Monday, August 6, 2012

Z-Burger situation unclear. They say soon, but the law says otherwise

Ah, Z-Burger. The local burger chain is supposed to be coming to the Tivoli building at 14th and Park, and I've been looking forward to it for awhile. They invited me over in December to see the progress, and I was really impressed, it's a really nice-looking space. Supposedly the burgers are good. However, we've been waiting for awhile.

Z-Burger folks tell the press it'll be open in the next few weeks, but ANC commissioners say they haven't started to fulfill the conditions of their permits for their outdoor seating, so it may be some time.

The main issue holding things up was their patio seating. Z-Burger wanted to take out one of the concrete benches near where their patio would be on Park Road, they wanted a permanent fence around the seating, and they wanted a certain number of seats. There was a final hearing on May 24, and this is what was decided:
Z Burger's application for a sidewalk cafe was approved contingent upon the following conditions (please note: this is not the specific language used by the committee, but a summation):

1) Z Burger will choose furniture that is more consistent with the furniture at other restaurants in the Columbia Heights Public Realm, subject to the approval of the Office of Planning. 
2) The layout of the sidewalk cafe as applied for by Z Burger will remain the same, except for the removal of a four-top table (the middle of the three tables to the left (west) of the granite bench) and the handicap four-top table adjacent will be shifted to the left (west), in the former table's place, allowing greater access to the granite bench. 
3) Z Burger will only have a fence that runs parallel to Park Rd. There will be no fence enclosing the bench or on either the east or west sides of the cafe.
However, when I asked ANC commissioner Laina Aquiline what the status was last week, she said
As of last week, Z Burger had not presented their furniture selection to the Office of Planning for approval. Therefore, no permit for their sidewalk cafe has been issued. I do not know if they as yet have their Certificate of Occupancy for the inside. I was told by the manager at the Z Burger Waterfront location last week that they should be opening in a couple of weeks. I sincerely doubt that time frame. If Z Burger still maintains they cannot open the location until their sidewalk cafe is complete, I estimate they are still a ways off from opening.
I reached out to co-owner Peter Tabibian last week but didn't hear back. And in the meantime, they are working on opening a new location in Arlington, and when asked in that article, Tabibian said they hoped to open the Columbia Heights location in the next few weeks. The Southwest location they said they were focusing on before opening the Columbia Heights location is already open.

Judging from Laina's email, that doesn't seem like it's going to happen.

Here's the full saga. I've been writing that they're coming since April 2010. I am confident they will open eventually, however, as they've done a ton of work to the Tivoli space (unlike that Grocery Store that Shall Not Be Named.)


  1. It's fucking ridiculous that the opening of a business in the neighborhood has been delayed for so long due to concerns over the fate of a fucking bench. Especially when that concern has been largely misinformed or, as it has seemed to me, phony posturing.

  2. I agree that the bench is silly, but at the same time, if Z-Burger doesn't submit the things they are supposed to, that's their fault.

  3. It seems like Lainia is a fan of Z-Burger, since she traveled all the way down to the Southwest Zburger to find out when it is opening. Even if they dont have any outdoor seating becasue of her, I wonder if I will see her in there eating with me and everyone else who has been waiting for this place to open. And when the ourdoor part opens will she sit with us there too?

  4. The delay related to their not submitting things is nothing compared to the delay caused by the nonsense over whether they could move a bench or not.


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