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, 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.
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.