Jan 27, 2022 - Business

D.C. likely to suspend The Big Board's liquor license after ABC vote

A patron enters The Big Board late Thursday.

A patron enters The Big Board Thursday night. Photo: Nick Johnston/Axios

An H Street restaurant that has repeatedly violated D.C.'s mask and vaccine mandates may have its liquor license yanked.

What's happening: D.C.'s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board voted Wednesday to refer The Big Board to Attorney General Karl Racine's Office to draft a summary suspension notice.

  • The office told Axios Thursday it's in the process of drafting the notice, meaning the bar could have its liquor license suspended in the next few days.

Catch up fast: The bar has received repeated warnings and fines for failing to follow D.C.'s vaccine and mask requirements for businesses, according to a case report reviewed by Axios.

  • The restaurant has not responded to comments but has posted tweets in the last week seeming to imply that it will continue to defy the mandates.
  • The Big Board's defiance has been celebrated by some anti-mandate conservatives, including Republican lawmakers, and has even prompted a GoFundMe by a Daily Caller reporter.

Details: According to the case report, The Big Board received a verbal warning for face mask violations on Jan. 14, the day before the vaccine mandate went into effect.

  • It then received another warning on Jan. 15 when it failed to post signage about the vaccine mandate or enforce it, as well as for mask violations.
  • The restaurant was then cited for continued violations on Jan. 18 and Jan. 20, each for $1,000.

Last Saturday, an Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) investigator visited the restaurant and reportedly observed that staff didn't check proof of vaccination at the door.

  • The investigator also noted that employees and patrons weren't wearing face masks.
  • The investigator approached the owner of the establishment, Eric Flannery, who told the people around him, "[the investigator] is here to violate me for not following the mayor's order," according to the report.

What's next: Once the suspension notice is written and signed by the ABC Board, it will be delivered to The Big Board, immediately halting its liquor license.

  • Both ABRA and Racine’s office told Axios that the restaurant can request a hearing within three days of the notice and receive that hearing within two days, meaning The Big Board may be able to appeal its case as early as next week.
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