Steptoe & Johnson vs. Rogue States
Photograph by Darrow Montgomery
Catching a whiff of a burger sizzling on a grill usually inspires hunger. But among the lawyers at Dupont Circle firm Steptoe & Johnson, that carnal experience supposedly inspired headaches, nausea, and dizziness. It was their neighbor’s fault, they told a judge during an October civil trial. The trendy hamburger joint Rogue States was pumping out beef fumes as a byproduct of its mesquite charcoal grill. The smoke from making Rogue States’ ginger-and-onion laced “Now and Zen” burger, for instance, traveled between buildings and slithered into the law firm’s air-intake vents. Though Rogue States eventually installed an expensive scrubbing system to keep the lawyers fume-free, the odor didn’t dissipate. “It was like having a backyard barbecue going on in my house,” one lawyer said of the stench. A judge agreed that living under the oppression of daily burger smells was a problem, and ordered the popular eatery to shut down its grill. Since then, Rogue States has remained closed.