- Neighbors complain the XII Restaurant & Lounge is just too noisy. (Photo: Courtesy XII)
Bernard Gibson, the owner of H Street nightclub XII, got an earful from ANC 6A commissioners Thursday night. The commissioners say they're fed up with the constant complaints about loud music, fights, and rowdy, drunk customers from the venue disturbing residents who live in the vicinity of the 1100 block of H Street NE.
Bill Schultheiss (6A06) recalled having sat down with Gibson three years ago to negotiate an agreement between the commission and the club, also known as Twelve Restaurant & Lounge, and being assured that concerns about noise would be addressed. "What I have seen since then is a total disregard for the noise issue," he said. "I find that extremely disrespectful."
Among the issues rattled off against XII, which must appear before the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board later this month in order to renew its liquor license: a total of 10 incidents requiring a police response to the club since 2008, including gunfire immediately outside the club and a fight that broke out inside; four separate fines having been levied against the venue by the city during the same time period; tales of 100 or more patrons congregating regularly on the sidewalk late into the night, shouting and carrying on; and music so loud it can be heard a block or two away.
Commissioners also expressed disappointment that Gibson had failed to appear at a committee hearing on the matter last month, despite his having been notified. Gibson countered that the invitation to the hearing was erroneously sent to his personal e-mail address, instead of his business account, so he didn't see it for more than two weeks after it was sent.
"I'm just a phone call away," said Gibson, who defended his business practices and downplayed the number of times he's been fined and police have responded to the club. "This is my community, too."
Discussion then focused on whether or not the commission had collected enough formal community input on which to base a vote to protest XII's license renewal. Despite concerns raised by 6A Chairman Kelvin Robinson that there weren't very many residents present at Thursday night's meeting to speak to their concerns (one immediate neighbor did appear and later offered to gather signatures on her block), the commission voted 5-1 to protest the license. Commissioner Mary Beatty (6A05) noted shortly before the vote that this would be the ANC's last chance to voice its concerns for the next two years.
Gibson will now head to the ABC Board for a hearing on Oct. 22. Speaking after the meeting, Beatty said she didn't expect the ANC's vote to lead the club to suddenly lose its license. Rather, she's hoping they'll be allowed to revise the commission's agreement with XII to create more strict rules about noise, and perhaps add a clause that forces the venue to pay fines when it reaches a certain threshold of police responses.