Treat, No Trick: Georgetown Nightlife Important for Business

Georgetowners are lucky to be within walking distance from nearly everything they might need. Some of the best shopping, dining and nightlife opportunities in Washington are only a short walk away. It makes life easier and fun to have such great resources. Our shopping, dining and historic attractions also bring people from all around the region and the world to our town. They are happy to be here, and most of us are happy to have them.

Nevertheless, the bar and nightlife scene in Georgetown has always been a point of contention between residents, business owners and visitors. Last year’s Halloween night brought gun shots, a melee at the Foggy Bottom Metro corner and a teenager who died later from gunshot wounds. Before that, the ghoulish night was peaceful for years, after D.C. police changed its crowd-control strategy: leaving the streets moving with vehicular traffic and people barricaded back on the sidewalks.

Nightlife in Georgetown is vibrant and classic at the same time. As with anything, there are also negative aspects to it. Like it or not, that includes drunkenness which can lead to bad behavior. (While this may mostly involve loud noise in the neighborhood, it can move up to property damage or physical violence quickly.)

Obviously, this is not beneficial to businesses, residents and others who just wish to have a good time. Controlling nightlife should not be an all-or-nothing discussion: consumers’ interests should be taken into consideration among those of others.

One opportunity for discussion of Georgetown nightlife is the recently launched D.C. Hopper, an evening shuttle bus that travels from Bethesda to Georgetown and Dupont Circle and back. Services like D.C. Hopper often have people upset that many bar-goers are going out primarily to drink and get drunk. There are only so many bars in Georgetown, and only so many ways to get to the neighborhood. The D.C. Hopper is an innovative way for transportation that circumvents expensive taxicab rides and sometimes-undependable Metrorail options. Instead of denouncing D.C. Hopper completely, concerned citizens should promote an open dialogue about what can work for everyone.

In July 2011, the Georgetown Business Forum on Nightlife and Hospitality was an effort by the business community and residents to have a constructive conversation about the careful balance that needs to be maintained so that everyone wins.

The Georgetown community needs to support local businesses that attract people to the neighborhood, while controlling the less desirable aspects of nightlife. There could be any number of measures taken to prevent the bad behavior that rises from nightlife, but there will always going to be a range of both good and bad that happens. People who want to come to Georgetown to support local businesses should be welcomed. Today, there are lots of choices of where to go in Washington and the surrounding metro area after dark. We should be proud that Georgetown is a center for nightlife, too.

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Oct 19, 2012 at 7:56 PM Dave Roffman

Residents have it easy today. M Street is very quiet in the evenings compared to the "old days" back in the '60s and '70s. Back then people lined up around the 3400 M Street block to get into The Cellar Door where the likes of Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx, the Modern Jazz Quartet, John Denver, Ian & Sylvia, James Taylor and so many other great performers were booked weekly. Across the street was Old Mac's where GU students got drunk. Nearby was the Apple Pie, another watering hole. Clyde's building way back then was a bar for the motorcycle gangs. The Crazy Horse booked live acts like Fats Domino and his big band. From one end of M to the other numerous restaurants and bars pulled in suburbanites and sailors, army boys from Fort Meyer, and the Naval Academy flocked to Mike O'Harro's JOPA club. Nathans was packed 7 nights a week...at the bar. The Whiskey A-Go-Go was upstairs above Blaize Gerardi's Rive Gauche restaurant below. Lower Wisconsin Ave. had Mr. Henry's. Billy Martin's, and the Four Georges at the Georgetown Inn. Georgetown back then was jumpin'. Today, by comparison, the village is quiet indeed.

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Wed, 23 Apr 2014 10:27:50 -0400

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