Young and Hungry

Rogue States Owner May Have Found a Way to Eliminate Its Juicy Burger Stench

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Rogue States owner/chef Raynold Mendizabal and his landlord have tabled a plan to build an expensive venting system to reroute the Dupont Circle burger joint's beefy fumes directly to the roof.  It was apparently the only option that would appease Steptoe & Johnson, the neighboring law firm that had sued Rogue States and its landlord over the burgery exhaust drifting into their offices.

But fear not, Mendizabal hasn't given up. The chef, who has an advanced degree in math, is falling back on his skills in logic to get him out of this stinky mess. He's conducting some environmental tests to prove that Rogue States is no longer generating any greasy stench.

His plan is two-fold, Mendizabal told Y&H yesterday. First, he plans to install even more aggressive filters over his grill at Rogue States. He has also invested in a more aggressive maintenance plan for the scrubbing system he installed earlier to appease the plaintiffs and judge (to no avail). He estimates that between the two new approaches, he's sunk about $60,000 into saving his business.

Before and after he puts the new filters in place, Mendizabal plans to run some tests of the fumes coming from his vents. He'll conduct one before he installs the filters and another one after. Mendizabal's hope is that the second test will show there is no longer a measurable stench coming from his vents.

The stink, he says, is key at this point. The pricey scrubber he installed earlier has already eliminated the smoke from his vents, but there is still some burger juiciness lingering in the air.

"There is no smoke coming out," Mendizabal says. "There is smell now."

The tests, Mendizabal hopes, will move this ongoing battle out of the emotional realm of employees crying to the judge about smelling like an all-beef patty and into the realm of science. He hopes the judge will see that he has done everything in his power, short of building the venting system to the roof (which his landlord doesn't want), and will allow him to remain open until the Oct. 4 trial, which will decide if Rogue States really does present a nuisance to the burger-saturated lawyers next door.

Time is also an enemy for Mendizabal right now. He has only 'til Sept. 24 to get those new filters in place and run meaningful tests. That's the date that Mendizabal has to show the judge that he has followed the order to abate the burger stench.

"The judge is the wild card," Mendizabal says.

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