Neighborhood governing group moves to end dispute with local grocery store

Media Credit: Donna Armstrong | Hatchet Photographer

Edward Grandis, a lawyer representing FoBoGro's owners, (left) speaks alongside his client Seth Rosenzweig at a Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting Wednesday night.

Updated: Feb. 22, 2018 at 9:59 p.m.

A local neighborhood group announced an agreement Wednesday to end a dispute with an area grocery store over its liquor license.

The Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission announced a series of measures at its meeting Wednesday designed to stop the commission’s protest of FoBoGro’s liquor license and address community complaints about the store.

The ANC has been protesting FoBoGro’s license since at least November following complaints about noise, late-night loitering and minors being able to purchase alcohol at the store.

Edward Grandis, a lawyer representing FoBoGro’s owners, said his clients have been working to address the neighborhood’s concerns. He said the store now boasts a “Wall of Shame,” featuring pictures of people who attempt to buy alcohol from the store underage. Grandis said the establishment also uses machines to capture fake IDs, which employees then confiscate.

“We want the community to know that underage drinking is not tolerated,” Grandis said at the meeting.

The store’s license was suspended for five days in December after city regulators twice found that minors were able to purchase alcohol at the store.

Commissioners voted unanimously to adopt an outline of a settlement between FoBoGro’s owners and the ANC designed to increase communication between the two parties to resolve issues more quickly.

“It was an opportunity to I think hit the reset button on this relationship as there is a transition in management underway,” Commissioner Patrick Kennedy said.

The meeting also included an appearance by Ed Lazere, the former executive director of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute who is running for D.C. Council chairman in an upcoming election. Lazere spoke to commissioners and constituents at the meeting about his platform and his motivation to enter the race.

Lazere said if elected he would focus on addressing and improving the District-wide homelessness problems, seek to raise the minimum wage, provide more resources for public schools and improve overall living conditions.

“I’m concerned that the city’s growth and prosperity, which are tremendous in many ways, are having downside impacts,” he said.

Lazere also previously served as chair of the Public Education Finance Reform Commission and was a member of the D.C. Tax Revision Committee.

He will look to unseat current Council chair Phil Mendelson, who Lazere criticized for not actively addressing the District’s most pressing issues.

Metropolitan Police Department Lt. Darren Haskis, who also spoke at the meeting, said both crime and violent crime totals for this year’s first two months have decreased in the area compared last year. He added that total theft is up by three counts from last year, but car theft has declined.

“The MPD does have some work cut out for it in terms of thefts, but I think overall on crime we are making progress,” Haskis said at the meeting.

Commissioners also voted to support neighborhood cafe Bluestone Lane’s public space application for an unenclosed sidewalk cafe outside of its indoor location on 23rd Street.

Commissioner Rebecca Coder said the cafe’s presence gave the Foggy Bottom area more casual and affordable dining options.

“The cafe is incredibly popular and packed all the time and you can’t get in so we’re thrilled,” Coder said, “You clearly met a need and we’re happy to have you.”

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly attributed a quote from Commissioner Patrick Kennedy to ANC Chairman William Kennedy Smith. It has now been fixed. We regret this error.

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