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Food Fight at the Market?

Outside Vendor Is Seeking Sunday Permit

Internal squabbling is nothing new to the vendors at Eastern Market. But the latest spat spills over onto the sidewalks of the historic Capitol Hill market.

The newest fight to arise is over Crepes at the Market, an outdoor vendor that sets up shop outside of the market on Saturdays.

Owner Mitchell Salland may be forced to pack up his stand if Eastern Market Ventures doesn’t grant him a Sunday permit.

“People love me!” he says. “I get busier and busier. I have a good product and a loyal following.” Salland believes this loyal following may be the reason he has not been able to obtain a new permit. “People in Eastern Market and on the street are the ones that want me out, they want me out entirely because I’m doing well and they’re not doing as well.”

Thomas Glasgow, the owner of Market Lunch, which is residing in the temporary structure known as “East Hall” because of the April fire that gutted the South Hall, admits that he would like to see Crepes at the Market and other businesses that vend food from stands on the street gone. However, he is quick to say that it’s not because his business is hurting. [IMGCAP(1)]

“I’ve been around the market all my life,” Glasgow said. “My position is that I don’t want to see people cooking food on the street because I think that totally changes the dynamics that we’ve had in place here for 30 years. It turns into a carnival out there.”

Salland says he has repeatedly asked Eastern Market Ventures, the management company employed by the D.C. Office of Property Management to run the historic market, for a Sunday permit only to be denied.

“I would like to stay here, my problem is if I can only have Saturday in the winter I don’t know if I can live,” Salland says, adding that one bad day of weather would affect his profits. He currently has an agreement with the management that he may sell crepes on Saturdays through Thanksgiving.

Market Manager Bryan Cook said Crepes at the Market is not being granted a Sunday permit because of space constraints.

“I got the first formal request as of Monday,” Cook said. “Right now we’re not accepting any additional vendors at the Eastern Market because of space requirements.”

Salland is not satisfied with this response, claiming that he has been at the market for a season and is not a new vendor.

“It sounds like the problem is deeper, [it] may not be Eastern Market Ventures, [it] may be them bowing to pressure,” Salland said.

Crepes at the Market customer David Healy echoed this sentiment. “I am a customer who thinks Crepes at the Market has been a fantastic addition to Eastern Market … any new vendor who is good and popular often upsets those who cannot tolerate any change at Eastern Market,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Salland believes that he is helping the other vendors turn a profit. “They come to the market to buy a crepe and then spend their money” at the market, he says.

For now Crepes and the Market will continue to operate on Seventh Street Southeast from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.