Young and Hungry

The Last Hours of Rogue States: The Owner Vows to Reopen


Rogue States fired up its grill for one final hurrah last night before complying with a court order to close down. The scene wasn't pretty — a general wave of sadness swept through the establishment as both patrons and employees voiced their disappointment.

As the crowds kept pouring in for one last shot of Rogue, I got a chance to sit down with owner Raynold Mendizabal who was more than willing to offer his opinions on the controversial verdict.

When asked for his initial reaction to Judge John M. Mott's ruling, Mendizabal said he "was not surprised at all." He thought Mott was a "totally unsympathetic judge" and believes this case "sets a precedent that anyone can close any restaurant by taking it to court."

While the judge left open the possibility for Rogue States and its landlord TRT to work out a solution to the odor problem, TRT has not shown any willingness to try venting Rogue's grill exhaust to the roof. Mendizabal argues that, from the beginning, he had asked for financial assistance from TRT to build a new roof-venting system, which many believed would eradicate the odor.

"My landlord totally denied that as a possibility, and they took the position that they decided and that's where we are right now. We're going back to try and convince our landlord to let a vent to the roof and find a solution so we can open the business again."

Mendizabal wrote an open letter to Rogue's patrons, which can now be seen on the window of the shuttered business. Each person who stopped by the Connecticut Avenue NW storefront would start reading with a look of confusion and, by the last line, become either sad or angry. Scowls were exchanged as the lawyers of Steptoe & Johnson began leaving their offices.

What's next for Rogue States? While Mendizabal is currently looking for solutions, he made it very clear that he doesn't want any sympathy.  He's confident they will reopen the location and that soon Rogue States will get back to doing what it does best: serving some of the best burgers the District has to offer.

"I don't want anyone feeling bad. I'm a fighter and I will reopen this place."

...