A Little More on Big Bear’s Situation

Photo courtesy of

courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’

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.

I live and work in the District of Columbia. I write at We Love DC, a blog I helped start, I work at Technolutionary, a company I helped start, and I’m happy doing both. I enjoy watching baseball, cooking, and gardening. I grow a mean pepper, keep a clean scorebook, and wash the dishes when I’m done. Read Why I Love DC.

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7 thoughts on “A Little More on Big Bear’s Situation

  1. Has anyone taken the time to verify the conflicting zoning information provided by Mr. Davenport and the Anc5c commissioners? I keep seeing “according to” one party or the other. Any idea where to look for this info in the public record?

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  3. We wrote to ask the DCOZ, and they came back to us with “talk to the Zoning Administrator” who will be hearing the Map Amendment hearing on Monday. In addition, we’ve reached out to the Zoning Administrator. However, if there’s a non-confirming use of the space on the books, that’s permitted to stand, as far as I can tell.

    We’ll let you know when we hear back from Mr. Nero at the Zoning Administrator’s office.

  4. Thanks for the response. It’s good to see the facts, slowly but surely, coming to light.

  5. Tom please let us know what Nero says on this matter. Because what information we have BBC has operated at certain point in time without the proper documentation, permits, etc.

  6. Barrie,

    No news yet. Requests for comment from Stu Davenport have gone unanswered to date. The DCOZ has set the matter down for hearing, though, with regard to the map amendment.