Waterfront Repair Projects Put Family Business at Risk

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Malmaison restaurant owner Zubair Popal on K Street.
Malmaison restaurant owner Zubair Popal on K Street.

In 2013, the Zubair Popal family opened Malmaison Restaurant on an isolated corner of Water Street on the Georgetown waterfront. The business has been a success story. But now, during its busiest season, the family-owned small business is facing financial ruin. That’s because the city gave permits to three highly disruptive public repair projects by Pepco, DDOT and the National Park Service in front of the restaurant — all at the same time.

“My family invested all of our personal and life time savings as small business owners to open the restaurant,” wrote Popal in a Sept. 28 letter to The Georgetowner. “We have spent $1.6 million over the past three years to be able to attract visitors, dignitaries and regular guests enjoying Georgetown and its surroundings close to Malmaison. But now we are facing the complete ruin of our business during the next three months — the busiest period of business for us for the whole year. That can financially put us in a non reversible situation.

“Due to some reason, the D.C. government has issued three work permits for our location and zone for three different sources to carry out repairs, construction, and rehabilitation work at the same time,” Popal wrote. “Pepco, DDOT and the National Park Service are all working at the same area and location where Malmaison is located at 3401 Water Street.

“Pepco’s work which has resumed already, has affected our normal daily business, and has reduced traffic to our area. They have created disturbance through their drilling, noises, unhealthy smell of gas, fuel of machinery moving around, holes in the ground, storing of construction equipment, in addition to non availability of parking spaces due to being closed or utilized by them.”

Popal, president of Bakhtar Group LLC, is requesting that the authorities involved in these approvals and projects be made aware and responsible for their losses. He wrote: “Unless a mutual remedy that serves all and is acceptable to us is formulated, we will do everything in our power to voice our concern to everyone we can in order to find a better solution to our problem.”

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