The Oak needs support to earn liquor license

This site on Beacon Avenue is being remodeled into The Oak. Photo by Wendi Dunlap.
The much-talked-about Oak restaurant, expected to open on Beacon Avenue this spring, has a problem. Owners Lisa Jack and Mat Brooke have received a letter from the state Liquor Control Board which states that they face possible denial of their liquor license because the Board has received 14 protest letters but only 5 letters of support for the business.

They must respond by March 26 with a statement outlining why the Oak should still be approved for a liquor license, and letters from the community will be considered as well.

Brooke and Jack attended the North Beacon Hill Council meeting last week and spoke about the project. They have taken steps to reduce neighborhood concerns, including locating the 21+ bar portion in the center of the building, to limit exterior noise; no door access to the alley, except for emergency exits; no smoking allowed in the back of the building; and no karaoke or live music. There will be all-ages kid-friendly dining space. The menu is planned to be “family-friendly” comfort food such as burgers,salads, macaroni and cheese, and sweet potato fries, with lunch and dinner seven days a week until 10 p.m. as well as weekend brunch. Ingredients will be locally-sourced.

Brooke and Jack will not be absentee owners; at the meeting, they explained that they will be living at the site themselves, and have a direct stake in the quality of the neighborhood.

After the NBHC discussion, several neighbors who live or work adjacent to the Oak site and had attended the meeting to express their concerns about a possible “tavern” moving in indicated that their concerns had been addressed and they seemed to have a much more positive feeling about the new restaurant.

It is unclear whether the protest letters the Liquor Board has received were sent before the NBHC meeting. When the news came out on the Beacon Hill mailing list last night about the Oak’s difficulty with the Board, the reaction on the list was one of surprise, with several subscribers expressing their intent to write in support of the business. In the previous discussion on the Beacon Hill Blog, the comments were overwhelmingly in favor of the Oak.

If you would like to express your opinion on the Oak, send a (snail mail) letter to the Liquor Control Board at:

Washington State Liquor Control Board
Licensing and Regulation
P.O. Box 43098
Olympia, WA 98504-3098

Here’s what has to go in the letter:

Referencing The Oak
License #408904
3019 Beacon Ave. S.
Seattle, WA 98144-5853

83 thoughts on “The Oak needs support to earn liquor license”

  1. A letter? In the mail? What is this, 1960?

    Typical WSLCB busywork. This is why people held their noses and voted for that Costco initiative. The sooner this agency is shut down completely, the better. They do nothing that local zoning and law enforcement can’t do both better and cheaper.

    For the record, I sent emails to the addresses on the original letter (which they probably paid someone to print out, make three copies of, and file somewhere), and I know that more than four other people did. But I guess that they still think the Internet is just a fad.

    Okay neighbors, get out your typewriters, white out and carbon paper. Does it have to be double-spaced? Is there a specific font they require?

  2. After having sent three emails in support of The Oak, I will draft a paper letter as well.

    If most of the people who sent letters opposing The Oak really have had their concerns addressed and would not now oppose it, then I think we might be getting to the crux of what I find frustrating about the knee-jerk resistance to change I often see on Beacon Hill. The problem isn’t so much NIMBYism as it is “Guilty Until Proven Innocentism.”

    Whenever anyone wants to open a business, redevelop a property or otherwise do things differently it’s a given that there will be instant opposition using a doom and gloom forecast of the outcome. Another recent example would be some comments about the negative effects on Beacon if the Red Apple starts selling liquor, even as every other grocery store in every other neighborhood in the State of Washington is filing the exact same applications. What is the basis for the assumption that Beacon Hill will somehow be negatively impacted by everything? I just don’t understand the source of the negativity.

    It’s little wonder that Beacon Hill lags behind other neighborhoods in getting services when so many individuals respond to the changes that would bring these services to us with opposition instead of constructive engagement. At least this time it was seemingly polite opposition without name-calling, but I hope as a community we can all start giving change a fair chance to show whether it might be positive instead of pre-judging and opposing it as a matter of course.

  3. I’m going to repeat what I wrote on the list.

    I was going to reply to this post and say I was going to write a letter of support … but I didn’t.

    Because like so many folks, I would have just not gotten around to it. The comment would have felt good … until I found out that The Oak didn’t get approval because so few letters of support were physically received.

    Good wishes don’t count. Glowing responses on the Beacon Hill blog don’t count. Letters count.

    I refuse to be one of those people who looks back and thinks, “Damn. I didn’t get to it!”

    I did not write this post until AFTER I had written a letter, addressed it to the State Liquor Board, stamped it and put it in my mail box. It is there right now, waiting to be whisked away to Olympia.

    Don’t reply and say you are going to do it. That just let’s others off the hook. They think to themselves (as I often have), “Looks like they’ll get plenty of letters of support.”

    So. Write the letter (it takes 5 minutes). Stamp it. Put it in your mailbox. THEN respond to this thread.

    If enough of us do this very simple task, we can all gather at the newly opened Oak, and without a tinge of guilt, raise a glass to the small part we played in the process.

    Write it. Stamp it. Mail it.

    –Willie Weir

  4. Thanks @MAC. Just to avoid any potential confusion in this thread, I am Brook (yes, I’m a guy named Brook — we used to be more common) and not Brooke the co-owner of The Oak (who I have never met).

    Last night I got back from eight days in Texas where I had been pleased to read Jake London’s report about the positive vibe about The Oak at the NBHC meeting — waking up this morning to discover that vibe might not matter was really disheartening. I mean, does it really make sense to protest the opening of a restaurant based on nothing but rumors and guesswork?

  5. Good idea Willie. I had previously sent in an email, which apparently didn’t ‘count’. I just dropped a letter in the mail. We should be able to get a lot more than 14…


  6. I was going to post here to whine about NIMBYism, “Guitly Until Proven Innocentism” and how lame it is that the Oak might not even get a chance. But, instead, inspired by Willie’s post, I’ve now written a letter to the Liquor Control Board and it’s sitting in the mail waiting to be delivered to them.

    With mine and his letter, the tally is now 14 to 7… let’s keep them coming.

  7. You could have counted my stamped envelope too, Tyler. Just because I talked (or “whined” if you prefer) about one thing don’t assume I didn’t do the other. But I likewise appreciate Willie’s point.

  8. Sorry, Brook, didn’t mean to imply you were whining. I was referring more to my own tendency just complain when I read about something online that I don’t like. I actually agree with everything you’ve said.

    14 to 8!

  9. Jalyth. You don’t have to say much more than you support The Oak opening a restaurant on Beacon Ave that will serve alcohol and reference The Oaks permit # above. If you include your address in the letter, it will let them know that you live on the hill. You can always add your own personal reason as to why you are in support of the business (ie, a place to gather with friends withing walking distance of your home or apartment, etc).

  10. Dear Washington State Liquor Control Board,
    My husband and I have been greatly anticipating the opening of The Oak restaurant in our neighborhood since we first saw it mentioned on the Beacon Hill Blog. The blog posted that some in the community have voiced and written you letters about concerns and that, despite these concerns being addressed at the North Beacon Hill Council meeting last week, the liquor license for The Oak may not be approved because the Washington State Liquor Control Board received 14 negative letters but only 5 positive letters.
    As new property owners on Beacon Hill, we’ve been enjoying many aspects of the neighborhood. But one of the most disappointing is the lack of services available, forcing us to leave our neighborhood and spend money elsewhere. Now, we’ve had our share of property crime and drunk and high transient people throwing bottles at our steps, puking on our lawn and leaving trash all over our yard. These people are not the patrons that The Oak will be serving. Please approve the liquor license for The Oak so that we the people who actually own property in the neighborhood can have access to appropriate services.
    If additionally you would like to help with the problem of alcohol and drug abuse and property crime on Beacon Hill, please take a look at the alcohol licenses of the gas stations located at 2415 Beacon Ave S and 2424 Beacon Ave S with the drunk people standing around outside asking drivers to go in and buy alcohol for them using their food stamps.
    Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.

  11. This is what I wrote… nothing earth shattering, but hopefully shows support.

    Just wanted to voice my support of the liquor license application for the Mighty Oak, application number 408904 at 3019 Beacon Ave. I think it’s fantastic that Beacon Hill is finally getting some traction with new types of restaurants. I’m a family man in my 40s with a 6 year old son, and I’ve lived on Beacon Hill for over 10 years; and have waited a long time for these types of establishments to open. Places like this open the door for Beacon Hill to flourish, and catch up with other neighborhoods like Columbia City, which has a fabulous central area full of restaurants, bars and shops.

    Please don’t hesitate to contact me if there are other avenues for me to voice my support of this application.

  12. I just put my letter in the mail. It took me less than 5 minutes. Just simply included my address and that I lived near The Oak and that I was in full support of this new business being granted their liquor license.

  13. Mine is in the mail.

    The hardest part was folding it into thirds so it fit in the envelope. Been awhile since I mailed something 🙂

    14 to 9!

  14. Here’s ours:

    The Oak
    License #408904
    3019 Beacon Ave. S.
    Seattle, WA 98144-5853

    To whom it may concern,

    I’m writing to voice my support for this potential restaurant. My wife and daughter have lived on Beacon Hill for three years, approximately 4 blocks away from the potential site. We love our neighborhood, its diversity, and its location, however the one thing we lament is the lack of dining establishments. The Oak has publicized that they are planning to offer an all-ages kid-friendly dining space, which would definitely be a welcome addition for our family. They have also outlined several steps to address potential concerns (there will be no live music, no smoking in the alley, and a designated 21+ area for bar patrons).

    We believe The Oak will further enhance our community and will encourage more socializing between neighbors, giving us another reason to stay in our own neighborhood, rather than leave Beacon Hill and take our business to a different part of town. Please help continue the growth of Beacon Hill and approve this license.


  15. Paper letters still hold a lot more power in government than email. Backwards as it may seem, it is true.

    I live South of Columbia City, but my letter is in the mail!

  16. Between the listserv, the beacon blog comments, and folks who responded to a post I put on Facebook, I count 21 letters that went in the mail today. Those are only folks who wrote and said they’d physically mailed it. Fabulous! But 40 more would really send a message. Post when you’ve mailed your letter!


  17. Letter sent. Though I have to admit I was disheartened that I had to do this. Could this be one of the reasons that Beacon Hill fails to attract new businesses?

  18. Written, stamped and in the mail. I’ve really been looking forward to The Oak, so I will be asking friends and neighbors to do the same and will provide them a simple letter to sign and send.

  19. Seriously?!?

    My wife and I both wrote email in support. I guess now we will get out the stone tablets and chisel some hieroglyphics that somebody in Olympia will actually read.

  20. We sent out a letter as well. With any luck, we should get at least 50 letters of support, I’m thinking.

  21. Signed, sealed & on its way tomorrow!

    To whom it may concern,
    I am writing to you today regarding The Oak’s application for a state liquor license.
    (Reference: The Oak, License #408904, 3019 Beacon Ave. S. Seattle, WA 98144-5853)
    I’ve been a Beacon Hill resident for the last ten years and would like to express my unwavering support for The Oak. For a decade now I’ve oft remarked to friends and colleagues that I love my neighborhood. Its only drawback is the lack of options for dining and enjoying a drink at a business within walking distance of our home. I would be thrilled to have The Oak set up shop just over a half mile away!
    I firmly believe that The Oak will only enhance the quality of life in Beacon Hill. I have zero concerns about potential noise, litter, crowding, or other concerns that have been cited by a very small minority of residents. In fact there have been more than 80 comments regarding The Oak left by visitors of the Beacon Hill Blog. Exactly two of these expressed any concern. The overwhelming opinion is that we, the people of Beacon Hill, welcome The Oak with open arms.
    Thank you for considering the opinion of this local resident, and please grant The Oak’s liquor license.
    Sincere regards,

  22. My count is now 41 letters of support that went out in the mail. So 46 including the 5 already there. Thank you neighbors!

  23. I sent a letter of support this morning. I’m really looking forward to having the Oak in our neighborhood.

  24. I, too, had previously sent a support email, but just came back inside from putting my written letter in the mail.

  25. Willie is a smart man. 🙂 As he suggested, I wrote my letter first, tucked it into an envelope to go in tomorrow’s mail, and THEN came back here to post that I’m sending it. Life is a very distracting thing, and it’s easy to say “I’m in!” but neglect to actually follow through.

    Still can’t believe they don’t consider emails as part of the process, though; that’s just sad.

    Anyway, that’s one more letter of support, and I’d love to see another 50 of them added to the pile!

  26. WOW. thank you everyone. Your support is overwhelming, humbling, and most of all encouraging. I wish I had all of your addresses so I could “snail mail” my thanks to all of you. On behalf of myself, Lisa, Tim, and Kelly, thank you so much. I guarantee we are working hard to get this place open soon. we can’t wait to see you!

  27. Latest count is 55 letters sent since yesterday! I only count responses (Beacon Blog, listserv, Facebook) where people say they have mailed the letter. I kept a list of names so people who have posted on the blog and listserv aren’t tallied twice.

    Comments like “I’m going to mail the letter”, aren’t included. My reasoning comes from personal experience. I said I was going to send a letter last month … and didn’t.

    Keep posting your mailed letter confirmations. I think 100 letters is a worthy goal for helping to plant an Oak on Beacon Hill.

  28. CindyV. I understand the frustration of emails not counting for much. But consider how easy it would be to flood the liquor board with positive (or negative) comments from people who didn’t even live in Seattle. Or one person sending 50 responses via 50 different email addresses.

    This is one of those cases where the pen is still mightier than the email message. And for a good reason.

  29. I just mailed 2 letters. I also emailed my drafts to other friends as well to encourage them to send letters. I hope this helps as I really think they are trying to invest in our neighborhood and are responsive the the requests and concerns of the neighbors.

  30. Just mailed mine!

    Happy to help but I am also disheartened that positive change requires so much effort on Beacon.

  31. While we’re on this bandwagon, does anyone happen to have the license request number for the Tipp and Drague? Having heard that they were approved only for a provisional license is a bit worrisome now that we know tavern opponents aren’t shy about sending letters to the WLCB.

    I’d like to be proactive and draft a second letter to the Board, in support of our other potential watering hole.

  32. Thanks for your support Cindy V and Wendi as usual. WSLCB has a thirty day comment period from date of application. Our thirty days passed and we were granted provisional approval. They grant final approval within two weeks of opening- strictly and onsite deal. ( but FYI, our # is 407765-2K.)
    We too have sent letters to WSLCB in support of the Oak, as did our friends and family in the hood. Cheers!

  33. Usually I do see when establishments are granted their liquor licenses, but I must have missed that one! Thanks for the info.

  34. “This is one of those cases where the pen is still mightier than the email message. And for a good reason.”

    I have to disagree. If someone wants to commit fraud, then they can do it just as easily (if not as cheaply) via snail mail. Just print out all the different emails you would would have sent, pull out ye old phone book and start picking out names in your hood. Sign with false name. Put the correct addresses on the envelope and BAM! Fraud complete. I’m not sure the book of stamps required would really be much of a showstopper for someone who wants to commit such a fraud.

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