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Business owners line up for coveted Georgetown liquor licenses | News

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Business owners line up for coveted Georgetown liquor licenses

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - "The early bird get the worm and I wanted to be first."

And he was. Bo Blair began camping out at the Reeves Municipal Center on 14th and U Monday at 8 p.m. to get in Thursday morning.

Why? Well, you see, scoring a liquor license in Georgetown is kind of like winning the lottery with slightly better odds. It took decades and now only four licenses are available: three for a restaurant and one for a bar or tavern. All are issued on a first come, first served basis.

Blair owns the exclusive bar and lounge Smith Point in Georgetown. He's hoping after 14 years he can finally get a tavern license.

"A tavern license basically allows you to sell liquor without selling food and it increases the value of your license quite a bit," he explained.

So why the fuss? Well, it goes back 20 years to laws that allows for only six taverns in historic Georgetown and only 68 restaurants. Right now, there are 65, leaving three spots up for grabs.

"The rules are the rules and once they're there they're tough to change," said Ben Conniff. Conniff has been shelling out lobsters for a year and a half now at his Luke's Lobsters on Potomac Avenue. One thing you won't find on the menu is beer or wine.

"You can see the look of disappointment on the faces of new customer when you tell them they can't have a full dining experience and we hope to be able to offer that to them," he explained.

But not all applicants are already in town. Other hopefuls are in line with a piece of real estate, hoping that coveted piece of paper will help them not only open a bottle of wine but the business of their dreams.

"This is almost an historic 20 years later," laughs business owner Tammy Truong.

If they qualify, the first four applicants will be subject to a 45 day public comment period before the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration makes its decision.