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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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FoBoGro mediation ends; decision on liquor license, hours to come

The mediation between managers of the Foggy Bottom Grocery and a neighborhood group that opposes the store’s proposed hours and food services ended Wednesday, and a decision is expected within the next 90 days.

Alumnus Kris Hart, who took over FoBoGro this year, and the West End Citizen’s Association, a local community group, have been debating the store’s proposed hours – from 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. daily – and the legality of operating a deli in the basement of the townhouse located just across the street from South Hall.

Student Association Executive Vice President Jason Lifton gave a statement of support before officials from D.C.’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, saying that he is “very confident that having Foggy Bottom Grocery on our block would be an improvement to the neighborhood.”

“If it’s going to benefit students then we’ll advocate for it, and it was something that I thought would clearly benefit a whole bunch of people,” Lifton said after the hearing. “I spoke to a ton of students to make sure I wasn’t alone on that and everybody that I spoke to said it seems like a great thing. I couldn’t find anybody really who was not excited about it opening.”

Barbara Kahlow, the secretary of WECA, did not return requests for comment, but according to ABRA documents obtained by The Hatchet, the group’s members allege that “the previous Foggy Bottom Grocery violated numerous ABRA laws and assert that the renovated Foggy Bottom Grocery, with extended hours and expanded business operations proposed by Mr. Hart, will cause problems similar to the establishment’s predecessor.” Those issues include sales to minors and underage drinking, and public consumption of alcohol around the store, a potential for crime and public urination.

Sara Maddox, whose home is near an alley behind the grocery store, said that when the old Foggy Bottom Grocery was in operation, there was often vomit and damage to the shrubbery outside her home, which she attributed to Foggy Bottom Grocery customers, according to the ABRA report. Maddox said that Riverside Liquors, a shop on E Street between 21st and 22nd streets, does not have the same problems as the old Foggy Bottom Grocery did.

Hart said that the store would prohibit on-premises food and beverage consumption, and removed benches that sat in front of the store where “customers purportedly used to sit, noisily congregate, and sometimes consume alcohol,” according to ABRA documents.

“We’re not a bar, we’re not a late-night establishment. We’re just selling beer and wine for off-premise consumption between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.,” Hart said.

According to the ABRA documents, University Police Chief Dolores Stafford said she did not recall “any reports of underage drinking outside the previous Foggy Bottom Grocery,” and that UPD officers are “vigilant in monitoring for such behavior.”

Stafford also said that she met with Hart to discuss precautions to avoid selling alcohol to minors and that UPD had far more underage drinking issues with Riverside Liquors. According to documents, Stafford said when UPD officers conduct “stings” in residence halls, the students “often admit to obtaining their alcohol from Riverside Liquors.”

In addition, Hart – who has invested more than $300,000 into renovating the building, according to ABRA documents – spent approximately $4,000 on security equipment, including high-resolution cameras and motion sensors.

It could take up to three months for the final decision to come down, but Hart said the store is slated to open in January 2010. Hart, who also owns Relaxed Day Spa, had previously hoped to open it by November of this year, but said construction issues pushed the date back.

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