Dear PoPville – Valet Problems Part Two

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1800 block of 18th Street, NW

Dear PoPville,

Not sure if you were aware, but Lauriol Plaza has recently taken over a good chunk of 18th Street to use for their valet parking. There are temporary “no parking” signs up dated until 2014 in front of the restaurant, probably covering about 6-8 spots.

I think that is ridiculous.

Parking is tough enough in the neighborhood, this is only making it worse.

Ed. Note: On Friday a reader wrote about valet parking abuses in Chinatown.

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That’s quite a loose interpretation of temporary…

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69 Comment

  • Can you use their valet parking and then walk to a better restaurant to eat?

  • How did they manage to obtain this? Lauriol already has their own parking lot on the side of the restaurant plus they also use the parking lot just north of Jack Rose?

    I’m a former driver but this still irks me. That and their terribly over-hyped food and atmosphere.

    • I guess they need even more valet parking because 99% of the customer base comes in from the suburbs.

      • +1 Hate Loriol Plaza. Totally overrated clusterf**k

      • Yea, why would we want those suburban tax dollars in our city when the Council can just raise all of our taxes.

        • I wasn’t complaining. I just think it’s funny that people drive all the way in from MD and VA just to go to this place. I don’t think I’d go to Lauriol even if I lived in the neighborhood! The couple of times I went it was really really loud and expensive and the food was bland.

  • Ugh..complain to your council member. No one gives a good god damn that your restaurant is super busy…give people their right to park back.

  • This is a better solution for their valet than around the corner on T Street where it constantly clogged the intersection at peak times. To offset the loss of parking spaces, the ANC is seeking to recover spots on the north side of the 18th & T intersection at a discontinued metro bus stop that still has signage preventing parking.

  • I would like to hear from DDOT and MPD on this: is this “valet use” of public, street parking, being assessed with a fee? I hope to hear “yes” on this.

  • Ouch! And these are official signs too.

  • PoP posted something a couple of weeks ago about where you can actually look up to see if they legally reserved the street parking. You no longer can just put a sign up at has to be registered you can look up any reserved parking in the city.

  • Corruption…welcome back to D.C. It’s been a while but you are back in full force.

  • ….at least they didn’t get it for Friday and Saturday nights?

    [/solace]

  • gotryit

    The permit doesn’t specify the exact location. Anyone want to bet they put it up for a bigger space than they should have?

  • Sheeesh, people…It’s no wonder local businesses can’t win for losing!

    The ANC required the establishment to provide valet and the venue pays for space use and service provision.

    Besides, what’s the alternative? Complaining about people parking on the street?

  • They applied for and received 5 parking spaces in front of their restaurant. The ANC voted unanimously to approve Lauriol Plaza’s public space application, and MPD supported it as well, to alleviate congestion.

    The restaurant has to pay the city rent of 50 cents per hour per space,.

    • Thanks for the explanation.

    • $0.50 an hour per space? Last time I checked the going rate was more like $1.75 an hour and they charge $5.00 a car.

      Plus, suburban idiots (ahem, Marylanders) think its totally cool to block the alley right there which is the only way we can get out from our parking space. When you honk at them to move, they wave their hands and say…”We’re waiting for the valet!”.

      1. as if I didn’t know what they were doing
      2. as if it makes it better

    • So they pay $2.50/hour for 5 dedicated parking spaces?!? Metered spaces in DC cost $2/hour FOR EACH SPACE for all us peons. Why does this restaurant get such a cheap deal?

      I thought the city was trying to discourage people from having cars in the city, not make it easier for suburbanites to haul their fat asses into town to chow down on fatty, second-rate food (the chips and margaritas are pretty tasty, tho!).

  • Just to clarify, Lauriol Plaza is in Ward 2, not Ward 1 so if you want to reach out to anyone, it should be Jack Evans (not the Grahamstander) and the Dupont Circle, not Adams Morgan ANC. Will Stephens is the commissioner for that area.

    • Ooops, I thought it was still in Ward One.

      If it helps traffic that’s good, but I’m still perturbed by the use of so many on street parking spots for a business that owns so many off street parking spots.

  • This is so annoying, but as I understand it, the city thinks it’s an improvement over the previous situation, in which the valet drop-off was outside the Lauriol parking lot on T street, which in combination with those curb bump-outs at the corner of 18th and T, totally blocked T street. This created a giant traffic jam every weekend night. I live nearby and it’s true that the traffic situation is much improved. The change was approved by the ANC and by DDOT. People are supposed to pick up their cars from the lot on T Street, so 18th is supposed to be just for drop-off. And I think they’re only supposed to use 5 spots.

    I’m not saying it’s great. Lauriol Plaza sucks and is annoying to anyone who lives nearby. But the traffic situation is definitely better now. They should at least have to obey the limits in their new permit, though.

    Does anyone know what the construction is in the house next to Lauriol Plaza on T street (I think it might be actually owned by Lauriol?)?

    • Yes, Jessica, those of us who have lived here for awhile sure do miss the drug dealing parking lot and half pint store that occupied the lot before Lauriol. That sure was preferable to a place that has serviceable food at great prices and provides free parking for its patrons. I DO miss tripping over used works and empty half pint bottles on the sidewalk on 18th Street.

      • OMG you’re so right! Clearly “Lauriol Plaza” and “drug dealing parking lot” are the ONLY two options that exist or ever could exist for that space. Pardon. My comment should have read “I HEART LAURIOL PLAZA” over and over.

        • Clearly Rob had found a new place to buy his drugs if he thinks Lauriol Plaza has great prices.

        • Jessica is right on. The new valet situation has made T street much more passable. I live a few hundred feet away and this is better.

      • @Rob – Lauriol is a worthless restaurant. Its only redeeming quality is that it fills up with people with no taste so there is more room at every other place in the neighborhood.

      • So at what point does that argument no longer work? I mean hell, I’m sure McFaddens in Foggy Bottom was some empty lot with hookers back in 1875, so thank god McFaddens is there now instead!

        Give me a break…

        • I have lived here 20 years and the Laurie has been on my list of places to go for about that long. If you don’t care for the food or crowd, fine. But the contribution of this business to the overall improvement in the QOL north of DuPont is obvious to anyone who has seen the progression. Given that their valet parking reduces the parking on the street, a loss of a few parking spots seems like a minor trade off.

      • I DO understand why people like you who have lived in the neighborhood for 20+ (and those that have since moved to the suburbs) love Lauriol Plaza. As I understand it, back in the day, the only good restaurants in DC were expensive French places in Georgetown. Then Lauriol Plaza opened, and it was basically the first place to serve “good” food at affordable prices, and people went CRAZY over it.

        The problem is, that was 25 years ago. Compared to the options today, Lauriol Plaza’s food is not good. In fact, it’s terribly mediocre. There are two reasons why it remains so terribly popular today: 1) nostalgia for a time when it was seen as a beacon of hope for the DC food scene (a title it no longer holds), and 2) the cheap high fructose corn syrup margaritas.

        Honestly, Rob. Your condescension is really unnecessary. Yes, I’m it was relief to see the drug dealers gone. It doesn’t mean that people’s complaints about the crowds the restaurant draws today are invalid. They’re loud, there is often a crowd of about 2 dozen people waiting for a table while blocking the sidewalk out front, they create endless traffic problems, and these suburbanites park in many of the residential spaces in the neighborhood, meaning actual neighborhood residents have to drive around for up to an hour finding a space on a weekend night.

  • Further proof that the restaurant lobby runs sh*t in this City. Just look at the arcane regulations aimed at destroying the food trucks.

    • Trust me, the “restaurant lobby” does not run the ANC that granted the permit.

    • The food truck debacle is more about the politically-connected real estate/landlord lobby feeling threatened that business is being diverted from their brick & mortar lessees, thus lowering commercial rental prices in downtown DC. The restaurants just happen to be in agreement with their land owning masters.

  • I saw something similar at another restaurant in my neighborhood – “Temporary Emergency No Parking” signs dated for at least a year – and within a week or two the permanent red and white “Valet Staging Zone” signs featured in the last post went up and those came down. Usually those paper signs are just placeholder signs so the valet operation can be up and running while the metal signs are being fabricated and installed (which, I found out, the applicant has to pay for).

  • I think this is because they are doing construction on the house that borders Lauriol on the northeast corner of the parking lot. Or at least I have seen some major work going on there (concrete being poured, etc). Maybe half of their valet parking lot has been lost to the construction and this is a way to help them deal with it?

    FWIW the food is disgusting and no one should ever have to go there. But people do and anything we can do to mitigate the traffic nightmare that is that corner I could support.

    That said, they should be paying us $1 per space per hour, not $.50.

  • Five spaces seem like a lot of spaces to take away for valet. I would understand two, maybe, maybe three, but five? The two valet staging areas in Adams Morgan (or maybe there are three now) do not take up five spaces. Also interesting that the spaces are reserved when the valet is probably the least busy.

  • In the interest of piling on – the best quote from Tom’s new dining guide in the Post this past weekend is about Lauriol Plaza:

    “Cross the Cheesecake Factory with Taco Bell — then throw in spring break — and what you get is this sprawling zoo of a destination in Dupont Circle that feeds an average of 1,400 customers a day.”

    Here’s the whole guide http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/spring-dining-guide-2013/we-meet-again/

    • Haters gonna hate. Lauriol Plaza ain’t the best food but it ain’t the worst either. And it’s always packed so they must be doing something right.

      • Haters are indeed going to hate. You are so right. Also? YOLO.

      • Critic’s gonna hate.

        The fact that they are packed often says more about what’s wrong with the clientele than what’s right with the restaurant. Tortilla Coast seems to be looking to replicate the formula of over-priced food that doesn’t taste very good.

        • The crowds at Lauriol prove that DC has a seemingly inexhaustiblearket for terrible “Mexican” food.

        • The fact that they are often packed also says a lot about the critics who diss their food. I think it really galls critics to see people lining up for food they find to be terrible – in other words, for large numbers of people to ignore their recommendations. But not everyone is interested in a world class dining experience every meal. I’ve had amazing Mexican and Tex Mex food – though none of it in this area. But I can still enjoy the food at Lauriol – which is decent – on occasion. I’ve never come away from there underwhelmed because I don’t expect much. But I’ve paid a lot more and gotten much less other places.

          • I think a lot of us have more of a problem with the atmosphere than the food. Most meals in DC are expensive and mediocre, but that’s not why I go out to eat. However if the place has no ambiance there is absolutely no reason to be there.

          • And McDonalds serves millions each year. Surely that means that food critics who pan their food must be wrong, right?

  • Also, warning – the whole strip in front of Shakespeare Theater has new parking signs (so the parking times on the pay to park are moot) – read the signs carefully. We parked there for dinner last Sunday, and every single car got a ticket. Must be overhauling parking in the area…?

  • Even worse, I noticed these year-long “temporary” signs up and down the full length of connecticut for various bar, clubs, or whatever they call themselves these days

  • I’m just going to say it. I love Lauriol fajitas. I do. They may not be the most authentic, the place may be a zoo, and we’ve seen plenty here about the parking. But for all that, for all the good girls’ nights I’ve had at Lauriol (and since my days going to Cactus Cantina before high school dances) I’ve got to throw it a little love on here!

  • Everyones a foodie.

  • clevelanddave

    So why is the city not able to build a subsidized parking garage nearby on city owned land? The parking situation there and in nearby Adams Morgan is so bad I won’t go there anymore because I know I won’t find a parking space…

    • On a similar note, I was wondering why there can’t be a big parking garage or two near the tidal basin area. There’s hardly any street parking nearby, and tour buses occupy most of it. Last weekend I had family who wanted to see the WWII memorial, and we had to drive because my grandmother is in her 90’s and can’t walk long distances. I dropped them off, drove for 10 minutes before finding a parking spot that was a 15 minute walk away, and after 10 minutes of walking got a call from them saying they were ready to leave so I walked back to the car.

    • I’ve wondered the same. The plaza/tennis courts/kickball field at Marie Reed could be dug out and a subterranean garage built there. Rec facilities could be put back on the top of the thing. City could repay the construction costs out of the parking revenues.

      Other cities do this all the time. I guess in DC it’s the combination of corruption and general head-in-the-sandness that just makes everything more complicated and unworkable.

      • what place is suffering from lack of parking?

      • Well, on the weekends my neighborhood to the west of Adams Morgan is chock-a-block with MD and VA parkers headed to the 18th Street strip.

        Perhaps I’m answering my own question since a 2-day-a-week surge in parking wouldn’t pay for a new underground lot, but I would certainly prefer to force people coming into Adams Morgan off the residential streets and into a commercial garage.

    • because the city can make far more money by rfp’ing surplus lots to developers, both in the short and long run. i say this as a driver, but we really don’t need cars or parking garages to help most of our businesses, and almost none of our restaurants. people will walk, metro, bike to get places.
      and there are more and more people living in the city to sustain this.

      • I disagree. DC simply doesn’t have the density and the public transportation network to make carless living appropriate for everyone living there.. Unlike, say Manhattan.

        • i never mentioned car-less living. let alone for everyone. like i say, i have a car, and i have no intention of getting rid of it. and i’m certainly not comparing us to manhatten. what i’m saying is that the bar/restaurant business is booming and it is not suffering due to lack of parking. and i am pretty certain parking costs wouldn’t make the city more than selling off the property and reaping future tax income.

        • I think you’re right that carless living is not appropriate for all residents of the District. But, along the lines of what anonymous said, I don’t think that means we need to make all neighborhoods “car-friendly.” Businesses in places like Adams Morgan, Dupont, and Georgetown seem to do just fine even though it’s a nightmare to drive and park there.

    • Years ago – early 2000s – there was a flat parking lot in the middle of 18th St on the block where the Diner is. There was a plan to build a multistory garage on that lot to accommodate more of the people who drive to AM. But the neighborhood shot it down because of the desire not to “encourage” people to drive to AM. So instead, they built an expensive condo building – some of whose residents then proceeded to complain about how noisy AM is.
      Anytime the issue of multistory parking structures comes up – like what they have in Bethesda – someone shoots it down because it will encourage people to drive.

      • You sure it was on the same block as the Diner? Pretty sure that there are no newish (2000s) buildings on that side of 18th.

      • Just FYI- that public garage was built and is in use today…it’s in that condo building, down the same alley as Little Shop of Flowers. Also, more recently, a public garage has opened in the old Verizon building 2 blocks south at the corner of FL and Champlain.

  • Yeah that’s pretty outrageous. FWIW, I notified DDOT about the last valet abuse I’ve encountered, and they didn’t give a shit.

  • The ANC is stupid for approving this. If this trend get going, and every restaurant gets 5 spaces (or even fewer), where will everyone park? Can you imagine if all the new places on 14th St., were approved to do this? It would be reserved up and down the whole street. And if it is until 2014, take down the paper signs. They look like shit.

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