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.
5 responses to “Neighbors’ Persistence Wins Concessions from Owner of Rose’s Luxury/Elaine’s”
I attended many meetings on this topic in ANC 6B with Commissioner Loots and we have been fully engaged in facilitating discussions between the neighbors. The agreements with Elaine’s One, & pizza and the Bullfrog Bagels site have been truly a joint effort between the neighbors, ANC 6B and the applicants.
Nice work. This will go a long way to improve conditions on the hill.
I just don’t understand why restaurant owners must be dragged, kicking and screaming, to adopt ‘best practices.’ Don’t they want locals to like their establishments?
I’d like to commend the efforts of the neighbors and new Commissioners for making this happen. In the past the neighbors have been on their own and usually at odds with the Commissioners. I’d like to see these practices be a condition for new bars and restaurants and for renewals of liquor licenses of establishments that back on to residential alleys, such as the east side of 8th Street (north and south of Pennsylvania Avenue) although the latter may be wishful thinking.
The neighbors very much appreciate the critical role that both the current and past commissioners of ANC6B have played whenever best practices have been adopted by restauranteurs or landlords. In the case of Elaine’s, we owe special thanks to Commissioner James Loots for crafting settlement agreement language that addressed lingering concerns regarding negotiated trash and grease handling practices. We’re also very appreciative of Commissioners Chander Jayaraman and Diane Hoskins (as well as others on the ANC), who invested a great deal of time in understanding what the neighbors have learned as a result of hundreds of hours working with restaurant owners, landlords, city officials, and various experts to determine how to best mitigate the negative health, environmental, and quality of life effects that a heavy concentration of restaurants can have on mixed use neighborhoods. Most of all, we very much appreciate the community minded restauranteurs and landlords who have stepped up to the challenge of creatively addressing a development problem that, if unaddressed, will eventually hurt everyone. Mitigating the negative effect of concentrated restaurant development is not difficult. But it does require the commitment of restaurant owners and landlords, not just government officials and residents.