Yesterday, we posted that Big Bear Cafe would be proceeding to the Alcoholic Beverages Regulation Agency without the endorsement of ANC 5C, something that usually spells the death of any application. However, it’s also worth unpacking some of the allegations from the ANC. They insist in their opposition resolution that Big Bear has been operating in violation of the zoning authority. We asked owner Stu Davenport yesterday about this, and he came back with some specificity concerning the zoning. According to Davenport, and the DCOZ, Big Bear has operated with full knowledge of the District’s zoning authority, and with a certificate of occupancy (CO) from the District. When Big Bear opened in 2006, they had a small 8-seat CO that they expanded to their larger current CO, with full assistance from DCRA and their structural engineers. Though the building they occupy is zoned R-4 (residential), they are operating with an operating exception, and a codified map amendment to preserve the Cafe’s future status is before the zoning commission to match the property to the surrounding zoning of C-2-A.
In short: despite what the commissioners of ANC 5C said in their opposition ruling, Big Bear has been operating legally, under the zoning commission’s rules, with their knowledge, and with all legal permits, including a restaurant permit that runs through May of next year.