Neighbors Seek To Protest Liquor License Application At Rhode Island Ave’s Provost

Readers may remember that back in November we posted about Provost, a restaurant that has been in the works since 2013 and just applied for a liquor license.  The owners seek liquor sales and permission for live entertainment Sunday through Thursday 8 am – 2 am, Friday and Saturday 8 am – 3 am for the indoors and for their rooftop deck – liquor sales Sunday through Thursday 8 am – 2 am, Friday and Saturday 8 am 3 am. We recently learned from the email below from ANC Commissioner Odunsi, that constituents voted against supporting the liquor license and that she will be collecting petition signatures to protest the application this evening. We don’t know the specifics of why our Woodridge neighbors are for or against the license, but in any case, looks like there won’t be much seated dining on Rhode Island Avenue NE for a while, given Nido’s closing as well.

RE:  PROVOST Restaurant Petition Signing
When:  Tuesday, 12/19/2017,  7pm – 9pm.
Where:  Woodridge Library, 1st Floor in the stairs seating area,
I want to thank all of you who came out in November to hear about the specifics of the operations for Provost Restaurant located at 2129 Rhode Island Avenue NE.  The community voted 9-7 against the application as it stands: a class C/R alcohol license with an entertainment endorsement and summer (rooftop) garden with operating hours from 8AM – 2/3AM Sunday through Saturday. The owner, Nina Gilchrist, informed us that the location would be available for rental for private functions as well. Many were concerned about the noise, loitering and parking during such late hours, possibly on a daily basis.
We’re hoping to enter into a community settlement agreement to ensure the peace, order and quiet in the neighborhood so that we can enjoy our homes. In the meanwhile, I’m collecting signatures of concerned neighbors just in case we don’t have a settlement agreement in hand before the deadline to file a protest (12/26/17).
I will be at Woodridge Library Tuesday 12/19/17 1st floor on the steps seating area from 7pm-9pm collecting signatures and email addresses. I will need your email to keep you informed of the upcoming hearings for this license application. So far, there is a roll call hearing set for January 8, 2018 where at least 5 residents who signed the petition need to be present to give our group standing. The actual protest hearing is March 7, 2018.
If you can’t come out Tuesday evening, but would like to sign the petition, please let me know. And, please inform your neighbors who may not already be on this list. If you’d like to walk around and help get signatures, that would be great. I’ll have extra petitions with me. Thanks.
FYI – Attached is the notice of placard from ABRA and a link to an article about PROVOST in 2013 on the Rhode Island Ave Insider:
Yolanda Odunsi
for ANC5C07

7 thoughts on “Neighbors Seek To Protest Liquor License Application At Rhode Island Ave’s Provost”

  1. I attended the meeting and here are some of the issues raised:

    1) concern about parking. In response to concerns raised about parking, Nina (the owner) agreed to drop plans for a patio in the rear and instead use the rear outdoor space for a parking lot. This means that the capacity of the restaurant (and hence her profit potential) is significantly reduced. This concession didn’t seem to win her much goodwill from the neighbors; in fact, it led to complaints that cars entering the parking lot would cause traffic on the side street. I would imagine that these kinds of demands and refusal to accept any concession don’t make the neighborhood seem friendly to anyone who may be considering opening a business here.

    2) concern about hours. Nina wanted flexibility when opening to adjust hours based on business need. People were not happy about even giving her the option of opening until 2 or 3am. This is despite the fact that Public Option and Nido have similar flexibility on their licenses (which they don’t really use and which hasn’t been an issue).

    3) concern about the entertainment endorsement. The restaurant wants to be able to have entertainment events. It’s worth noting that even a poetry reading requires the entertainment endorsement on the liquor license.

    4) concern about private events. People are concerned about any venue becoming a backdoor club.

    As far as I know, Yolanda’s goal is not a protest, but a settlement agreement. She is collecting protest signatures to keep options open. However, the protest seems pretty likely at this point, as the deadline for the settlement agreement is the 27th, and I don’t know if people really appreciate that when they are signing the petition.

    In the end, these things are decided by the people who show up to meetings and vote. People who feel strongly in opposition to something are more likely to show up. If we want change, we need more people who support businesses to make it to meetings and get their voices heard.

    1. Thank you Kelly – much appreciated. Hopefully all parties can come together and agree to a settlement agreement everyone is happy with. But, if it goes full protest, I cannot see how the ABRA board will go along with the protestants. This is a major avenue and business district and there are so few bars/restaurants in the area. In reality, the business owner stands more to gain by letting the protest process play out than trying to accommodate the neighborhood. From what you wrote, it seems she already tried and was rebuffed, so I don’t see why (other than being a good neighbor) she would continue to try. Thanks, Shani

      1. Who, exactly, represents the neighborhood in any “all parties” agreement? With a pointless parking lot in the back and much reduced capacity, I don’t anticipate much success for Provost. Damage is done even if the protest goes nowhere.

        1. Settlement Agreements happen all the time. If the restaurant is highly quality and a good value, it should be fine in the end. Although I agree, the whole parking lot situation (instead of a patio) is a bad deal for the restaurant.

    2. People really need to chill . You bought or rent on or close to a 4 lane street commercial street. Move if you don’t like it, someone else will pay a pretty penny to live there and gladly be supportive of of restaurants and bars.

  2. I don’t think a few motivated folks at a meeting should get to decide who or what can operate. The responsibility to detail the protest or settlement goals, specifically and publicly, lies with Yolanda and the rest of the ANC. That’s why we have elections. If someone needs to run against them on a competing platform, there’ll have to be public and specific statements to run against.

    Why have an elected office otherwise? People can make it out to vote every 1-2 years; they can’t show up to raise their hands at weekly and monthly hours-long grievance sessions early on weekday evenings.

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