Next year, Ward 6 residents will select a new councilmember to represent them, and Dr. Shelonda Tillman wants their votes.
Tillman, a native Washingtonian with a “Ward 6 family legacy for over 70 years,” showed up at last night’s ANC 6A Alcohol Beverage Licensing Committee meeting, in which concerned citizens, business owners, and advisory neighborhood commissioners discussed local alcohol-serving businesses and- more specifically- operating hours for rooftop decks and patios along H Street NE.
During the meeting, business owners and supporters provided several arguments for their position: years of being good neighbors show their goodwill, the agreements are poorly written from a legal standpoint, and the years-old agreements unfairly restrict them based on the H Street of 5-10 years ago. Some concerned citizens and commissioners, meanwhile, want to continue the additional limitations on bars and restaurants, saying they’re necessary to prevent additional noise and other problems.
Joe Englert, who is many times credited with the revival of H Street NE, purchased a handful of H Street buildings and began opening bars on H Street in 2005, starting with Argonaut. At the meeting, he made his case:
But, Council candidate Dr. Tillman wasn’t so sure:
After the meeting, Tillman took to her campaign’s blog to post her concerns about H Street, asking, “Is H Street Really a Great Street?” The single-paragraph screed calls out Englert by the moniker “Mr. Argonaut” and chastises him for suggesting that people wanting more business variety start their own businesses. She also oddly called Argonaut, known as *the* go-to family restaurant in the area, as “not a place where I can take my small children sit, eat, and have a great time without seeing an establishment filled with alcohol behind a bar.”
This covers everything: noise complaints, intoxication, H Street’s national prominence, fear of crime, complaints about lack of business, complaints about current businesses, and more. From Tillman’s campaign blog:
Tonight was a great night listening to residents and business in regards to noise ordinances and hours of operation on H street. As Economic Opportunity and Development being a facet of my political platform. Many homeowners are not pleased with the noise and intoxicated patrons on H Street. Many residents are fed up with the noise from rooftops decks as well. As a business owner and resident of ward 6 I can definitely understand the views of both businesses and restaurants. I was there to observe and listen but a female senior (pearl of wisdom) spoke in reference to the types of businesses on H street. H street is an area in the Ward that has been featured in Forbes magazine. The development has increased property values in the area. I remember as a child being afraid to walk down H street because it was filled with homelessness and narcotics. I am pleased with the development on H street. I decided to speak when the residents around me began to complain that there are no quality places to shop during the day besides liquor stores, barber shops, and nail salons. Mr. Argonaut (who owns approximately 5-8 bars on H st a house on Linden and lives on Connecticut Avenue has done great things in the area, but makes a statement saying “if you want to see those stores such and other sustainable business that are not a bars come into the neighborhood, then how about 20-30 of you sitting here take your money and invest in building one. Wow!!! He continued to say that he has a family restaurant where children eat free on the Wednesdays. In my opinion a family restaurant is a place where I can take my small children sit, eat, and have a great time without seeing an establishment filled with alcohol behind a bar. For example, a resident stated cracker barrel is a family restaurant, IHOP is a family restaurant, Olive Garden is a family restaurant. The resident wanted to see growth and development of sustainable business not just bars, lounges, and a few other business sprawled in between. As a business owner, I understand the bottom line and seeking a return on my investment, but If I am providing a service, I must be open to listening to everyone. I may not be able to please everyone but I can definitely listen to everyone. As a candidate for council, I must listen to the unanimous decisions that were expressed by my constituents. I decided to address Mr. Argonaut and state that many of the residents do not have 10’s of millions of dollars to invest in businesses. But what they have invested numerous amounts of money into are their homes that they have worked hard to purchase and provide shelter for their families. There are tons of stay at home moms in the area and tons of seniors. So Mr. Argonaut and I have decided to connect and give seniors a chance to hand dance and have a great time on H street so they can see what a great street H st has become. I commend all of the business owners especially Mr.Argonaut for investing and developing a business in our Ward. As a candidate for council I pledge to speak with developers to build a quality strip mall on H street that can cater to moms and seniors along with the young adults that love H street just as much as I do. I am definitely going to try the Argonaut on Wednesday Night (tomorrow) and bring my 5 year old daughter since her birthday is Friday. I am glad I went to the meeting to listen to all residents and business owners.
It’s a bit odd that Tillamn’s basis for Argonaut not being family-friendly is the serving of alcohol, considering Olive Garden on her approved list, despite the national chain serving the same. Tillman announced that she will check out claims that Argonaut is a family restaurant tonight, which happens to be their weekly family night in which kids eat free: