Arlington, VA

(Updated at 4:20 p.m.) In August, the county zoning enforcement office told the owners of the Westover Market that concerts and crowds were not allowed at the store’s popular outdoor beer garden. Since then the store has hired a land use attorney, drummed up impressive public support and taken steps to meet the county’s requirements.

Soon, the store will submit plans to the county for building new handicap-accessible bathrooms. Completing code-compliant bathrooms would be the first step toward getting approval to operate the beer garden as an entertainment venue.

Hicks says that the store’s relationship with county regulators has changed significantly since collecting nearly 2,000 signatures from supportive residents and getting nominated for two ABBIE awards.

“The county is now working with us to jump all these hurdles,” Hicks said. “And it’s all because of the support.”

Once the bathroom plans are approved and the facilities are built — at the cost of $25,000 to $35,000 — the market should have all the elements in place to be recognized by the county as a restaurant, Hicks said. Once it receives the restaurant designation, it will be eligible to apply for a live entertainment permit.

In addition to allowing musicians to perform in the beer garden, regulatory approval could increase the allowed beer garden occupancy from the current 9 to nearly 100, Hicks said.

Hicks expects to have the bathrooms built by January, and hopes to get the live entertainment permit soon thereafter.

In an earlier version of this story, Hicks said that plans for the new restrooms had been submitted to the county. However, county official Hunter Moore later told us that the market’s plan for new restrooms have, in fact, not been submitted yet.

Moore also says that more steps may be necessary in order for the market to be considered a restaurant, and thus eligible to apply for a live entertainment permit.

“The County staff remain committed to working with the Westover Market to achieve as much of the owner’s goals as possible,” Moore added. “We realize the community wants it and we want to be supportive of local business, but at the same time they have to play by the same set of rules that everybody else plays by.”

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