Saturday, June 6, 2009

Saint-Ex, Bar Pilar Reach Tentative Agreements for License Change; Partner of ANC Commissioner Involved in Questionable Surveillance Tactics


Popular 14th Street restaurants Saint-Ex and Bar Pilar have tentatively reached an agreement with protestants to obtain a change in license class from "restaurant" to "tavern". The change will help both establishments escape restrictions imposed on restaurant class license holders that they viewed as financially burdensome and unnecessary (discussed in a previous post on this topic, available here).

The tentative agreement was reached on Friday between the restaurants' management and ANCs 1B and 2B, along with a group of citizen protesters led by T Street resident Ron Clayton.

The agreement should not result in a substantial change in operations for either establishment. Saint-Ex, for instance, will be required to meet a standard of a minimum 40% of gross receipts from food sales during the year. The restaurant currently derives 65% of its gross annual receipts from food sales and has no plans to disrupt kitchen operations, so meeting the 40% requirement should not prove difficult. Other requirements contained within the agreement include a cessation of outdoor food and drink service by 11 PM, and a clearing of their outdoor area by midnight.

The process to obtain approval for the change in license was not without controversy. During the past month, Elwyn Ferris--partner of ANC2B commissioner Ramon Estrada--was seen filming from across the street as patrons entered and exited Saint-Ex, an action which hearkens back to Ferris's controversial filming of gay patrons of former U Street nightclub Cada Vez in 2005.

Ferris's motivations for filming Saint-Ex patrons were unclear, and no evidence derived from the filming was entered against the restaurant as part of the protest. Ferris's actions also raised questions as to why an individual who was not a protestant of the application would even bother embarking upon such surveillance.

The change to a tavern license relieves Saint-Ex and Bar Pilar of certain burdensome regulations, such as requiring the presence of a chef on the premises within two hours of closing. (John Snellgrove, owner of Saint-Ex, had stated that the restaurant--which closes at 2 AM on weeknights and 3 AM on weekends--did not incur significant food sales after 10 PM and that requiring a chef to remain on site until midnight or 1 AM was a financial burden.)

The next step in the process is a status hearing before ABRA on June 10, when all parties will appear and confirm that an agreement has been reached.

8 comments:

Brandon said...

Good--both of those places are excellent additions to the neighborhood!

Anonymous said...

I remember the incident where the ANC rep and his partner were filming gay patrons coming from Cada Vez in an obvious attempt to intimidate the largely Latino crowd. How does this guy Ramon Estrada keep getting elected. I live in 1B but everything I have read on this guy is that he is obstructionist when it comes to any sort of development..ie the proposed hotel, the diner/tryst/comedy club, etc...

Anonymous said...

Recently I walked outside and caught Elwin snapping pictures of vehicles from out of state. He and Ramone claimed that the influx of new clubs and restaurants has caused a reduction of available parking spaces on the streets for city residents. I can only assume they were going to use this for ammunition against these new establishments. What people need to understand is that this is a city and parking is not always going to be available. I would love to see a day where its almost impossible to find parking because that translates into more visitors into our neighborhood. Sure since the riots parking has been somewhat easy on this street but as we continue to develop the "hood" the parking disappears. Frustrating as it may be, its a sign of development. Lets continue to push for that development. Neighbors of 14th and You speak up and be heard. If our neighborhood continues to develop so will our property values.

Anonymous said...

elwin the ferret needs to get a life .. taking pictures and filming, maybe we should put a camera up in his house and watch? i just puked!

Anonymous said...

You're really intent on perpetuating negative hype about documenting conditions in the hood. I guess no one is safe with a camera or video camera. Watch out or you'll be accused of targeting some group. I periodically walk around the area to document the changes. I wonder what I'll be accused of if I should be seen by you or your readers. By the way, have you ever met or talked with these folks that you bash?

Mr. 14th & You said...

You're really intent on perpetuating negative hype about documenting conditions in the hood.


No, the people doing the documenting are doing a fine enough job perpetuating negativity on their own. They sure don't need my help.

Anonymous said...

Recently, AG Peter Nickles wrote on this issue (of documenting conditions w/video). Although you misreported that an ANC commissioner was videotaping (you're very prone to misreporting, as your sources are unreliable), the AG specifically addressed the question of videotaping by ANCs and wrote that videotaping in a public situation is acceptable and can be used as evidence before gov't boards and agencies.

Mr. 14th & You said...

"Although you misreported that an ANC commissioner was videotaping..."

I didn't misreport this. Go back and re-read the post: it states, clearly, that the partner of an ANC commissioner was the one conducting the surveillance. And of that fact there is no dispute.