Under a policy that took effect this month, owners of certain establishments licensed by the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board must include more information about their entertainment offerings on their liquor license applications.
While evaluating liquor license issues in the District, a task force appointed by the board decided that businesses applying for class C and D licenses or license renewals -- restaurants, hotels and taverns that feature entertainment or dancing or charge admission -- must specify their plans for entertainment on their applications. If the application is approved, the entertainment information will be included on the license and posted in the establishment.
The new requirement, called an entertainment endorsement, is designed to clarify the activities permitted by liquor licenses, according to Jeff Coudriet, director of operations for the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, which carries out board policies.
"The entertainment endorsements will make it clear to both licensees and the public that elements of a format are explicitly approved by the board, such as entertainment, cover charges and dancing," he said.
Board members thought the line distinguishing restaurants from nightclubs had become blurred in practice, Coudriet added. Licenses previously indicated only the class of the establishment but did not say what type of activity was permitted there. The new policy makes licenses more specific.
Coudriet said he expected stricter enforcement of entertainment regulations because details of the approved entertainment must be posted in plain sight at the establishments.
Businesses that do not offer entertainment but charge an admission fee that does not cover food or drink also are required to have an entertainment endorsement. Restaurants and taverns with dance areas exceeding 140 square feet also must apply for the endorsement.
Coudriet said he expected the endorsements to be more practical for licensees and the public. With the entertainment endorsement, businesses will not need to also secure a public hall license, he said. A public hall license requires an establishment to have a certain number of parking spaces, among other things. And for the public, information about the activities the board approved for a business "will be contained right on the license itself," Coudriet said.