The Issue: The old Foggy Bottom Grocery at 21st and F Streets was known by most George Washington University students as “the sketchy purple place”- perfect for last-minute beer runs, and little else. In June, a former GWU Student Association president bought the place and started renovating it with the intention of serving pizza and sandwiches at “FoBoGro” until 2 a.m. weekdays and 3 a.m. weeknights. But the West End Citizens Association (WECA) isn’t thrilled about catering to the late-night munchy crowd; they filed a petition and argued in an ANC meeting last week that the new owner is ignoring D.C. zoning regulations and is likely to disrupt the neighborhood.
No Late Night Munchies: The WECA says that late hours and kitchen-prepared food were also requested by predecessors, and rejected for good reason: Barbara Kahlow, spokesman for WECA, told City Desk “the only people who support this are [GW] students, who live on campus or in frats. It’s the homeowners we want to protect.” In terms of the new food, Kahlow likens the case to a Georgetown Papa John’s that was unable to extend its original restaurant zoning into take-out. In terms of the requested hours, she says: “These hours in a residential zone are ridiculous.”
Munch Away: New owner Kris Hart says the certificate of occupancy he obtained in August listed the space as both a grocery store and sandwich shop. As for staying open late, he wants both to appease the nearby residential community – which he believes isn’t very well represented by the WECA, on which he sits – and fill a void in late-night food on campus: “The overwhelming majority are just excited we’re taking a building that was falling into complete disrepair and putting hundreds of thousands of dollars into it,” he told the GW Hatchet.
Next Step: The age-old riley students vs. tax-paying residents debate continues: The issue will be raised again at an ANC meeting next month.
Image by Dana Liebelson