- The Washington Times - Friday, January 9, 2009

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

D.C. officials said Thursday that 213 establishments have registered to serve alcohol until 4 a.m. and serve food 24 hours a day during inauguration week.

The number represents 20 percent of the roughly 1,027 bar-restaurant businesses in the city, according to the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration.

Agency officials said an additional 73 establishments tried to register by the Wednesday deadline but were rejected because they had signed voluntary agreements restricting their hours. However, they have until Jan. 15 to submit letters stating that their neighborhood associations had no objections.

The extended hours will go from Jan. 17 to Jan. 21 — the day after Barack Obama is sworn in as president.

The D.C. Council passed legislation Dec. 16 to extend the hours to enable bar and restaurant owners to capitalize on the 1 million or more people expected to be in town for the inauguration.

“The vast majority of licensees have opted not to take advantage of this opportunity,” said council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, who initially proposed the extended bar hours but ended up opposing them because of security concerns.

“We’re all trying to figure out just how many people are going to be coming here,” Mr. Graham said. “There are signs that we are going to be overwhelmed and signs that maybe we’re not going to be overwhelmed. I would have guessed that there would hardly be any licensees who didn’t apply for this.”

A majority of the 13-member council originally wanted to extend last call to 5 a.m. but pulled back the hours partially after strong reaction from residents, as well as from some members of Congress. The normal last call in the District is 2 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekends.

The 4,000 officers recruited from across the country to help with security during the inaugural are permitted only to work at official events — not to help police bars.

“Our police resources are going to be stretched to the breaking point over those four days. I voted no after I talked to [Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier] and [Mayor Adrian M. Fenty]. I’m a little concerned about all this, obviously,” Mr. Graham said.

Nightclubs were required to pay a fee of $250 per day and restaurants and bars were required to pay $100 a day to extend their hours. Council added the fee requirement when it moved back last call from 5 a.m. to 4 a.m.

Agency officials said they collected about $100,000 in fees. Fred Moosally, the agency’s interim director, said the office was “absolutely flooded” with applicants Wednesday.

Nightclubs also were required to provide the alcoholic beverage agency with a written security plan.

Agency investigators will be working all five nights checking establishments for compliance.

Establishments from neighborhood hangouts to major hotels are participating. They include Chief Ike’s Mambo Room in Adams Morgan, Dukem Ethiopian restaurant and bar on U Street Northwest, the Dubliner Irish bar and restaurant on Capitol Hill and hotels such as the St. Regis, the Willard and the Four Seasons.

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