The following was written by PoPville contributor David McAuley, founder of Short Articles about Long Meetings.
“You have become, in some ways, the go-to … for underage,” DC alcohol licensing board member Mike Silverstein told an attorney for FoBoGro (once known as “Foggy Bottom Groceries”, 2140 F Street NW) at an October 2017 hearing.
Selling alcohol to minors (resulting in a three-day suspension of FoBoGro’s liquor license in December 2017 plus a $4,000 fine) was only one of the many problems that Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2A/Foggy Bottom had with FoBoGro’s application to renew its liquor license. Attendees of the ANC’s regularly-scheduled February 21 meeting heard that the management of the establishment had been very difficult to locate, that patrons had often tossed trash and packaging on the area in front of and beside the store, that noise after 10pm exceeded acceptable levels, and that store patrons and delivery trucks had often double-parked in the dedicated loading zone in front of the store, among other grievances.
Newly-installed ANC2A Chair William K. Smith (Commissioner for district 04) said the ANC “wished to hit the reset button” on the relationship with the store.
Attorney Edward Grandis and Seth Rosenzweig, one of the three owners of the establishment, appeared before the ANC to express contrition and a willingness to mend their ways.
“Underage drinking is not tolerated and the client is being very diligent,” Grandis said.
ANC2A already has official standing as a protestant to the store’s application for a renewal of its liquor license. The vote at the February 21 meeting was on a document which gave the general outlines of the ANC’s desired settlement agreement with the establishment, to be negotiated by Commissioner Smith. There is currently no settlement agreement with FoBoGro.
One major point of contention is that the store’s application for a liquor license renewal included extending the hours it was allowed to sell alcohol to 3am. Grocery stores authorized to sell alcohol in DC usually are authorized to do so only until midnight.
The ANC will also seek to end the consumption of food and beverages bought at FoBoGro in the area in front of and beside the store. It will also ask the store to work diligently to control vermin in the area. The problem of double-parking in front of the store should receive special attention, the ANC believes, during the time in the spring and the fall when many students are moving in and out of the area.
The negotiations will be further complicated by the fact that the George Washington University is the landlord of FoBoGro. It is also the landlord of the vacant lot, which functions like a public alley, next door.
All the Commissioners present voted to approve the written guidance for Commissioner Smith in his negotiations with FoBoGro.
Student publication The GW Hatchet has also reported on this topic here.