“a mega grocery store making cutting boards out of a pop-up truck? Come on.”


“Dear PoPville,

I live in the building directly behind the P Street Whole Foods, a store that prides itself on being a good neighbor. In the back of the store, 10 yards from my building, a truck called “Table Top Services,” has been parking. It’s a pop-up industrial shop where workers are making cutting boards for Whole Foods. Hour after hour they are sawing through thick plastic. Tuesday night they worked until 8pm. A gentleman from the building next door joined me because he is similarly fed up – saying they were out there working Sunday until 11pm. He also took photos and videos as documentation.

There are a significant number of young families with babies in the building as well as people who work at night, not to mention those just trying to hear each other over dinner at home. Surely an entity such as Whole Foods could find a commercial or industrial space to make their cutting boards that isn’t in an alley backing up to four large apartment buildings.

The police said that there is nothing they can do before 10pm. What other recourse is there? I of course understand when the occasional construction projects needs to be completed to update infrastructure, utilities, etc. But, a mega grocery store making cutting boards out of a pop-up truck? Come on.”

23 Comment

  • Those are commercial grade cutting surfaces likely used in the seafood/meat counters and the prep kitchens for the store. Think of them more as custom counter tops, many of them are probably being built in. The noise complaints could be valid if they are working past 10:00 PM, but having the specialized cutting equipment onsite is much more efficient than a bunch of back and forth to a factory. Look at it this way: they’ll be done sooner.

    • think of them as “high end finishes”, the kind that make people ooh and aah over some horrible flipped rowhouse.

  • Why don’t you go into Whole Foods and ask how long this pop up will be there? If its short-term I would just live with it.

  • And talking to store mgt. hasn’t yielded any info on why they do it this way?

  • Have you tried talking to the management of Whole Foods? They’re very responsive in my experience. I went in once and had a really great experience. I noticed on the way out that they had an email address listed for the regional vice president if you wanted to voice your concern about something. I emailed him to say “Hey, your people are doing great work and here’s why.” I got an email back in about an hour thanking me for the email and letting me know he’d pass it down the chain to Whole Foods P Street.

  • Hey, at least it’s not a meth lab.

  • OP here. WF management has been anything but helpful, unfortunately. What I don’t understand is the difference between construction defined by DCRA as being permitted 7am-7pm and other work that can go until 10pm. Anyone know the difference?

    • Probably outside of any scope that DCRA would have a say over. If it doesn’t require a permit then the 7-7 restriction wouldn’t apply. The only noise violations would fall under the 10:00 PM nuisance law.

      • justinbc

        Yep. Based on the detailed description above, this in theory sounds not so different than if I want to sit outside and listen to my radio on full blast. Or, perhaps more relatable, if I wanted to do a home improvement project in my yard and needed a jackhammer or skillsaw and worked until 10PM. Of course in practice the reality is that it’s much louder, but the substance behind it isn’t much different and becomes very tricky to enforce. My complaint here would be more with Whole Foods rather than law enforcement whose hands are relatively tied.

        • Listening to one’s radio outside “at full blast” is likely a ticketable offense at any time, if neighbors are disturbed.

          • Really? A neighbor keeps blasting his car stereo, but I thought I had no recourse unless he was doing it past 10 pm.

          • Pretty sure you’re wrong, James. DC has notoriously lax noise restrictions. There’s no better example than the garbage broadcast at huge volume by the racist/homophobic church that hangs out at the 7&H metro station.

          • justinbc

            LOL. If you think simply “being disturbed” is grounds for a ticket then I’m guessing you’re new to DC. There are so many blatant offenders to that stipulation.

    • What do you mean by “anything but helpful”? What did you say to them and what was their response?

      • The manager on duty handled the situation by telling the truck to hurry and pack up before the police arrived and just come back tomorrow. I tried to get in touch with higher ups all night and throughout the day today. To be fair, I got a call back this afternoon and will be discussing the matter soon. I’ve also learned that my condo board and the condo board of the building next door are involved in getting this resolved because there have been so many complaints. Thanks all for your help!

  • Yeah try living by a massive tunnel boring machine on 1st street for a year and get back to me.

  • A mobile service unit is now referred to as a “pop-up shop” ? Yikes. Anyway, I thought the general consensus from reading the Popville comment boards is that there is no right to peace and quiet in the city, especially if you have chosen to live right behind a “mega grocery store”.

    • That is the general consensus . . . unless it’s your peace and quiet that is being affected.

  • while dc consumer n reg affairs regs allow construction 7 am to 7 pm, that is applicable only Monday to Saturday. report any violations by calling 311, or check DCCRA website for details. search “noise” on their site; good luck!

  • My guess is that this truck takes the cutting boards from the prep areas/kitchens and planes them down to remove the grooves caused by the knives used on them. After enough use, the polyethelyne cutting boards develop enough and deep enough grooves that they can’t be thoroughly sanitized, they must either be resurfaced or replaced.
    Sounds like a pretty noisy operation. A business with the resources of Whole Foods should be able to have a back-up set of cutting boards to use while the old ones are being repaired — off site. Kinda dumb that they burden their neighbors with the noise. Even worse that management has been unresponsive.
    On the other hand, we should be happy that they are complying with this sanitation procedure. I guarantee that most restaurants/food service places don’t.

  • I’d start hitting WF on Twitter- quickest way to get a mega-corporation to respond is to shame them in public. Point out that sleep for children (who go to bed well before 10pm) is among the most important health impacts and all the organic crap being sold in their stores can’t make up for that.

  • Updated from OP: Whole Foods called this morning. They apologized and vowed to move sawing and other similar work offsite in the future. Thanks so much for the help.

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