George’s Neighbors Rage and Praise
By November 8, 2021 One Comment 292•
The fate of a Georgetown neighborhood popular restaurant’s unique late-night hours – until 3 a.m. on weekdays and 4 a.m. on weekends – continued to be the subject of investigation, rage and praise after the surprisingly emotional discussion about it at the Georgetown-Burleith Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E virtual meeting on Nov. 1.
George’s King of Falafel and Cheesesteak restaurant at 1205 28th St. NW, that has been serving a selection of mainly Middle Eastern-style food at that location for some 40 years, was the subject of social media, communiques to city officials and neighborhood conversations all the rest of the week.
“The reactions are becoming somewhat militant,” one neighbor on Olive Street, who did not want to be identified told The Georgetowner.
“We’re an urban neighborhood,” commented another neighbor. “Having a busy restaurant with people coming and going has kept the neighborhood lively and relatively safe. George’s shouldn’t be blamed for overflowing garbage pails two blocks away,” he said, referring to a widely seen photo of a crammed garbage container on the corner of Rose Park at 27th and Olive Streets. Similarly, the two attempted late-night car jackings on the block, one that resulted in a shoot-out with an off-duty policeman around midnight on Oct. 20, can’t be blamed directly on George’s,” the neighbor said.
Other comments during the week reflected the mixed feelings of many of George’s neighbors and admitted frequent patrons. Most praised the food, its contribution to neighborhood liveliness and diversity and its service to Mideastern students, especially those at Georgetown and GWU. As a restaurant with a halal menu, the mainly take-out restaurant has never served alcohol and that has not been a factor in past complaints, several neighbors pointed out to The Georgetowner at a neighborhood party on Nov.4.
Still, there is no doubt that since the Covid pandemic when the restaurant extended its hours, customers have become much noisier and aggressive. The narrow two-way block of 28th Street NW with parking on both sides and north-going traffic feeding from three different roadways, became even more gridlocked when George’s and its neighboring Ethiopian restaurant Das were allowed to have a quarter block of streateries with road barriers, umbrellas and potted plants.
“As the only restaurant open until 3 and 4 a.m. in the entire area, George’s became a popular congregation place. Patrons became aggressive about eating in and around their cars, double parking, parking on corners and crossing the crowded street without attention, advisory neighborhood commissioner Gwen Lohse said. Blocking driveways, throwing out garbage and urinating on the sidewalks increasingly were among the complaints she and the commission received.
“The noise became unbearable for many,” said Joe Wilson who lives nearby. Another neighbors said, “It’s been months since I’ve had a week of full night sleep and that has affected me personally, my work and my daily life. The relative peace and feeling of safety of the neighborhood has been destroyed.”
None of the neighbors seemed to advocate for George’s to be shut down however. In the past weeks the streateries have been removed for review and the ANC 2E sent a resolution to the city for the hours of service be reviewed. Officially, the ANC has no power to act as the restaurant does not have a liquor license, a loophole in the approval process Lohse pointed out.
Increased police patrols have been added and mobile police lights have been installed on the block. However as of press time, George’s open hours remain the same.