood associations.

The special registration was required for nightlife establishments to take advantage of an emergency law approved by the D.C. Council last month that allows them to operate past the usual 3 a.m. closing time on weekends and 2 a.m. on weekdays.

The controversial bill was the idea of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, whose members hoped to capitalize on the crowds coming in for President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration.

The measure was opposed by several community and religious organizations, which were concerned about crime and noise. The head of the D.C. police union has warned that the department's manpower might be stretched too thin, and Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah) sent a letter of objection to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D).

Denis James, head of the Kalorama Citizens Association, fought against the extended hours. He said he and other residents of the nightlife-heavy Adams Morgan neighborhood have worked with bar and restaurant owners to reach compromises.

"We're hoping for the best," James said. "It's a little worrying when you hear figures about the folks coming to town. We are concerned with the public safety side of it. . . . We're hoping it will be orderly and the neighbors will not be treated too badly."

The majority of the bars and restaurants are in Ward 2, which encompasses Georgetown, Dupont Circle and Gallery Place. Another 26 are in Ward 1, which includes Adams Morgan, and 35 are in Ward 6, which contains Capitol Hill.

Establishments were required to pay fees ranging from $100 to $250 for each night they will stay open later. The city collected approximately $100,000, said Fred Moosally, interim director of the regulatory agency.

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