Republic Gardens Reopening on U Street?


A reader writes: “I know you don’t like to get political 🙂 but I thought maybe you would want to let your readers know they can participate in the ANC1B meeting next Thursday if they have any concerns about the reopening of Republic Gardens. The meeting is April 3rd at the True Reformer Building (12th & U) at 7:00PM.”

I never knew people had a beef with the Republic Gardens, what’s the story there? Why was it closed down in the first place?

19 Comment

  • This place closed down because it owed some back rent and taxes and the tenants were evicted. This club was one of the best venues on U Street back in the day, but when Marc Barnes left RG to create Dream and the place basically never able to recuperate.

    Why would anyone would be “concerned” about its reopening??

  • I moved here in ’99. That was my all time favorite club by far! I LOVED that place! It just hasn’t been the same since Marc Barnes stopped running the club.

  • I suspect the “concerns” come from those who would like to turn U Street into a condo-crazed, latte-sipping, “urban chic”, hipster hood. Similar to those who moved to Adams Morgan and then complained it was too loud. My response: Move to frickin’ Silver Spring and leave my neighborhoods alone!!!

    Now, if someone would start a campaign to bring back State of the Union, I’d be all over that…..

  • Let me reply to my own response, before I get yelled at for being anti-“gentrification”. Hey, I’m guilty, I’m a “gentrifier”. I bought a condo in Columbia Heights and get all giddy every time a new restaurant opens. BUT, I don’t scream and cry about the existing businesses or try to get everything shut down if it doesn’t fit my ideal of what I want the neighborhood to look like.
    Am I on a high horse today? It’s monday and I’m grumpy.

  • State of the Union was a FAR different (and better IMO) club than Republic Gardens. RG was a little too “bougie” for me, and didn’t really push the music or vibe far enough outside the mainstream. Basically, Massive Attack, Morcheeba and deep underground house were more likely to be heard at State of the Union than at RG.

  • I suspect the concerns come from people who moved to U Street without thinking, hey this neighborhood might be kinda loud. Adams Morgan was full of people who were very anti-restaurant, anti-bar. I can understand not wanting mayhem, but you have to at least try to be tolerant of occasional noise if you move to an area known for its nightlife.

  • I really don’t think the concerns come from newbies. Most of the concerns about liquor licenses and clubs come from churches.

  • I don’t even think the opposition is from churches. As everyone’s said, Republic Gardens had been around for quite a while with no major problems. If you went to Howard, it was the main place to go. So I’m not sure what the beef is.

  • OK, is this not a street loaded up with bars and clubs and whatnot? How is RE the “problem”, if it is?

  • Here’s some history of the place, none of which should stop it from reopening. The place was originally a club called The Pyramid Room until it was closed after the riots. It remained boarded up until 1993 when my friend’s brother got a 10 year lease on the property and got occupancy and liquior licenses, he’s the one that came up with the name. I helped him is clearing debris and doing minor removation in exchange for letting us use the place to throw my birthday party which was a blast. Immediately after he opened, he sold the entire business to someone else who tried to operate it as a restaurant. I’m not sure how long that lasted but within abnout a year or two after that it was the Republic Gardens that everyone knew. How’s that for a gentrification story?

  • I’m not saying this is the case at RG – but a thought popped up into my head and I was wondering how readers would feel about the issue…

    What if a new club popped up into your neighborhood and not only was it making noise but it also denied you entry as it claimed to be a VIP club. It got me to thinking that VIP clubs should not be in mixed residential neighborhoods. Either open the doors entirely to your community or find a different area of town.

  • Are there really that many VIP places in DC? I just don’t think it is an issue many will face. I too was a state of the union semi-regular and maybe once or twice stepped into RG. I do remember there were a lot of bike gangs and one weekend a biker was decapitated in an accident on 14th street.

  • This issue is of course not unique to DC, what is perhaps is the way it’s handled. I lived in SF during the dot-com boom and watched as South of Market was built up with trendy live-work buildings right in the middle of the center of SF’s underground nightlife scene. Going back to the 70s at least, the area had been home to SF’s leather community as well as being home to some of the longest running bars and night clubs. Sprinkle in a few adult video stores and surround all of that with warehouses and working class apartments and rowhouses and you begin to have a feel for the area. The new residents, liked the urban feel — but apparently not the urban nightlife.

    So what happened? The nightlife community banded together, creating the Nightlife Coalition. It worked with supervisor Mark Leno to make sure that the businesses South of Market were protected as a nightlife district. (Mark Leno, not incidentally, is now the representative to Sacramento from San Francisco.) And otherwise stop the new residents from pushing out the old.

    Will CM Graham step up? Not bloodly likely? What about the patrons? It seems someone needs to stand up and protect the existing businesses and let the city council know that having a nightlife is valid and important part of what is attractive about DC and is part of our collective history.

  • Maybe the reader is getting RG mixed up with the club that used to be in the Reeves center (Club U). That had all sorts of problems, but RG was never an issue.

  • Maybe nobody has problems with it opening. Maybe the emailer was just putting the notice out. CH / Shaw / U Street folks should check out the ANC 1B meeting anyway.

  • ColHeightsChic – people bandy about the word “hipster” all the time without any idea of what it actually means. it certainly, if one can agree on a definition, does not mean “condo-crazed, latte-sipping, ‘urban chic.'” i think hipster’s would prefer U street stay more like the black cat than Tabaq or RG. i dislike people who think these areas are trendy and fashionable, spend far too much money on some tacky, modernist condo (pushing up rents and prices), and then complain about nightlife in an area filled with bars. but they certainly aren’t “hipsters.” i think complaining about nightlife and bars is probably about as unhip as you can get.

  • Hey if the folks in the U Street area don’t want bars and restaruantes send ’em to Petworth!

  • There’s no question that this place catered to a low-class client base. Their clients were loud, littering drunks making a mess of the neighborhood. Had any of you guys actually been to this place? Apparently the new owners want to attract a better crowd. However, they decided to use the same name. Does that make any sense to you guys?


  • One of my friends had her face cut with a blade in the bathroom because she was dancing with somebody else’s boyfriend. I would never step foot back in that place.

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