People camping out for coveted Georgetown liquor license - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

People camping out for coveted Georgetown liquor license

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It looked like a protest or a line for tickets outside the Reeves Municipal Center on 14th and U Streets in Northwest D.C. Wednesday evening. Instead, it was a group of people camping out in hopes of scoring a coveted Georgetown liquor license.

The licenses are on a first-come, first-serve basis, and officials with the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) won't begin to look at issuing the licenses until Thursday at 8:30 a.m.

There are only four licenses available. Three are for new restaurants and one is for a tavern or nightclub.

A tavern license hasn't been available in Georgetown in almost 20 years, so for some business owners, getting one is like winning the lottery.

Amir Yeroushalmie is hopeful.

"I believe we're going to get one,” he says.

Yeroushalmie wants a license for an upscale sushi restaurant he wants to open in a building he owns on Wisconsin Avenue. He and his assistant, Gilbert Pham, pitched a tent outside the Reeves Municipal Building at around 8 p.m. Tuesday. They have been taking turns camping out.

"I never thought I'd be camping out in a tent in front of a government building,” Pham says. β€œIt's interesting."

ABRA has such few liquor licenses to issue because of a decades-long moratorium in Georgetown that limits the number of tavern or nightclub licenses in the historic district to six and the number of restaurant licenses in the moratorium zone to 68.

Because of the scarcity of liquor licenses, some people have bought liquor licenses from a business that already has one.

ABRA isn't involved at all in the sale of ABC licenses.

Those licenses sold on the "black market" can cost as much as $75,000.

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