Peppers, Beatty Reach Agreement

Photo | Mac Kennedy At press time Feb. 2, Peppers Taco Bar is still open but workers are taking the side awning down.

Photo | Mac Kennedy
At press time Feb. 2, Peppers Taco Bar is still open but workers are taking the side awning down.

Peppers Taco and Wine Bar and landlord Beatty Management Company reached an agreement Jan. 21, one that enables renovation of the entire building at 705 Center Point Way to proceed through completion in early spring. Renovation to the former Star Diner space that will soon be home to Vasilis Mediterranean Grill began mid-November 2015.

At issue was accommodation of the building’s existing tenant. Peppers Taco Bar occupies a 400-square-foot space in the building’s southeast corner and was not aware of design plans until a Gaithersburg Planning Commission public hearing announcement. At the Oct. 7 hearing, the Planning Commission asked Beatty to involve owners Mike and Jyoti Bhatnagar in renovation and construction plans and reach an agreement before renovations begin on the Taco Bar space.

As reported by this paper on Dec. 31, landlord-tenant agreement on proposed renovations broke down over a relocation clause in a Nov. 25 letter of agreement drafted by Beatty that would have allowed Beatty to relocate Peppers at any time to a comparable space within the shopping center. Also, the Bhatnagars did not know when and for how long their business would need to close, and how they would protect their equipment. Exterior renovations to the Peppers Taco Bar space involve taking out two walls and doing extensive rewiring.

The signed Jan. 21 letter of agreement does not include a relocation clause and offers rent abatement only for February and March, with compensation for lost business should Peppers need to remain closed beyond March 31. Also, Peppers’ kitchen equipment will be protected through the construction of a temporary partition.

Jyoti Bhatnagar said she hopes renovations are completed by March 31, as she looks forward to reopening the Taco Bar this spring. She does not have a definite Taco Bar closing date yet, but she has been told renovations to the space will begin as soon as possible after Feb. 1.

Mike Bhatnagar said Peppers will remain open for business at its second floor 251 Market St. West location Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for dinner, 5 to 9 p.m., and for breakfast and all day on Saturday and Sunday. Peppers will be closed on Tuesday. When the Taco Bar closes for renovations, the Bhatnagars will post a sign directing diners across the street to their upstairs location.

The city was prepared to hold another Planning Commission public hearing on 705 Center Point Way renovations if an agreement between Peppers and Beatty had not been reached by Feb. 3, Mike Bhatnagar said.