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  • Sounds great. Reminds me of the Best DC Supermarket concept (sort of a high end small grocery store) on U Street and similar small grocers that I’ve seen in SF and NYC. It would do well in MP. Wish I had the money to invest.

  • Posts disappearing. If mine shows up as a duplicate, please accept my apologies, I was testing why my posts weren’t appearing.

  • I wish him all the best luck – but Mt Pleasant has some very anti-business neighborhood organizations that will make maintaining an ABC license a living nightmare. Their most recent tirades have been against dancing & live music – It’s like something out of ‘Footloose’. Completely ridiculous.

  • Talk about lack of research.

    The City Garden Co-op in Mt Pleasant has been meeting this niche for the hardcore granola types for the last 25 years. The farmer’s market meets this need during the summer.

    The current location of Radius Pizza was this exact same establishment in the late 1990s and went out of business because there was no audience for it. I cannot remember the name of it, either The People’s Garden or People Garden Co-op.

  • Part 2:
    I don’t want to upset someone, but what the heck kind of research is this??? Did someone just fall off the turnip truck? It’s this lack of connection to the Mt Pleasant community that shows that this guy doesn’t really know the market he’s trying to reach. If you don’t know the market then you can’t successfully sell to them using the flexibility that. It’s a catch 22.

    I can tell you from talking to people, particularly the cranky owner of People Garden and Food co-op people during Mt Pleasant day, that the wholesale prices of Trader Joes type niche items are much higher what Trader Joes sells them for retail! TJs buys in such superhuman quantities that they pay nothing compared to any other store. I’ve seen the catalogs, TJs has a frozen dinner for $2.99 and you can buy a gross of them for $3.49 each or $3.79 ea for a dozen. With a 40% markup to cover rent, it comes close to $5.

    And all this just 8 blocks north of the new Harris Teeter selling wine???

    It’s absolutely lose/lose, isn’t it?

    Am I wrong here? Did I do incorrect analysis? It’s not like this is a new idea, people have been talking about a “cool” mom and pop since the riots.

  • Unrelated, but does anyone know if there was a big fire in the area? I live on 16th near Meridian Hill, and around 12 am a whole bunch of fire trucks came racing up the street. A few minutes later I smelled burning. Seems serious.

  • Yes, there’s a large apartment fire at 3145 Mt Pleasant St. It’s a big one. People were trapped, but now sounds like they have been rescued. Fire on multiple floors. Firefighters running out of oxygen in their tanks. It’s going to go on for a while… I wish DCFD the best of luck – they’re going to need it tonight.

  • Thanks for the insight DCer. I should follow up by telling you that I lived in Mt. Pleasant for many years and have been a regular in the neighborhood for a couple of decades now. I definitely remember “The People Garden” and have certainly considered it’s lack of success as I ponder this idea. I’m a big fan of natural and organic foods but never felt they offered a broad enough selection and found their variety of offerings to be too limited, likely due to their limited space. Maybe they were ahead of their time. My partner at the Pint owns that building, I’ll ask him about their demise. In addition, a farmers/co-op market is far off from what I’m proposing and not quite comparable when doing market assessments. As for Harris Teeter, I’ve thought about that too and again, I don’t see them as a major spoiler. I find myself shopping at Whole Foods, Giant and Safeway, offend depending on what I’m near or what I’m shopping for and when they open I’ll likely stop by Harris Teeter too.

    When I lived in Mt. Pleasant, I used to shop at the Best Way market out of obligation being that I had no vehicle. Their produce was rarely to my liking, their meats never enticed me and their varieties were just too limited and always left me wanting. Because it was so convenient though, I accepted what they had to offer and shopped there anyway. If they would have offered high end beer and wine, I would have worshiped them. The reality is that 6-8 blocks can be a heck of a haul for many folks living in the city and needing to grocery shop. Just like 7-11 thrives by offering a small and simple variety of groceries in a quick, convenient, local spot, so too can a higher end of market.

    I’ve also considered the possibility that Ellwood Thompson’s could be a spoiler but again, small grocers that fit a niche have always found success in small neighborhoods. I’m sure they’ve seriously considered all the grocers in the area as they’ve formulated their business plan and nevertheless, they seem to be coming. Being that they’ll be 5-6 blocks away, I think that most Mt. Pleasant residents would prefer a 1-2 block walk for their specialty market.

    Regardless of all my thoughts of success, I’ve posted here with the Prince in hopes of exactly this, an open dialog to better understand how much interest their is for a market of this nature. Thanks for your thoughts DCer.


  • I think this is a cool concept. I lived in Cleveland Park where there is only two small grocers. The Giant was one metro stop away (Van Ness) and never visited it when I lived there. Those two small high-end grocers were my bread and butter. I would visit them several times a week to pick up fresh fruits, vegetables and meats.

    Too many people in the this city think we don’t deserve small grocers to support our neighborhoods. Guess what, we do! I hate driving to a grocery store and I love stopping into one to pick up fresh food. It’s wonderful when you don’t have to buy in bulk because you dread going to the store that is 5-8 blocks away. I say go for it already!

  • I think this is a great idea. I remember the People’s Garden – it was attrocious.

    They used to keep their bread behind the counter and then try to “upsell” you on their so-called gourmet loaves at the check-out. However, they wouldn’t let you inspect the bread for freshness etc before you bought it. I paid $5 for a stale loaf a few times before learning my lesson. Half you what they were supposed to carry was always out of stock and it was pure luck whether you’d actually find what you came for. It was a terrible little store and Radius is a huge improvement.

    I’d imagine that the success of Devinos down on 18th & Florida and their decision to expand into Columbia Heights is a good indicator of the market for quality gourmet products.

    Harris Teeter is going to be quite a hike for Mt Pleasanters – espcially those towards the north or the west of the neighborhood. Similarly, Giant is a trek – you have to cross 14th and 16th and then there are two long blocks on Park just to get to Mt Pleasant Street.

    Sure, you can stock up on Trader Joe’s frozen dinners and cheap wines, but unless you happen to work down in Foggy Bottom, how convenient is it really? Plus you have to transfer buses or drag your bags all the way to Connecticut Ave to pick up the 42. I like TJ’s but it’s just not convenient to stop off there every day.

    Maybe I’m just spectacularly lazy, but I find that without a car, convenience is a big factor when it comes to picking a grocery store. If you metro home to Columbia Heights, then the Harris Teeter location or the Columbia Road Safeway are just too far out of the way to make it worthwhile stopping off on the way home. Equally, if you get the 16th Street bus or the 42 then a trip to Gaint after work to stand in their legendary lines is not particularly tempting.

  • this could be the Mt Pleasant version of Lost Dog Cafe in Arlington. These types of places are so great.

  • Great reference DG-rad, I’m so glad you brought that up. I had that in mind too but didn’t know if anyone would recognize the reference. I love the Lost Dog and have taken many bike rides out there just for a cold beer on a summer ride. I’ve gotten so much response from this post including one reader encouraging a Tryst style cafe with wi-fi and all.

    I just looked in the space today and I must say it’s a said state of affairs for my landlord. She is an elderly woman who now has to deal with the legal mess left by the previous tenant. The prior tenant apparently fled the country south of the border on Dec. 31, 2007 and left all the inventory, including produce, meats, canned goods, baked goods, pretty much everything. It certainly will need a serious cleaning. Between dealing with the landlord-tenant court and working out the legal matters of lien holders, this space is far from ready, however, she is enthusiastic about having me transform it into a gem for the neighborhood. With the help of interested community members, perhaps we can do just that.

    John Andrade
    Asylum & Meridian Pint

  • I agree with HibsCasual…I would love to have a store like the one described on Mt. Pleasant Street! Giant is far to go to if you’re carrying a bunch of bags. I go to Best Way all the time because it’s convenient but the quality of the produce can be really poor sometimes. I will gladly shop at this store on my way home from work! John, good luck and I really hope this works out, I think it would be a great addition to the neighborhood!

  • We can’t wait for Meridian on 11th!

  • Bear in mind that another gourmet wine shop (Devine’s I believe) is opening across from the Target. I don’t know whether this would be competition or encouragement, but something to consider.

    Lost Dog is the shit, btw. Love that place.

  • John-

    Since you’re here and looking at this thread, could you have someone at Asylum order some more of the Maddog 357 hotsauce? Thanks. My wings are poorer for the lack of it. The Dave’s Insanity is good, just not up to Maddog levels. Also, something funky about the Shiner Bock tap downstairs.

    But onto the issue at hand- I know the building you’re talking about, and that’s a cool space. However, I would approach with some trepidation the idea of making it just a grocery- even if a high end one. I think that it would be a go, but I’d make the hook something else, with the groceries as an added bonus. I think a cafe would be a much better idea, especially if the parking lot could be used as a patio area. There’s really not much like that. The space in Hellers is too small, and there is significant dissatisfaction with Dos Gringos (just look at the PoP thread about it). I’d much rather have something like that where I could pick up a good dunkelweiss on my way out.

    Something else to think about that I would really enjoy is a “make your own” style of mix pack for beer like Wold Market does (at least they did that back in Texas). Since there’s no single sales in Mt. P my wife and I often end up buying two six packs. Corona for her, and something dark enough that it stands up without the aid of a glass for me. If we could go in somewhere and grab two porters, two ales, and two lagers, throw them in a blank 6 pack and pay for it, that’d be great.

    Mt. P resident and Asylum wing junkie

  • I think this is a FABULOUS idea. As another MtP’er without a car, we do our daily shopping at Bestway with bi-weekly trips to Giant or Safeway and go to TJ’s monthly. While I love supporting local businesses, Bestway and the other market are lacking. SuperSave had an ok selection of low-end wine, but I doubt if they’ll be re-opening. Last I saw, they had a notice for past-due rent. The one caveat I have is that it cannot be TOO high end. It may be hard to sustain in the MtP market.

  • I would love the idea. The Giant and Safeway are not great options (I often go across the park to the Secret Safeway b/c their cuts are better than the locals stores) and I really think Mt. Pleasant is due a place where one can shop for more than Latino items (although I really love having the option). Better wines would be great as the local selection is slightly better than jug. I do think Harris Teeter is a big potential problem though.

  • I agree. I’m also a Mt.P’er who lives 1/2 a block from where I assume this establishment would be. While DCer has some points, comparing the Mt. Pleasant of the late 1990s to the potential client

  • So are we talking about the SuperSave spot or the Mt. Pleasant Grocery spot?

  • fantastic idea. a tpss coop-style market would be amazing! i think it would be successful, considering i (and many friends) trek all the way out to tkpk to do grocery shopping.
    id never heard of city garden coop – maybe they would be the people to start from!

  • Wow! Again, I’m just so excited to hear so much interest. I’ve always had an open minded/open door policy to my business and this project is no exception. It sounds like the best direction is a Tryst meets a Lost Dog sort of business. It sounds like most folks want a cafe with great coffee, free wi-fi, great retail beer & wine, high quality grocery items including great produce(perhaps from local growers), and some organics in there too…oh yeah, and some more Mad Dog 357 at Asylum for BrodyV. Done.

    This all sounds great, now I just have to create the investor core, wait for the landlord to resolve all the legal issues with the previous “Super Save Market” tenant and hopefully the project can get underway.

    Thanks again for all your support.

    John Andrade
    Asylum & Meridian Pint
    [email protected]

  • Wish I could invest myself, though I have to say the one thing in the beer/wine/cafe/produce equation that seems to scream we are doing too much is the produce part. I would be infinitely happy with a beer/wine/cafe. As long as the coffee is good.

  • John, sounds great! Now, all I hope is that you are not spreading yourself too thin with many projects going on at the same time. And since I live closers to the Meridian Pint site.. focus on that, please! 😉

  • Jess- Agreed. I’d be more than happy to continue picking up my produce at the farmers market if afterwards I could find someplace that I actually trusted to order a double espresso.

  • I am definitely aware of the potential for spreading myself too thin. If this Mt. Pleasant project is to move forward, I would definitely need a front man to spearhead it. Until that happens, I will not move forward. Fear not Meridian Pint is my priority.

    Thanks again for all the interest.


  • John,

    Sad to see SuperSave go, but if there has to be a new tenant, I have to say I like that you are exploring the idea. I’m a big fan of Asylum and have given you and the bartenders way too much of my money over the years, mostly on Sunday “mornings.”

    I live in Mt Pleasant and think you’d fare better that the People Garden. I tried that place a few times, but they closed not long after I moved to the neighborhood and I just go to Whole Foods now.

    Any place that small in Mt P is going to have to serve a niche market anyway. No way you’ll be able to please everyone and have a broad appeal. You should be able to pay the rent by playing to the general ideas you presented in your original post.

  • this thread has been interesting, relating it to the previous thread about the development at georgia ave/new hamp. ave….this sounds exactly like the kind of place that would thrive in petworth….hope you get enough investors to open up 2 branches!

  • John-
    If you ever need an official beer taster/buyer I would be happy to lend my palate to all of your projects. I live around the corner from where Meridian is going to go…love my belgian beers….so I have a doubly-vested interest.

  • Wow, this MtP project sounds great, especially the cafe part. What do you estimate the minimum investment would be to get involved?

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