Hipchickindc Visit’s DC’s Newest Safeway – The Sexy Safeway

Sexy Safeway 09-13-08 003

The Sexy Safeway

In Washington, DC, we have the peculiar habit of nicknaming our Safeways. We don’t nickname our Giants, our Harris Teeters, our Trader Joe’s, or our Whole Foods, just the Safeways.

Oh yes, he did. Mayor Fenty announced on National Public Radio, on Friday September 12th, 2008, during the opening of DC’s first new Safeway in a decade, that this one is to be called, “The Sexy Safeway”. I ran into my friend, Angela, who works nearby the Sexy Safeway and asked her if it was true. She had indeed been to the new Safeway and she verified (you have to imagine this in a British accent) that, “Yes, it’s very Sexy. It’s sexy because it’s a lot like Whole Foods.” (By the way, it has come to my attention that I can’t write the phrase “Sexy Safeway” without humming The White Album.) I went to check it out for myself over the weekend.

The Sexy Safeway is located in the Mount Vernon neighborhood at 5th and L St NW, in a corner of the building that houses the new City Vista condominium. As a real estate broker, I’ve sold several condo units in Penn Quarter and Mount Vernon. The buildings themselves are great, but the biggest complaint that people living in that neighborhood have had for years is that there were no grocery stores in the vicinity.  Story continues after the jump.

Located just off of New York Avenue NW, I found it necessary to drive around the store a bit to locate the parking entrance, which was on L Street NW. There was signage for one of the prevalent parking garage management companies, so I wasn’t immediately sure it was the parking for the store. Despite finding the store to be very crowded once I got inside, there were plenty of spaces. With validation, parking is free for one hour.

Being marketed as an “Urban Lifestyle Safeway”, the size of this store rivals that of any suburban monster. Upon disembarking from the escalator, one is immediately met with a Starbucks counter. This was somewhat reassuring, given that the size and intensity of the shopping experience definitely calls for caffeine. Each cart features a handy cup holder.

One thing that I quickly realized was that there was a ratio of about five Safeway employees to every customer. Everyone was very friendly and eager to help. It was a bit of a transition, however, getting used to being offered help every few seconds. I’m pretty sure I was offered assistance in every aisle of the store by somebody.

Despite being newly opened, the store was fully stocked. The antithesis of the Soviet Safeway, there is nothing you could possibly want for in the Sexy Safeway. I tend to not be a fan of super large stores, but it seems to be well organized. The lighting is not harsh, and the design is comfortable, with spacious aisles and a super high ceiling. Beyond the checkout is a café seating area, and easily accessible rest rooms.

Once I was ready to check out, I avoided the dreaded self checkout lanes and found a quickly moving line. The checker was experienced and friendly. The only inefficiency at checkout was regarding the parking validation, which I had to stand in line for at the customer service counter.

I’m happy to see the Sexy Safeway open. Having amenities like this downtown contributes both to the quality of urban living and keeps retail sales dollars in the District.

Sexy Safeway 09-13-08 006

Do you think the name is accurate? Will you go out of your way to visit this spot? Will this be the bar in which all future Safeways (including the planned refurbished one on Georgia Ave.) will be measured?

31 Comment

  • quick question. with Safeway showing some investment elsewhere in the city. Why on EARTH have they neglected the Columbia Rd Safeway so long? It is a PRIME location and yet it is a damn joke in there. They have plans for a lifestyle safeway on GEORGIA AVE and yet their store in a location that could easily host a Whole Foods just rots. If they had any sense at all they would redo the Columbia Rd safeway first. No offense to the Georgia ave peeps. Also Mt P doesnt have a grocery store so the options are to CH for Giant or all the way down to Harris Teeter. just boggles the mind.

  • I don’t know about the Safeway, but the ACE hardware store in that same building is great. I wish we could get one of those up north.

  • …sweet! My partner and I went there early Sunday morning (we live in the Quincy Crt. area). We walked over, got some coffee/green tea and just did a sweep of the store ( we shopped too of course). Everyone was very friendly. I spoke to a woman who praised the creation of this store because, “this store has helped get people otherwise in the streets off the streets and give them a job.” She also quoted that, “This is the best thing for this neighborhood and I thank God for it.” We’ll most certainly shop at this “sexy safeway” in the future.

  • The self check out lanes are the reason I went!

  • So how many Safeways can you name and where are they located? Disco Safeway…Soviet Union Safeway? This could be great fun.

  • God, that Safeway is so sexy. I normally would not call a grocery store sexy, but this Safeway has ignited something carnal deep down inside of me. This is certainly the most sexual of all Safeways I have ever seen.

  • Kay, I think PoP had a post about this a few months ago that you could check out. People talked about the ones you mentioned as well as the Secret Safeway.

  • Well in Adams Morgan you have the nice new Harris Teeter at least. And that will likely push Safeway to upgrade. Seriously though, the Safeway in PW is so bad it’s become a major political issue for the ANCs and city council. While the Safeway in Adams Morgan isn’t going to win any awards (believe me, I used to shop there), it’s not a health hazard either.

  • just what the city needed… an elegant “nut bar” (as shown in the photo)

  • Word in the ‘hood is that the Salvadoran Safeway (the one on Columbia Rd.) is going to expand and upgrade. The business to the left side (if you’re facing the store) will fall victim to the expansion–Body Basics and the mattress store are already gone leaving only my beloved Beauty Island and Foot Locker, which is owned by the same company that owns Foot Action (in the old Comet space), thus why there are two crappy shoe stores within three blocks of each other. It’s basically a matter-of-right project and they already have an ABC license so the only thing really holding it up is Safeway itself (and probably the outstanding leases on the adjacent businesses).

  • Quincy St Neighbor

    Is my understanding this is the model for all Safeway renovations from here on out. Is actually the store design standard for Safeway’s stores in Cal which is where the company is based. So looking forward to having a similar set up go into the Petworth Safeway.

    As to it’s new moniker, i’m a bit meh about it. I prefer City Safeway as it’s the only one within the city center.

  • Adams Morgan- please tell me you are sure about this. I dont know that such a massive store is needed but the area sure as hell needs a decent grocery store. That would be very good news for MTP and Adams Morgan alike. Are there plans anywhere or any Links to this project online?

  • Kay- OMG…..Where is the “Disco Safeway” and how did it get that name, I must start shopping there.

  • Oh yeah.. I had a very sexy encounter there with a water melon… don’t worry, I bought it and brought it home…

  • Otis Place: Rosslyn. The store has this crazy wild sculpture out front that looks kind of like a disco ball!

  • more on the sandanista-salvadorian-salmonella safeway (columbia rd) please. Ive been waiting for them to spruce that up for 15 years. They should add a couple stories to it with affordable housing for police-firefighters or maybe some office space, while they are at it. Of course then they would have the Nimbys to deal with. better to keep it matter-of-right.

  • i tried to check this safeway out two weeks ago before it opened. driving out i turned to the right and lo and behold what did i see but DC’s finest assemblage of tranny hookers right there on the sidewalk outside city vista! the “nut bar” in the photo isn’t the only nut bar you can pick up on that block.

  • Eric in ledroit: that’s hilarious — with all that development happening around there, I’ve wondered what will become of the 5th and K “marketplace.” At least for the moment it seems like bidness as usual.

  • I passed this one by accident last night and was quite surprised – had no idea it was there. Saying that I liver near the Un-Safeway and the new Harris Teeter on PA Ave so I can’t say I will shop there. Of course the people in that neighborhood and the LeDoit park were so underserved that this should be good for them.

    The Un-Safeway got redone a few years ago and while I still have issues – it is much, much better than it was. Of course in the middle of the reno one of the news shows did a segment on the general crapiness of grocery stores and this is the one that “won” for crapiness (they didn’t say it was in the middle of a reno). Sadly I knew which one it was before they gave too many clues.

    Don’t know about it’s moniker – maybe a good one will shake out when the store has been around a bit longer.

  • I really had to take a picture of the nut bar. I mean, c’mon… can’t you just see a bunch of marketing dudes stuck in some brainstorming retreat thinking up things like nut bars?

  • I went there over the weekend. I would call it “Striving Safeway” — Safeway appears to be striving to be more like Harris-Teeter or Whole Foods in a development striving to be upscale, notwithstanding that is around the corner from what seemed (at least at 3 pm on a Saturday) to be a female impersonator encampment and is just a few blocks from what is popularly known as “Ghetto Giant.” Interestingly, according to last week’s NY Times, huge urban groceries like this appear to be on the way out and smaller, more focused stores — perhaps like the infamous Soviet Safeway on 17th St. where the Berburs continue to do much of their shopping — are the next emerging trend.

  • My understaning of the Safeway monikers after 11 years in DC is as follows:

    Hidden Safeway = Florida and 20th st, NW
    Un-Safeway = Columbia Rd. (not so true anymore)
    Social Safeway = Wisconsin ave.
    Sketchy Safeway = Petworth (near Metro) ;(
    Soviet Safeway = Dupont Circle/17th Street

    and I just learned of ther Disco Safeway

    However, I do boycott Safeway b/c I live closest to the “Sketchy Safeway of Petworth”, which is nasty, nasty, nasty!! I used to write to Safeway every month about that vile grocery store to no avail. I now shop at Giant and soon to be Yes! Organic Foods.

  • Scenic Artisan of The Bloomingdale Neighborhood Blog (see the Blogroll to the left) is calling it the Swanky Safeway. I think I like that better than Sexy.

    I much prefer the smaller focused stores, like our local Timor Market, featured on PoP recently, and the Farmers Market. I find Harris Teeter generally to be a more comfortable size than a huge store like some of the Safeways and Giants.

  • Anonymous-

    “Hidden Safeway” is actually “Secret Safeway”
    “Un-Safeway” is actually “Spanish Safeway.”


  • Secret Safeway = Florida and 20th st, NW
    Salvadoran (Spanish, Salmonella, Sandanista) Safeway = Columbia Rd.
    Social Safeway = Wisconsin ave.
    Sketchy Safeway = Petworth (near Metro)
    Soviet Safeway = Dupont Circle/17th Street
    Suburban Safeway = Davenport St.

  • soviet safeway is my favorite name

    and of course, getting dressed up to go to social safeway was always fun

  • Wow! I just looked at the pics of the store from the opening – maybe we should call it the “Starbucks Safeway”. I have to say, it’s about damn time we are getting some nice grocery stores in the city. I live near the new Harris Teeter in AM and I LOVE it!! Living an urban lifestyle should mean having access to the best of everything, not having to drive to the ‘burbs to have decent selection and service.

  • Sexy Safeway is so on the money…better than Swanky Safeway I think…cute guys everywhere when I was there last Saturday morning! And LOTS o’ free samples and really helpful, professional employees!! What’s DC coming to having a fully stocked grocery store with good customer service??!!

  • As it is in Chinatown, it is properly referred to as the Sino-Safeway. I will continue to post comments to blogs on this matter until everyone agrees with me.

  • I always heard the one on Columbia referred to as Senor Safeway. Not terribly PC, but…

    And the one just before Chevy Chase circle on Connecticut is of course Senior Safeway.

Comments are closed.