Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Victory! Long Live the Queen!

Alex Padro just sent out the following message:

After nearly two years operating without a liquor license, Queen of Sheba Restaurant, located at 1503 9th Street, NW, was granted a liquor license today by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.
Although the restaurant had strong, widespread support in the neighborhood, a handful of opponents associated with Shiloh Baptist Church attempted to block the issuance of a license for the business, despite never having opposed a license for a liquor store across the street from the church.
"I want to thank everyone in the community who supported us during this difficult time," said Embzam Msgina, one of the restaurant's owners. "This is a victory for the community. We opened the restaurant because the neighborhood wanted us to be here. Now we can finally start operating normally. Our guests can have a drink or wine with their meals, like they should have been able to do all along. We're so happy."
The two year battle for a license for the restaurant included an initial denial because the establishment was located less than 400 feet from a school (Seaton Elementary, on the 900 block of Rhode Island Avenue, NW); a legislative change that gave the ABC Board the discretion to issue licenses within 400 feet of a DCPS school, DPR recreation center, DCPL library, or DCPS operated daycare center; and a two-day protest hearing, which was concluded in September 2007.
This is an important milestone in the commercial revitalization of central Shaw. There were restaurants with liquor licenses in the area before the 1968 riots, but most closed in the years that followed. It is only now through the pioneering efforts of entrepreneurs like the Redds at Vegetate and the Msginas at Queen of Sheba that Shaw residents will once again be able to enjoy the dining options that the rest of the city takes for granted.
I want to thank the owners of Queen of Sheba for standing and fighting against difficult odds. They have had to make great sacrifices in order to remain open without a liquor license. They sold another business in order to be able to keep staff in place, pay attorney's fees, etc. The Shaw community owes this proud family a debt of gratitude for not walking away when the going got tough.
It will take several days for the license to be issued and inventory to be ordered and delivered, and for staff to be trained, but Queen of Sheba should be able to begin serving alcoholic beverages next week. Be sure to stop by and congratulate the Queen of Sheba team and enjoy a beverage with your meal there for the first time, and many times to come.

This is indeed great news. The only sad part--and this isn't trivial--is that the owners were forced to spend ridiculous amounts of time and lose thousands of dollars in attorney's fees and lost revenue to get where they should have been months ago.



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