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Statement from RAMW President and CEO Shawn Townsend on Dram Shop Act Vote

February 8, 2024

Statement from RAMW President and CEO Shawn Townsend on Restaurant Revitalization and Dram Shop Clarification Amendment Act of 2023 Vote

We are pleased that this week’s bill adds key definitions and standards to dram shop law to lower the exorbitant cost of the District’s liquor liability insurance for our local neighborhood restaurants, which we all know is some of the most expensive in the US.   

Thanks to Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, Chair of the Committee on Business and Economic Development, a number of other measures to make doing every day business better in the District are included in this week’s legislation, including: 

  1. Allowing restaurants and bars to register up to five ABC managers for $390 a year.
  2. Making permanent the current temporary third party delivery regulations. 
  3. Excluding service charges from percentage rents in cases when it’s unclear.
  4. Establishing a much-needed public education campaign. 

At second reading, we expect the council to also consider bill amendments that were withdrawn, including proposals to end the tip credit in July 2025, clarifying that service charges are permitted when diners are notified before ordering, and how service charges should be classified.  This could provide for local neighbor restaurant operators better protections from frivolous service charge lawsuits,                                                        

This marks a pivotal day for passing legislation to help steady, strengthen, and uplift an industry still enduring the pandemic’s ongoing effects.  We will continue to advocate for DC restaurants and small businesses.