No prospective retailers for Art Place: Pax Liquor wants patrons for beer tasting – Part 1 focused on the Art Place at Fort Totten discussion during the ANC 5A “Special Monthly Meeting”. The other major agenda item was Pax Liquor, Inc. regarding a “Notice of Public Hearing”. Commissioner Lewis set the tone for this discussion by reminding the audience of the need to follow the proper guidelines in order to reach the proper outcome. Pax Liquor was represented by Mr. Ching Cho, filling in for Kevin Lee. Mr. Cho opened with a bow, before explaining why another liquor store was needed in the community.
“My family have many years of experience, we don’t have any violations and will comply with ABRA (Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration) regulations.” “That’s it?” one concerned constituent commented. Mr. Cho elaborated a bit more to express the wine and beer tasting process distribution companies would bring to the store. The proposed hours of operation were set for 8 o’clock a.m. until midnight but Mr. Cho said 10 o’clock a.m. until 10 o’clock p.m. may be better community hours for operating a liquor store.
“What drew you to this area?” one resident asked Mr. Cho. A friend said “I didn’t see a liquor store near the location” was the reply. Mr. Cho says they don’t want to sell small single bottles of beer. “How much money do you plan to invest and give to the community? How about $25,000 up front for corporate responsibility,” suggested Dr. Love who has been residing in the community since 1959.
When Mr. Cho informed the constituents that he couldn’t speak English very well Commissioner Fletcher moved to halt the meeting due to language barriers. This set off a flurry of comments highlighting the underlying tensions as neighborhoods change throughout the Ward. “Don’t say no language barrier because you go into their store they know how to talk to you,” one constituent responded to Commissioner Fletcher. “You don’t understand us, and we don’t understand you,” stated another concern constituent. “I don’t like no liquor store,” was another remark from those attending the meeting. The tension was capped with, “We don’t like you, get out of the hood,” we’re going do what we have to do to protect our community,” said another concern constituent.
“I like the guy,” says Melvin Smith standing up in the back of the room. A concerned constituent asked about the target date for opening the liquor store. Cho’s October reply prompted more concerns. “He was already ready and didn’t have permission to do it,” stated a concerned constituent. “I like the guy, he’s suffering up there and he can’t answer nothing. Don’t want no liquor store, don’t want no liquor store, don’t want it,” stressed Melvin Smith, during his turn.
“I understand your concerns. I have children, a father, and mother,” said Mr. Cho. Commissioner Frank Wilds expressed that the community has been against a liquor license for over 25 years. “Since it’s 8:30, think we should vote right now,” suggested a constituent sitting on the front row. Chairman Edwards had to make sure he understood the motion regarding supporting or opposing the liquor store. The vote resulted in a unanimous decision to oppose the application for Pax Liquor, Inc. There have been 19 applications submitted for a liquor license in that community.
Editor’s Note: Concern over the number of liquor stores that seem to populate every corner in D.C. is understandable. ABRA lists the number of liquor licensees at over 2000. The number of licensees, per capita, for the District rivals that of many large metropolitan areas. The District tops the Center for Disease Control (CDC) report on “Costs of Excessive Alcohol Consumption by States” while the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), one of the 27 institutes and centers that comprise the National Institutes of Health (NIH), report on “Per Capita Consumption” shows a similar trend.