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Black and Orange Burger Joint Applies for 40 Seat Outdoor Cafe at 14th and U St, NW

by Prince Of Petworth — January 5, 2012 at 11:30 am 44 Comments

Last night a PoPville twitter follower wrote:

“New burger joint at intersection of 14&U wants a 40-seat sidewalk cafe??? Umm… No.”

I asked @AdamLDC what he thought was a reasonable number and he replied:

“Zero would be a reasonable at one of the most crowded intersections in the city.”

A liquor license application posted out front of Black and Orange coming to 14th and U St, NW [1931 14th St, NW] says:

“New restaurant specializing in hamburgers & Latin food. Occupancy load is 79. Sidewalk café has 40 seats.”

Do you guys agree that 40 seats is not reasonable for a sidewalk cafe at this location? Perhaps they could negotiate a way to use the parking lot next door? If they are only talking about the sidewalk itself – do you think any number of cafe seating would be appropriate?

  • That doesn’t seem like much to me.

    10 tables of 4, 20 tables of 2…

  • mj

    Terrible idea for that location.

  • j

    who wants to sit outside at that corner? Cars idling, construction constantly.

  • steven

    Instead of guessing, how about ABRA and the restaurant set up the perimeter for tables that seat 40 people on a weekend night and see if it inhibits foot traffic?

    • Bobby

      That is far too logical.

    • Anonymous

      You would think they’d have some formula for figuring that out without having to physically set it up. I would have no problem with there being seating here. Would I want to use it? Probably not, but possibly on a nice day. I don’t see the harm in them putting it out. Masa 14 has it and I think that is a bad location for outdoor seating, but people seem to like it.

    • Anonymous

      When an establishment files an application, they have to submit drawings on how the space would be configured. They are part of the public record. If someone want to Barns Dance across the intersection to ABRA at the Reeves Center, they could look at the plans.

  • mj

    Here’s a question: Why does the Black and Orange web site list PoP as one of the sites that is “talking” about it? Sounds like a quid pro quo.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      There is no “quid pro quo” here. If I had to guess I’d say it lists PoP as one of the sites that is “talking” about it because, um, we are talking about it.

    • snob

      I live in within half a block of this place. I say let ’em have outdoor seating if they want. I am so tired of all the NIMBYs in the neighborhood. Too much banding together to complain about POTENTIAL problems instead of dealing with ACTUAL ones — like all the trash and litter that lines the alleys behind their houses and the sidewalks in front of them. If Black and Orange clean up after themselves, which I suspect they will, I say welcome to the neighborhood.

      • PJ


  • h4pr

    Sign in the window says always till 5am. Does that mean the outdoor “cafe” is open late night, too? That certainly won’t attract drama at 2am on the weekends in the summer.

    • David

      Outdoor cafes are generally regulated differently as far as closing times….10 and 11 on weekends is what I seem to remember for most in the city.

  • snob

    I live within half a block of this place and say welcome to the ‘hood — and if they want outside seating then so much the better. I am very frustrated with the NIMBYs in our neighborhood. They do a great job banding together to complain about POTENTIAL problems but do very little about actual ones — like pick up all the trash and litter that lines the alleys behind their houses and the sidewalks in front of them. It’s an embarrassment to their neighborhood.

    I suspect Black and Orange will keep their little corner on 14th Street cleaner than it is now. That’s good enough for me.

    • Bloomin

      Completely agree. The intersection really only seems crowded at the corner and along the horribly narrow sidewalks on U. I’ve never had 14th be so crowded that a sidewalk cafe would have any effect whatsoever.

    • Anon202

      Amen! I am also a neighbor and I couldn’t agree more. This is EXACTLY where sidewalk cafes should be. If not 14th near (but not at U Street, then where? Our neighbors should simmer down.

  • mmm

    Black and Orange is not right at the 14th and U intersection — it’s close, but seems far enough away that I don’ t really see it as a problem getting in the way of foot traffic. I agree it’s not the nicest place to sit outside, but I’m not sure what the problem is.

  • I live right there too. And by no means a NIMBY. But it does seem like a lot of seats for a pretty small sidewalk. My reaction on reading this was, How could they even fit? But I’m with the above commenter, try it out and see. So glad to have more cheaper/quick options on 14th.

  • Anonymous

    I’m all for outdoor seating, not sure I would want to sit at that location but Its better use than no outdoor seating. I’d guess that if they put their outdoor seating on the roof it would be super popular.

  • jcm

    The sidewalks there are extra wide. It seems like a perfectly appropriate place to put a sidewalk cafe. I don’t know whether 40 is the right number, but I don’t see the problem with having something there.

    I don’t recall ever feeling crowded on the streets in that area either, and I’m down that way fairly frequently. Maybe I go home to early.

  • j

    I don’t care if they want it. More power to them if they meet all the requirements. I just wouldn’t want to sit there. The difference with Masa is you don’t have cars idling at a light right there.

    • Anonymous

      I’m a neighbor to this also and the local Listserve whining is already getting out of hand. How dare they want to fill in an empty store front and pay taxes without kissing the NIMBY ring!!!

  • I can’t make up my mind about this. I think I would really have to see the diagram they submitted. There is a good amount of traffic at this location; it is not on the corner of 14th and U but pretty close.

    Just imagining it, I think 40 might be too many. That would be bigger than what is outside of Masa 14, no? And even with less traffic down there people do have a hard time crossing in front of Masa 14 I have noticed.

    I think I am going to have to lean on the side of NOT good idea.

    But still, I can’t wait for this place to open. I want a decent burger joint in the area. I was disappointed after trying Desperados. Could someone please petition 5 Guys to open around here, I don’t like having to walk up to Columbia Heights to get my fix.

  • Adam L

    Typically I wouldn’t consider myself to be a nimby. I wouldn’t be opposed to whatever they want to do inside their own building. 24-hour liquor license with full nude strippers? Fine. Don’t care. But I do think bad ideas to take over public space should be called out.

    U Street is terrible to walk along because of the high traffic and narrow sidewalks. I’m not sure why anybody would think giving away more public space in this area is a good idea or is essential for the operation of a burger joint.

    • NotIgnorant

      Good thing that they are located on 14th Street, not on U. So the sidewalk is plenty wide.

      • Adam L

        My point is that it wouldn’t be plenty wide anymore. I don’t understand how taking over public space has become an entitlement for anybody who wants it. It’s as bad as drivers who demand that the public street in front of their house be their own personal parking lot.

        • I believe they will have to pay rent to the city for that space. And it has to be approved by ABRA and DDOT (I think). They’re not just feeling entitled and absconding with public property at their own whim.

          • ClevelandDave

            Really? So after they have the permit, how much do they pay? Not too much me thinks…

  • ShawGuy

    This place is about three or four businesses down from the corner. While sidewalk seating will make the sidewalk more crowded there, it’s not horrific. Besides, regulations in DC are pretty strict about how much space must still be left for pedestrians between the sidewalk space and the curb. I say let em have it – there’s very little sidewalk seating in the U Street district (actually, hardly any) because the sidewalk on U itself is too narrow. Adding it on side streets is a good idea. This block is no more crowded than other blocks of 14th that have small amounts of sidewalk seating like what is proposed here.

  • I wanted to reach out to you on behalf of Black & Orange to respond to your recent posting about our application for patio space at our soon-to-open restaurant on 14th st.

    We understand that the concern that seems to have arisen is about how busy the sidewalk space is in front of our store and whether or not adding a patio would impede traffic. Along with our application, we are taking into account that just over a block away, Masa 14 has a large outdoor patio space and our intention to create outdoor seating would be similar to theirs. Before anything is built, plans would be submitted to the city and our exact footprint on the sidewalk would be permitted and designed specifically to ensure it is not disrupting the flow of foot traffic.

    Our late hours have also raised some eyebrows during the permitting process, but we simply hope to be a late night alternative to places like McDonalds (24 hrs) which is also right on the block. Like other patios in the city, our outdoor seating would have limited hours in spite of our extended business hours until 5am each night. Our goal is simply to provide the best service, best food and best accommodations to our customers and to the neighborhood without ever being a burden. We are excited to open in the U street corridor and hope the neighborhood will embrace us for everything that we want to bring and contribute to the community, and we are happy to address any and all concerns that our past, present, and future patrons may have.

    • snob

      Well, this neighbor says welcome to the neighborhood! My only complaint is that you weren’t open last night. We were hungry!

    • Eli

      Good point re: Masa. Theirs doesn’t seem too large. Assuming the setback is the same, I don’t think it will be a problem. Excited for you guys to open!

    • Thanks everyone, we’re excited to finally get the doors open soon and get you all some burgers. We’ll have an official announcement soon ( sorry for all the delays) and can’t wait for you all to come in and see the new space

    • First, I just want to say that I can’t wait till you guys open!

      However, I do feel that having that outdoor space probably is not a good idea. If you really plan for it to be the size of Masa 14’s outdoor area I really think it is going to impede pedestrian traffic. I think on most nights Masa 14’s space is not a problem. But on busy evenings with people walking around I think it does get crowded in front of their place (a little hard to get by). And with your space I can imagine it being even worse since you are so close to U and that corner on a Fri. or Sat night is absolutely MOBBED. Just my $.02.

      Hopefully I can get a late night burger soon!

      • another resident

        I call BS. I live right next to Masa 14 and there’s never a problem with pedestrian traffic at any time of day or night. People like their outdoor cafes. Let them have them.

  • Logan Res

    I live very near b&o as well and welcome them coming to the neighborhood. I understand the two busybodies on Swann St are already starting up their usual scare tactics….40 seats = 40 more cars coming to our streets and they’ll be smashing their beer bottles at our doors while stumbling out of this disco/mega club they’re calling a burger joint…OMG….shock and horror!!! LOL

  • Anonymous

    “New restaurant specializing in hamburgers & Latin food. Occupancy load is 79. Sidewalk café has 40 seats.”
    I don’t mean any harm but burgers and Latin food seems like apples and oranges. Not sure I understand an establishment that “specializes” in burgers yet serves up Latin food as well. Are they Latin burgers? (whatever that would entail) Needless to say, my mouth is NOT watering. If I want Latin food, I wouldn’t go to a place that “SPECIALIZES” in burgers, I’d just go to Alero or Guapos. And if I want a burger, I wouldn’t go to a place that is distracted with Latin food preparation, I’d just go to Shake Shake or the Burger Joint. But that’s just me.

    • Maybe they plan on selling Christian Burgers and Lion Burgers using what’s left over in the Colliseum. Romani ite Domum, I say.

  • ClevelandDave

    Kind of pisses me off that places with outdoor seating will continue to block off 2/3rds of the sidewalk (Posto) all winter and spring when they don’t use the outdoor space at all. Jerks.

  • It’s 2012 – shouldn’t we have hovercraft tables and chairs by now?

  • Good for B&O. Bring on more outdoor seating. The market will decide if it’s too loud to sit there. If people can negotiate the narrow sidewalk right around the corner on U Street I am sure they can fit their 40 seats on the much wider 14th Street sidewalk.


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