November 12, 2015 at 10:31 am EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Alcohol board fines Dacha Beer Garden
nightlife, gay news, Washington Blade

Dacha Beer Garden (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board on Nov. 4 issued a $42,500 fine and a 21-day license suspension against the gay-owned Dacha Beer Garden, a popular outdoor tavern in the city’s Shaw neighborhood that has a large gay clientele.

The fine and suspension were part of an “Offer-in-Compromise” in which Dacha co-owners Ilya Alter and Dmitri Chekaldin agreed to accept the penalties and not contest the board’s allegations that it violated at least 19 times an occupancy restriction limiting the number of customers allowed in its outdoor space to 126.

Although several hundred Shaw residents signed a petition supporting the establishment, some nearby residents complained that as many as 300 or more people regularly congregated in the outdoor space, creating excessive noise that disturbed the “peace and order” of the neighborhood.

The fine and suspension came one day before Dacha reached a settlement agreement with the Shaw Advisory Neighborhood Commission in which the ANC will cease its opposition to Dacha’s license and its plans to expand its premises at 1600 7th St., N.W., into an adjacent building at 1602 7th St. The ANC also agreed to support an increase in Dacha’s outdoor capacity limit from 126 to 250.

In exchange, the eight-page settlement agreement submitted to the ABC Board calls for Dacha to take a series of steps to curtail noise emanating from its premises that include installing sound absorbing materials and barriers. Dacha has also agreed to limit its outdoor hours from 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday.

“We are excited to have won support of our ANC and to have reached an offer in compromise with the ABC Board,” co-owner Alter told the Washington Blade. “This will help Dacha build on its successes in response to an overwhelming support of the Shaw community and operate a responsible business in harmony with the neighborhood.”

The ABC Board was expected to allow Dacha to stagger its suspension period over multiple dates between now and next spring so that it won’t have to close continuously for 21 consecutive days.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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