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Jul 20, 2007 01:39 PM

$20 Burgers in DC vs. Chain Hell?

Interesting article in today's Post about the enormous increase in property taxes for small businesses in DC and how it's affecting some locally owned restaurants, such as Colonel Brooks' Tavern, Tabard Inn, Blues Alley and Madam's Organ. Some of them have seen their taxes double in a year. Developing restaurant areas such as Columbia Heights are suffering. The H Street Playhouse has been an anchor for the new entertainment district on H Street and their taxes have more than doubled.
Councilmember Jack Evans tried to present legislation for commercial property tax caps to help suffering small businesses but got little support from the rest of the council.
Evans says that if this continues, the only businesses that can afford to locate in DC are Starbucks and other chains.
Colonel Brooks is thinking of closing, selling or just redeveloping the property as something else. The owner says, "No matter what, you can't charge $20 for a hamburger."
What's wrong with DC? Do they want to doom us to Chain Hell?

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  1. The suburbs are your friend!

    1. I feel ignorant. How are the chains able to get around the property tax problem?

      Is it higher sales volume? Better political connections?

      1 Reply
      1. re: mattm

        The national chains can afford the higher taxes.

      2. This is a new tactic for DC. The sales tax was the prior effort. Guess that didn't work so they had to come up with something else.

        1. Colonel Brooks can't close... It really is the only place to eat by Catholic Law that isn't either a gross chain or someplace you have to drive to. I know it isn't great cuisine, but we got nothing and I would rather have Colonel Brooks than nothing... You gotta love governments who don't appreciate small business. Small business and microenterprise is what we should be focusing on nowadays. Very sad.

          1. Ben's Chili Bowl faced the exact same problem a year or two ago. The guy who runs it was quoted as saying something close to the Colonel Brooks owner, something like ``I can't charge $5 ($10?) for a hot dog.'' Ben's got an abatement of some kind, I believe, and hot dogs there are still competitively priced. The point is there's hope with enough public outrage and media coverage.