A new 24-hour diner has been announced for 1424 Wisconsin Ave. The name of the restaurant will be Mono Diner.
The restaurant has a webpage, but most of it seems to be stock photos and text. The gallery page, however, appears to have photos uploaded to WordPress this month, so that may be representative of what the restaurant plans to offer. Except, oops, it looks like most of the photos are from IHOP.
The more GM digs into this, the more apprehensive he gets. Setting aside the half baked website and the stolen photos of food, the people behind the restaurant don’t have a great track record.
The business name “Mono Diner” was just registered with the PTO by Mohammad Esfahani. The name will be familiar to those that closely follow the history of this stretch of Wisconsin Ave. In 2002 he leased 1329 Wisconsin Ave. But after idiotically placing a tar machine on the roof, the building collapsed. Then he tore down all but the facade. A historic mid-19th century building was essentially destroyed by his actions.
Then in 2011 work he had performed on 1424 Wisconsin Ave.–i.e. the building now promising a diner (which he owned, and still owns)– caused that building to collapse too. It took years of more work for the building to finally be repaired. It has sat empty ever since.
He was fined $1,000 after that first collapse. He was supposedly planning on opening a diner in that space. Sixteen years later and it looks like he’s finally getting his diner.
Prior to the collapse of 1424 Wisconsin in 2011, Esfahani announced that he planned to open a Z-Burger there. He owned the local mini-chain with his brother and Payam Tabibian. But he and his brother had a falling out with Tabibian, which ended in a lawsuit. The franchise’s properties were split up, with Tabibian taking the brand and half the locations. (The Esfahanis kept the Glover Park location, but had to rename it “All About Burgers”).
The retail broker Papadopoulos had been advertising the 1424 Wisconsin space for years. They have a good record in Georgetown, having brought in both Stachowski’s and Dog Tag Bakery. But it would appear that Esfahani decided he doesn’t want to lease it out any more and wants to operate a restaurant himself.
Prior to digging, GM was optimistic about this restaurant. Ever since Furin’s closed, there hasn’t been a simple basic diner in Georgetown except the schmaltzy Johnny Rockets. (Which GM avoided because the reprehensible Daniel Snyder owned it, although apparently he sold it a few years ago.) A 24-hour diner can sometimes pose a problem for noise, but this location doesn’t abut residences. And honestly, Georgetown isn’t a 24-hour neighborhood, so it’s really unlikely they’ll stick to it. (Neighbors who would want to object to the hours would only get a means to do so if the restaurant got a liquor license, which they don’t appear to want as of yet).
So maybe it will be fine, and maybe it will help contribute to the revitalization of this troubled stretch of Wisconsin. But the owner behind it has shown a consistent disregard for the rules in Georgetown. Will this time be better?