Wednesday, November 17, 2010

More Info on La Fonda's Progress at 14th and V St NW

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I originally reported back in September that a Tex/Mex restaurant La Fonda would be going into the old AM/PM carryout space at 14th and V. Well, U Street Girl has some updates and pictures this week.

Per the October ANC 1B minutes (you'll need to click though, as I can't directly link to each month's notes), the owner of La Fonda is identified as Michael Askarinam (who also runs Dupont Italian Kitchen on 17th).

According to Mr. Askarinam, he and his brother purchased the AM/PM carryout building 3 years ago and waited out the expiration of the existing tenant's lease. As they own the building, Mr. Askarinam asserted, they have a vested interest in the neighborhood and running their business responsibly (specific mention to discouraging loitering and congregation, which are currently a problem at 14&V).

Apparently the building also has a historic designation that will require the owners' modifications to be approved by the Historic Preservation Review Board.

One concern raised by the ANC commissioners back in October was La Fonda's hours of operation, especially in regards to serving alcohol. The original liquor license application stated that alcohol would be served from 8am-2am. Mr. Askarinam clarified that this was a typo, and that his business model was a restaurant primarily serving food, but where it would also be possible to purchase drinks. He asserted that he did not want an establishment where people came to get drunk.

However, additional concerns had been raised by community members because there is a nearby daycare that cares for approximately 250 children daily. There is also a school across the street. In deference to resident concerns about "peace, order, quiet and parking" the commissioners unanimously voted 8-0 to protest La Fonda's liquor license.

Yet throughout the October meeting, Mr. Askarinam repeatedly indicated he was very willing to compromise and make accommodations as requested by the community.

A Voluntary Agreement was drafted and presented. During the November ANC 1B meeting, the commissioners voted 7-1 to withdraw their liquor license protest, and approved the establishment's Voluntary Agreement. DC's ABRA (Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration) will of course have the final approval on the liquor license.

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