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Washington Firehouse, proposed restaurant/lounge/cigar bar, goes before alcohol board

Update: Makan Shirafkan contacted Elevation DC by email to share that the hearing Wednesday, January 29 lasted for seven hours. A decision is still pending.

The team representing Washington Firehouse, a proposed restaurant, lounge and cigar bar in Bloomingdale, will appear before DC's Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) today for what may be a contentious hearing.

The restaurant team, has clashed with neighbors over parking, noise concerns and trash pickup, among other things. But, says Makan Shirafkan, the lawyer for the restaurant team, "I plan on hearing what the concerns are, presenting answers to the reasonable ones, and letting the board decide."

This is not the first attempt to put a restaurant in the old Engine No. 12 building, which was built in 1890 and closed in 1987.

Greater Greater Washington reports that one occupant, 2020 Martini, began restoring the property in 2008 and then abruptly stopped. Curbed has an article about another proposed restaurant from about three years ago, named simply Engine No. 12.

The latest proposal comes from Abdol Ostadhosseini, who, Shirafkan says, has been running Shaw's Tavern since mid-2013, which Shirafkan says should be proof of the company's track record. And an online petition on Change.org shows more than 400 signatures in support of the restaurant (the majority of which appear to be actual D.C. residents, unlike many online polls).

Still, neighbors worry that the concept--food on the first floor, jazz on the second, smoking on the third--is too much like a nightclub. Yet, "we did not apply for a nightclub license," Shirafkan says.

"The point is," Shirafkan says, "you have an abandoned building. You have somebody who wants to revitalize it. Right now, all you have is liquor stores and bulletproof glass. These guys are going to spend one and a half million on this thing. If they succeed, guess what? Other investors will come and the area will change."

If all goes according to schedule, the protestors and supporters meet at ABRA today at 3 p.m.

Read more articles by Rachel Kaufman.

Rachel is the managing editor of Elevation D.C. She also covers tech, business and science for publications nationwide. She lives in Brookland.
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