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Posted at 12:40 PM ET, 07/11/2007

Raining on the Deck's Parade

By Fritz Hahn

The Deck, the wildly popular outdoor bar at Glover Park's Savoy Suites hotel, closed suddenly on Monday -- a victim of its own success. However, the nightspot's management team has plans for an imminent return to the scene.

After a sluggish 2006 season, the owners of the Deck turned day-to-day operations over to former bartender Fritz Brogan, who used a combination of marketing, Georgetown University connections and cheap happy hour prices to build a simple patio bar into one of the city's most popular outdoor destinations. Crowds descended for mid-week happy hours, late-night Friday night drinks and lazy weekend afternoons in the sun.

As the Deck grew more popular, residents in the neighboring Georgetown Heights condo building, which opened earlier this spring, repeatedly complained about noise coming from the outdoor patio and threatened to get the hotel's liquor license taken away if it things didn't calm down. Brogan and hotel management say that the police were called several times about noise levels and crowding, but the bar was not found to be in violation.

Brogan tried to be proactive, removing the two televisions from behind the bar, cutting down on late-night music and shortening the bar's hours, especially during the week. Last week, though, the hotel decided the pressure from the neighbors was too much. "We found out late Sunday night," Brogan says. "They said they were going to close it down on Monday. I wasn't sure whether it was a threat or whether they were serious."

On Monday afternoon, a construction crew arrived and tore down the tiki-style bar. All that remains is the wood-floored patio, which will be used as outdoor seating for the hotel's restaurant.

Brogan knew the hotel was feeling the heat from the neighbors, but didn't know that closure was imminent. "I thought it would happen at the end of the summer, but I didn't think it would happen in the middle of the season. I've never heard of a bar this successful being shut down like this."

Still, he remains matter-of-fact about the Savoy's reasons. "It's a hotel. They're not in the bar business. They don't want to worry about losing their liquor license and the effect that would have on a pretty good hotel. I don't agree with what they did, but I understand why they did it."

More than the closure of the bar, what bothers him is the future of the Deck's employees. "We had a huge staff, 10 to 15 people, that thought they'd be working here through September, and didn't take other jobs for the summer. Now they're out of work."

Brogan doesn't seem like the kind of guy who can sit still for long, and he says he already has a deal in place to relocate the Deck's operations -- and most of its staff -- to a new outdoor location, though he won't say where just yet. "It's someplace close to the Deck that hasn't been open for a while," Brogan says, mysteriously. "I kind of threw up a Hail Mary and someone answered. It's different, an eclectic place."

The grand opening of Deck 2.0 has been penciled in for next Friday. Watch this space for more details.

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | July 11, 2007; 12:40 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs  
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Haven't those condos been open for almost two years? They were being built when I moved to Glover Park in 2004, and opened in 2005, I think.

Posted by: Glover Park | July 11, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

They were being built/sold for a long while, the price steadily rose from 300K to 800K over the year or two, until they finally finished in Spring/Summer 2006. The Deck's business was anemic last year, so this wasn't an issue until now.

Posted by: Tunlaw | July 11, 2007 4:16 PM | Report abuse

What a bunch of killjoys in that apartment complex. They can't handle some jimmy buffett music until 11pm at night? Should have considered that before moving to such a bustling neighborhood. Try Manassas, I hear its lovely this time of year.

Posted by: dissapointed | July 11, 2007 4:45 PM | Report abuse

These people knew about the deck when they bought their condos, and, to use a word i remember from my long ago days in law school, should have been estopped from complaining about it. If they wanted peace and quite, they shouldn't have bought residential property overlooking Wisconsin Avenue. It is this overwhelming and undeserved sense of entitlement that gives Georgetown a reputation for snobbery. These people need to learn that others live in this world--and in Georgetown--and that, as most of us figured out in kindergarten, it pays to be respectful.

I think we should petition to get rid of those condos. They're an eye-sore.

Posted by: Gtown Resident | July 12, 2007 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Demolish the condo building.

Posted by: Fight for your right to party | July 12, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Indeed, those condos are on what was once a lovely, green lawn. Now, those residents, who must be having buyers remorse, have eliminated a great outdoor hang out spot.

I agree with the previous poster, what sort of person buys a condo at Wisconsin and Calvert, a bustling intersection, with all that goes with it, and then complains about the noise of the bar next door? (that predated the condos)

Please do yourselves and the rest of Georgetown a favor, move to Manassas! (or Gaithersburg, if MD is more your thing)

Posted by: AR | July 12, 2007 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Thought the Deck cannot be replaced, I look forward to seeing what Fritz & his crew can come up with!

Posted by: hopeful | July 12, 2007 12:56 PM | Report abuse

The Deck's sudden closure is truly mysterious. I doubt a bunch of snobby residents were the ONLY reason the owner decided to shut down when he did. My understanding is that the bar's liquor license was not up for renewal until September--seems like the owner had at least another month of income from the bar that he probably decided to forego for OTHER reasons. Another interesting thought: most other hotels with outdoor bars in DC have to close those establishments at 9pm as a stipulation of their liquor license. Why didn't the deck have to adhere to those standards? I have heard reports of indecent public exposure (men relieving themselves behind the bar) and bottle after bottle breaking in the middle of the night. I imagine the Savoy Hotel's guests weren't to crazy about that either.

Posted by: Mysterious | July 14, 2007 7:54 AM | Report abuse

sounds like you might be one of the condo owners who complained! RIP the deck- another example of Glover Park trampling on the rights on its younger residents. Good luck to fritz and the gang in their new ventures!

Posted by: to mysterious | July 16, 2007 8:54 AM | Report abuse

There is no "stipulation" in the law that says patios must close at 9 p.m. What you're talking about is a voluntary agreement, which is negotiated between the bar and its neighborhood commission. If Glover Park residents didn't make a deal with the hotel, that's their fault, not the Deck's.

Posted by: To Mysterious | July 16, 2007 12:56 PM | Report abuse

The people who complained about this are the same kind of people who move next to an airport that's been there for decades and then complain about the noise in hopes of shutting it down....

Posted by: Joe Pilot | July 19, 2007 5:06 PM | Report abuse

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