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It was more of a free-for-all, really, and it came courtesy of Yuca, a Cuban restaurant that was evicted after falling behind on its rent. United States Marshals showed up in the morning to oversee the tossing. The restaurant’s contents—yards of couches, dining sets, tables, dishes, shelves, stainless steel pots, and liquor bottles—were ejected neatly onto the sidewalk. A deputy said the furnishings would be the restaurant’s property for three business days, then would be hauled away as trash. But the deputy added that the owners already had an opportunity to take what they wanted. The Marshals left before lunchtime and then the rush started.
Relaxing on her new gold couch, Valencia Logan giggled and said that she just might throw a happy hour this weekend in honor of the plush find. Jazzie eyed a black-and-white checkered swivel chair that T was waiting to load into an SUV, along with a patio set. Some of the most ardent “shoppers” came from other restaurants. A guy named Mike grabbed low tables for an eatery he wouldn’t identify, then consulted frantically with an associate. Meanwhile, a man wearing a black chef’s tunic hefted square-topped tables into a waiting SUV.
A man rolled an empty hot-food cart past Caribou Coffee and walked away. Moments later, another man wheeled the cart across M Street. Making beeping noises, one guy pushed a dark-colored sofa down the sidewalk. But then another man claimed dibs on the couch, causing the first guy jab his finger menacingly at him and threaten to abscond with the couch if he walked away again. The second guy eventually dragged the sofa across the street with a friend’s help. Other folks drove off with potted palms and carried away bone-white saucers by hand.
“It’s like Christmastime. Christmas in June,” said Kristjen Renard, who works across the street. A woman smoking a cigarette surveyed the mayhem and remarked that she?d only ever seen people, not businesses, put out on the street. As the curbs cleared, cleaning staff from the building swept the empty spots between black lacquer chairs and bulky booths. “It’s hysterical. Really sad, but hysterical,” said Steve, who didn’t help himself to any goods.
Pauley Richardson, who hauled off a black-and-gold couch with burgundy accents for his day room, recalled the same thing happening to a tuxedo shop on Connecticut Avenue a while back. “And I became the proud owner of a nice tux then, too,” he said.