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A man walked into Zeke’s Coffee on Rhode Island Avenue NE on Oct. 27 and sprayed some type of benign, “foul smelling liquid” all over the shop, according to a complaint filed in D.C. Superior Court on Oct. 30. The shop was closed to the public at the time, though the door was unlocked and its owner was inside.
According to the court documents, the man, Lorenzo Price, sprayed the liquid all over the store, including the food preparation area, and then left. About a minute later, he allegedly returned and shouted obscenities at the owner, John Kepner, threatening the safety of him, his family, and employees. The documents, which a lawyer for Zeke’s Coffee filed, do not indicate what type of liquid he sprayed.
Zeke’s is located on the 2300 block of Rhode Island Avenue NE—-a once-bustling stretch in Woodridge that is now filled with many vacant storefronts. Price’s address is listed as about a half a mile away from the shop.
As Aaron Wiener previously reported on Housing Complex, developers in the area are pushing to revive the area with “transitional retail”—-businesses that do not require walk-in traffic but promote walk-in traffic. Zeke’s, for instance, is a coffee shop that seems more likely to be found in wealthier, more dense neighborhoods. But this particular coffee shop only makes a third or less of its revenue from walk-in traffic, with the rest coming from the money it brings in from distributing the coffee it roasts in-house.
Kepner would not comment on the case. The defendant’s attorney said she was unable to comment on the ongoing litigation. A temporary restraining order hearing is scheduled for later this afternoon.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery