Waid Sainvil, the owner of Waid's Haitian Cuisine & Lounge in the Central District, says the city has unfairly singled out his establishment. Citing violence in the area, Seattle police have asked the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) to revoke his liquor license—the kiss of death for any bar.
But Sainvil insists he's a victim of location. The neighborhood around his 12th Avenue and East Jefferson Street establishment is a hotbed of drug and gang activity, he says. "I tell my employees if they see anything suspicious, call 911; so everything that happens on that block, they pin on me. I've banned certain people from entering my bar. We have no drugs, no guns, no violence here."
However, the Seattle Police Department sent a letter to the state in February objecting to the renewal of the bar's liquor license, citing five fights outside the bar involving "Waid's patrons." Police say the bar has also been cited three times in the last year for serving minors. In one instance, a 19-year-old crashed her car after allegedly drinking at the bar—while still wearing her drink-authorization band from Waid's. According to the case report, Sainvil even admitted to serving alcohol to the minor.
The board's licensing director has made the initial decision not to renew Waid's license. The WSLCB's three-member board must now make the final decision. (The city tried to revoke Waid's license in 2008 and was overruled by the board.) Meanwhile, Sainvil is fighting to keep his bar. He's requested a hearing with an administrative law judge, whose decision will be weighed by the review board. "I run the only Haitian restaurant in the Northwest," Sainvil says. "All I'm trying to do is bring people together and show them good Haitian food and a good time. I'm not a bad guy."
This story has been updated since its original publication.