George’s Late Night Loophole Disrupting Neighborhood
By November 3, 2021 One Comment 945•
George’s King of Falafel and Cheesesteak restaurant at 1205 28th St. NW has been serving its Mideastern-style food to Georgetown for 40 years. The business was in the spotlight during the Nov. 1 Georgetown-Burleith Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC 2E) meeting.
Residents, including Georgetown University students, have frequented this establishment over the years and considered it a good neighbor up until Covid restrictions prompted George’s to extend its hours of operation for delivery and carryout to 3 a.m. during the week and 4 a.m. on the weekend.
The family-run business has always enjoyed a large customer base and the extension of hours rapidly grew it into a more aggressive crowd during the early hours of the morning.
“I’ve been getting a lot of input from the surrounding neighbors on the issue of disrupting peace, order and quiet,” said ANC 2E06 Commissioner Gwendolyn Lohse in whose district the eatery lies. There are no other establishments in the general area that operate as late as George’s so all of the disruptive activity is concentrated there.
A George’s spokesman appeared before the commission at the virtual meeting and gave his input on how the establishment is engaging with the concerns of the community. He noted that they have previously worked with ANC 2E on littering issues and looks to address the newer ones that are a product of the extended hours, including an armed robbery that resulted in a police-related shooting.
“After the previous shooting incident, we realize that we need to step in to make customers and residents feel safe and not affect the quality of life of anyone around us,” said the spokesman. At an earlier request of the commission, George’s removed its streatery and have seen less traffic and congestion. In addition, he said that they hired private security to help with noise complaints during the weekends and has employees go around the block and pick up trash at the end of their shift.
A chaplain from Georgetown University also spoke on behalf of George’s vital role in the local Muslim community, to which several speakers at the meeting concurred. During the holy month of Ramadan, a George’s spokesperson said, late night hours help support those who are fasting through the evening and the restaurant’s Halal-only menu is much sought within the community.
Several neighboring residents participated in the meeting by sharing their concerns with George’s extended hours. Most of them pointed out the problems of trash, rodents, illegal parking and traffic jams but the common denominator of everyone was on noise issues.
One couple pointed out that it has become a personal matter that has disrupted their sleeping patterns which in turn has had an impact on job performance and overall health and happiness within the household. One other common denominator of neighboring residents is that everyone loves George’s but feel a reduction of late night hours has to occur in order for it to coexist peacefully with the neighborhood.
The noisy behavior is typically carried out by those who are inebriated and choose to yell and play loud music within steps of residential homes.
Although late night customers are often intoxicated, George’s doesn’t offer alcohol options on the menu because it doesn’t carry a liquor license. Therein lies the problem and a loophole for George’s to operate so late. Since they do not serve alcohol, a settlement agreement with the commission to abide by the peace, order, and quiet guidelines is not necessary.
Metropolitan Police Captain Steve Andelman of the Second District commented on the late night disruptions as well. He said that Crime Suppression and Bike Teams are on 28th Street giving George’s the proper attention to deter crime since the late night activity attracts criminal behavior. Andelman also noted that MPD has reached out to the D.C. Office of the Attorney General in hopes of that office sending George’s with some sort of intervention or nuisance letter. He said that the latest MPD has heard is that OAG pulled statistics from the area and it didn’t rise to the level of warranting a nuisance letter. “However, OAG did say that they would reach out to George’s in terms of coming to some sort of resolution,” Andelman said.
Commissioner Lohse offered a resolution that would urge the city and Georgetown Business Improvement District to work with George’s and have it operate at reduced hours such as midnight during the week and 1:30 a.m. on the weekend for a period of time.
During this time, George’s can work on proactive steps to address the quality of life issues caused by their operations. After such a period, George’s can work with the community on extending its hours of operation and ensuring that peace, order, and quiet in the neighborhood are upheld. “Let’s work on reduced hours and come back to the table when improvements are made,” Lohse said.
Additionally, Lohse offered a resolution that would ask the city to look at the transparent process of approving the hours of operation for restaurants operating without a liquor license who want to stay open after midnight. The resolution also urges Ward 2 Council member Brooke Pinto, in collaboration with ANC 2E, Georgetown BID and the Citizens Association of Georgetown to work with the city to establish a transparent process for approving hours of operations for restaurants that are 1) located on mixed use blocks within a specified distance; 2) do not hold a alcoholic beverage license; and 3) want to be open past midnight to promote a healthier relationship between businesses and residents.
“Let’s eliminate the loophole of businesses who operate without a liquor license and interrupt the enjoyment of our residences,” said Commissioner Lisa Palmer. The motions passed unanimously.