Posted tagged ‘Sweet Mango’

Sweet Mango Has Its Day at ABRA

January 14, 2013
Sweet Mango Cafe, located at 3701 New Hampshire Ave. NW.

Sweet Mango Cafe, located at 3701 New Hampshire Ave. NW.

The Sweet Mango saga that began on August 4th with a kitchen fire seems to finally be drawing to a close. Upon the restaurant’s closure due to the fire, DCRA became involved and worked with Sweet Mango to ensure that recent construction was to code and permitted. Even after the restaurant’s November 28th reopening, there were still issues that needed to be address with ABRA regarding two violations of its Voluntary Agreement and failure to pay taxes in 2011.

Well, the ABRA Show Cause Hearing was held last Wednesday, January 9th, and the results from the hearing are as follows:

As shared on the Petworth listserv:

Violation of Voluntary Agreement, Failed to Obtain Entertainment Endorsement, Failed to File Quarterly Statements (1st and 4th Quarters 2011)

Disposition: The Government amended the Show Cause Notice for Case No. 12-AUD-00030 (Sweet Mango) to drop one charge. The Board accepted an Offer in Compromise: $10,000 to be paid within 60 days ($8,000 for Case No. 12-CMP-00010; $2,000 for Case No. 12-AUD-00030), 5-1 (Jones).

While I agree that voluntary agreements need to be enforced once they have been entered into, I also feel that it is time to review the voluntary agreement in place for Sweet Mango. Their current VA  is between Sweet Mango and ANC 4C, the Petworth Action Committee, and the United Neighborhood Commission. It dates to 2004 making it one of the earliest VA’s in the neighborhood — and I think it reflects its time. When comparing it to VA’s in place with other area businesses, such as Blue Banana, DC Reynolds, or Looking Glass, the one for Sweet Mango includes restrictions — such as a requirement for valet parking — that are neither in those for other Georgia Avenue businesses or all that relevant.

In this instance, I think it’s time to meet with Sweet Mango’s owner, discuss the problem areas with the current VA, and incorporate appropriate changes that are in keeping with other local businesses.


DCRA Reviewing Sweet Mango Building Permit History

October 17, 2012

If you’ve been waiting for Sweet Mango to reopen it looks like you’ll have to wait a little bit longer.

Due to resident concerns about unpermitted construction at Sweet Mango over the years, DCRA construction inspections supervisor Garret Whitescarver was in attendance at the monthly ANC 4C08 meeting hosted by Commissioner Timothy Jones. Renewed interest in construction and safety at Sweet Mango arose after the recent August 4th fire. The restaurant has been closed since that time.

Based on what was learned at the meeting, it appears that Sweet Mango may be closed for a while longer.  Before DCRA issues a certificate of occupancy for Sweet Mango they are reviewing all discernible work at the building and comparing it with known permits. The intent is to review unpermitted work, like that of the second story addition (enclosed in 2009), and make sure it is safe and meets current building codes. While its likely that most if not all of the work would have been allowable as a matter of right, that doesn’t negate the requirement of permits or inspections. Should anything not comply with current building codes, Sweet Mango will either have to remove it or go before the Board of Zoning Adjustment for a variance.

The long and the short of it is that this may take a little time, and until the review, inspections, and permits are issued the restaurant will not get the occupancy permit required to reopen.


Fence Removed at Sweet Mango

August 6, 2012

The Sweet Mango fence along Rock Creek Church has been removed

Residents who live along Rock Creek Church Road, or at least walk it to get to the Metro, may have noticed that the fence at Sweet Mango was removed last week. In light of the duct fire at Sweet Mango that occurred on Saturday this event was definitely overshadowed — though not noticed.

Readers may recall that back in May 2010 Sweet Mango began to erect a fence without permits on public space. At the time, I wrote the following: “After receiving a stop work order, DCRA issued a permit that allowed them to finish. However, DCRA inappropriately issued that permit without the approval of DDOT, which has authority over public space.”

Taking up the issue in November 2012, ANC 4C commissioners voted to retroactively approve the public space application for the fence permit “with the provisions that the fence meet with DDOT guidelines and the sidewalk be deemed compliant with ADA guidelines.”

Well, guess what, that never happened.

After talking to a neighbor about this, they decided to do some digging. After doggedly staying after DDOT, below is the response they got on May 22 of this year:

On May 10th [DDOT] investigated the site conditions at the rear of 3701 New Hampshire Avenue, NW. [Having] received community concerns that the existing sidewalk presented a condition that was so narrow as to obstruct people with disabilities from being able to traverse the sidewalk. …  At the present time the sidewalk at the most narrow point is 40” wide, which is of adequate width to let one wheelchair pass. However, it does not meet the ADA and FHWA recommended minimum width of 4’.  Under a more practical assessment, it is operationally too narrow and way below the DDOT minimum requirement of 6’.

Upon further research we found that the owner of the restaurant, The Sweet Mango,  came before the Public Space Committee on November 18th, 2010 for an over-height fence and it was DENIED.  (3701 New Hampshire Avenue, NW – Application No. 56385). It appears that DCRA may have issued a permit, but this fence is located on public space and so it is not under the jurisdiction of DCRA.

Accordingly, we are recommending that the fence be removed from public space and that the existing curb cut, which is now serving no useful function and technically has been abandoned, be removed and the curb returned to its original condition to serve as a separator from the main roadway.

This is a great example of what can be accomplished by an active citizenry … and that some of our government agencies, in this case DDOT, really do listen to residents’ concerns.


Sweet Mango Fence Retroactively Getting Approved

November 10, 2010

The fence at Sweet Mango was erected in May, 2010

Back in May, Sweet Mango erected a fence on the public space along Rock Creek Church Road without permits. After receiving a stop work order, DCRA issued a permit that allowed them to finish. However, DCRA inappropriately issued that permit without the approval of DDOT, which has authority over public space.

Last night, ANC4C took up the issue of voting on the public space permit application for the fence that has already been built. As expected, the discussion centered on the lack of process and the oddity of seeking approval for something that has already been done.

Chief among the concerns discussed were the fence’s compliance with DDOT regulations and how much sidewalk currently exists between the fence and the loading bay. Several residents expressed concern that the sidewalk currently is so narrow that it is difficult for strollers to pass and may even be too narrow for wheelchairs.

After a significant amount of discussion, the commissioners voted to approve the application with the provisions that the fence meet with DDOT guidelines and the sidewalk be deemed compliant with ADA guidelines.


Liquor License at Sweet Mango Cafe Up for Renewal

June 16, 2010

Sweet Mango Cafe (3701 New Hampshire Ave, NW)

On June 4, 2010, notice of Sweet Mango Cafe’s intent to renew their liquor License was posted. It’s possible that many in the community may not be aware of this. The posted ABRA notices are only visible when the restaurant is open (the metal security door hides the notices when the business is closed).

The class of license that is being renewed is a Retailer CR-03, which is described on the ABRA Web site as being for a Restaurant with seating capacity of 200 to 499 patrons. In this regard, its important to note that Sweet Mango does not have a CN-03 license, nor is it applying for one, which is the license that would support a night club of the same size.

In reviewing the renewal notice (which you can read by clicking on the image to the right), the next important date in the process is July 19, 2010, which is when petitions and/or letters either opposing or supporting the license’s renewal are due. The last important date is that of the hearing, currently scheduled for August 2, 2010. The application also lists hours of operation.

Though its hard to find many in the community that don’t appreciate the food at Sweet Mango, there have also been problems with the restaurant ranging from its closure and liquor license suspension after a shooting that occurred there in early December,  2009, to its erection of a fence on public space without the necessary permits in mid-May of this year. The fence issue still has not been resolved.

Are the problems at Sweet Mango Cafe severe enough to deny them a liquor license, or are such issues the price one pays for having a restaurant in their community?


Sweet Mango Fence Saga Continues

May 21, 2010

The fence at Sweet Mango was allowed to be finished

It was with much dismay that is saw that the fence along the Rock Creek Church Road side of Sweet Mango was allowed to be completed on Wednesday. It was even more appalling to see that the stop work order issued by DCRA on May 12, 2010, had been replaced by a work permit for a fence along the back of the building.

Upon digging into this issue, and after talking to a few neighbors, I understand that inspectors were at Sweet Mango again on May 20th. Sweet Mango was also able to obtain a permit for the fence, but I believe they also need to obtain a permit to use public space.

 Clearly, the book is not closed on this issue and I think concerned residents need to keep a watchful eye on this as details unfold.

Based on how this business has operated in the past, I’d like to know if permits had been obtained for any of the construction that has occurred there over the past 10 years.

809 Rock Creek Church Road is also used by Sweet Mango. There is a strong likelihood that the structure in front was constructed without permits


New Construction at Sweet Mango?

May 13, 2010

Wednesday, an impromptu wall began to rise on the Rock Creek Church Road frontage of Sweet Mango. After some investigation, I’ve learned that this construction was done without a permit and that a stop work order was issued.

Is this something that is appropriate for this location? My general concerns would be that the sidewalk is already narrow at this location due to the loading area cut into the curb. Also, while I haven’t seen plans, would having  a wall that is +/- six foot high create any safety issues at this location?

The Fence is anchored by holes drilled into the sidewalk


Outcome of Sweet Mango Status Hearing

January 20, 2010

0031Today, the issue of Sweet Mango’s liquor license came before ABRA for a status hearing. The outcome of that hearing is as follows:

The Board accepted an Offer of Compromise (OIC). The terms of the OIC were a $3,000.00 fine, a 77 day suspension (47 days will be served up to 1/21/09) and thirty days are stayed pending no violations for one year of the VA or other primary violations. The parties are required to return to ABRA in 90 days to report back to the Board about violations of any kind.  In the future, if the party seeks an entertainment endorsement, or any other substantial change, it will simultaneously present a security plan.  The final term was that the attorney for the establishement was required to discuss the residents’ issues such as cleaning greasy equipment on the sidewalk and power washing noise at night.

As a reminder to residents, violations can be reported directly to the appropriate DC agencies if attempting to resolving an issue by other means fails. Agencies that can be contacted are ABRADOH, DCRA, or DPW depending on the violation.

Sweet Mango Issue Takes Lion’s Share of ANC 4C Meeting

January 13, 2010

While the ANC 4C meeting last night had a full agenda of new items ranging from speed bumps on the 1200 block of Emerson Street, NW, to a presentation by DC Cares and DC Hoops Basketball League for a grant to support a youth basketball program, it was Sweet Mango’s suspended liquor license that was the main event.

Last month’s ANC 4C meeting occurred on the heels of the December 5th shooting and before the ABRA summary hearing, not giving the commissioners a chance to gather facts and act. At last night’s meeting, Martha Jenkins and Cynthia Simms from ABRA were on hand to answer questions about ABRA, voluntary agreements, and general questions pertinent to the Sweet Mango case. After fielding questions on how liquor licenses become suspended, what causes a license to get revoked, and who is responsible for enforcing voluntary agreements (its ABRA), the focus moved more to the Sweet Mango case in particular.

One item that was shared by ABRA is that in addition to the status hearing scheduled for January 20th, there is also a show cause hearing on Sweet Mango schedule for February 17, 2010, at 3:00 p.m. In the Notice of Status Hearing and Show Cause Hearing document, it lists six charges against Sweet Mango that could lead to a fine, suspension, or revocation of their liquor license. There were:

  1. Charge I: [Sweet Mango] failed to allow an ABRA investigator immediate access to the establishment and otherwise interfered with an investigation, in violation of D.C. Official Code § 25-823 (5) (2009), for which the Board may take the proposed action.
  2. Charge II: [Sweet Mango] allowed the licensed establishment to be used for an illegal or disorderly purpose § 25-823 (2) (2009), for which the Board may take the proposed action pursuant to D.C. Official Code § 25-823 (2) (2009).
  3. Charge III: [Sweet Mango] failed to obtain an entertainment endorsement prior to offering entertainment at the licensed establishment, in violation of D.C. Official Code § 25-113a (2009), for which the Board may take the proposed action pursuant to D.C. Official Code § 25-823 (1) (2009).
  4. Charge IV: [Sweet Mango] violated the terms of [its] voluntary agreement, in violation of D.C. Official Code § 25-823 (6) (2009), for which the Board may take the proposed action pursuant to D.C. Official Code § 25-823 (6) (2009).
  5. Charge V: [Sweet Mango] made a substantial change in the operation of the establishment without first obtaining approval of the Board, in violation of D.C. Official Code § 25-762 (a) (2), (3), (4), (6), (8), (9), (13) and (14) (2009), for which the Board may take the proposed action pursuant to D.C. Official Code § 25-823 (1) (2009).
  6. Charge VI: [Sweet Mango] failed to make a copy of [its] voluntary agreement (VA) immediately accessible to an Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) investigator during an inspection, in violation of D.C. Code § 25-711 (a), for which the Board may take the proposed  action pursuant to D.C. Code § 25-823.


Highlights from the January UNC Meeting

January 7, 2010

The most significant items from last night’s Park View UNC meeting were a presentation from guest speaker Sylvia Robinson on the Georgia Avenue Community Development Taskforce and guest speaker Reginald James, owner of Sweet Mango (both described in more detail below). The assembly also got to meet Captain Angel Medina who has taken over for Commander Jacob Kishter at the 3rd District Substation on Park Road. While traffic on Park Place has been an issue in past meetings, a proposed DDOT Traffic Audit did not gain support from those assembled.


  • Georgia Avenue Community Development Taskforce: Sylvia Robinson of the Emergence Community Arts Collective (ECAC) spoke about an initiative lead in partnership with the Pleasant Plains Civic Association and including neighbors and community leaders to develop a master plan for Georgia Avenue between Florida and New Hampshire Avenues.  There has already been three meetings, with the next meeting currently scheduled for January 25th from 7-9 at the GADGET Center – 2801 Georgia Ave. Documents and minutes of the meetings to date can be found here>>. There was a differing of opinion between Robinson and ANC 1A08 Commissioner Cliff Valenti on the point of community input on the several plans that have been done over the years. While Robinson stated she was unaware of any broad-based community input on previous plans, Valenti asserted that many of the plans have had community input.
  • Sweet Mango: Reginald James was invited to speak at the meeting and address the shooting at his establishment on December 5, 2009, his response to the shooting, violations of the Voluntary Agreement , and the community’s concerns with all of the above. After the President summarized the events that lead to the suspension of Sweet Mango’s liquor license, James was given the floor. He read a statement in which he accepted responsibility, acknowledged the short comings of the restaurant, his staff, and his own oversight, and stated he was going to take a more active role in running the business. He also was accompanied by a gentleman who will be taking on the responsibility of establishing security at the restaurant, and lawyer Doreen Thompson who is working with James to address the violations with DC laws, codes, and the Voluntary Agreement. Thompson spoke on several occasions as well, asserting that her role in this is to work with James and bring him into compliance. One immediate outcome of the shooting is that James has had to let the manager on duty that night go. This issue will next be taken up at the ANC 4C meeting on January 12th at Roosevelt High, the ANC 1A meeting on January 13th at Harriet Tubman Elementary, and ABRA on January 2oth.

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