When Y&H last chatted with Capital City Diner co-owner Matt Ashburn, he was trying to convince Washington Gas to waive the $5,600 “contribution” fee that the utility was requesting to lay a new pipe from the gas main to the forthcoming restaurant at 1050 Bladensburg Rd NE in Trinidad.
Ashburn’s argument for waiving the fee is based on some wonky policy and legal matters — not to mention promises that Ashburn felt that WashGas made to Cap City — none of which I will attempt to explain here in detail. The bottom line, however, is this: WashGas isn’t budging. The utility wants it money.
On Aug. 20, Ashburn sent an e-mail to WashGas with one last pitch to get the utility to reconsider. It was an extremely detailed note, which Ashburn has posted on his recently created Cap City Diner blog. Ashburn makes a strong case — and ends his note with an understated emotional plea:
Capital City Diner is a very small business started by myself and another resident of the Trinidad neighborhood in Washington, DC. We firmly believe that the diner has the potential to become a strong community center and that it can be a catalyst for revitalization of this neighborhood. However, $5600 is a significant amount of money to us, and would create a relatively large burden.
The plea fell on deaf ears. Colin Shay, director of marketing and sales for Washington Gas, responded earlier today with a resounding no. Wrote Shay:
I have reviewed your e-mail below, requesting me to reconsider the decision to charge you a contribution for new gas service to your restaurant on Bladensburg Road in the District of Columbia. Washington Gas values its new business opportunities, and we have worked with you on this project, operating in good faith. As we’ve discussed with you on several occasions, your contribution was derived using the same methodology as is used for every application for new gas service in the District of Columbia. That methodology is described in our tariffs, specifically, General Service Provision 13. By giving your project special consideration that is not offered to all other District of Columbia applicants, Washington Gas could potentially be in violation of its tariff. Only an Order from the District of Columbia Public Service Commission can provide Washington Gas with the flexibility that you are requesting.
Y&H hasn’t heard back yet from Ashburn on what Cap City Diner will do now, but I’ll keep you posted. As noted earlier, the owners hope to open in September, since that’s when they start paying rent.
If all this bad news from the gas company weren’t enough, the diner’s owners, Ashburn and Patrick Carl, also got robbed in Trinidad over the weekend. The police apparently weren’t much more helpful than Washington Gas.