by Katherine Saltzman
The owner of the Burger King franchise at Van Ness has told local officials that the restaurant will likely be closing within months.
The Burger King, known for its rock ‘n roll and 1980s-90s movie décor, has been at 4422 Connecticut Avenue for 35 years. In a late July email to ANC 3F, Mark James, the owner of franchisee Potomac Foods, said the site had become too expensive. Upcoming expenses include a building renovation required by Burger King corporate, and a parking lot repaving using permeable materials, as required by a 2016 zoning regulation.
In the email, James said the landlord had been notified of the Burger King franchise’s plans to leave. The property is listed for lease by KLNB Commercial Real Estate Services. Matt Skalet, a leasing agent, did not respond to a request for an interview. Neither did James nor the lawyers representing Potomac Foods in its application to extend the special zoning exception for use of the parking lot Burger King shares with ZIPS Dry Cleaners, Flagship Car Wash and Bread Furst.
The businesses need the zoning exception because the parking area lot is zoned for residential use. The extensions are usually good for three or four years. But late last year, Potomac Foods sought a nine-year extension. With an expensive building renovation in its future, its representatives said it wanted assurances the parking lot would remain available.
“The parking lot plays a crucial role in the successful operations of the restaurant and therefore, the continued use of this parking lot is necessary in order for Burger King to remain in this property and operate as a restaurant,” said Karina Sigar from Troutman Sanders LLP, the law firm representing Potomac Foods, during a DC Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) hearing on March 7, 2018.
With the backing of ANC 3F and the Office of Planning, the BZA approved the application, under the condition that the parking lot be repaved within three years of its order.
Burger King would have left 4422 Connecticut two years ago had Chick-fil-A succeeded in its plans to open a franchise there. But in 2016, DC Public Space Committee denied Chick-fil-A’s request to operate a drive-thru at the location.