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Purple Lounge Back in Business After Liquor License Restored

Purple Lounge is resuming operations after reaching a settlement with Virginia ABC for the restoration of its liquor license.

Six people have been shot in violence linked to the business at 3111 Columbia Pike since last September, including a double shooting late last month and a triple shooting, in which one person was killed, in June. The continued violence, complaints from neighbors, and repeated code violations led Virginia ABC to suspend Purple Lounge’s license to serve alcohol earlier this month.

As a result of a settlement this week the business can resume serving alcohol — but with a number of restrictions.

The restrictions include “stopping all sales and consumption of alcohol at 12:45 a.m.,” “closure of the business no later than 1:00 a.m. and no reopening sooner than 8:00 a.m.,” and keeping four certified security guards on duty — including in the violence-prone parking lot — when the lounge is open at night.

In a press release Wednesday night, Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said the county would have preferred the business been fully closed by Virginia ABC. She noted that further violations, however, could result in a permanent loss of Purple Lounge’s ABC license.

More from the county press release:

Today, Arlington County officials were informed of a settlement agreement reached between the management of the Purple Restaurant and Lounge and the Virginia ABC. Arlington County is not a party to this settlement.

“We are very disappointed that ABC did not fully close or revoke the liquor license for The Purple Lounge.  We view the result in this matter as only a partial step towards ensuring our community’s safety, which is our primary concern,” Libby Garvey, Chair of the Arlington County Board noted. “The restrictions now in place, if followed, at least offer a path forward. The penalties for failure to adhere to the restrictions include permanent loss of licensure. Our police and public health officials will work closely with Virginia ABC to ensure that this settlement is strictly followed. Our staff will be conducting regular visits and monitoring activity inside and outside of the Purple Lounge to ensure full compliance.” Community members who observe behaviors believed to be outside of the negotiated agreement are urged to contact Virginia ABC or the Arlington County Police Department.

On September 1, following a series of disturbing events at the Purple Ethiopian Restaurant and Lounge (Purple Lounge), the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (“ABC”) issued an Order of Summary Suspension, temporarily suspending its alcohol licenses.

After an investigation, Virginia ABC cited two violations against the Purple Lounge relating to its failure to take reasonable measures to prevent violence on the property, and the Purple Lounge’s adverse effects on neighboring properties.  A formal hearing was scheduled to occur on September 16-17th regarding the status of the Purple Lounge’s liquor license as a result of these charges. Possible outcomes ranged from full reinstatement of the Purple Lounge’s ABC licenses, partial reinstatement of the Purple Lounge’s ABC licenses with restricted hours, or full revocation of the Purple Lounge’s ABC licenses.

Holding the Purple Lounge Accountable

The terms of the settlement agreement amount to a partial revocation, with conditions to prevent further disturbances at the property. These conditions include:

  • Stopping all sales and consumption of alcohol at 12:45 a.m.
  • Closure of the business no later than 1:00 a.m. and no reopening sooner than 8:00 a.m.
  • Required staffing of at least four clearly identified Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) certified security personnel on duty every day of operation between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and closing with at least one guard assigned to patrol and monitor the parking lot.  Parking lot monitoring will begin no later than 8:30 p.m. and will continue until the parking lot has been cleared or until at least 30 minutes after closing (whichever is longer). The security company must be registered with the Virginia State Corporation Commission.
  • Prohibition of loitering, loud music, or drinking in the parking lot at any time.
  • Commitment to supply hand-held metal detectors to security personnel to be used every day of operation between 9:00 p.m. and closing to wand all patrons prior to entry or reentry into the establishment.
  • Commitment to search all bags before entry and reentry from 9:00 p.m. to closing every day of operation.
  • Commitment to create and maintain a “trespass book” to include the name and a photograph of those persons banned from the premises. All persons banned shall be served with a trespass notice by the Arlington County Police Department. Arlington County Police Department and Virginia ABC agents will have full access to this book at all times.
    Finally, and most importantly, the Purple Lounge has agreed to surrender its mixed beverage license if it violates any of the above conditions, or if another incident of gun violence happens on the property regardless of whether it is at fault.

Furthermore, any incidence of non-compliance with any of the conditions or restrictions in the settlement agreement, even if not found to rise to the level of a violation of the agreement, will result in a surrender of the Purple Lounge’s liquor license of at least 10 days, or until the Purple Lounge gets back into full compliance, whichever is longer.  The Purple Lounge has also agreed to not open for business until all provisions of the settlement agreement have been fully implemented, including submission of evidence of certifications and training for management and staff at the Purple Lounge.

Maintaining Public Health and Safety

Arlington County continues to be committed to maintaining public health and safety in our community. Staff from the Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) will be meeting with the business leadership to collaborate on means to ensure compliance with the agreement.  Officers working the evening and over-night shifts at the police department will be made aware of all of the requirements to allow for closer monitoring of compliance through regular spot checks at the establishment at different times of day.  ACPD will also coordinate with the business to assist with banning individuals as needed and to ensure the parking lot is cleared in a timely manner after closing.  Throughout the coming weeks and months, ACPD will coordinate closely with Virginia ABC to ensure the requirements of the agreement continue to be met. Public Health also will be visiting the Purple Lounge to ensure compliance with the Governor’s Order for face coverings and social distancing during COVID and as well as compliance with all of their food-safety requirements.

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