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Sidewalk Café, Beer and Wine Sales Coming to Dupont East’s Corcoran Street Safeway; ANC Seeking More Info

Accompanying images with explanatory captions providing details not included in the main text below can be viewed in the November 2016 issue pdf

By P.L. Wolff

Nearly 11 years ago we reported on a major interior rehab of this neighborhood Safeway store located at 17th and Corcoran Streets in the heart of Dupont East.

For the next nine years nothing much happened with that store (other than the usual revolving door of managers) until two years ago when Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons acquired Safeway’s 2,230 stores in 34 states, including those here in DC.

But now a big change is in the works for this very busy store: In addition to an application being submitted to the DC  transportation department’s (DDOT) Public Space Committee for an approved sidewalk café, Safeway will also be seeking from the DC consumer and regulatory affairs department’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) approval for the in-store package sale of beer and wine.

The Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission had on its November 9th regular monthly meeting agenda to be briefed by Safeway and DDOT and then for the commissioners to decide on the comments they needed to prepare for submission to DDOT to consider pursuant to the agency’s legal requirement that it give “great weight” to ANC comments before deciding on applications for permits and licenses.

Following the meeting, ANC Vice-Chair Noah Smith sent an email to The InTowner in which he stated that the commissionershad a good discussion about the Safeway application for a sidewalk café.” Nevertheless, he reported, “[i]n the end we voted unanimously to request a one month delay of the review by the city so that the ANC, Safeway and DDOT could all meet to discuss the feasibility of the plans.”

Specifically, according to Smith, the commissioners “raised questions about the dual-sided BikeShare station and whether there will be enough space for pedestrians to get through. [Stephanie Maltz, the ANC’s treasurer and commissioner who represents the area in which the Safeway is located,] did her best to get these questions answered before the meeting, but couldn’t wrangle both Safeway and DDOT. Instead of voting on an application with unanswered questions, we asked for a one month delay and Stephanie will lead a meeting of the parties shortly.”

As for how the four tables and 16 seats inside the sidewalk café will be used, it will be in the same manner as outside the Whole Foods near Logan Circle — a place to enjoy prepared foods from the store’s deli department.

The other major change coming to the Safeway will be the introduction of beer and wine selections (limited to in-store package sales); those purchases, however, like from the deli department are not at this time being considered for café consumption according to the Safeway representative interviewed by The InTowner. Further, when asked about the timing for filing an application with the DC consumer and regulatory affairs department’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) for an in-store beer and wine package sale license, we were informed that it is expected to be “soon.”

We also inquired about where the shelving and refrigerated cases for wine and beer are to be located in the store and to what extent this will require elimination other product. The answer: The greeting cards now displayed below the Corcoran Street windows will be eliminated and wine shelving will  occupy that space instead; the refrigerated beer cases will be installed along one side of aisle No. 8, stocked now with a wide variety of OTC medicines, first aid, hair products and miscellaneous sundries — these selections are to be paired down to what mangers believe will be most relevant for the store’s demographic.