Planned meetings this week could prove critical in hot dog vendor Manouchchehr Nava’s fight to win a home on GW’s campus. Nava, known to students as “Manouch,” has violated city ordinances for the past 16 years by selling hot dogs to students after a city-wide 1:30 a.m. curfew.
Nava regularly receives fines for operating his stand outside Tower Records as late as 3 a.m. His most recent fine came Dec. 20. He has now begun moving his cart onto GW-owned driveway in front of the Media and Public Affairs building to avoid fines.
Student Association President Roger Kapoor said he is making an effort to bring Nava on to campus in order to allow him to stay open.
Kapoor said he has scheduled meetings this week with Metropolitan Police Lieutenant Phillip Lanciano and GW Managing Director for Business Services Michael Peller.
“All of these meetings are to find out what our options and legal ramifications are to help us fulfill our goal,” Kapoor said. “First we have to find out what GW’s contract is with Aramark Food Services, and then we are going to look into exemptions in the law.”
Peller could not be reached for comment on GW’s position on the issue last week.
GW currently holds an exclusive contract with Aramark for all on-campus food services.
Nava said he wrote a letter to Peller after winter break asking to move his stand permanently to the space in front of the MPA building on 21st Street.
Nava said he is not sure whether Peller has received the letter.
“If he could let me work there, I would have students help me pull my cart over at 1:00 a.m. so I could avoid city ordinances,” Nava said. “This would only be a one-minute operation.”
Assistant Vice President of Student and Academic Support Services Mike Gargano said allowing Nava to serve on campus will be difficult.
Gargano said all food-related decisions come out of a contract with Aramark Food Service.
“This goes beyond Manouch,” he said.
Gargano said it might be easier to push the city to adjust its ordinances: “It is not GW’s problem – it is something that should be looked into with the city,” he said.
Kapoor called Nava’s late-night move to GW property a temporary solution “so he could continue to serve the community.”
“Nobody has given me official permission to move my cart onto that spot,” Nava said. “I am just doing it out of respect for the officers who have been fining me. The school has not said anything to me about this yet.”
Nava said he prefers the MPA building to Kogan Plaza. Other vendors have set up shop outside the plaza.
“Kogan Plaza may be more business-oriented, but I am not a good business man,” Nava said. “When it comes to choosing a spot, I always choose beauty first; and the spot in front of SMPA is ideal.”
A lot of work has already gone into Nava’s cause, but both Kapoor and Nava agree that it will be a lengthy process.
“After next week’s meetings, we will be able to tell how long exactly this process will take,” Kapoor said. “The SA is determined and committed to the cause, and we urge patience among students.”
Kapoor suggested that students write letters to MPD to show their concern for Nava’s business.
Kapoor said bringing Nava onto campus will be a difficult task because of GW’s Aramark contract.
“All of this involves a lot of administrative meeting and a lot of legal investigation,” Kapoor said. Kapoor has already written Nava a letter in support of his services on campus, so that Nava can show officers that he does have student backing.
Nava is optimistic about the future.
“It is like the movie Gladiator,” Nava said. “If you won the crowd, then it is a plus. And I think I have won the crowd.”