Raining on the Deck's Parade
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.
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