Neighbors’ Persistence Wins Concessions from Owner of Rose’s Luxury/Elaine’s
by Larry Janezich
Plagued by on-going trash, rodent, odor, and noise issues associated with Barracks Row restaurants, a coalition of residential neighbors, through organization and persistence, have been rewarded with much – not all – they wanted regarding conditions attached to the opening of “Elaine’s” – Aaron Silverman’s proposed 40-seat sister restaurant to Rose’s Luxury in the space now occupied by Homebody. .
Neighbors have met with Silverman six times over the last three months in an effort to convince him to exceed the standards currently followed by many of his fellow Barracks Row restauranteurs; to his credit, they have told ANC6B, he has agreed to many of their requests. The tougher standards were formalized in a Settlement Agreement specifying operating conditions which was agreed to by a 10-0 vote by the ANC last Tuesday night. The Settlement Agreement was a pre-condition to the ANC’s and neighbor’s support for Silverman’s application for a liquor license for the new location.
Some of the key items in the agreement include:
Interior storage of grease and non-recyclable trash.
Direct access to interior trash storage area from interior of premises.
No use of exterior doors of the trash storage room for purposes of disposing of trash or grease.
Use of “best commercially reasonable efforts” to store grease within interior of the premises (not the trash room) and” to store recycling within the indoor trash storage room.” (The “best effort clause” is not a mandate but strongly encourages use of best practices.)
Additional concerns which the neighbors raised but which were not made part of the Settlement Agreement include:
Concerns whether the space behind Elaine’s for indoor trash and grease storage is big enough to be functional.
Silverman says that his plan for the restaurant to be open only four days a week as well as the kinds of dishes the menu will offer will serve to address some of these concerns.
Commissioner James Loots – who represents the Single Member District in which Rose’s Luxury and Elaine’s falls – cited “overwhelming” response from the community in support of the Settlement Agreement. What Loots did not say was the email traffic was in support of the Settlement Agreement which – though negotiated by Loots and Silverman – came about as the result of meetings between Silverman and neighbors. Like many city agencies, and especially with a restaurant of the caliber of Rose’s Luxury (and what is expected to be the caliber of Elaine’s), the predisposition of the ANC is often to give the restaurant the benefit of the doubt. Clearly, in this instance, it is the nearby residents, having the most at stake, who deserve the credit for pressuring the ANC and Silverman to set a higher sanitation standard, just as they did with The Ugly Mug, Chipotle, and & Pizza. Loots has been on record supporting best practices that include indoor trash storage for new restaurants on Barracks Row.
Residents north of Pennsylvania Avenue – faced with their own threats from restaurant development near Eastern Market – have found common cause with neighbors south of Pennsylvania Avenue and weighed in in support of higher operating standards. Recently, the north/south coalition convinced the owners of the future home of Bullfrog Bagels at 317 7th Street to meet best practices for indoor trash storage.
Meanwhile, residents near H Street, NE, facing similar problems, have found a sympathetic ear in Commissioner Omar Mahmud, Chair of the ANC6A’s Transportation and Public Space Committee. He has taken the lead in convening a meeting of city agencies and residents regarding restaurant issues affecting residents backing up to H Street. Mayor Bowser’s Ward Six representatives Seth Shapiro (former owner of the Silver Spork near Eastern Market), and his team mate Frank Maduro, have been instrumental in assisting neighbors address these issues. However, the success of the residents near Barracks Row suggests there is no substitute for direct involvement and action.