A new First Vine home, and how we’re getting there

I'd like to think I look this good with my headphones on.  But I found it's far better to read a book or newspaper when you're waiting for your number to be called in DC government offices.

I’d like to think I look this good with my headphones on. But I found it’s far better to skip the hipster fashion statement and read a book or newspaper when you’re waiting for your number to be called in DC government offices.

It has been a long time since you’ve seen a blog post from me.   The winter blogging doldrums are partly responsible. This, despite a slew of “I can’t believe they sent these things,” PR come-ons from wine brands with goofy names.  (Little Black Dress wines?  Seriously?)  Even they couldn’t get me to put fingers to keyboard.  But mostly I’ve been busy, and not just selling wine.

What’s been going on?  The big news is that the warehouse where we’ve been storing wine is getting out of the storage business. So we’re moving the location of First Vine’s DC liquor license.   Every liquor license here – even internet-only ones – are tied to a commercially-zoned location. And not just any location, either.  When we first applied for our license back in 2006, we had to make sure that the business wouldn’t be within 400 feet of any other business with the same type of liquor license. And not within 400 feet of a public park, school, senior center, or daycare center, either.

We threaded the needle back then and set up First Vine. Luckily, though, the distance requirement isn’t mandatory for internet-only businesses anymore. So it was much easier to find a new location. We got one, signed the lease and buildout agreement, and then embarked on getting the license moved.

You might think this would be a simple thing. After all, we already have a liquor license and all. Well, no…we pretty much had to start from the beginning. What follows is a list, not a complaint. Everyone I met with, spoke to by phone, or e-mailed has been helpful and courteous. It’s just that there’s a lot to do. It has pretty much been a second full-time job.

First off, this has meant lots of paperwork (literally half of which had to be notarized), five separate visits to DC government offices other than the alcohol regulators (including police headquarters), plus a letter to the local neighborhood government for the new location introducing First Vine and setting the stage for what’s to come, including:

— Posting official signs that a new alcohol-related business will be operating at the new location. The signs have to be up for 45 days, and the license is only granted after the posting period ends.

— Separate paperwork that allows us to start moving wine into the new location once the buildout is done, while we continue to operate the license from the old location.

— A request to the local neighborhood government to allow us to start operating before the official posting period ends.

— Final approval by the city’s alcohol board and issuing of the new license.

Like I said, no complaints. Things have gone surprisingly well so far (furiously knocking on wood right now). In fact, my liquor license attorney has suggested that I consider a job as a paperwork expeditor for other businesses.   I’ve also learned a few things that will stand me in good stead for the future.  And you, too, should you find yourself in a similar situation (assuming you don’t hire me as your expeditor):

  • Do not don headphones to listen to music, podcasts, etc., when you’re waiting to see anyone in DC government. Do things the old-fashioned way and bring print material. You won’t miss your name or number being called and you’ll get to catch up on your reading. Yes, you can use your electronic reader or your phone for this, but paper makes me feel retro. And if you bring a newspaper, you can share it with others waiting. I’ve met a few very nice people that way.
  • We all know that not all Starbucks are created equal. However, the one down by the office of the DC Regulatory Administration in Southwest DC is ridiculously sub-par. I’ve had two terrible lattes there, so they’ve got one strike left. (Yes, a first-world problem, I know.)
  • Giving credit where it’s due: the Safeway at the Waterfront metro stop has good, cheap grab-and-go lunches. So you won’t be hungry, even if you’re under-caffeinated.

No recipe this week. But starting next time, I’ll have a new occasional feature that involves wine, recipes, and even interviews. How’s that for not giving too much away?

Cheers!

Tom

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