At Wednesday’s meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6A Economic Development & Zoning Committee, the owners of Loaf Coffee (101 15 St. NE), Keagon Foster and Chris Pitorri, made an appearance in response to community concerns voiced to Committee Co-Chair Brad Greenfield.
Greenfield said concern had been expressed by residents about association with marijuana apparently made in materials used in marketing by the Loaf Companies Brand, and he had asked Pitorri and Foster to appear to respond to these concerns. Greenfield also offered attending residents an opportunity to address the matter.
‘Not A Dispensary’
“We have never sold or been engaged in the buying or selling of marijuana and its product, and we don’t plan to,” said Pitorri, after thanking the Co-Chair for the opportunity to respond. “We are not a dispensary, and we don’t have plans to become a dispensary,” adding that customers would not be allowed to smoke marijuana on the premises.
Asked to explain the drug references, Pitorri called them “a satirical reference to caffeine being most people’s drug of choice.” He pointed out that, like illicit drugs, coffee beans are grown at a site far away from North American consumers, packaged and imported, and that caffeine is a drug itself.
Acknowledging that ‘loaf’ is a reference to drug, Pitorri said they were playing off the idea that it was sometimes more difficult to get a good cup of coffee than illicit drugs –and it shouldn’t be. He said the slogan, ‘let us take you higher,’ expanded to: ‘higher standards, higher quality, higher expectations.’
‘Open to All Opinions’
Asked to address concerns that marketing material used by the wider Loaf Company, including a series of podcasts, was seen as ‘sexist,’ Pitorri said “the biggest concern as expressed to us is how, current and future, it relates to the shop,” saying that he and Foster were no longer producing podcasts as of August 2017.
“That’s kind of what that was all about, sort of part of a package, trying to build an online presence,” Pitorri said, noting that their focus had moved to the shop.
“We certainly apologize if people were offended by it,” said Pitorri. He noted that he had also conveyed the apology to neighbors in person and in writing.
He said that he thought a lot of the controversy was taken from titles and screenshots of the Podcasts, rather than from a thorough listen to an episode. He said many women had been guests on the show, and they “were always treated with the ultimate respect.” Pitorri said that the podcasts and other social media unrelated to the coffee shop had been deleted.
Their philosophy, he said, was to be “open to all opinions, all views, whether they agree with us or not,” and he invited everyone to their grand opening celebration March 24th to get to know them and the shop.
Sidewalk Café Planned
Residents at the meeting asked if Loaf Coffee was going to continue operating a sidewalk café in front of the single entrance/exit to the business, noting that it was never clear if Mia’s had a Public Space Permit for the space.
Pitorri said that Loaf Coffee had an application for a sidewalk café, which would be presented before the Transportation and Public Space Committee of ANC 6A at their next meeting. He emphasized that the shop would follow procedure and abide by rules.
Neighbor Brian Alcorn, who lives across the street from the coffee shop, noted that there had been challenges with Mia’s Coffeehouse, especially in the last period of its operation. “The neighbors are still very interested in having an amenity that’s a coffee shop in the community, and certainly were disappointed when Mia’s was closed most of the time.”
He said he had concerns in the past about trash and noise, and was encouraged by what he had seen so far from the proprietors, thanking them for attending the meeting.
Co-Chair Greenfield said that he wanted to have the public discussion with the Loaf proprietors because the committee had previous experience with marijuana-related businesses.
Deferring to the Transportation and Public Space Committee, who would make recommendations to the ANC after hearing the shop’s Public Space Application, Greenfield said he now saw no reason for concern.
Loaf Coffee shop will appear before the ANC 6A Transportation and Public Space Committee at 7 p.m. Monday February 26th in regard to a Public Space Application. The meeting takes place at Capitol Hill Towers (900 G St. NE). Photo identification is required for entry.