In with 2016, Out with Styrofoam
Beginning Friday, a new law goes into effect in the District banning the use of Styrofoam boxes or cups. D.C. is joining a host of other cities including New York City, Minneapolis and Portland, Maine in banning the containers.
Effective Jan. 1, the Sustainable D.C. Omnibus Amendment Act of 2014 prohibits the use of expanded polystyrene containers in the city. That means no more Styrofoam take-out containers from Chinese restaurants or your neighborhood Giant hot bar. And your Dunkin’ Donuts coffee won’t be served in Styrofoam cups.
Expanded polystyrene – the generic name for Styrofoam — is on the top of the list of things littering the Anacostia River along with plastic shopping bags. The foam does not decompose, even in landfills, and toxic chemicals cling to it.
The ban applies only to one-time use containers like bowls, plates and cups from restaurants, grocery stores, food trucks, coffee shops, bars, cafeterias, caterers and other food providers including businesses and churches that provide free coffee. The law allows businesses to receive products such as eggs in foam containers from outside the District. It can also still be used to package raw fish and meat, like in the meat section of the grocery store. You can still purchase them for use at home as well.
Many grocery stores, like Whole Foods, Harris Teeter and Safeway already switched to either recycled paper or clear plastic containers and Dunkin’ Donuts has made the switch to polypropylene cups in the District and is phasing out Styrofoam across the country.
The D.C. Department of Energy & Environment will enforce the new law and fine companies that continue to use Styrofoam containers. If you see a business still using the foam containers you can call the DOEE at 202-645-6988 or report it online.
Rasika West End sued for ADA violations
Attorney Marc Fiedler, a quadriplegic who uses a wheelchair, has filed a lawsuit against Rasika West End, 1190 New Hampshire Ave. NW, in U.S. District Court in D.C. claiming it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. The lawsuit also names the restaurant’s landlord.
Fiedler attended a dinner party at the restaurant a little over a year ago, but the party was in the “library room,” which is a step up from the main dining room in the restaurant owned by Ashok Bajaj.
According to the lawsuit, “Mr. Fiedler was told that the only ways for him, in his wheelchair, to enter the library room would be by going through a loading dock or by being carried. Mr. Fiedler rejected both alternatives because the latter was unsafe and both were undignified.” Fiedler claims the restaurant was “denying him, based on his disability, the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and accommodations of the restaurant.”
Fiedler, a personal injury attorney, has filed similar cases against Circa in Dupont Circles in 2008 and Hank’s Oyster Bar in Dupont in 2009. Circa’s parent company was ordered to pay Fiedler $40,000 and fill the problems while Hank’s reached a confidential settlement.
Bajaj believes Rasika West End was fully compliant with ADA regulations when it opened in March 2012, according to a spokeswoman.
“Prior to opening, all architectural plans were reviewed and approved by (the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs) as well as the condo association for which Rasika West End is located,” said Lindley Richardson, the restaurant’s spokeswoman. Rasika West End is located on the ground floor of 22 West, a condo building. At the time the restaurant opened, the “condo board’s president was in wheel chair, and we were very sensitive about making sure that we are in full compliance of the law.”
Richardson said Bajaj met with Fiedler, whom he has known for many years the week of Dec. 15. “It was a friendly meeting, and Mr. Bajaj is actively working to make sure (Fiedler’s) concerns are addressed,” she added.
In D.C., 5 percent of seating must be accessible height including bar seating. Restaurants must also have accessible restrooms for both men and women, a recent requirement. Previously one unisex accessible restroom was sufficient.
Dave & Buster’s opens in Springfield Town Center
Dave & Buster’s, an arcade, restaurant and sports bar, opened a new 37,000-square foot location between Maggiano’s and Nando’s Peri-Peri at the Springfield Town Center on Dec. 21 with more than 150 games, 30 big-screen TVs and the chain’s 360-degree sports bar.
The chain, which formerly had an outlet at the White Flint Mall, will open another location in Silver Spring on the top floor of Ellsworth Place, formerly City Place Mall, across from Burlington Coat Factory. It will also open in Prince George’s County next year at the Ritchie Station Marketplace shopping center in Capitol Heights. The next closest Dave & Buster’s is at Arundel Mills Mall in Hanover, Md.
The restaurant is the latest retailer to open at Springfield Town Center, which reopened in 2014 after a $250 million renovation.
Dave & Buster’s is open from 11 a.m.-midnight Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Cava Grill coming to Dupont Circle
Cava Grill, the D.C.-based fast, casual Mediterranean restaurant, is opening a new location on the ground floor of 1220 Connecticut Ave. SW in space formerly occupied by Bertucci’s, according to a building permit obtained from the city.
The company raised $45 million in funds in September to fuel its growth in the DMV and Southern California. According to the permit, the old Bertucci’s will get a new kitchen along with partitions, millwork, finishes, light fixtures and furniture.
The Dupont store will join those in Chinatown, Columbia Heights and Tenlytown in the District. The company’s website just lists the Dupont location as “coming soon” without a date or address. The Dupont store will be Cava Grill’s 13th DMV location.
Editor-in-Chief Mark Heckathorn is a journalist, movie buff and foodie. He oversees DC on Heels editorial operations as well as strategic planning and staff development. Reach him with story ideas or suggestions at dcoheditor (at) gmail (dot) com.