Shot to hell: Club Heaven & Hell in Adams Morgan hit with $90,000 fine, 90-day license suspension

They’re having a devil of a time.

Longtime Adams Morgan staple Club Heaven & Hell has been slapped with a $90,000 fine and a 90-day liquor license suspension after D.C.s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABCB) found that the bar illegally outsourced security and served a customer a drink with cleaning fluid in it but failed to fill out an incident report.

According to court documents, the bar faced five charges revolving around violations of the establishment’s security plan and letting people walk out with open alcohol containers.

One charge involves an Aug. 7, 2018, violation of the bar’s security plan, which requires club security to check IDs at the door. Instead, the ABCB found that Heaven & Hell allowed a promoter to control security.

In that incident, Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) investigators “observed two people operating a table outside the Respondent’s establishment and collecting money.” They worked for the promoter, not Heaven & Hell, and they had open bottles of beer on public property.

Further, ABRA investigators said they watched people walk inside the bar without having their IDs checked.

Another incident involves Heaven & Hell owner Mehari Woldemariam accidentally spiking a patron’s Long Island Iced Tea with Foam-Brite Condenser Coil Cleaner in November of last year. Woldemariam admitted he served the poisoned drink, and said the mistake happened because it looked like “sour mix.” He called 911 for the customer.

The bar isn’t being directly penalized for that mistake and instead is being punished for failing to fill out an incident report.

“While the Respondent claims he filled out an incident report, the Board does not credit this statement because the Respondent has never shown it to ABRA or the Board, which merits an adverse inference that the report does not exist,” court documents read.

One of five charges was dismissed for lack of evidence. Another charge resulted in a warning. The three other charges being upheld each come with a $30,000 fine and 30-day liquor license suspension totaling $90,000 and 90 days. The suspension starts Nov. 1 and runs through Jan. 29, 2020.

D.C. bar blog Barred in DC, which first reported news of the fine, speculates that given the size of the fine and the length of the license suspension, Heaven & Hell might never reopen.

Read the D.C. ABRA’s findings.

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Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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