Dear PoP – Suspension of Sweet Mango’s Liquor License

Sweet, sweet mango sign

“Dear PoP,

I picked up the attached notice of suspension from the Park View blog. Apparently, the shooting that occurred on Rock Creek Church Road on Saturday, December 5, 2009 was part of a scuffle that began in Sweet Mango Café. Sweet Mango has been a staple in the Petworth Community and a favored spot for jerk chicken in DC. Many of us have found it to be one of the few edible spots on Georgia Avenue. Still, as a result of the crime and other offenses that have occurred this year, Chief of Police Cathy Lanier has deemed the establishment an “imminent danger to the health and welfare of the community.” Based on her recommendation, DCRA has suspended the establishment’s liquor license pending a hearing to occur tomorrow.”

Wow this is crazy. Thanks to all who sent emails about this. You can read the full complaint below:


You really have to read the report, it is truly unbelievable. Basically, two patrons were kicked out, the shooting occurred and MPD found blood inside the vestibule of Sweet Mango while nobody from the establishment called the police. Additionally, they are accused of operating an illegal nightclub in the basement. Sweet Mango is located on New Hampshire Ave. across from the Petworth Metro.

52 Comment

  • One of my few celebrity sightings took place in this joint. I saw Steve Martin there.

  • mmmmm, sweet mango’s. i love that place.

  • Wow judging from that notice it seems like the suspension is overdue.

    Do places usually recover from a suspension like this, or does this mean the end of Sweet Mango?

  • In Ward 4 suspensions are very very temporary. The Turntable restaurant / stabfest has never really missed more than a week without liquor. This might be due to Bowser being incompetent and MPD being overstretched, so its possible its different for Sweet Mango.

  • Man they need a lawyer. And some effin common sense. I have a feeling this suspension might be a bit more drawn out.

    I love sweet mango, don’t get me wrong. but I would love it if we could keep those guys cooking and have someone else run the place. get rid of the disco. put in some decent seating. place would flourish ala ben’s

  • Wait, are you telling me that ghetto businesses often operate unlicensed side-enterprises? And that upper DC nightclubs (legal or otherwise) want as little police attention as possible no matter how bad things get? Wow, put this one way above the fold.

  • Sweet Mango has ALWAYS been a bad neighbor (trash, illegally parked cars, etc.) and needs to shape up or close its doors.

  • I love Jamaican food including Sweet Mango, but judging from the report: the owners not cooperating with authorities and being so dishonest they should consider seeking to shut down the whole establishment and made an example. We will never bring this violent crime down if don’t we don’t take hard, swift action, stop being so tolerant with this violent crime and support the law and order efforts of Police Chief Lanier.

  • Damn – if only baby showers really offered DJ’s, lounge chairs and a dance floor instead of “cakes” made of diapers and poop games!

    Also, while I’m all for law and order and regulations etc. I have to admit, my crowd used to go to underground dance places like this all the time 25 years ago – so this news mostly makes me just feel old.

  • sounds like they avoided calling the police because they were operating an underground party

    they had to expect to get caught eventually

  • Sounds like this place deserved to get their license suspended. At the very least, there ought to be some significant fines paid for repeatedly lying to investigators and frustrating police efforts to solve a crime. And the US Attorney’s Office should consider filing obstruction of justice charges against the people who lied to the investigators.
    I don’t think the place should be closed down but they ought to be taught an expensive lesson.
    And speaking of underground businesses – does anybody know what the t-shirt store next to Sweet Mango really sells? I’ve never seen anybody walk out of there with a t-shirt.

  • These responses are amazing! “Ghetto business?” Who the hell do you people think you are?

    When I still lived on Warder St, this was the first place I took friends from out of town because
    1. The jerk chicken is, hands down, the best in D.C.
    2. The outdoor patio upstairs is one of the chillest, most comfortable places to have a drink and a meal on a warm Summer evening
    3. The staff and patrons were always awesome to us and always made us feel welcome.

    I have never worried about how an unlicensed club may impact my delicate sensibilities or that some scraps of trash outside cause my property values to plummet. Rats, vermin, filth- OK, I’m with you and I would be pissed and want the place to shape up or close down. But we all know there are MUCH bigger fish to fry in this neighborhood so please get over yourselves.

    Unless these comments were proffered by a bunch of 65 year old school marms, then you guys all need to reach around and pull those gigantic sticks out of your arses and enjoy one of the few genuine dining treasures of Petworth/Park View.

    • I don’t thinks anyone called this place ghetto or even said it should close down. Also the outdoor patio is no more — it is no closed in for club nights. The chicken is amazing, no one is denying that. They just clearly broke some major laws.

      I’m taking my figurative stick and pushing it up your ass.

  • at every turn they refused to cooperate with an investigation of two people being shot at their establishment, but since they make good chicken, give ’em an award!

    better a stick than your own head.

  • Is it me, or is the suspension notice terribly written?

    One of several incoherent passages: “Neither victim admitted being in the establishment. One of the victims said he had come to the establishment to go to a party downstairs at the establishment with the second victim. The second victim said he had come to the establishment alone.”

    Sure, the punks’ story didn’t make sense, but that’s no excuse for the letter not to make any sense.

  • I called it ghetto. Sorry, it’s ghetto. I don’t say that with disrespect, you can have the location of the best ghetto soul food restaurant in my home town when you pry it from my cold dead hands (or come to visit), but that place is ghetto. Here’s a handy checklist for determining if an establishment is ghetto:

    1. Next door to a sketchy clothing shop? Check
    2. Couple doors down from a non-carrier cell phone store?Check
    3. Couple doors down from a check cashing place? Trifecta!
    4. Mismatch between ethnicity of proprietors and ethnicity of cuisine? Check
    5. Only signage consists of screen printed banners? Check
    6.a. Bonus Points: Banner is yellow, lettering is predominantly red? Check
    7. Something sketchy going on in the basement after hours? Check
    8. Legal ownership of business a little unclear when the authorities come asking? Check

    If you don’t have any of the above information available to you when making a determination, you can always go with the acid test:

    Two individuals getting bounced from the illegal DJ party in the basement by non-uniformed security twice and then coming back to drive-by not even the dudes they had a problem with but some random people in line and nobody called the cops? Check

    • that was a very entertaining comment!
      well done.

    • I’ve been a resident of this neighborhood for 20 years, and when I read your words I realize just how ignorant you suburbanite interlopers are. Why do you live in this community? Take your sorry asses back to Arlington and Front Royal.

      What do you know about the ethnicity of the proprietors? What is their ethnicity, and what is your ethnicity? Sketchy? Why because you don’t wear their clothing? Non-carrier- why doesn’t Verizon or AT&T have a store in the neighborhood? Don’t they know good upstanding crackers, like you, live in the “ghetto” these days and need a phone?

      Here’s an acid test- You are an ignorant bigot if-
      1. You associate ethnicity with cuisine.
      2. Project your hegemonic beliefs onto other cultures
      3. Seek to define your neighbors and neighborhood as “ghetto”

      The saddest reflection is that your use of the word reflects the greatest fear many of you interlopers have. That you will lose the respect of your friends and family who will associate you with living in a “ghetto”, or that they will by extension classify your children as such do to any semblance that minorities, or businesses that cater to them, are visible in your community.

      So remember, if you’re neighborhood is “ghetto” you are “ghetto”. Maybe you might want to move to Georgetown- Oh yeah your ghetto ass can’t afford it!! Interloper!

      • So… wait. How do you know that he/she is a “suburbanite interloper”? I mean… really?

        And you have you been to Arlington County in like the last decade? I mean outside the Orange Line, Arlington County? There are large swaths of Arlington that look a whole helluva lot like Petworth, brothah. So watch who you’re calling “suburbanites”. I live on U St., but I’m just sayin’ is all.

      • you’re also a bigot if you use terms like “cracker”.
        welcome to the tribe.

  • Whoever said that having good chicken isn’t a good enough excuse for Sweet Mango to stay open clearly doesn’t know how good their chicken really is.

    More seriously, sweet mango is one of the best parts of this neighborhood, so please don’t try to shut it down.

  • I don’t care if their jerk chicken melts in your mouth. I don’t care if they give away money to any patron.

    We don’t need anyone in our city who commits crimes or who covers up crime. These ‘businesspeople’ ignored criminal activity on their property and did nothing to aid an injured individual.

    They are operating without occupancy permits for space that doesn’t have approved fire suppression systems or sufficient exiting. How often have people been injured in such clubs because of their improper construction and operation?

    There is absolutely no excuse for such conduct.

  • Given that Sweet Mango will probably close, does this mean that the owner of Sweet Mango should post a sign on the door that says \Jerking Off\ inside we are close.

    No more \Jerks\ we are closed.

  • Bravo DC gov! Seems like these guys thought they didn’t have to follow the law or any other rules. We can’t have this stuff going on without expecting crime to get out of control.

    Sound like they are well past their three strickes and should be closed for good.

  • ooops….strickers = strikes

  • the same idiots who are complaining here and getting a big righteous on are the same folks who will cry for all the to hear “BUY LOCAL”. when some lily white chain has taken sweet mangos place. say the last rights now for your diversified quirky neighborhood. i can hear the death rattle choking its way up georgia ave.

  • The Sweet Mango Café has been a part of Petworth for more than 25 years. They were here before many of us. There are positives and negative aspects to their establishment. We can make our concerns known Sweet Mango, each other, and government entities. And we hold each other accountable. The process takes a lot of work and time, but we live here.

    Petworth is a neighborhood that is in transition. If we are patient, respectful, and strategic we will have a desirable outcome and a great neighborhood in which to live. Yes many things are wrong! The question is what are we doing to make them right? Please let us use this blog as a way to build community. There is such a thing as civil discourse.

    I applaud the efforts of the MPD and, ABRA investigators. They persisted and they struck gold. Sure the writing could be better. We can all be better!

    For the record, I have serious concerns about the activity of Sweet Mango Café and have called the police on numerous occasions. There is a considerable amount of undesirable activity that takes place around their establishment particularly the backside on Rock Creek Church Road.

    Because we are a neighbor in transition, we must ban together and all do are part to make it safer to live, work and play. Like it or not, Sweet Mango poses several challenges to the community. Their activity and actions are questionable. And we need and deserve more than great Jerk Chicken to improve our community.

    We have an opportunity to take one more step towards having a better neighborhood. Please make ABRA aware of your concerns. Suspending their liquor license is not a bad thing.

  • I said this a while back. This is why there so few black establishments in DC. The crime and violence will get you put out of business in a heartbeat. It has happened in so many clubs that I have been to. There are just too many knuckleheads in the black community.

    • The victims and perpetrators of this crime are Spanish. I bounce at a club on Dupont Circle and I can assure you there are ignorant knuckleheads in every community. Turn on MTV’s The Shore to see Italian knuckleheads if you don’t believe me. What is more prevalent in urban communiities are guns and too many young people who idolize “keep it real” rappers, ready to use them. Of course that speaks to a broader socio-economic agenda in the entertainment industry and a break down in family structure.

      • Right! knuckleheads come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, it’s the moronic idiocy of violent-gunplay-worship-culture that is just too prevalent in our neighborhoods these days. And for what? Jerk chicken party time? Jeeze.

  • As I said earlier, I am not in favor of shutting Sweet Mango down. I do favor a stiff penalty for their conduct in this matter. But I am quite surprised at some of the comments that suggest this place has been problematic for a long time. I’ve lived a couple of blocks away from Sweet Mango for 3 years. I walk by it every work day. This is the first shooting or violent incident connected to the restaurant that I have ever heard about. If this place has bee that kind of problem for a long time, where and when was it reported. By way of contrast, there have been numerous incidents associated with the strip club on Georgia Ave since I have been in the area.

  • Welfare mom – you could be my mom any day! You’re right on point.

  • I’ve been there a few times soon after my wife and I moved to Petworth five years ago. Honestly, i don’t think there food is all that great. Its not really a cafe, but a carry out. They gave me food in a Styrofoam container. Plus, its not very family friendly. Cars are always double parked outside. And I didn’t get a very welcoming feeling the few times I’ve been there.

    Sure, I understand its been an anchor for development for many years, and I’m sure alot of people would hate to see it go, but I think something better can spring up at that spot.

  • I love the chicken but that place is a magnent for trouble. If the owners aren’t willing to follow the law then shutter them. A better future for Georgia Avenue doesn’t have to include jerk chicken but it does have to include less stabbings. Get your priorities straight people. You don’t need to be “culturally sensitive” about stabbings and rampant law breaking.

    • It was a shooting sir, and we don’t need those either. All businesses need to comply with the letter of the law.

      We certainly need more green salad with candied walnuts and feta on Georgia Avenue! Oh Robert, How hospitable that would be!

  • I love the chicken but that place is a magnent for trouble. If the owners aren’t willing to follow the law then shutter them. A better future for Georgia Avenue doesn’t have to include jerk chicken but it does have to include less stabbings. Get your priorities straight people.

  • 25 years? I’m almost certain they opened in the past few years.

  • “This is the first shooting or violent incident connected to the restaurant that I have ever heard about.”

    Can you think of any other restaurant in DC that has had stabbings or shootings? I mean other than black establishments.

    I am so amazed how year after year, day after day we are so willing to overlook this problem in the black community.

  • If criminal equals quirky to you then you’re doing it wrong.

  • @Foot: you may need to recheck your ‘ghetto’ checklist. #1-3: Sweet Mango was in the neighbourhood first, those ‘establishments’ came long after Sweet Mango; #4: the proprietors and cuisine are both Jamaican and #6: red, yellow and green are the colours of the Rastafarian religion (which originated in Jamaica). So, of 8 items on your check-list, only 3 apply to Sweet Mango. Check!

  • Nate, I would like people of ALL stripes to comment on your post. Here’s what I have to say about it:

    I grew up middle class in a neighborhood that turned rich. Right now houses where I grew up sell in the under-$2 million range. The black neighbors that we had, though few, looked, acted, and had the educational backgrounds of the Obamas. My whole childhood, while Black people were less than 10% of the population, they were all sophisticated, hard working and intelligent. At worst during high school they focused too much on partying and sports, the worst I saw were guys who bailed on academics in Junior and Senior years, spending all their time in the gym. That was the worst I saw. Some of those guys lived in Scotland, if you know that area in Potomac.

    Because like many of us who grew up during EEO we grew up and developed opinions of African-Americans based on the images on-screen: The Cosby Show’s middle class, Marion Barry’s proud warrior of the late 70s, Mayor Washington’s quiet class, Drew-Jarvis, Norton, Cafritz, the newscasters, the Evans Family’s noble struggle, the achievements of George Jefferson, Potier, etc.

    And then I move to DC and I’m like, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING? And the response comes back, “Keeping it real.”

    Except it’s got nothing to do with any black people I ever met growing up. My black friends were so paranoid about looking respectable and not getting arrested that they fought like hell to do just that. Our homecoming queen one year was black. In Bethesda. Her doctor father and Howard Professor mother made sure she had manners and grace.

    So these things that I see occur? I don’t consider them part of the larger black culture, I think they’re wrong and the establishments that allow them to occur should be shut down, the apartment buildings that contribute to the stereotyping of African-Americans should be shut down and the people committing these crimes should be in jail.

    that’s where I come from on this. When people defend these criminals and encourage the stereotyping of African-American businesses as being prone to crime or always criminal (aka will always have a basement nightclub) then who are they siding with? The Prince William County WTOP commentators who agree with them that this is how DC is?

  • under the poui tree, give me a break, what do you think was there before the current neighbors, a Brooks Brothers store? Call it high storefront turnover. Check.

    Yellow, red, and green are the colors that the Rasta movement adopted from the Ethiopian flag. Red, green, and black are the colors of various pan-Africanist movements. Green, yellow, and black are the colors of the Jamaican flag. Red on yellow with some black are the official colors of ghetto signage, and those are the colors of the screen printed banner on the front of Sweet Mango. Check out the pictures in the PoP entries re: Bargain World, Ghana Cafe (Ghana’s flag is yellow, green, and red), and Seafood and Crab for more examples. Heck, even the DC AIDS sign on the quasi-illegal billboards knows the drill.

    Seriously, get on your bike or your google streetview and tour around the ghetto and then come back and tell me I’m wrong.

  • Neener,
    Is it possible that the black people you saw in Potomac were the exception? I have been to dozens of black clubs here in DC and across the country. Almost all have had multiple shooting incidents. And these are not ghetto clubs but so termed “professional” establishments. That is why black clubs go to no end to define their establishments as professional. The thugs run overrun the decet black people

    “So these things that I see occur? I don’t consider them part of the larger black culture, I think they’re wrong and the establishments that allow them to occur should be shut down, the apartment buildings that contribute to the stereotyping of African-Americans should be shut down and the people committing these crimes should be in jail.”

    How does an apartment building or other establishment contribute to the stereotyping of AA’s? These places stay in business because there is a large contingent of AA’s that frequent these places. And when/if the city closes them down, they are accused of closing down black clubs. Interestingly enough, these clubs relocate to predominately black PG County. I guess they are furthering the stereotype. I have never been to Sweet Mangos nightclub. I knew it existed. I knew from the crowd that eats there, that the place would be a scene for violence. As almost every other black club in DC.
    H20. Love. Pearl. Republic Gardens. The Saint. Ibex. All have had serious issues with violence. All black on black stabbings and shootings.

  • The neighborhood has always been sketchy even with MPD a District house within 6 blocks. Nevertheless, the place has great authentic Jamaican and Caribbean food – best Jerk Chicken in the Mid Atlantic.

    I think Mango Cafe has been in business for at least 20 year – I discovered it during med school at Howard back in the early 90’s. I’m glad it’s still there. Definitely worth the monthly drive or metro ride into the city from Arlington. I still love this place. My money has been ell spent there over the years.

    Lanier instead needs to work with the DEA and focus on the growing MS-13 problem in the neighborhood, and the drugs in the nightclubs downtown.

  • I’m shaking my head at all of these comments. People forget there are always three sides (yes, I said 3, yours, theirs and mines) to a story and for God’s sake NEVER count stock in something that you read. I happened to be a patron at Sweet Mango the night of the incident and less than half of what I read in that document is true. By the time we heard gun shots, police sirens were in full blast. So no one had to call them, the police were inside the restaurant in record time. Also an FYI for most of you, plain clothes police are inside Sweet Mango 24/7. They dress in what I guess some of you would consider ghetto attire.
    I’ve lived in the Mt. Pleasant area all of my life except for my college days in NYC and what bothers me to no end is the people who choose to move into a neighborhood and then gripe about the local businesses. Whatever happened to researching and visiting a neighborhood before you sign the lease or write the deposit check.
    Yes, there will be cars parked all over the place, this is the CITY. Yes, there will be loud and unruly people in neighborhood businesses because guess what, this is the CITY and most of all whether you like it or not, this will ALWAYS be the CITY.
    Stop pointing fingers and judging without knowing every side of the story. Yeah you may not like there food, there location, there staff, there patrons but guess what YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO THERE.
    Geez it’s really that simple people.

  • Anyone who even considers the idea of having Sweet Mango shut down has not tasted the jerk chicken they serve. I don’t care what happens there – this chicken is amazing. Try it either with no gravy or with the curry gravy though, the jerk stew gravy is a bit much. If you try it you will understand. Please never close!!!

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