Some believe it was the letters documenting allegations of sexual misconduct and rape posted outside his Pike/Pine venues that ultimately drove David Meinert off Capitol Hill last summer. The nightlife entrepreneur has continued to do business in Seattle at his 5 Point bar and is now preparing to begin rebuilding his empire of cheap beer and barstools with his purchase of Lower Queen Anne classic, the Mecca Cafe.
But letters could again be an issue.
Wednesday night, a group is planning to meet for a writing party at Capitol Hill bar Corvus and Co. Others have promised to hand out form letters on the streets for neighbors to sign and send in. Templates have been passed around and traded on social media. Here is one simple, straightforward example:
To Whom It May Concern,
I would like to strongly urge the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board to DENY a new liquor license to Queen Anne Diner LLC/David John Meinert for the Mecca Cafe (license number 350217). Mr. Meinert has had 11 credible sexual assault accusations levied against him recently. In many of these assaults, Mr. Meinert had been drinking alcohol and/or assaulted women in bars he has owned. Please deny this new liquor license application.
(your name here)
Thursday, June 20th, public notice was given that Meinert had applied for a new liquor license for 526 Queen Anne Ave N, the home of the Mecca, as part of the process of acquiring the legendary hangout. For 14 days, the notice must be posted at the place of business. The Meinert letter writers hope they can convince the liquor board to deny the the new owner the vital license.
But the odds are stacked against them.
“The WSLCB will take all protest and support letters into consideration when making a decision to approve or deny a license,” the board posts in its liquor license documentation for applicants (PDF). That’s the good news. The bad? The body is looking for a small, narrowly defined set of issues. Those include
- Objection from a church, school, or other public institution within 500 feet of the premises
- Questionable source of funds
- Indicators of hidden ownership
- Criminal history, i.e. conviction of a felony, conviction of a gross or simple misdemeanor
involving liquor or drugs, any series of violations that show a disregard for the law.WAC
The issues the board is looking for typically do not include 11 allegations of sexual misconduct.
WSLCB representatives have not responded to our inquiry about the Mecca application.
In September, CHS documented the unwinding of Meinert’s ownership and investment in four Capitol Hill venues — Queer/Bar, Grimm’s, Lost Lake, and the Comet. Prior to the accusations coming to light, Meinert also announced he had sold his share of Big Mario’s as he prepared to open a food+drink project in the ground-floor commercial component of the Gridiron condo development across from CenturyLink.
After September, he continued to hold Wide Open, Inc, the company that operates Belltown’s 5 Point Cafe, and the attention drifted away. Until now.
Beyond letters from citizens, another possible barrier to Meinert’s plans could be “local authority” — Mayor Jenny Durkan or King County Executive Dow Constantine who was forced to distance himself from Meinert’s longtime support and financial backing in the wake of last summer’s accusations.
“State law requires the WSLCB to notify the local authority (i.e. mayor or county commission) of the city or county your business is located in that you have applied for a liquor license,” the board says of the process.
King County has not responded to our questions about the new application at the Mecca but the City of Seattle provided an overview of its application review team process. Following the typical procedure at Seattle City Hall, it seems unlikely Durkan will intervene.
The city provided five areas that it can use as a basis for objecting to a liquor license — none appear likely to affect Meinert’s bid:
- “Chronic illegal activity” associated with the applicant’s operations of the premises proposed to be licensed; RCW 66.24.010(12)
- “Chronic illegal activity” of the applicant’s operation of any other licensed premises; RCW 6.24.010(12)
- Conduct of the applicant’s patrons inside or outside the licensed premises; RCW 66.24.010(12)
- Certain amounts of prior criminal conduct by the applicant; WAC 314-07-040
- Any administrative violation history record with the WSLCB; WAC 314-07-045
Authorities at the city or King County have 20 days to respond with any objections.
If you would like to comment on the Mecca license application, you can mail in comments to:
Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board Licensing and Regulation
P.O. Box 43098
Olympia, WA 98504-3098
Or email your letter to firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments should include the trade name Queen Anne Diner LLC, license number 350217 and address of the business 526 Queen Anne Ave N.
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