We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

The item in the 6/6 City Desk fails to do justice to the issue of Don Juan’s liquor-license renewal. Neighborhood resident Gregg Edwards says, “You can’t have an interesting strip with ethnic restaurants if they can’t sell liquor.” ANC commissioner Omar Zavala-Cruz tries to further politicize the problem by accusing the wealthy of “terrorizing” Don Juan’s bar, which caters to lower-income patrons. These gentlemen do not reside across the street from Don Juan’s, and do not appreciate or understand the impact this establishment has had on our community. This is not a political issue. This is not a race issue. This is about how to run a business in a neighborhood without driving out

the residents.

We who live on 17th Street have been terrorized by Don Juan’s, not the other way around. I have lived at this location in Mount Pleasant for 10 years. Prior to Don Juan opening his restaurant a few years ago, the location was a small variety store and a takeout. The takeout restaurant still exists. When Don Juan converted the variety store into a restaurant, about a year before he died, it was a bright, inviting, interesting place—a nice place to go eat and look out on the happenings in Mount Pleasant and the kind of place of which Mr. Edwards speaks. Now, I think Don Juan would be ashamed to see his name over the door.

Yes, it is an eyesore—the brick façade has been painted a garish blue and orange. Some of the windows have been darkened with the cheap plastic film that you see on car windows; others have been treated with bent and broken Venetian blinds; still others are blocked with beer signs and posters. More than being an eyesore, however, Don Juan’s assaults all of our senses—sight, hearing, smell, touch, the sense of peace, quietude, and wholesomeness that a residential neighborhood should have—and used to have more of—before Don Juan’s became a dive. The grounds outside the bar are disgusting. The space around each tree reeks of urine. I have spread lime in these areas, maintaining them like public latrines, in a vain attempt to keep down the smell. The tree boxes are a mosaic of bottle caps and broken glass embedded in the dirt. I have been unable to grow grass in them. We have a rat problem that did not exist a few years ago.

The noise generated by Don Juan’s is incredible. Two or three times a day, seven days a week, our eardrums are assaulted by the thunder of empty beer bottles being dumped into recycling bins directly across the street from our homes. Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, this noise invades our homes at 1 and 2 o’clock in the morning. I have implored them to find some quieter way of handling their recycling, and have suggested various alternatives, with no result.

I have been robbed, assaulted, and had my bicycle vandalized by patrons of the bar, and I have been verbally threatened with physical harm by its manager. I can’t begin to count the number of empty beer bottles I have picked up that were discarded along our sidewalks by people partying out on our street after Don Juan’s closes. These drunks carouse until all hours of the night, and then dump their six-packs and cases outside our residences before they drive home. I wish I knew where these people live, so I could deposit their trash where it belongs. I doubt that any of these people are Commissioner Zavala-Cruz’s constituents.

Having interesting restaurants on Mount Pleasant Street would be nice, but they must be operated so as not to constitute a nuisance to the neighbors. I would invite Messrs. Edwards and Zavala-Cruz to try living across the street from Don Juan’s, and see if they don’t agree that the operation of this establishment is a disgrace. Don Juan’s is not an interesting restaurant—it is a noisy, filthy, unwholesome nuisance. We don’t need nuisances on Mount Pleasant Street.

Mount Pleasant

via the Internet