Waid’s, again, in liquor license fight at 12th and Jeff

(Image: Waid's)

(Image: Waid’s)

As the neighborhood continues to grow and change around it, Waid’s Haitian Cuisine Bar & Lounge is fighting for its life. Again.

“It’s a black thing,” owner Waid Sainvil tells CHS.

“This is the only place in Seattle where black people from all over hang out.”

It has to do with gentrification, Sainvil says. The area around Waid’s continues to change with new development and more business investment spreading south from Capitol Hill. Across the street, Next door, Capitol Hill Housing’s The Jefferson apartment building opened in 2013. Seattle University, in the meantime, continues to invest in the area and plans a major campus expansion in the neighborhood over the next decade.

Sainvil says the state liquor board is working to deny the renewal of the liquor license for his eight-year-old lounge at 12th and Jefferson following a sting last year in which minors were able to purchase alcohol at the nightclub. The bust continues a string of attempts to strip the club of its liquor license over the years. Seattle Times columnist and Central District resident Danny Westneat wrote about the last round of challenges for Waid’s in 2010. “Is it possible both sides are right?” Westneat asked. “That Waid’s is Seattle’s most dangerous bar? And also one of its most generous?”

Supporters and patrons are again rallying to support Sainvil in the face of the closure threat. The East Precinct Advisory Council, a community group focused on area crime and public safety issues, has announced that public officials will be on hand to discuss the club as a portion of its February meeting Thursday night will focus on Waid’s:

Although several citizens enjoy this nightclub, for several years the surrounding neighbors have stated concerns about late night noise, violence and other unsettling activities in and around the establishment.

Our EastPAC February agenda will feature an update about Waid’s (and other nightclubs, should you have questions) and the opportunity to voice your concerns and ask questions.  We have invited Officer David Stitt, the Washington State Liquor Control Enforcement representative for our area, and Bill Reddy, who coordinates the City of Seattle Nightlife Premises Regulatory Enforcement Unit. Also present to brief you on the City’s activity relating to this matter will be the East Precinct City Attorney Liaison, Matt York.

Waid’s supporters are organizing an effort to be present at the meeting and speak up for the embattled club:

One of the issues on the agenda is the renewal of the liquor license for Waid’s, which has been under attack from a handful of voices in the neighborhood.

My personal experience is that Waid Sainvil is a generous, community-oriented business owner. And I have never seen or heard any problems, even when I have been there on New Year’s Eve, a time when even the most mellow establishments sometimes have problems erupt.

Sainvil says the support will be helpful as the proceedings over his liquor license play out this spring.

“I’ve done everything that needs to be done. I’ve hired new security. It’s not noise coming from the building,” he said.

“This is a small group of people who have a loud voice. It’s time for the other people — the great majority — to stand up and say no.”

Thursday’s EastPAC meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 PM in Seattle U’s Chardin Hall Room 145.

UPDATE: A neighbor has provided more details on the infractions Sainvil told CHS about and the process going forward. We are checking with the City Attorney’s office for confirmation on the plan to object to the renewal.

Two administrative hearings had been held recently. One concerned a sting where a bartender sold alcohol to minors using expired identification. The other, with improper employee training (I’m not really clear on the second one).
No judgment yet. However, these ramp up toward an April hearing where Waid’s liquor license could get yanked. They’d been operating under a sort of one-strike-you’re-out settlement since 2012. The City Attorney’s office is filing an objection to renewal of Waid’s liquor license. Neighbors have written letters in support for this objection.
UPDATE x2: A liquor board rep says things are already more dire than the above for Waid’s as the body’s licensing department has already issued a “non-renewal” that was “based in part on the strong objection from the City of Seattle.” —

Presently there are 5 enforcement and 1 licensing actions pending against Waid’s that are being heard together over six hearings. Two of those hearings have already transpired with the other four scheduled to take place in April, the Administrative Law judge expects to render a decision within 60 days of the last hearing. Our Licensing department issued a “Non-Renewal” for the license (the previously mentioned 1 licensing action) based in part on the strong objection from the City of Seattle, Waid’s is operating on a temporary license pending the outcome of the administrative hearings.

UPDATE x3: The City Attorney has provided CHS with letters sent in 2012 and 2013 from the office to the liquor board about transgressions occurring at Waid’s. We’ve embedded the latest sent last February, below.

Waids Objection Letter 2 28 13 (1)

Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

29 thoughts on “Waid’s, again, in liquor license fight at 12th and Jeff

  1. I like Waid, he seems like a good guy and I admire his commitment to the neighborhood. The problem is that a successful sting operation is a successful sting operation when the liquor board has put you on notice. Additionally, Waid has done a great job of hiring security (although the successful sting might disagree at their effectiveness), but when the club closes and the security goes home, his patrons are still getting into drunken fights in the middle of the street and shooting off firearms into the air to break these fights up. Saturday Night/Sunday morning and Sunday night/Monday morning there are consistently loud fights at 4am.. It was like that before the new building went up, but now there are just more people to get annoyed by it.

    It’s a shame the place can’t be managed better… I don’t know if it’s a lack of oversight on Mr. Sainvil’s part directly, or if it’s a staff issue… but there are big gaps in this place being a completely positive member of the neighborhood.

  2. If Waid’s business hours are 11am until 2 am, why are there people still on the streets causing a disturbance (supposedly from Waid’s)? Is it possible that people are coming from elsewhere in the neighbourhood?

    The other matter of the underage drinking is easy enough to solve. Both staff and security would have to be more vigilant about checking ID. The matter of the disturbances seems to be more difficult to resolve concidering the opposition locally.

    Just a couple of thoughts that came to mind.

  3. The code violations (multiple – not just alcohol to minors) are enough to close any business. I can understand people wanting to side with Waids. I’m guessing that those people don’t live on the block. Worrying that gunfire is going to come through the walls and hit your child, calling police only to watch the bad guys run out the back door, drinking in cars before and after going into the club, leaving your broken bottles and puke in the street, gang activity, drug dealing, prostitution… it’s not a black thing, it’s a crime thing. Waid’s is located on one the most diverse blocks I’ve seen in the city. Playing the race card is a cop out. If you can’t run a clean business and play by the rules then you can’t have the business. This bar has been given chance after chance by the liquor control board – why, I don’t know. Perhaps the right person hasn’t been shot yet. There is recorded data to back up everything I’ve stated here.

    • Well said! It’s sometimes too easy to play the race card when that is not the core problem. If Waid’s is open to 4AM, and there are recurring disturbances around that time….whether inside the business or outside….and, with a history of documented liquor board violations….then the place needs to be shut down as a public nuisance. They do not deserve another chance.

    • I don’t know if there’s any validity to the race card being pulled, but this kind of thing happens all over the hill on a regular basis and the businesses on Olive/Broadway and Pike/Pine aren’t getting shut down for it. I mean, I wish some of them would……

    • Hi,

      I’m a resident of the block (13th & Jefferson) and I support Waid’s business. I do not believe that there is an excessive or abnormal atmosphere of violence or crime, it is merely a popular bar in the neighborhood, and one of my favorite establishments. Waid Sainvil himself is one of the most wonderful and friendly people in the city. I think the bar is an important part of the culture of the city and should be better regulated, but not closed.

      • Hi Renae,

        Nobody doubts for a minute Waid Sainvil is a really good guy, or that the bar is an important, popular center for a diverse community. That isn’t the issue, is it? The City and Liquor Board HAVE been trying to regulate Waid’s…. since at least 2008! Read the letter embedded above, from Seattle Police. It lists a BUTTLOAD of violations and infractions, enough to pull anyone’s liquor license.

  4. Waids is open until 4AM. The trouble comes out of the patrons of Waids. Speaking as a neighbor we watch every Sunday night simply because no one can sleep through it. If there was ever a dispute, the powers that be have access to the video surveillance on that new building next door. I’ve never seen so many cameras on one building before. Video doesn’t lie.
    I’d like to know why SPD does very little arresting or detaining instead choosing to herd the drunken patrons to their cars so they can drive away drunk? I’ve only seen handcuffs when weapons are involved. A car is a weapon.

  5. I think that if you choose to move into a neighborhood that’s right next to a bar, you shouldn’t get upset when it’s loud around the bar at after hours. It isn’t the bar’s fault that you chose to move to the neighborhood, and you shouldn’t be complaining about noise. I feel like this would be like if someone moved to Pike and Broadway and then got mad that people were still around and rowdy after 2am. Don’t like bar noise? Don’t move next to a bar. Don’t blame Waid’s.

    I love this place and I really hope to see it stay in the neighborhood. What we don’t need: More condos and more snooty bars.

    • Reminder that people lived in these homes before Waid’s showed up (excluding the Jefferson of course), and most of them ended up moving away (which is pretty expensive too, mind you) due to the intense, unbearable noise that Waid’s thoughtlessly produced. One establishment shouldn’t be able to determine the quality of life of everyone else on the block. If Waid’s can’t get their act together, they’ve got to go.

      Besides, the “I was here first” mentality is a stupid way to run a city. You run a city according to rules. They’re breaking the rules, so they’re in trouble. Such is life.

    • Since when did a bar that doesn’t allow under-age drinking or 4am flights and discharged weapons become snooty? That’s all anyone ever asked for. You’re right, Waids could be great.. but it’s obvious that it isn’t being managed well, despite several attempts to change. Bringing in security is the first step, but they’ve got to be effective and that doesn’t appear to be the case. Trying and wanting something isn’t good enough sometimes. I also encourage those who are supporting and fighting for Waids to show up between 2am and 4am on Sunday night and see if you think it is so great when security takes off and big fights start breaking out. I’ve seen the FB group, and something tells me you’re the Thursday night, maybe 1am crew. I don’t know who is there when all the trouble happens each week, but I’d love to hear an excuse for what goes on so regularly.

    • To paraphrase @BearFox : “Waid’s is blameless for excessive noise coming from its premises. You residents bitching and moaning that excessive noise destroys your sleep: please stop. Because it’s your fault.”


      The general rules on public nuisance noise can be found in SMC 25.08.500. “It is unlawful for any person knowingly to cause or make, or for any person in possession of property knowingly to allow or originate from the property, unreasonable noise which disturbs another, and to refuse or intentionally fail to cease the unreasonable noise when ordered to do so by a police officer… or any employee of the Department of Planning and Development authorized by the Director of that Department.” Unreasonable noise” shall include but is not limited to the following sounds or combination of sounds:

      – Loud or raucous, and frequent, repetitive, or continuous sounds created by use of a musical instrument, or other device capable of producing sound when struck by an object, a whistle, or a sound amplifier or other device capable of producing, amplifying, or reproducing sound.

      – Loud and raucous, and frequent, repetitive, or continuous sounds made by the amplified or unamplified human voice between the hours of ten (10:00) p.m. and seven (7:00) a.m.

      For complete definitions and rules on Noise Control, see SMC 25.08.

      In December, 2007, the City Council passed Noise Ordinance #122614. This new nightlife ordinance states that “it is unlawful for any person in possession of real property, other than residential property, to allow to originate from that property between the hours of ten (10:00) p.m. and seven (7:00) a.m. amplified noise that is plainly audible to a person of normal hearing when measured inside a receiving dwelling unit.”

  6. I agree with Bear Fox. As far as I understand, both neighboring buildings were built after Waid’s was a bar, meaning if you moved there, you knew a rowdy bar was next door. That’s your choice. However, if Waid’s has more citations because it has more violations then it needs to clean up. But if has more violations because police are spending more time raiding it, then it’s being singled out and treated unequally to all the other bars on the Hill. Maybe our Police can answer that, but unfortunately, I have no faith in the administration of that Dept. any more.

    • You are factually incorrect: Only The Jefferson was built after Waid’s became a bar. But so what? “It’s their choice” is a terrible argument.

      Please never assume that potential renters, coming from who-knows-where to view an apartment, know that there’s a bar next door, period, much less how many laws that bar has broken, nor how disruptive its customers are. They don’t know. How could they know? So it’s not “their choice” to live next to that. They sign a lease, and then find out what crappy neighbors Waid’s is.

      It’s not “the choice” of people who have lived in apartments and single family homes next to Waid’s for decades long before Waid’s became a bar, to live with Waid’s bone-shaking bass and crazy fights every weekend.

  7. look at belltown clubs…pioneer square..people have died…not one closure..all owned by whites…they have higher resident populations.. it is a race issue..we all know it seattle is notorious for it… white people don’t care because they dont get messed with. ..they draw this picture “I’m afraid of a bullet hitting my baby through the wall”…fool that came from a dam old la gang movie..you bigot…the biggest thugs in the CD are trendys and the police… you already did it on beacon hill

    • @Rich, I admire your coming to the defense of the club. But please don’t draw on the “race issue”. That’s insulting and weak. I have met the neighbors who live next to and behind Waid’s. They are as diverse a group of people as you will find in the CD. Like anyone else, they call 911 when they are woken from sleep by unbearable bass, and when fights, gunshots, prostitution, and drug dealing threatens the public safety. And the bullet thing? See SPD Incident Report #2011-275357. Run a clean club and there’d be no complaints.

  8. When we visit from Canada this is the only bar that we visit. We have never once felt unsafe in this bar. I would rather be at this bar instead of downtown Seattle where the real crime is happening!

  9. All of the liquor licenses within a 2 block area are owned by minority bars, convenience stores and restaurants. Only one is Vietnamese. The rest are African Americans.

    According to the SPD sting – agents bought narcotics from the security guards. Also, within feet of Waid himself.

    It is time to remove the rose colored glasses Waid wishes to be seen through. I no longer support you. Once, even twice is a mistake – repeatedly – we are the fools for believing in you. You are not victim. Stand up, be a man and admit your mistakes. You have lost my respect.

  10. Like that scene in Casablanca, I’m shocked, shocked I tell you to know there are drug sales in a nightclub. News flash, every nightclub, owned by every race, playing every kind of music, is a market for illicit drugs. Period. Since forever. Music and narcotics have been together since before narcotics were illegal, and it is like this in every country around the world. I can walk into ANY nightclub in this city and walk out with any drug, or a source to get them. That stings happen at Waid’s means SPD is targeting Waid’s.

    Noise: this building has been a dance hall since before World War 2. The biggest names in jazz used to play there. Ellington, Armstrong, all of them. Waid built sound insulation into the walls at great expense, but you can’t hide a dancehall from new construction 5 feet away.

    Neither of the Ethiopian restaurants on the block ask for ID. The bar on 12th visible from Waids is basically run by gangbangers and fights break out in the alley all the time. Waid’s has no control over patrons who drink from car bars (also done at every bar, ever, high and low class, because it saves money).

    There’s nothing new under the sun here. This sounds like every club on the hill, almost every night. The difference is that the city and LCB have found a target.

    • @Shocked shocked shocked…. If that’s true, then it’s too bad that Waid’s, back in 2012, entered into that settlement with the Liquor Control Board: “The Licensee agrees the Licensing can immediately terminate its liquor license if the Licensee commits a public safety violation…”

      I like Waid and all, but geez, when he agrees to a one-strike-you’re-out deal and STILL he can’t stop running up the public safety violations, I don’t know what to think.

  11. It’s well known that the bars in this area don’t card people, it’s also well known that one can buy drugs, guns or whatever in this neighborhood. It’s been that “since forever”. This activity and the resulting noise comes with living in the city. Waid seems like a nice man, but his community orientation isn’t the problem here. The problem with the license is breaking the rules. Rules are made to keep people safe. It’s not Waid’s fault that people are fighting in the street or alley at 4 am. But it is Waid’s fault if they aren’t carding and if their bouncers are selling drugs. Every well-traveled bar in Seattle has a big guy sitting on a stool carding every single person that walks in the door. Duh. It’s to protect their liquor license. I’m 55 and I get carded. It’s not brain surgery.

  12. Pingback: Meet the East Precinct’s new new captain, 29-year SPD vet Pierre Davis | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle

  13. Pingback: Blotter | Victim says car stolen at gunpoint outside 12th/Jeff nightclub | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle

  14. Pingback: Central District nightclub faces deadline in liquor license fight | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle

  15. I’ve never had anything but good experiences at Waid’s. I have a hard time believing there’s no racial/gentrification angle with the way the city is going hard after this club. Granted, I’m not there *every* night, but what I’ve seen is a fun place with friendly people that it seems is being targeted by Seattle (and possibly Seattle U) so they can continue the whitening of the CD.

  16. Pingback: Fate of Waid’s still in limbo as liquor board considers late appeal | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle

  17. Pingback: Waid’s owner vows to stay open but says he’s done fighting over liquor license | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle