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Metro Halal Cart Gets Evicted from Rosslyn Street Corner

by ARLnow.com — January 19, 2011 at 3:36 pm 2,908 96 Comments

(Updated at 4:20 p.m.) For more than two years, the Metro Halal cart was a familiar sight at the corner of Wilson Boulevard and North Lynn Street, near the WJLA building in Rosslyn.

But now, after threats of being sued or arrested, Metro Halal owner Mohammad Khan has been forced to move the cart to a less trafficked, less familiar section of North Lynn Street. As a result, Khan says, his family and his business are suffering.

“It has affected my business very much,” said Khan, who also owns La’Jawab Kabob House on Lee Highway, where the cart’s food is prepared. “Today I lost money… In this bad economy, my business is destroyed by them.”

The “them” Khan is referring to is Monday Properties, which owns the 1100 Wilson Boulevard office tower. The company’s law firm has been sending cease and desist letters to Khan since May, ordering him to “stop trespassing” on the sidewalk. According to the letters, Monday Properties’ land ownership extends all the way to the curbs on Lynn and Wilson.

Although Khan reviewed the letters, he insists various county officials later told him that he wasn’t doing anything wrong. Thus, when he received another letter in November, saying in bold-faced type that “you must immediately and permanently cease trespassing on the property,” Khan kept on serving hearty $5.99 meals to local office workers.

That was until Thursday, when, according to Khan, a police officer said he would be arrested if he did not move to a new spot.

“I was almost crying, because I knew it would take me another six months or one year to get my customers back,” Khan said. “I did not have time to tell my customers.”

Khan said he used to be able to sell between $300 and $600 worth of food in a given day, thanks in part to the convenient and familiar location. In his new location, he says, sales are down to $250 per day.

“That does not cover my expense,” Khan said. “And what about my family, my kids, my mortgage, my car payments?”

Khan says he’d be willing to pay a couple hundred dollars in monthly rent — an offer Monday Properties has apparently rejected. He said he hopes that the company will eventually change its mind and let him return to his favored spot.

For its part, Monday Properties’ law firm also accused the Metro Halal cart of “impeding/restricting pedestrian traffic on the sidewalks,” creating a traffic hazard by serving food to passing taxi cabs, and of “not maintaining proper receptacles for the disposal of waste materials.”

On the last charge, Khan countered that he was vigilant about cleaning up trash, clearing snow, or otherwise maintaining the area around the cart.

A Monday Properties representative at the corporate office in New York declined to comment for this story.

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  • ArlBlueSky

    Well, who’s property was he on? County (Public), or Monday’s (Private) ?

  • ArlBlueSky

    Likely Monday is correct, but I would guess that the right of way is the counties, per the site plan.

    • Westover

      If I apparently don’t own the sidewalk in front of my house, I don’t see how Monday Properties can own the county maintained sidewalk there.

  • mehoo

    Monday Properties are jerks. He was doing alot of people in that building a service, especially since most other food choice in that area are either crappy, crowded, or overpriced.

    Someone in that building should put up a sign (without permission) on the doors telling all the people who used to patronize his cart where he is now.

    • jan

      goog idea.

  • ClarendonKing

    No one? Okay here it goes.

    Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!

    • Lou

      Maybe he has a Genesis Device in his cart somewhere that he can activate. Brighten up the damn place down there.

    • JamesE

      nice

    • The Noze Bros

      +1

    • Brandon C

      “I shall leave you as you left me – as you left her – marooned for all eternity on center on a dead street!”

  • FREDTERP

    Is the property company protecting the deli next to Baja Fresh that charges $6 for soup. I cannot recall the name of that fancy establishment? FREDTERP

    • V Dizzle

      Steve Holt! (sorry, I just keep hearing that in my head when I see your signature :) )

    • Susan

      that place next to baja has been gone for a long time. i think Zpizza is coming soon.

  • stephanie

    What does Monday Properties have to say? ARL Now needs a statement from them because from this story, they look like MAJOR aholes. Sigh. They probably are. Poor guy–where is his new location? I’m going to make a point to go. His food is good.

    • Jason S

      They don’t look like anything more than a property owner protecting the interest of their tenants. They have three food providers: China Garden, Baja Fresh, and that Deli. If they permitted cheaper food to park in front for free, the existing tenants have more competition pushing down profits and the value of renting the space would decrease.

    • Lou

      Judging from the photo, he’s moved about half a block away, in front of the McDonalds.

      • coco

        Then in front of another Mondays’ property.

      • mehoo

        Good eyes!

        Note to Rosslyn – eat at Khan’s. Don’t go in McDonald’s.

  • KalashniKEV

    I always thought that was unsightly and out of place. I’m glad to see it go.

  • GeorgeOrwell

    The County does not OWN that property. They probably have an easement for the sidewalk. BUT that does not allow other businesses to operate on the property.
    Monday isn’t be a jerk anymore than you would be if you kicked the hotdog stand your neighbor put up on your lawn.

    • Rick

      1) terrible point
      2) If my neighbor sold hot dogs in my yard i’d probably be his best customer

      • Westover

        :D A hot dog stand just steps out the door?!?!?! That would be awesome! :D

        • Hikin’ the Pike

          +1

      • Dan

        +1

  • Property Rights

    Trust me, the commercial owner maintains that sidewalk. Stephanie and mehoo, would you look like a major ASSHOLE if I started washing cars in your driveway and you asked me to leave? Come on. That’s idiotic.

    • Westover

      Since when? It was county guys that were laying the pavers a few years ago.

    • mehoo

      As long as you wash my car, fine.

      I didn’t say Monday doesn’t have a legal right, I just said they should leave the guy alone.

  • ArlBlueSky

    Someone go to the County building and get the site plans. Let’s see the original land plot, and whatever right of way was transferred (I forget the word used in zoning) to the county.

  • The Pope of South Arlington

    Maybe he should start selling high-capacity clips/cartridges/magazines & bullets?! A mobile gun store, what a concept!

    • KalashniKEV

      They have them at the various outdoor ranges. Mostly at ridiculous prices.

      Still, it’s better than going all the way home because you forgot your hearing protection or targets or something. The mags are always junk.

  • Robert

    I don’t know the specifics but my hunch is that Monday is in the right here. This guy lost me when he started playing the victim card. “What about my family, kids, mortgage, car payments”. Pleeaaasse. You either have the right to be there or not. Your family, kids, mortgage and car payment are not Monday’s responsibility.

    • http://slumlog.blogspot.com slog1

      Ditto. The whining was over the top. The dude also owns the La’Jawab restaurant, and there is at least one other food cart affiliated with that business, so it’s not like he’s going to have to move his family into the cart any time soon. That said, the property ownership issue deserves to be clarified so that readers can make an informed judgment.

      • http://www.arlnow.com ARLnow.com

        The other cart is owned by a relative, Khan said. I believe the arrangement is just for storage, food and other services.

      • The Pope of South Arlington

        “it’s not like he’s going to have to move his family into the cart any time soon”

        Dat wuz funny!

      • Glebe Roader

        What “informed judgment” do the readers of this need to make? People read the articles and some people (usually all the same people) make comments. There is no “judgment.”

        • http://slumlog.blogspot.com slog1

          Very well. “informed opinion,” then.

    • KalashniKEV

      “This guy lost me when he started playing the victim card.”

      That’s what they do.

      • DouroDouro

        who’s “they”? food cart owners? fathers? men?

        • Kalashnikev

          You know what I’m talking about…

  • Newt

    Khan….your food is crap and you leave a mess every night when you leave.

  • tuanster

    The same thing happened to District Taco. Rather than whining, they let their customers know on twitter and facebook… fast forward 6 months later and they had enough money to open a storefront. While I it’s a pretty dick move by Monday, they are just protecting the interests of their tenants. I’m pretty sure the workers of Rosslyn are smart enough to look down the street and figure out where the cart moved. His family will be just fine.

  • Sana

    Monday = Assholes. AND his food is good. Anyone ever try the cart outside Ballston Mall during lunch near Front Page?? Another good spot for greasy, NYC-like street food.

    • tuanster

      It’s owned by the same people.

  • Westover

    Anyone have a link to the Arlington Laws regarding mobil food vendors?

  • Aaron

    -Wasn’t it Monday that kicked District Taco from the curb as well?
    -Newt is a troll. The food was great, reasonably priced, and there was never a mess left behind. Metro Halal did curb my Chipotle consumption significantly (and yet somehow they are never the ones to complain about the food carts).
    -Is the incoming Zpizza to blame? Yet another reason to hate that chain.
    -Doesn’t the County license specific locations for the food cart vendors to operate?
    -The man in your picture is NOT the guy who’s manned the cart in front of 1100 Wilson for the past 2 years. The actual vendor has no mustache and doesn’t look over 30 years old.

    • http://www.arlnow.com ARLnow.com

      Yes, District Taco and Metro Halal both received notices from the county’s zoning dept. in April about potential violations. DT took off, Metro tried to stay.

      Off the top of my head, I do not believe the county licenses for specific locations, but I could be wrong.

      As I understand it, the person who most often mans the cart is Khan’s brother. But Khan handles the business matters and gets the cease and desist letters, etc.

  • Arlwhenever

    If he wants to stay at that location, Mr. Khan should do what anyone else has to do to occupy space owned by Monday properties (or anyone else for that matter) — negotiate a lease.

    • Lou

      Yeah, if the property is owned by Monday he needs an actual certificate of occupancy to do business there. And the owner’s permission. It appears he has neither.

      Location and extent of public rights-of-way are provided by the county to vendors. It is the vendors responsibility to adhere to the locations they are allowed.

      A little quick internet education: http://www.arlingtonva.us/Departments/HumanServices/pdf/guidelines.pdf

      • Westover

        There is little chance that Monday actually owns the sidewalk there, but there is a chance. I would say that they are trying for the 10 feet from a competeing business rule, and counting the entire building as the business.

        “All vendors must be located a minimum of 10 feet from any crosswalk, intersection, bus stop, taxi stand, building entrance, Metro entrance, or other stationary vendor. No vendor shall be permitted a stationary location on any sidewalk unless at least 10 feet of the sidewalk remains clear for pedestrian traffic.”

        If I was an office tenant that enjoyed the food I would complain about having them sent away. I would think it would be added value to Monday’s building.

    • John Fontain

      My first thought in reading this story was that the landlord probably offered him a lease and he refused, thinking it was public property.

  • The Mrs

    Yes, Monday Properties are azzholes to have him move because he was no bother to the tenants which another person noted. He served a good alternative to the SAME ol CRAP AND NEVER did he leave a mess when he left; I’ve been outside many of days after he has left. Hey Monday Properties, how about you try enforcing your NO SMOKING policy in front the building instead of bothering someone making a living that IS not affecting this property in a negative way?? HUH How about that??

  • The Pope of South Arlington

    Nothing like a Pakistani cab-stand to spruce up the place!

  • G::TheNativeArlingtonian

    Plain and simple this was a jackwad move by Monday. The fact is that you eat what you are in the mood for… so I sincerely doubt this Halal was destroying any businesses with his cart. This is as bad as when the Dove & Rainbow got the boot from their location just outside of Georgetown. The law firm above them decided they didn’t want a pizza place below them anymore and complained to the building owner… until the building owner relented and didn’t renew D&R’s lease. So they went out of business after years of service. Best pizza in DC at the time. I see a trend between snotty law firms and building owner/management companies. Bah!

    • Lou

      Don’t forget Rogue States v Steptoe & Johnson.

      I guess the lesson is, don’t go up against powerful, well connected lawyers. Especially real estate lawyers in this case.

  • Sugah-Babee

    Good riddance. These carts are unsightly and bring down the property values and ruin the business for real restaurants that pay their share.
    This guy needs to shutup and move the cart to South Arlington where it will blend in with the rest of the slum neighborhood.

    • The Pope of South Arlington

      Sugah-Sweet!

    • Jacob

      Gotta love douchey Arlingtonians who make generalized, wrong-side-of-the-tracks statements. Why don’t you just say what you mean: poorer than me part of the county.

      • The Pope of South Arlington

        If you’re gonna be a Bear, BE A GRIZZLY!

        • Jacob

          If you were gonna be a bear, wouldn’t a Grizzly be a shade too brown for you. Go Polar.

          And, I highly suspect the kind of bear you are has nothing to do with the Ursa variety but rather the effeminate, hairy good-time boy mode.

          • The Pope of South Arlington

            I’m Italian/Greek, Polar is a no-Go.

            “..effeminate, hairy good-time boy mode.” <— This guy is talkin' about romancing tattoo from fantasy island and I'M the bad guy?!?!?

          • mehoo

            Italian/Greek? You’re allowed into North Arlington?

    • coco

      This guy needs to shutup and move the cart to South Arlington where it will blend in with the rest of the slum neighborhood = Why such hostility? Do you have enemies is SArl? Really.

    • Whatever

      Hope your attitude towards S Arl helps you feel better about yourself.

    • Blueloom

      What a shocking thing to say. What about “more civilized discourse” in the wake of Tucson? Arlington is Arlington; neither north nor south is better or worse. We’re all just human beings, trying to make the best way through life that we can.

    • mehoo

      Do you actually work or live in Rosslyn? Aside from the three Cs (Chop’t, Cosi and Chiplote) which are all packed at lunchtime, cart food is pretty much the only decent food in Rosslyn.

    • DouroDouro

      Honestly, its your comment that’s unsightly :)

    • stevis

      Emperor Palpatine called. He can feel the hatred flowing through you and has a job opportunity to offer.

  • JimPB

    Scrooge is alive, well and active.

    The law partners need a visit from the Spirits — or their local stand-ins.

    • Dan

      Where is Jacob Marley when you need him !!

  • Rebecca

    I don’t feel bad for this guy. They gave him notice back in May to move his cart and he didn’t. His fault. Follow the rules, dude.

  • jim crackcorn

    I’m sick of these freeloaders. Pack the cart up, loser.

  • GeorgeOrwell

    looking at this picture the RED SQUARE HASH area indicates land that is owned by Monday and taxed by Arlington County.
    The grey area is Wilson Blvd.
    It is very clear that Monday owns almost all the property right to the curb.

    • SouthArlJD

      Not so fast with the legal conclusions. Monday may technically own the sidewalk, but I’d guarantee there’s a public easement on it meaning the sidewalk is County’s turf, not Monday’s. Wonder if Khan ever bothered to consult with a lawyer who handles such disputes. It’s not my particular area, but a few years ago I successfully defended a trespass case wherein my client, who was banned from Ballston Commons, was caught walking down the sidewalk outside of Ballston Commons and arrested. I researched the land records and discovered a public easement and successfully argued that Ballston Commons did not have the right to ban him from a public easement, even though the property belonged to them.

      • GeorgeOrwell

        Yes. County probably has an easement for sidewalk and pedestrians. But it probably wouldn’t allow a business to be on said easement for the purpose of running a business. Sure the UPS driver can walk across as a pedestrian but not open a UPS store.

        • mehoo

          But if it has an easement and it covers carts, it’s the county’s decision, not Monday Property’s.

      • http://www.arlnow.com ARLnow.com

        He said he didn’t have the money to hire an attorney.

      • http://arlingtondirt.blogspot.com/ TGEoA

        Sure there is an easement on the sidewalk. Every sidewalk in the county has an easement, but they don’t include allowing people to operate businesses.

      • Arlwhenever

        Your easement arguement proves way too much dude.

        There are power, telephone and cable television lines along the back edge of the lot where my home is located. Utility companies have an easement to access those lines, but that’s it. But Verizon workers, Dominion Resources contractors and Comcast representatives can’t say I was in the neighborhood and thought I’d stop for lunch, because I’m loving the shade in your back yard. By definition easements are limited in use and purpose. And the County has an obligation to enforce Monday’s property rights, because as Walter Tejada once said “the problem I have is that Virginia is a private property state.” Imagine that!

        • mehoo

          The question is whether the easement includes carts or not.

          • GeorgeOrwell

            Highly unlikely. and it would appear that the attorneys for Monday either know that or are hoping no one will check. I’ll go with the former.

          • Lou

            I’m no lawyer, but I’m going to assume that the lawyers for a property developer, who deal with land use issues all day long, know what they’re talking about.

            Back that up with the warnings from zoning and the police warning of impending arrest, and it seems the law is not on the cart owner’s side at this location.

            Frankly, the fact that zoning warned this guy months ago should be more prominent in the reporting. The “them” is primarily Arlington County, because they hold the big stick behind Monday’s lawyers.

  • GeorgeOrwell

    here is the picture

  • http://twitter.com/ClarendonBlvd ClarendonBlvd

    Somebody should give this guy a District Taco type-lesson on using Twitter for food carts and that should certainly help this bloke out….end of story.

  • Tenant

    I am a tenant at 1100 Wilson Blvd. The cart was not bothering anyone. He never left any trash on the sidewalks, he kept everything clean. Everyone in the building loved going to him during lunch. He was accommodating. The sidewalk belongs to the county and not the property. Everyone was still able to walk up and down the sidewalks. What about the “No Smoking” signs? People are still smoking infront of that building. Why don’t they charge them for not following the rules of the sign. Monday Property’s are a bunch of hypocrites who wants to monopolized every business in Rosslyn. The man was willing to pay rent on a sidewalk that Monday Property’s do not own. They allow solicitors to come on each floor and solicit their wares even though there are signs that says “No Solicitor”

  • TGEoA

    No more nasty kebabs!

  • wat

    Now this cart is 5 paces away from Tasty Kabob, exactly where DT moved after they got the boot from Monday.

  • The native

    A guy trying to make a living… For shame. I love the vendors here in Arlington. Always have. I still miss Ollies Trolly. The add charm and character to the county. The absentee landlords and county zoning ordinances continue to squeeze the character out of Arlington. Does the county board want us to be Reston? I hate Reston. I always get lost.

  • roger

    Dang. Tough to have to be legal isn’t it?

  • Deb

    Those carts are an alternative to the corporate food offered at 1100 Wilson BLVD…Due to an allergy to nuts…the Asian place is off my menu and I have gotten sick by eating at the other two places..so I always go out to eat anyway or I just bring my lunch. The carts offer alternatives that are at least different from TexMex…just for variety. The cart in question was never in the way…and the line could be long…so he does have a following. I do not see the problem.

  • Wilson

    Monday Properties encourages security staff to park their vehicles on the sidewalk along Wilson Blvd every weekend. Six to eight vehicles, parked side by side. What a great use of resources!

    Seems like they are pretty good about looking out for their business interests while blatantly sacrificing pedestrian safety. Where are the towing companies when you need them?

  • mehoo

    Monday also put a beloved, friendly shoeshine guy out of the main lobby of that building recently. There was plenty of room and he wasn’t hurting anything. They’re just corporate sourpusses.

  • JJ

    Unfortunate. I’d walk down the hill 2x a week for the Halal Cart when I was in Rosslyn!

  • Barf-fly

    I don’t understand all the defenders of this guy. 1) He had ample notice that the property owner wanted him to move, which he chose to disobey and see what happened, even though they let him slide for a long time. It’s not like they just woke up one day and decided to call A1 towing to haul his cart away. 2) Knowing that “eviction” was imminent, he could have put a sign on his cart and started letting people know long, long ago, that he was likely going to be moving down the road soon, so people that were loyal customers would have a heads up he’s planning on trying to stay nearby in the event he suddenly wasn’t there one day. 3) Why is Monday Properties being called a-holes for making someone that is essentially a squatter, and who doesn’t pay the same rent or taxes as the other restaurants doing business on the same property, move somewhere else? Monday can’t charge some tenants rent then let some competing businesses open up shop right next to them free of charge – how ridiculous does that sound?

    Yeah, they could have been “cool” and just let this guy do his thing, and they could have been even “cooler” and also let the other restaurants on the property do their business rent-free too, but Monday isn’t a charity. If you want to help out the small guy then go patronize Le Petit Cafe or Rosslyn Market across the street, who also are on Monday owned property and who choose to pay their rent and follow the rules like everyone else.

    • Jason S

      The defenders only see it as “big guy versus little guy” argument in which case the little guy is always going to be right to them.

      • Bill

        I still don’t understand how some high powered law firm or property mogul is able to overpower a county government and claim rights to a public sidewalk.

  • Thanks for the Laugh, Arlington

    Who owns the sidewalk? This is why I don’t believe in zoning.

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