Falafel Cited, No More Rat Banquets?

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Ring around the rodent. Courtesy Wolf Wittke.

The Potomac Street rats that have acquired a taste for falafel may find that a lid has been put on their international banqueting. The new Falafel Inc takeout kitchen at 1210 Potomac St. NW was cited Aug. 4 for improper storage in a public space, Reginald May, associate administrator for the Solid Waste Education and Enforcement Program (SWEEP) of the Department of Public Works told The Georgetowner that afternoon.

The DPW citation carries a fine of $150 for the first offense. A second citation comes with a $300 fine, which continues to double. “We can issue a citation every day if need be until the offender comes into compliance,” May said. “Fines can go as high as $2,000 a day.”

“Our concern and area of authority is that public space is kept clear and clean,” May explained. “We can’t control private space.“ But after complaints came to the department about rats feasting on overfilled garbage bins that Falafel Inc stored in the garage driveway of the Eton Court condos next door, spilling onto the public sidewalk, DPW made an inspection, found the violation and issued the citation.

DPW also gives offenders educational materials about how to control the problem. “We have suggested that the establishment contract for daily garbage pickup,” May said.

It’s not the first citation Falafel Inc has received. Last June, the eatery was issued a citation for occupying public space without a permit. The pails were moved to the condo garage space following that incident.

There is, in addition, a dispute between Falafel Inc and the president of the Eton Court condos, Peter Mallios, over whether the eatery was given permission to store the bins on the ledge of the condos’ garage driveway. “They don’t pay rent,” Mallios wrote.

Any complaints regarding the usage of private space would have to go to D.C.’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, May explained. In those cases, sometimes the Metropolitan Police may become involved.

At press time, Jon Kuhl, public information officer with the Department of Public Works, wrote: “our SWEEP team had a conversation with the Falafel shop owner who has agreed to increase their collection frequency from 4 days a week to 6, and to change their collection times so that the cans aren’t sitting outside overnight. We will be following up with them over the coming weeks to ensure compliance.”

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