Eastern Market Bullfrog Bagels Liquor License Application Off To Rocky Start

The future home of Bullfrog Bagels at 317 7th Street, SE, near Eastern Market

The future home of Bullfrog Bagels at 317 7th Street, SE, near Eastern Market

Rear of Bullfrog Bagels.

Rear of Bullfrog Bagels.

Condo complex seen from the rear of Bullfrog Bagels. Owners fear early morning bagel deliveries.

Eastern Market Bullfrog Bagels Liquor License Application Off To Rocky Start

Owner Starts Off on Wrong Foot with Neighbors

by Larry Janezich

Last night, the continuing restaurant-vs-Capitol Hill resident drama was on full display at ANC6B’s Alcohol Beverage Committee meeting.  Under consideration was the application of a restaurant liquor license for Bullfrog Bagels opening next year at 317th Street, SE, near Eastern Market.  The opening was first reported on CHC, here:   http://bit.ly/1ylkCr1.

The owner of Bullfrog Bagels – Jeremiah Cohen – didn’t help his cause much when he first insulted nearby residents, and then threatened to make their quality of life worse by using even more disruptive delivery practices if he didn’t get to deliver bagels through the rear entrance of his 7th Street bagel shop daily between 3am and 4am.  One of their main objections is the early morning bagel deliveries.

Nearby neighbors have lawyered up in the person of Capitol Hill attorney Ellen Opper-Weiner to help them negotiate a settlement agreement with Cohen to minimize the impact of the restaurant on their quality of life.

Three major issues concern residents:  hours of operation, noise control from mechanicals, and Cohen’s insistence that the daily bagel deliveries between 3am and 4am occur through the restaurant’s rear door, which is overlooked not only by the bedrooms of living quarters above the adjacent retail shops, but also those of the large condo project across the alley.

As the result of recent meetings with Opper-Weiner, Cohen submitted a proposed settlement agreement detailing restrictions on business practices.  Such agreements are a routine part of alcohol beverage licenses and are used to address concerns the ANC and neighbors have regarding the business’operation.  Recently, mobilized neighbors have had considerable success in bringing better or best operation practices to food and drink outlets on Barracks Row, 7th Street, SE; and Pennsylvania Avenue, SE.

Cohen characterized the proffered agreement as doing “a good job of trying to address neighbors’ concerns.”  Opper-Weiner said that while some progress has been made the three major concerns listed above remain outstanding.  Commissioner Kirsten Oldenburg appeared to have little sympathy for residents, coming down squarely on the side of the restaurant saying, “I think this is a fine settlement agreement from my perspective.”

Cohen wants to serve alcohol until midnight on weekends and 11pm on weekdays both inside his restaurant and at a proposed outside café and on a front balcony of the building overlooking the street.  Neighbors want him to scale that back to 10pm during the week and 11pm weekends.  In addition, neighbors want best practices sound abatement for the roof top mechanicals and they want deliveries through the front of the restaurant, which Cohen says is not possible because his bagel racks cannot negotiate the stairs on the front entrance.  Commissioner Diane Hoskins, in whose single member district the restaurant resides, pushed for no deliveries before 7am.

Calling the objections “a classic NIMBY situation” the testy Cohen piled on, adding that the alternative “would be to say, ‘screw it.  I’ll bring a Sysco truck into the alley at 7:01 every day and leave it idling while we unload – it will drive you guys crazy….I’ll hire trucks you hate that will result in pollution, noise and traffic jams.  I’m offering not to do any of that by bringing a small vehicle into the alley early in the morning.  I’ve made an incredible offer – no Sysco truck – a quiet truck – no vendors in the alley – this is an amazing offer.’”

As to how alcohol will play into the menu of a bagel shop, Cohen was somewhat unclear other than saying that as the bagel demand tapers off around 11am, he hopes to offer lunch and brunch instead of the usual bagel shop practice of switching to subs, pizza, and burgers.  Though no mention was made last night, it’s been reported elsewhere that dinner will be served as well.

Commissioner Nick Burger suggested a trial period to “see how it goes.”  Linda Elliott, a resident who has been instrumental in organizing neighbors to push for best practices, pointed out that since the restaurant will not open before the license renewal period next spring, the trial period will be three years and three months.

After the committee voted to take no position regarding a recommendation to the full ANC which meets next Tuesday, pending further meetings between Cohen and neighbors, one of the residents spoke up and referring to Cohen’s remarks stated, “…threatening me is not appropriate.”  Cohen’s denied that he was threatening anybody, saying, “I was just pointing out what was better for the neighborhood.”

In a subsequent conversation with Opper-Weiner, the attorney told CHC that language restricting early morning deliveries may be moot, citing a conversation earlier today with the Counsel to DDOT in which she says he affirmed that DC regulations prohibit loading and unloading in spaces marked by No Parking/No Standing Anytime signage.  Such signage currently exists in the alley behind Bullfrog Bagels.  Whether DDOT will enforce the regulations at 3am is uncertain.



Filed under Uncategorized

14 responses to “Eastern Market Bullfrog Bagels Liquor License Application Off To Rocky Start

  1. CDooge@aol.com

    What’s behind the the store? Isn’t it a condo building with double glazed windows? Really, you moved there wanting all the conveniences of living next to a retail corridor and are worried about the sound that bagels make? What’s next, shutting down Pa. Ave. to fire trucks and ambulances? Welcome to the city.

    • John

      I agree. I fail to see how the unloading of bagels is more disruptive than living between Pennsylvania Avenue and Eastern Market.

      And how does Linda Elliott get involved? She isn’t an elected official and she doesn’t even live on this block. My guess is she wouldn’t have any standing in this issue at all.

      • Craig D'Ooge

        I my experience, there are three types of people who “get involved” with the ANCs. 1) retired this and thats who miss being relevant 2) A-types who come home from the office, and just can’t shut it down 3) ambitious young people who see the ANC as the first step to gaining entry into the vocation of this company town. I don’t blame local entrepreneurs for getting frustrated by individuals who want to leverage the little influence they have by holding up the process for pet peeves, or personal preferences. cf all the hoops that a local resident made the owner of the old “Man in the Green Hat” site at Mass, and Second NE jump through to open a restaurant in a vacant building because that resident testified that she didn’t go out at night and preferred to stay home and watch PBS. There ought to be an award for anyone who persists in starting a business on the Hill, where any single individual, who doesn’t even have to have “standing” can tie up the process. The District and the Federal Government created a monster, IMHO, when they decided to try to teach DC the baby steps of Home Rule by creating the ANC fiefdoms. Originally, the legislation required them to “reflect” community opinion and advise the city on same, which is a nice conceit, but now they are completed untethered from that responsibility and only required to “consider” community opinion. And who determines if an opinion has been “considered” by them? Why they do, of course.

  2. D Money

    doesnt he realize that Diane Hoskins lives in the condo building they are referencing?

  3. kandc

    Interesting perspectives! The condo owners buy their units knowing what the rules are, but you guys seem to think that does not matter. It is the business that is trying to change the rules for deliveries and use of the alley. Go back there and look at the signs and understand what the current rules are. Why should a business be allowed to come in, knowing what the rules are, and demand that the rules be changed for their convenience, regardless of what the people around them want. I do not live anywhere near this, but your warped perspectives needed to be answered.

    Craig, on your comments about ANCs I couldn’t agree more. The ANCs are ‘way past their useful date. But now they want to give civic associations and the like “great weight” just like the ANCs–just another way to give special interests more influence all at the expense of individual constituents. Go and testify on Dec. 15 before the council committee and suggest that they get rid of ANCs and give “great weight” ONLY to individual citizens. Maybe then our Councilmembers will start doing their jobs instead of hiding behind ANCs and civic associations.

    • Craig D'Ooge

      ANC6C is particularly bad..they seldom post their upcoming agenda by the time specified in their bylaws, and no longer provide transcripts of their “considerations,” nor reflect back to the city any dissent presented during their “hearings.” When I asked about it, the Chairperson said they just let individuals let the city know what they think, when the whole purpose of a public “hearing” is to give a voice to the community. And then they wonder why more people don’t show up to participate in the charade. They fire off a lot of letters full of disparaging remarks about DC officials, but I think the city is learning just how much weight to give them. Thanks for the tip about the Dec. 15 hearing.

  4. JPW

    The entire neighborhood wants this bagel store to open except for the typical few who love to complain about anything and everything. Team Jeremiah Cohen all the way.

  5. I have been mourning the demise of Chesapeake Bagels on PA Ave. since they closed a very long time ago–but as much as I want decent bagels conveniently close to my house, I don’t want them at the expense of my neighbors or at the expense of reasonable rules that currently exist. The shop owner knew all about these problems–the steps in front of his shop that preclude easy deliveries, the alley rules forbidding loading–before he bought that store. That it is inconvenient for him is unfortunate, but not unforeseen. It is entirely reasonable for neighbors to raise concerns–it’s called democracy.

    • Craig D'Ooge

      Anyone who remembers Chesapeake Bagels has my respect, but I think it is also reasonable for neighbors to raise reasonable concerns. That’s called responsible democracy, which without responsibility is just obstruction. Now, for extra points, can you tell me the name of that fancy restaurant that I believed open in the Chesapeake Bagel space…I’ve been trying to remember the name of that early white linen place.

  6. anon

    Interesting that he basically threatens neighbors with Sysco trucks vs. small scale delivery vehicle, yet BOTH options violate existing public space laws. Not to suggest that laws governing public space usage are somehow sacrosanct, but I’d prefer to understand the rationale for the existing ‘No Parking/No Standing’ rule in the alley rather than overturning it just because everyone’s jonesing for a halfway decent bagel

    fwiw – Bullfrog’s quality consistency has been seriously lacking as they’ve expanded their production. Mr. Cohen would be advised to refocus on his core business of making bagels for which consumers are willing to significantly overpay. An equal to superior genuine NY bagel costs 1/2 the cost of Bullfrog.

  7. Pingback: Hill Buzz | The Hill is Home