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17 Catt. 4: In re Skydome Lounge

2013 February 28

JEREMY, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Cart. CATTLEYA, J., wrote a separate concurrence.

Today, I take up the question of whether the Skydome Lounge—a revolving restaurant at Arlington’s DoubleTree Hotel—falls within the jurisdiction of this Supreme Cart. For the reasons given below, I must conclude that it is not. Which is all the better, for the Forget-Me-Not—a particularly vile concoction of cherry brandy, amaretto, banana liqueur, and orange juice—would not fare well by my quill.

Under Section 2 of the Judiciary Act of 2011 (Cartiorari Act), this Cart “shall have exclusive jurisdiction of all food carts, trucks, and other transitory alimentary establishments within those portions of the District of Columbia or the part thereof retroceded to the Commonwealth of Virginia by Act of [the] Congress assembled in the year of our Lord 1847.” From this statement, Rule of Procedure 1-2 provides that “[t]he jurisdiction of the Cart shall extend to all mobile gastronomic enterprises situated throughout those parts of (a) the County of Arlington, Virginia, (b) the District of Columbia, and (c) the City of Alexandria, Virginia, which are reasonably proximate to public transportation of a reasonably rapid and efficient character.” See In re China Garden, 5 Catt. 1 (2012).

In this case, the second and third prongs of our jurisdictional test—location and proximity to public transportation—are clearly met. Therefore, discussion must center on whether the Skydome Lounge is held to constitute a “mobile gastronomic enterprise,” as that term has been interpreted throughout the jurisprudence of this Supreme Cart. Under the decisions of this Cart, the enterprise must be both (1) “mobile,” i.e., capable of moving in its entirety, see China Garden, 5 Catt. 1, and In re Maine Avenue Fish Market, 11 Catt. 3 (2012), and (2) “gastronomic,” i.e., characterized by at least some minimal pretension to “good eating,” see In re Amtrak Café Car, 14 Catt. 1 (2012) (Jeremy, C.J., concurring).

In the present case, the enterprise that is the Skydome Lounge is admittedly “gastronomic.” Though the Forget-Me-Not was an unimaginably abysmal cocktail, it is easily distinguished from the prepackaged offerings held not to be “gastronomic” in Amtrak Café Car. Some poor mixologist of the Skydome Lounge undoubtedly invented or at least prepared the drink. It therefore meets the de minimis test this Cart has established to determine what constitutes “gastronomy.”

Therefore, because the Skydome Lounge is undoubtedly a gastronomic enterprise, discussion must center on whether it is “mobile.” It is no secret I have, in the past, espoused the rather expansive “plate tectonics” test of “mobility.” See In re Brennan’s, 1 Jer. 1 (2012). Unfortunately, the other member of this Cart has repeatedly rejected the sound logic of that decision. See In re Langston Grille on Wheels, 13 Catt.  5 (2012); Amtrak Café Car, 14 Catt. 1. I will take the peacemaking path and stand down in order to preserve the solemn stature of this august institution.

In a growing line of cases, we have held that the enterprise itself must be mobile. China Garden, 5 Catt. 1; In re Dippin’ Dots, 10 Catt. 5 (2012). Not only that, the enterprise must actually be moved, not merely capable of being moved. Maine Avenue Fish Market, 11 Catt. 3 (2012). My sister has also held that the enterprise must bring food to the customer, in contrast to the enterprise in Amtrak Café Car in which the customer moved with the enterprise. That decision could easily resolve the case before us as, in a revolving restaurant, the customer moves with the enterprise. However, I disputed then and continue to dispute now the veracity of that decision. I wrote in that case that the relationship between the enterprise and its customer can find no clear basis in the texts which establish the jurisdiction of this Cart. I stand by that statement.

Instead, I would find that the Skydome Lounge is not “mobile” because the enterprise is incapable of moving from Point A to Point B. Instead, it revolves endlessly around a single point beneath the center of the restaurant. That is, the enterprise goes nowhere and is thus more like the immobilized barge in Maine Avenue Fish Market than the traveling train in Amtrak Café Car. Because the Skydome Lounge revolves around a single point rather than traveling from Point A to Point B, it cannot be considered “mobile.”

Accordingly, the Cart lacks jurisdiction over the Skydome Lounge, and the case is


CATTLEYA, J., concurring in the result.

Under our decision in In re Amtrak Café Car, 14 Catt. 1 (2012), Skydome Lounge is outside the jurisdiction of the Cart. The “other member of this Cart” will take the “peacemaking path” by saying only that and nothing more, for in the end the correct result is reached.

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