D.C. eatery told to stop grilling burgers
A D.C. Superior Court judge ruled the popular Dupont Circle eatery Rogue States a nuisance on Tuesday and ordered it to stop grilling hamburgers, after an eight-month dispute with a neighboring law firm over its “intense and noxious odor.”
Judge John M. Mott ordered the restaurant to stop grilling after it closes early Wednesday. Over three days of tesimony, Mott said he’d heard “ample evidence” to conclude that the restaurant at 1300 Connecticut Ave. NW caused the itchy and watery eyes, nausea and headaches suffered by employees of Steptoe & Johnson.
Though Mott ordered the restaurant only to cease grilling, he acknowledged “the effect” of the ruling could force it to close its doors, given that its menu consists only of hamburgers and french fries.
“While today’s decision is not what we had hoped for, it is not the end of the line for Rogue States,” said attorney Gary C. Adler of Roetzel & Andress. “We are exploring all options at this point.”
Mott left open the possibility that the restaurant could resume cooking if it upgrades or moves its exhaust system from its current location on a second-story roof. That roof is surrounded on three sides by tall buildings and creates a canyon that pipes grease fumes directly into Steptoe’s building, the firm has said.
Rogue States previously borrowed money from its landlord to upgrade its exhaust system. But Mott said their choice was not the “appropriate system,” and that relocating the vent to the top of the 10-story building may be necessary to reduce the odor sufficiently.
This case “is not about anyone trying to run a small establishment out of business ... it is also not about a small business that does not care about its neighbors,” Mott said, encouraging the parties to work towards a resolution that could keep Rogue States and its 30 employees in business.
-- Amanda Becker,
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