The Paradise Cafe at 19th and M Streets NW can keep windows around its sidewalk cafe - at least for now, a D.C. Superior Court judge ruled yesterday.
Judge Paul F. McArdle issued the preliminary ruling that blocks the District government from revoking the permit for the sidewalk operation, saying the cafe had shown it was likely to win a lawsuit that has been filed over the issue.
Paradise Cafe got into trouble with the city when it installed windows and heaters in its sidewalk operation in an attempt to make it a year-round business.
The D.C. Public Space Committee ordered the clear plastic walls removed, contending they were not part of an original design plan that had been submitted in connection with the sidewalk operation. It said the city's sidewalk cafe laws were not intended to allow establishment of permanent facilities, which it contends the Paradise became when the walls went up.
Paradise brought the case into court, and the restaurant's attorney, Charles W. Halleck, asked that the city be blocked from taking any further action againt the restaurant.
In ruling in favor of the Paradise, McArdle said yesterday the restaurant had said it might lose 50 per cent of its total revenue if the windscreens are removed, and that the public would suffer no serious harm if the windows remianed pending the final outcome of the case.
In addition, McArdle said, the closing of the restaurant's outside space would deprive the city of sales tax revenues and would deprive 17 part-time restaurant workers of their jobs during the pending suit.
McArdle said the city's arguments against windscreens for outside cafes are "subject . . to a vague statue and vague regulations devoid of guidelines" and that the cafe had made a "substantial case" on the merits of the lawsuit.
Meanwhile, he added, the plaintiffs had raised "substantial and difficult questions of law deserving of more deliberate consideration" and requiring the preliminary ruling that the windows can remain.