Owners of the Paradise Cafe at 19th and M Streets NW were ordered yesterday to remove the clear plastic walls they have installed around an outdoor dining area on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.
The D.C. Public Space Committee, which regulates operation of sidewalk cafes in the city, ordered the walls removed, contending they were not part of an original design plan submitted.
L. W. McKibbin, acting executive secretary of the committee, said the city's sidewalk cafe laws were not intended to allow establishment of permanent facilities. Once a cafe becomes enclosed, he said, it is, in effect, a permanent structure.
However, John Keats, an attorney for the cafe owners, said he believes the committee could allowed the walls to remain. "The problem is that they're faced with an innovative idea and it's a little bit too innovative for them to deal with."
Keats said the plastic walls were erected in February on top of smaller brick walls surrounding the outdoor area. He was not certain yesterday if he would appeal the committee's decision to the City Council.
During the past year, the number of applications for sidewalk cafes has soared, McKibbin said One likely reason, he said, is that the higher costs of property have made expanding onto the sidewalk a more attractive economic proposition.
There are already 60 or 70 such cafes in the city, he said. So far this year about 30 applications have come in, according to McKibbin.