Based on emails, tweets, and direct messages, it seems as if the coming of McFadden’s (Uptown Tap Room) to Cleveland Park is one of the more controversial issues to hit our neighborhood this year. In response to that, we decided to reach out to one of the main opponents, the Cleveland Park Citizens Association, for comment. President Susie Taylor was kind enough to share her letter to the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, which we’re posting verbatim below. Our request for comment from McFadden’s/East Coast Saloons/Uptown Tap Room went unanswered.
Dear Director Moosally:
I am the President of the Cleveland Park Citizens Association (CPCA). I work in close collaboration with the Cleveland Park Business Association (CPBA). Both organizations do much to support and invigorate the commercial area of Connecticut Avenue in Cleveland Park.
Sadly, an establishment that has operated at 3412 Connecticut Ave. NW in Cleveland Park for decades will be leaving us. Ireland’s Four Fields has been unable to come to an agreement with its landlord for an additional lease term and has announced it will vacate its space at the end of April 2012. Mr. Frank Hughes owns the license under which the Four Fields is authorized to operate:
ABRA-073989 Irelands Four Fields FSS, LLC 3412 CONNECTICUT AVE NW_Washington, DC 20008 C Tavern.
The landlord has been in negotiation with East Coast Saloons for a lease for McFadden’s Restaurant & Bar. East Coast Saloons LLC is McFadden’s parent company and operates 24 restaurants and bars in the Midwest and Northeast, including one at 2401 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, DC 20037. We are uncertain whether or not a lease has been signed at this time. Additionally, East Coast Saloons has been in negotiation with Mr. Hughes to purchase the existing tavern license referenced above. As far as we are aware, a purchase and sale of the license has not yet occurred.
The Cleveland Park community first learned of the possibility of McFadden’s leasing space in the neighborhood last summer from several local blogs. Cleveland Park is a family oriented community in low-density zoning. We are not located near a college or university and parking is limited. As a result, our commercial area is mostly community serving and boasts locally owned restaurants and taverns.
Cleveland Park’s commercial and residential areas are inextricably linked, not only by mutual support and need, but physically. Single-family homes are adjacent to the 3412 Connecticut Ave. property. Two years ago, I founded and now chair the Connecticut Avenue Coalition Committee (CCC). The CCC meets every month and is comprised of representatives from the CPBA, property owners, the CPCA, the Cleveland Park Historical Society, local government representatives and concerned citizens. We collaborate and share perspectives to build a commercial area that is lively enough to support local businesses while mindful of its neighborhood serving character. In fact, even the CPBA’s mission statement reads, “CPBA goals also include the preservation of the neighborhood-serving character of the commercial area, improving its appearance and helping local businesses thrive.”
McFadden’s business model is inconsistent with Cleveland Park. This is based on McFadden’s own literature and especially illustrated by the DC McFadden’s website:
“We hope you partied hard over spring break! But now are you feeling a little hungover? You know what they say, the hair of the dog! We have our Rehab Party Tuesday March 18th to help cure that hangover and to keep the party going. Starting at 9 we have $1 cans, $2 drafts, $5 bombs, and $8 domestic pitchers! We know you had a blast over spring break, but let’s be honest, there may be some memories you may want to erase from the past week. So we also have you covered with our $5 Mind Erasers! And what better way to end your spring break than with a FLIP CUP TOURNAMENT with cash prizes and giveaways! You have to sign up in advance by emailing email@example.com Come nurse your hangover and finish out spring break the right way at McFadden’s!”
I have attached recent reviews of McFadden’s on “Yelp DC” as well as comments on local blogs regarding McFadden’s. They are stunningly negative and warn Cleveland Park that our community will be significantly changed and not for the better should McFadden’s succeed in obtaining a lease and tavern license.
Beginning in September 2011, a designated CPCA Board member, two ANC3C commissioners and I attempted to contact the landlord and representatives of East Coast Saloons. I was successful contacting the landlord and expressed our grave concerns over the prospective tenant. The landlord explained that East Coast Saloons had indicated it would use a different business model than the one employed for McFadden’s DC and suggested we submit a list of conditions we felt necessary for a suitable establishment. We submitted the list on October 3, 2011. We have never heard a response. And, until last week, no one at East Coast Saloons has ever returned our calls. Two weeks ago, we made contact and were told by East Coast that our concerns were understood and appreciated, and that a representative would be in DC last week and would meet with us. The representative emailed and postponed the meeting indefinitely. The result of the Landlord’s and East Coast Saloon’s refusal to engage with us is that the CPCA membership approved a resolution authorizing CPCA’s Board to take all necessary action to oppose a McFadden’s Saloon opening in Cleveland Park.
I am, therefore, writing to request that, in the event McFadden’s signs a lease and purchases the license from Mr. Hughes, and a corresponding license transfer request comes before the ABC, that ABRA conduct a full review of the matter and allow residents, businesses, local government representatives to testify regarding their concerns.
I appreciate your consideration.
Susan B. Taylor, President