Residents of the area surrounding Eastern Market met Monday night with the owner of a new restaurant set to open this summer in the Hine School Development. The owner said he hopes that EAT BRGZ, a concept restaurant offering customizable burgers, will open as early as July at 250 Seventh St. SE, on the corner with C Street.
The meeting between EAT BRGZ owner Brandon Gaynor and residents of the area and especially the Residences at Eastern Market, the units that sit above the plaza, was called by Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B prior to the consideration of Gaynor’s application for a Class C Restaurant liquor license.
6B Chair Chander Jayaraman said that the meeting was deemed necessary because of the residences located immediately above the site of the restaurant. “I thought it was important for residents of the Hine project and the surrounding area to have a chance to give input on any possible concerns,” Jayaraman said. Gerald Sroufe (6B02), Commissioner for the area’s Single Member District (SMD), said the meeting gave Gaynor a chance to hear community concerns.
The application for a Class C Restaurant license includes interior seating for 25 and outdoor seating in two areas. A patio along the privately-owned C Street would seat 45; another outdoor patio along Seventh Street could seat up to 15, but Gaynor said that he would likely delay the application for that portion, assessing feasibility after opening. Hours of operation on the application are from 7:30 a.m. to 2 a.m., with sales beginning at 8 a.m.
A Different Take on Burgers
Eat BRGZ (pronounced ‘eat bergs,’) will offer a different take on burgers. Ingredients are blended into chicken, beef and veggie patties in burgers made with locally-baked bread and locally-grown produce. For instance, Gaynor said that the Greek Burger combines feta, Kalamata olives, dill and cucumber into the patty, which is grilled and placed on the bun with a fine tzatziki sauce on the side. “We want to bring all the flavors that we all love in other foods back into the burger,” Gaynor said.
The restaurant will also serve fries and specialty milkshakes, a proprietary formula with all-natural ingredients offering higher protein and lower calories. “We take a lot of care in all of the ingredients that we source,” he said.
Six alcoholic options will be available on tap, three varieties each of wine and beer. Gaynor said “Our primary business is not to serve alcohol. It is to serve food, and then to accompany that food with a drink –or a non-alcoholic beverage, which we will serve as well,” said Gaynor.
Sound Engineer Hired
Residents expressed concern about public space, noise and trash as related to rodent control. In particular, attendees repeatedly requested clarification about the layout of the outdoor seating surrounding the restaurant. Gaynor and his attorney, hospitality lawyer Matthew Minora, said that the patio would run along the C Street side of the restaurant, extending four feet into the sidewalk from the building. A width of about six feet of sidewalk would remain for pedestrian use.
The presence of such a large patio on the C Street Plaza raised concerns with noise. Gaynor said that EAT BRGZ has retained a sound engineer to help mitigate potential noise coming from the outdoor seating that could potentially affect residents, d, adding that noise-dampening umbrellas, strategically placed plants and wood (rather than metal) furniture were some of the options under consideration, and noting that the restaurant will use take-out containers rather than glassware, reducing the noise as people eat. There will be no speakers outside the restaurant, and the license application does not permit live entertainment.
Residents remained concerned. Citing the combination of alcohol service and outdoor seating residents, also questioned the wisdom of having outdoor seating open until 2 a.m. “You’re asking for the worst kind of behavior,” said one.
Minora said that the hours of application were chosen based on licenses held by neighboring establishments, such as Tunnicliffs (222 Seventh St. SE) and Boxcar Tavern (224 Seventh St. SE).
Jayaraman said that while those two restaurants, located on the east side of Seventh Street, are permitted full hours of service, that decision was taken because there were no residences about the patio spaces. Others located further south on Seventh Street, such as Montmartre, Radici and the not-yet-open Eastern Wine Bar have limited outdoor hours ending at 11:30 p.m. or 1 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, in consideration of the nearby residents.
Gaynor said that the restaurant does not offer table service. Patrons will order at the counter and bring food to their seats, putting materials in the trash on the way out. Because of this, Gaynor said, patrons are unlikely to remain on the patio drinking for long periods of time, as they will have to line up every time they want an additional beverage.
Gaynor said that staff would regularly clean tables and grounds of the patio in order to keep the area clean and to discourage rodents. He added that trash containers would be placed at every possible exit, to make it easiest for patrons to dispose of trash. In response to a query asking if the patio would be constructed to prevent the blowing of improperly discarded trash, Gaynor said that it was a good idea and he would examine the possibilities.
Gaynor said he would do everything in his power to fight the rodent problem. Nieman added that Eastbanc employs personnel to ensure the perimeter of buildings are kept clean, and that the property managers are about to undertake seasonal pest- remediation on the plaza.
The ANC Alcohol and Beverage Committee (ABC) will make a recommendation on the license at their next meeting, held 7 p.m. May 9 at the street level lobby of 700 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. A vote will be held at the full meeting of ANC 6B, Tuesday, May 14 at the Hill Center (921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE).
The ANC can come to a Settlement Agreement (SA) with Eat BRGZ, a contract between the ANC and the applicant that addresses community concerns when it gives its opinion on the license to the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), which grants liquor licenses in the District. The ANC will write a letter that can either support, protest or take no position on the application.
Jayaraman encouraged residents to attend the two meetings, or to email concerns and opinions (especially on the hours of operation) to him at [email protected] or to Commissioner Sroufe at [email protected]