Local businesses face challenges from returning DC students

WASHINGTON — With classes back in session in D.C., students with money to spend after school are welcomed sights to many local businesses, but sometimes these unsupervised kids can also create some new challenges.

In Northwest D.C.’s Tenleytown neighborhood, many restaurants had employees stationed at doors to monitor their outdoor seating areas while hungry students filed through Friday afternoon. The crowds have pushed businesses to take steps to stay in control and keep their lines moving.

A newly opened Chick-fil-A on Wisconsin Avenue in Tenleytown decided to make their indoor dining area off-limits to all customers from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. because of the crowds.

The restaurant’s owner, Kristen Johnson, said in a statement that the increase of guests during the midafternoon led to the change: “While we are thrilled to have the level of support from the community, ensuring the safety of our guests and team members continues to be a top priority, and we also want to make sure we adhere to the fire code, and within our restaurant’s capacity requirements.”

“We have ongoing issues, and we’ve had them for a long time,” said Jonathan Bender, chair of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3E, which serves the Tenleytown area. He adds that while there is no crisis, the neighborhood is dealing with what he calls “town and gown” issues.

D.C. has been dealing with a variety of issues involving the after school crowds, which ranges from students causing problems to students becoming the victims of crimes themselves, according to Bender.

The ANC set up a task force to look for better ways to handle the crowds, according to Bender. He said the solution will involve the community, area schools, law enforcement and businesses working together.

“We want to have a broader discussion and, hopefully, the theme is mutual respect,” Bender said.

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Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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