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Posted at 6:25 PM ET, 12/22/2010

Rogue States to grill again in Dupont

By Tim Carman
rogue states_opt.jpg Raynold Mendizabal plans to go Rogue again. (Marvin Joseph /The Washington Post)

The last word on Rogue States, it appeared, came in October when D.C. Superior Court Judge John M. Mott ruled that the Dupont burger joint was a nuisance for venting its grill exhaust in the general direction of some high-powered lawyers in the neighborhood. The only apparent solution to the grease fumes infiltrating law firm Steptoe & Johnson was to build a vent to the roof, which Rogue's landlord steadfastly refused to consider.

That seemed to be the end of that. Lawyers, judge and landlord were all lined up against owner Raynold Mendizabal and his flame-grilled burgers. Mendizabal would have to content himself with a planned second location near U Street NW.

Well, not so fast. Mendizabal told me this afternoon that he has worked out a deal with landlord, TRT, after all. The owner plans to build that vent to the roof at his own expense, to replace the controversial Smog Hog scrubber system, and hopes to reopen to the public around Feb. 1.

If Mendizabal had his druthers, of course, he would have built the rooftop vent in the first place. It certainly would have saved him hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, court costs and lost business.

"It's been a long, painful battle in which everyone lost," Mendizabal says.

So why did TRT do an about-face on the vent to the roof? Mendizabal says it had to do with the fact that Rogue States has been a model tenant and that public opinion was stacked against Steptoe and TRT. "It's a very easy business decision" for TRT, he says.

It's not clear whether Steptoe & Johnson will need to approve the new venting system before Rogue States reopens. Mendizabal doesn't think so. He plans to inform Judge Mott of his abatement plans and proceed from there. Steptoe & Johnson was not immediately available for comment.

Mendizabal is also moving ahead with his plans to open a second Rogue States at 1931 14th St. NW in the former Bargain World Inc. space. He expects that location to open in early April.

"They take one down," Mendizabal says about the court, "and I put two back."

By Tim Carman  | December 22, 2010; 6:25 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  
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Yaay!!! I have so missed them. Even their turkey burgers are great!

Posted by: doess | December 22, 2010 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Steptoe & Johnson would like to be on our floor where some lawyer microwaves egg whites for breakfast every morning. Umm Umm Good!!

Posted by: PGirl | December 23, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations - the city needs more small independently and locally owned restaurants that serve great food!

Posted by: tlandrew2 | December 29, 2010 8:27 AM | Report abuse

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