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RAMW Commends Mayor Gray and DC Council for ABC Law Reform

January 18, 2013


Washington, DC (January 17, 2013) - The fortunes of District ABC licensees have changed. Mayor Vincent Gray two days ago signed into law the Omnibus Alcoholic Beverage Act of 2012, signaling a departure from burdensome restriction on small business and the diminishing power of obstreperous “Gangs of Five.” All provisions of the new law will take effect immediately.

The bulk of the new law was a product of a working group of community and business leaders, including representation by RAMW. The working group, which was convened by Council Member Jim Graham, the Chair of the Council Committee with oversight of alcohol issues, presented legislation with significant regulatory reforms. Voluntary Agreements – which were used by many neighborhood groups to compel concessions from ABC applicants, like RAMW Member like Hank’s Oyster Bar, will now be called Settlement Agreements. Specific restrictions on what these agreements may contain have been explicitly written into the new law.

“We are very pleased with this news and what it means for our members” stated RAMW President Kathy Hollinger. “Running a small business is a daunting task in and of itself, but it is all the more so with the hurdles, detours and added astronomical expenses that has been the licensing process in the District. This is a victory for all of the District’s eating and drinking places and RAMW is happy to have contributed to this cause.”

Going forward, hearings on new license applications will be held within 75 days of the end of the protest period, which prevents the delays which frequently caused ABC applicants to agree to the demanding restrictions imposed by a neighborhood’s minority interests. “Gangs of Five” will no longer be able to overrule the will of a neighborhood, as a protest by such a group will be dismissed if the applicant is able to reach a settlement agreement with the affected advisory neighborhood commission.

“DC’s business climate is changing,” said Greg Casten, RAMW’s Board Chair. “Some balance has been restored to the process. The passage of this legislation is a step in the right direction for an industry that contributes a great deal to the city’s vitality and growth.”

Media Contact: Kyle Rees, RAMW
202.331.5990 |

About the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington
Established in 1920, the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington was formed to unite, represent and promote restaurants and the regional food service industry. Today, RAMW, a 501 (c) 6 trade association, has more than 700 members in the District, Northern Virginia and Maryland and serves as the voice of establishments ranging from casual eateries to internationally acclaimed fine dining restaurants.  For over 90 years RAMW has been "fighting for the right to eat, drink and be merry, hospitably, responsibly and profitably®.” For more information go to