The Seamier Side of the Barracks Row Restaurants Backing Up to 7th Street
7th Street Alley Between E and F Streets, SE, on October 2, 2013, Looking South
7th Street Alley Between E and F Streets, SE, October 2, 2013, Looking North
Barracks Row Neighbors Mobilize Against “Out of Control” Alley
ANC Commissioner Asked to Broker Meeting with Restaurateurs, City
by Larry Janezich
Barracks Row neighbors along 7th Street, backing up to the alley which services numerous popular Barracks Row restaurants between E and G Streets, including The Chesapeake Room, Ted’s Bulletin, Fusion Grill, Las Placitas, Matchbox, Ambar, Cava, and Lavagna, are asking ANC6B Commissioner Phil Peisch to organize a meeting including restaurant owners, 7th Street neighbors, and city officials, to address the deplorable and unsanitary conditions of their common alley.
Both residents and restaurateurs are unhappy with the alley. On August 29, Matchbox Food Group vice president Fred Herrmann told ANC6b’s ABC Committee during a liquor license renewal hearing, that much of the problem stems from the surfacing of the alley itself which collects stagnant water. He cited problems with rats, grease and odors, saying “it stinks.” Hermann said he had asked the DC Restaurant Association to intercede with the city to address the problem.
Nevertheless, two weeks after Herrmann’s appearance before the ANC Committee, an investigation by the city’s Environmental Crimes Unit prompted by a complaint regarding a grease spill in the alley resulted in a fine to Fusion Grill and a warning to every other restaurant in the block; all of them had grease containers not up to code and were an attractant to rodents.
The idea for a summit grew out of a suggestion from a city inspector who offered to make herself available on any of six days between October 21 and 31 to meet with all of the restaurant owners on the alley to review with them, as a group, what they need to do to comply with city code. Neighbors subsequently appealed to ANC6b commissioner Phil Peisch to organize such a meeting, in hopes that a unified approach to the problems and a demonstration of cooperation from restaurants plus input from the Restaurant Association will spur the city to resurface the alley and resolve the drainage problems.
Contacted for his reaction yesterday, Peisch said, “I just heard about this idea a few hours ago, but I think it’s a great idea. The alley behind the west side of the 500 block of 8th Street SE is out of control, and the restaurants that use that alley need to take ownership of the problem. I think a meeting with the restaurants is a step in that direction. In addition, DDOT needs to step-up and fix the condition of the alley. The alley is not designed to withstand the large commercial vehicles that use it, and it is riddled with potholes. The potholes create standing water – and also fill with grease and run-off from the dumpsters – which exacerbates the rodent problem. I’ve been reaching out to DDOT since July about this issue and, although they’ve finally committed to repaving, they’ve provided no timetable for when that repaving may occur or any further detail about what they plan to do.”
Asked how he intended to proceed, Peisch said he was “not sure about logistics for setting up the meeting.” He also said, the “timetable for getting this situation resolved is asap, but (realistically) I expect this to be a long-term effort to really get the meaningful changes that are necessary.”
Alley surfacing aside, there are other issues which need to be addressed – primarily by the restaurants. The most critical problems, in addition to alley surface and draining according to one neighbor who has devoted considerable time and effort to identifying the main alley issues:
- Food waste dumpsters are not being closed
- Many restaurants do not have inside garbage storage (Krazy Burger and Rose’s Luxury do have inside garbage storage)
- Restaurants do not all use compacting dumpsters
Below is a contact list for government agencies for complaints about specific outside rat, trash, and food safety issues which being circulated among 7th Street neighbors.
OUTSIDE RAT AND TRASH ISSUES
Mr. Gabriel Curtis, Supervisory Pest Controller for the Rodent Control Division, Department of Public Works, 202 724-8540 firstname.lastname@example.org
USED GREASE ISSUES
Ms. Anita Chavis, Environmental Crimes Investigator, Department of Public Works,
202 576-9404, Office: 202 645-7190 email@example.com
FOOD SAFETY (Trash, rats, grease, stagnant water, etc., that may be affecting the safety of the food inside an establishment)
Ms. Jacqueline Coleman Supervisory Sanitarian, Food Safety and Hygiene Inspection Services Division, Department of Health, 202 442-5928 firstname.lastname@example.org
Lenard Harrison, Supervisory Code Enforcement Inspector with the Department of Health, 202 442-5864 Lenard.email@example.com