Alchohol Fuels Once-Dry Hyattsville’s Rebirth

Pizzeria Paradiso Hyattsville beer taps microbrew

Hyattsville was once a dry town, a place where you couldn’t get anything stronger than a Coca-Cola at a soda shop on Baltimore Avenue.

Things have changed, to say the least. The city’s code, updated in 1983, now allows liquor licenses, and since 2002 Hyattsville has even had its own brewery, Franklin’s, located around the corner from where the soda shop once was.

The rebirth of Route 1 has spurred even more change. Busboys and Poets, which opened in 2011, has a thriving cocktail bar; Yes! Organic Market, which opened that same year, has an extensive beer and wine selection and even had to get state approval to use a front entrance due to a nearby church.

Beer and wine have become a draw for local events.

In 2016, an annual arts gathering was renamed the Hyattsville Arts and Ales Festival, with the Brewers Association of Maryland joining as a co-sponsor. A neighborhood wine tour called the Vine Crawl is a long-running institution. The Hyattsville Summer Jam series features a beer and wine garden and this year even featured a special “Honeyville” ale from  Calvert Brewing Co. in Upper Marlboro.

More is coming. The area south of downtown will soon have enough spots for a pub crawl.

Pizzeria Paradiso, which is known as much for its impressive beer selection as it is for pizza, opened a new restaurant in the old Marche building. Down the street, Maryland Meadworks is moving in, while Streetcar 82 Brewing Co. is setting up shop around the corner. One of the owners of Handsome Beer Co. also lives in Hyattsville, though they brew their beer out of town.

Hyattsville is hardly alone in this change. Takoma Park was also dry, and stayed that way thanks to the influence of the headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, but a few years ago it began allowing beer and wine sales.

The craft-beer revolution that began in the 1980s has turned alcohol’s reputation around, with some even arguing that craft breweries are either a sign of civic health or perhaps even a cause of it.

“One final marker, perhaps the most reliable: A city on the way back will have one or more craft breweries, and probably some small distilleries too,” wrote James Fallows in The Atlantic last year. “A town that has craft breweries also has a certain kind of entrepreneur, and a critical mass of mainly young (except for me) customers. You may think I’m joking, but just try to find an exception.”

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2 Responses to Alchohol Fuels Once-Dry Hyattsville’s Rebirth

  1. Justin says:

    I think it would be good for someone to explore why there aren’t any actual neighborhood bars in Hyattsville (not including the ones inside restaurants). I’m guessing there is some sort of local city ordinance in the way of this, as someone has surely thought of this arleady. If there is an ordinance that’s in the way of this, has anyone looked into changing it? What do our city leaders think?

    A couple neighborhood/dive bars would be perfect for Hyattsville. Restaurant bars just aren’t the same vibe and feel…often times crowded and less intimate.

  2. Chris says:

    Class A liquor licenses are still prohibited by state law in the City of Hyattsville. That statute survived the recent reorganization of the state’s voluminous alcohol-control laws. However, that didn’t stop the Prince George’s Co. liquor board from granting a Class A license to Town Center Liquors a couple years ago.

    Some would say the shenanigans of the liquor board — which have attracted the attention of the FBI recently and led to arrests — are even more quaint than the relic of Hyattsville as a “dry city” that has survived in the state code.

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