A look at what's going on in Trinidad, on H Street, and in the larger area north of Capitol Hill.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

DOH Troubles at Sam Wang


Reader Pat alerted me to Department of Health problems at Sam Wang Produce (300 Block of Morse, in the Florida Market) that were discovered just before Christmas. Titan of Trinidad first broke the story, and has posted the list of violations (which include rats, freezers issues, and a lack of hand washing). Another key element of this story is that Vincent Orange, and an unnamed Councilmember (who may also be Vincent Orange) intervened on behalf of Sang Oh Choi. Mr. Choi is the owner of Sam Wang Produce. He is also a repeat contributor to Vincent Orange's campaign. If his name sounds especially familiar, it may be because he was sort of the man with the plan behind the New Town redevelopment proposal (originally introduced by, and strongly supported by, Vincent Orange). While the New Town proposal ultimately failed (for a variety of reasons), Mr. Choi is currently partnering with Edens (who redeveloped the DC Farmers Market into Union Market) to build on the former US Beef parcel located at 4th and Florida Ave.

Anyway, an inspector shows up, notes the violations, and attempts to shut down the grocery store (which is oddly, referred to as a restaurant in the Washington City Paper article). Mystery Councilmember appears and pressures the inspector, even contacting her superior. A bit more wrangling ensued, but the store was eventually closed. At this point Vincent Orange's office intervened to assist Sam Wang in getting an expedited re-inspection to they could open promptly. Channel 9's Russ Ptacek showed up at Sam Wang following the successful re-inspection, and photographed live rats.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As somebody who shops there every couple of months, I can't say this comes as a surprise. Anybody who sets foot in the Wang knows it's a crapshoot made worthwhile only by the fact that it's cheap. When you buy food there, you better clean it carefully before eating.

The more interesting question is how many times has council member Orange interfered with DC health oversight for the Wang and other contributors. It would make for an interesting FOIA project.

(And just to be clear, I'm not advocating for less health regulation or criticizing the city for cracking down. Only trying to be savvy about this sort of thing, knowing that sometimes local inspectors can be bullied or ordered into silence, as Mr. Orange's behavior shows.)

Jan 15, 2013, 9:15:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who are their main customers? Do they only sell to the public, or are they a wholesaler?

Jan 15, 2013, 9:30:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Wang will sell to anybody -- wholesale, retail, it's all good.

Jan 15, 2013, 10:10:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

they are selling the flu virus. yay!

Jan 15, 2013, 3:30:00 PM

Anonymous the inimitable poo said...

careful.. wang is doing this to himself to leverage his ideas about turning the market from blight, to urban flight (i.e. dc to south beach).

it's all part of his grander scheme of getting existing buildings condemned!

Jan 15, 2013, 3:57:00 PM

Anonymous poo's hot neighbor said...

i heard that too! he's willing to sacrifice even his own leases and bldg ownership to have a piece of this new pie he's developing. apparently, it has something to do with belgian ale and oysters.

he must be stopped! i want my vermin infested, cheap vegetables, damnit!

Jan 15, 2013, 4:01:00 PM

Anonymous Col. Brentwood said...

$18 box of fresh coconuts. Long live the Wang. That said, the conspiracy theory is pretty intriguing.

Jan 15, 2013, 4:49:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

mmm... coconuts with a side of rat. Yum!

Jan 15, 2013, 5:16:00 PM

Anonymous Wigshop said...

I smell a rat!

Jan 15, 2013, 6:27:00 PM

Blogger inked said...

I'm not buying the conspiracy theory. I like access to hard to find veggies as much as the next girl, but let's let the inspectors do their jobs. And maybe we could get a little more rat control in the Market generally?

Jan 15, 2013, 6:35:00 PM

Blogger pat said...

Vincent Orange, Ratter

Jan 15, 2013, 11:41:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Wang isn't the only purveyor of cheap produce in the market. Mexican Fruit and Vegetables is also a great place to shop -- plus it seems cleaner than the Wang.

Same person who posted as anonymous
Jan 15, 2013, 9:15:00 AM

Jan 16, 2013, 9:25:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Sam Wang Produce. I buy more vegetables and fruit than I can carry for less than $10 there- the same haul would probably be $60 at Safeway.

Jan 16, 2013, 11:50:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I shop at Sam Wang and regularly buy several cases of fruit at at time. The Thai Coconuts first brought me to Wang--$11 for a case of 9 coconuts. Wholefoods and other retailers sell them for $3.99/per coconut. Also, Wang has cases of persimmons, pomegranates and other hard to find fruit for a steal. The people who work there are also very nice and go out of their way to help. We love Wang and hope it never goes away!

Jan 16, 2013, 1:05:00 PM

Anonymous jonathon said...

the wang put the rats in there after inspection. he wants his own places condemned.

he's not losing anything, he's just making the point that the properties at florida market are unsafe, and should be allowed to be redeveloped.

you have no idea how smart this guy is.

vincent just added to exposure of his plan.

vincent stands to benefit as well.

you people are so literal...

Jan 17, 2013, 7:02:00 PM


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