A months-long dispute between Shaw residents and the owner of Eighteenth Street Lounge over the nightclub’s planned relocation to Blagden Alley erupted into an alleged assault last month, according to a DC police report obtained by Washingtonian.
Per the report, police were summoned the night of March 20 after a resident reported that Farid Nouri, owner of Eighteenth Street Lounge, was driving his Tesla through Blagden Alley and adjoining Naylor Court, making “multiple passes” and idling in front of “specific addresses” while “blasting music and loud sirens and horns from his vehicle.” The resident also claimed to have seen “the suspect exit his vehicle and grab the handle of [her son’s] vehicle, slamming [the car door] multiple times against his leg causing injury.” (Washingtonian reviewed multiple videos that show the Tesla roving various parts of the alley, sometimes idling, while blasting clubby music and honking the horn, but did not see video of the alleged assault with the car door.)
When police responded to the incident, officers witnessed Nouri’s Tesla return to the alley “blasting sirens and honking his horn.” They ran the car’s plates, which confirmed that the vehicle belonged to Nouri. At least one neighbor claimed to have identified Nouri as the driver at the time of the incident.
According to the police filing, a group of Blagden Alley residents claim that Nouri has made them “fear for their safety, feel alarmed, disturbed, frightened, and suffer emotional distress.” Reached by phone, Nouri declined to comment for this story.
After a 25-year run in Dupont Circle, Eighteenth Street Lounge shuttered in 2020, unable to weather Covid closures. Last June, Nouri announced that the nightclub would reopen in Blagden Alley, a location where private residences are densely packed among restaurants and other businesses.
Ever since, neighbors have been fighting to get the city to deny Eighteenth Street Lounge a liquor license, which would effectively scuttle its reopening plans. So far, they have not succeeded, but they hope that Nouri’s alleged behavior on March 20th will change that. A neighborhood group called the Blagden Alley Naylor Court Association has submitted a motion with the DC Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, asking them to consider Nouri’s alleged behavior in determining whether to grant the license.
The motion claims that the events of March 20 were an “obvious intent to intimidate and exact retribution on the members of the community that protested ESL’s license.” The neighborhood group adds: “This reaction, before Mr. Nouri even receives a license, begs the question of what his conduct will look like should the Board grant his application, further emboldening and rewarding his criminal conduct.”
Robert Goldberg, chair of the neighborhood group, tells Washingtonian that he and other neighbors have protested the liquor license because they’re concerned about the potential for the club to bring crime and late-night noise to the area.
While Goldberg acknowledges that the area is already full of bars, he says he worries that Eighteenth Street Lounge would still be out of place. “We are a historic district of historic buildings,” he says, “so none of these buildings were designed to be nightclubs. They are row homes.” Blagden Alley “has a very significant historical impact,” he adds, “and the businesses and residents that live within the environment are really respectful of that.”