A D.C. storefront with signage reminding customers of the city's vaccine and indoor mask mandate.
On Wednesday, the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board voted to draft a summary suspension notice for The Big Board, a bar on H Street NE that has received multiple warnings and citations for violating Mayor Muriel Bowser's mask and vaccine orders. Local restaurant blogger Barred in D.C. first reported the news.
A summary suspension notice means an establishment can't sell, serve, or allow consumption of alcoholic beverages while the suspension is in place. D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine's office will draft the notice and the ABC board chair will sign it before serving it to The Big Board. The bar owners can request an ABC board hearing within three days, and the hearing would take place within two days after that — meaning any hearing about the case would likely take place next week.
In the two weeks since Big Board first tweeted its message of "all are welcome," suggesting that any patrons could enter without masks or proof of vaccination, the bar's actions have drawn strong reactions online — including locals criticizing the bar for breaking health protocols, conservative podcasters sharing tales of celebrating at the bar, and a Texas congressman applauding Big Board's defiance.
A case report obtained by DCist/WAMU showed that on Saturday, Jan. 22, an Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) investigator visited The Big Board at 9 p.m. and confirmed multiple allegations against the bar: that patrons entered without facemasks, no one checked for proof of vaccination, and there was a lack of appropriate signage. Some bartenders and employees were not wearing masks, the investigator reported.
The investigator wrote in his report that when he spoke to Eric Flannery, one of the owners, Flannery said to people near him, "He is here to violate me for not following the mayor's order," but signed the investigator's paperwork.
Scott Rome, a D.C. attorney who works with establishments on liquor license cases, told Washingtonian that it's possible The Big Board owners could be preparing legal action of their own in response to the city's actions. The owners have not responded to requests for comment.
"I'd like the business to comply, and we don't want to shut anybody down," Mayor Bowser said at a press briefing Thursday, when asked about The Big Board's case. "We want to give people support, advice, supplies, help, whatever they need — but we do need them to follow the regulations."
Previously:The Big Board Will Face A D.C. Liquor Board Review After Reportedly Violating Vaccine And Mask Mandates
This story is from DCist.com, the local news site of WAMU.