7 ON YOUR SIDE gets DC to review Great Streets grants

Touché on H Street NE. (Nathan Baca/ABC7)

Because of an ABC7 News investigation, the DC Office of Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development announced they are reviewing the applications of multiple businesses receiving DC Great Streets grants.

Nightclubs and bars are not eligible for the DC Great Streets grant according to the District’s own rules. ABC7 identified two bars in one of 13 corridors taking part in the program.

"I've lived in the neighborhood five or six years, all up and down H Street [Northeast]. I've seen a lot of development in the neighborhood,” said Erin Blumenthal, a resident who alerted 7 On Your Side to possibly ineligible grant recipients. “It makes me upset. It makes me wish somebody would administer this grant program better."

A business known as Vendetta received $50,000 as a restaurant. Owners renamed it “Kyss Kyss Cupcakes & Cocktails,” and began selling cocktails and cupcakes.

"That means for us to do the kitchen, redid the kitchen and give jobs to the community," said owner Michelle Fletcher.

Across H Street NE is Touché. It’s marketing mentions “nightlife, VIP bottle service and Seductive Fridays.” Under the name “Touché Catering” at the same address, it received $50,000 from the DC Great Streets grant.

Touché's owner says it has a separate licensed catering business. They add the grant money went towards improving the kitchen. It is the same kitchen used for the bar.

District government says the DC Great Streets program has awarded more than $10 million to small business and created 1,600 local jobs since 2015.

Chanda Washington with the Office of Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development said the program "has safeguards in place to protect District taxpayer dollars... In light of the information presented by ABC7, the District will perform a complete review of the business' application and its eligibility under the Great Streets Program... Our due diligence efforts will continue to be strengthened where necessary."

Touché’s owner tells ABC7 they “welcome” any review by the District.

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