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Archive for the ‘Vacancies’ Category

Look out Bruegger’s: Einstein Bros. Bagels is coming at you. This morning, the D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment approved the Colorado-based chain’s application to open a restaurant at 2233 Wisconsin Ave., in the former Vespa and Fan Fair spaces, which have been vacant since 2008. As we reported in March, Einstein’s needed a special zoning exception because its use of disposable silverware and food-warming equipment (specifically a soup warmer, convection oven, and panini press) classified it as a fast-food restaurant, which is limited to 18 seats. Einstein’s architectural plans call for a dining room with 55 seats, plus seating for 27 more outdoors.

According to the website of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, today’s zoning decision clears the way for the Einstein’s building permit application to be approved. A spokeswoman for Einstein Bros. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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We’d heard rumors that part of 2352 Wisconsin Ave., the former home of Shade & Shutter Shack, would become a manicure shop, but now there’s proof. A building permit application filed last week for the vacant building—which is located next door to Bourbon (2348 Wisconsin Ave.)—is for “interior work for a nail salon,” a source at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs tells us.

As previously reported, another part of the building is slated to be turned into a therapeutic massage business, if city approvals go through. Representatives of the business, Massage Escape Spa, will address Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3B at their June 14 meeting to request support for their plan.

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A couple of weeks back, we reported a rumor that two upper floors of the vacant property at 2352 Wisconsin Ave., formerly home to Shade & Shutter Shack, had been rented by a massage business. Now, we have what looks like proof: a building permit application filed on Tuesday. Though the names of permit applicants are not publicly released, the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs does confirm that this particular applicant will need a special zoning exception because they want to use the space primarily for massages. Details as they develop.

We hear the ground floor of this building may have been rented to a nail salon. We earlier reported that next-door neighbor Bourbon (2348 Wisconsin Ave.) was seeking to expand to 2352 Wisconsin; now we’re hearing it’s only the patio they have their eye on. Bourbon owner Bill Thomas has not responded to our requests for comment.

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The agenda for ANC 3B‘s April 12 meeting just came out, and it includes an intriguing bit of new business: “Discussion of request from Bourbon [2348 Wisconsin Ave.] for letter of approval to ABRA [i.e., the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration] regarding Bourbon’s proposed expansion into the next-door lower level and patio.”

We’ve been watching Bourbon’s vacant next-door neighbor, 2352 Wisconsin Ave., for signs of life ever since Shade and Shutter Shack vacated the premises in mid-2010. And we’ve heard rumors of various potential tenants, including a therapeutic massage business that may have rented the building’s upper floors. But this is the nearest thing we’ve heard to a plan to fill this hole in an otherwise lively row of storefront restaurants.

An ABRA spokesman says the agency has not yet received an application from Bourbon to expand its serving area. A source at Bourbon has not yet responded to an email sent earlier today.

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From the April 2012 edition of the Glover Park Gazette:

Is there a massage business operating at 2352 Wisconsin Ave. (next door to Bourbon), the former home of Shade and Shutter Shack? It’s hard to say. We hear secondhand that the top two floors of the long-vacant building have been leased to a legitimate therapeutic massage business, but Brad Rozansky, the leasing realtor, will not confirm or refute this. The building has a troubled history with massage: in December of 2007, an illegal sexual massage parlor located in the basement of the property was shut down after a police raid.

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From the April 2012 edition of the Glover Park Gazette:

2317 Wisconsin Ave., the former site of Margarita’s Restaurant, has a new owner—and it should soon have a new tenant. Remy Esquenet, a local real estate investor, bought the property on March 19 and hoped to lease it within a week, he told us shortly after the closing. “I’ve been speaking with some local restaurant-type tenants who are interested in the space,” he said. “If I can’t work something out with one of them, I’ll probably expand the first floor” to the rear to make the tiny storefront more attractive to national tenants.

A graduate of American University law school, Esquenet, 41, says he’s in Glover Park for the long haul. “I intend to own the building when I’m 80.” Esquenet owns several other small retail properties in the District, and he’s looking for more space in Glover Park, he says: “If you know someone who would like to sell their property and is looking for a good buyer, I’m a good buyer.”

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From the April 2012 edition of the Glover Park Gazette:

The owners of 2412 Wisconsin Ave., the former site of JP’s Night Club, are in lease negotiations with a prospective tenant for the long-vacant property, according to Barbara Alafoginis, who is both the leasing realtor and a member of the family group that owns the building. Alafoginis says she’s “not at liberty” to reveal the identity of the would-be tenant, though.

It’s hard to figure out what this means. JP’s has been closed since its original building was destroyed in a January, 2008 fire. Last year, the strip club signed a lease to return to the reconstructed property, but that deal apparently fell through, and the building was later listed for lease by an agency that specializes in restaurant clientele.

Now, that agency is out, and Alafoginis has become the leasing agent. (She’s also the listing agent on the building, which is for sale.) Meanwhile, the JP’s liquor license—which can only be used at 2412 Wisconsin Ave.—is in the hands of a mysterious new owner named Brian Petruska, who provided a nonworking telephone number to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and whose attorney, representative, Andrew Kline of the Veritas law firm, won’t return our calls even to say “no comment.” Hmph. (UPDATE: A tipster points out that Kline’s license to practice law in the District is currently suspended for violating “numerous Rules of Professional Conduct,” including forging a client’s signature, commingling funds, and deceiving a client about a case.)

The best we can say is that something is up. Given the rarity and high price of liquor licenses that allow nude dancing in the District, it seems at least possible that JP’s is angling for a comeback.

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