Some Serious Scuttlebutt For Ya – IHOP Coming to Columbia Heights DCUSA?

IHOP, originally uploaded by Sikario.

Welcome to your Monday scuttlebutt that will overjoy nearly half the readership and infuriate the other half. So I had gotten wind of the news a few weeks ago but I was holding off to try and get confirmation from another source. But today a reader sent me:

“FYI, I heard from a fairly good source (though not 100 percent) that IHOP signed a letter of intent to go into DCUSA.”

This email and another source, I think, makes it official scuttlebutt! Does this help dull the pain of the news about Ellwood Thompson grocery store? Any fans of IHOP out there? Think they’ll do well in Columbia Heights?

128 Comment

  • IHOP is fantastic, I really hope they set up shop here.

  • re: Does this help dull the pain of the news about Ellwood Thompson grocery store?


  • Smart move on their part, if true. They’d make money hand over foot here. Ruby Tuesday does quite well, as far as I can tell.

  • All DCUSA needs is a Denny’s now…

  • I would love an IHOP in Columbia Heights. The other IHOPs are not as accessible, so one in CH would be a welcome addition.

  • The only way this gets better is if their open 24 hours.

  • Oh hell yes!

  • saf

    Oh vile. Why can’t we have a nice breakfast place, rather than an IHOP? I love pancakes, but not their pancakes. And they don’t even have real maple syrup!

  • This would be huge — they would print money

  • I hate to admit that I would probably eat her. But I gross myself out.

  • mmmm……pannnncakeees……while drunk…..mmmmmmm……YUM….

  • Mt. Pleasant + Wheaton, MD = Columbia Heights.

    What horrible news.

  • OMG yessssss bring ihop!!! we have been needing one for years. wouldnt’ this be the first one in the city?

  • Hey, it beats Perkins or Bob’s Big Boy. Not quite as good as Cracker Barrel or Waffle House though.

  • cool – where are they going to put the big pointy blue roof?

  • YESS count my vote in.

  • Very happy– it would be locally owned, by the same guy who owns the IHOP that just opened east of the river. That equals, in short order, a person invested in the city, hiring locally and participating in the neighborhood in which he’s located.

    Oh yeah, and yummy IHOP, too.

  • This is especially great news if it’s a 24 hour IHOP! Even if not, an affordable place nearby to get breakfast is cool with me. I’m no hater!

  • Wow, who knew I was so clairvoyant?

  • Where in DCUSA would it go, exactly?

  • the rumor I heard is next to where Ellwood’s is supposed to (PLEASE) eventually go in, but that is just hearsay.

  • Ugh! I have never liked Ihop. Not much cachet. I have a very low opinion of it.

  • I have super fond memories of IHOP. Going to George Mason, a bunch of the on-campus folks frequented the Denny’s. We made our moves down to the road a bit further to the 24 Hour IHOP.

    I dig the pancakes, the omlettes. Hell, even the salads. Such a fat kid, I know, but c’mon! It real is *so* good.

    It might be the only chain to which I’d willingly go. Fatty over here can’t help himself when it comes to the chicken fajita omlette!

    When I get a craving for chocolate chip pancakes (once a year), its been Steak & Egg that’s gotten my attention. How nice it will be to just have to take the circulator now instead of a cab!

  • No. Please no.

  • I used to love IHOP. Then I spent an evening in the throes of severe food poisoning and I have to say I can’t see myself going back any time soon…


  • Talk about Columbia Heights fall from grace. Good Bye Ellwoods. Royal Blue. Zinnia. Hello Chipotle and Ihop. joining arms with Ruby Tuesday and Five Guys. Columbia Heights may as well be called “Little Potomac Yards” but at lease potomac yards has a movie theater…

  • i like potomac yards… maybe we will get an old navy to come to dcusa too!

  • all the transplants mouths are watering right now. Pancakes just like they get back home. mm mmm. exactly like they get back home actually. cause its a shitty chain. But they will do well. no doubt about that. and being that its close to the metro probably get a lot of UMD kids on their way back from adams morgan if theyre 24/7. I give it about 3 weeks before it gets that nasty chain smell inside. that mix of dirty water bleach and hydrodenated oils wafting about.

  • kill me now.

  • That is terrible news!

  • I have no doubt this is true. The Grahamstander has been clamoring to get an IHop or Denny’s for years (most recently at the site of the old Verizon building/new parking garage in Adams Morgan). Enjoy the fruits of his labor Columbia Heights….

  • IHOP really needs to listen to the community it’s supposed to be serving. They need to call themselves “Internationale Maison des Crêpes” and serve small plates of very expensive food, along with $12 Belgian ale specials. They should also give every customer a unicorn that farts rainbows.

  • Ghetto…

  • I can smell the strawberry syrup – count me in!

  • There is plenty of room for everyone in this neighborhood and a late night, perhaps 24 hr, breakfast place will be welcomed by many. Metro give us a strong advantage over Adams Morgan and I think in years to come you’ll see 14th AND a 3-4 block stretch on 11th street become a great place to walk to.

    Very doubfull they are taking Ellwood’s space. IHOP or vacant storefront? IHOP any day.

  • monkeyrotica, thank you for making me spit out my coffee onto my keyboard. You have made my day.

  • I vote for a DSW… that would be awesome.

  • re: anon 9:11, Ellwood’s isn’t dead yet, although it is certainly on life support. Let’s hold out hope there.

    And come on, you omitted Room 11, Social, Pho 14, Meridian Pint, Pete’s, Redrocks, Nori (which I don’t love but it’s not a chain), The Heights, the Peruvian steak place, Tynan Coffee, all of which have recently opened or will soon open, and none of which are big chains. Not exactly a wonderful economic climate to open a restaurant, and Royal Blue, Zinnia, and Sake likely are victims of the tight financing climate. We are still the envy of most neighborhoods in terms of cool new stuff opening up: really only H St. NE and U Street are ahead of us in that regard, and there is something to be said for the convenience from the chain places like Target.

  • We would not even be having this debate if they’d just hurry up and get an Arbys already. The advantage being that they’ve got that whole rainbow-farting thing covered. I swear, the last time I had an Arbys Bacon and Blue Roastburger, my underwear ended up looking like a Benetton ad.

  • Or for that matter, a Roast Beef — Pancake — Wine — Kite — Crystal Meth Emporium. That is the only chain that will satisfy everyone’s desires.

  • I wish we had a real 24 hour restaurant in Logan Circle – – Yums doesn’t count. IHOP is progress.

  • At DCUSA we understand that your brain is shrinking at a rate exponentially linked to the growth of your waist line and we know you liked the bland unimaginative retail options we offered before so you’ll LOVE the hand-crafted mediocrity found in our newest nutritionally absent and culturally devoid commercial waste land.

    Strap on your feed bags Petworth and waddle on down to everyone’s favorite All-American edible-fodder trough – IHOP! You don’t havta to travel to the suburbs to experience the vapid lifestyle if represents; and you shouldn’t be expected to!

    IHOP & DCUSA – bringing the Strip-Mall to you! (First 100 Customers get a fanny-pack and a hoveround.)

  • Some of y’all are going to become moms or dads and, possibly, going to end up with a 16-year-old daughter and the secret is that you’ll have is that pulling your ass out of bed at 6 AM is worth it because you cranky teenager talks to you then. And an IHOP (much as we hate chains) is the perfect place to have that happen.

    I’d prefer a Waffle House, but they seem un-eager to come downtown.

  • Many will go. I will not be one of them.

  • I used to love IHOP…when I was 16 and thought it was cool to stay out late. IHOP has no business being in CH.

  • Hey, IHOP is not such a bad thing. When you are sitting at your perfectly local owned joint enjoying a totally independent breakfast/brunch/lunch/dinner/late-night meal, wouldn’t you rather the screaming rugrats be at IHOP drawing with crayons on place-mats and getting hyped up on sugar?
    IHOP is a great addition for young families in the neighborhood who otherwise may not want to truck their family of four into a public venue. When I was a kid my parents always took us to IHOP or the Pancake House because there were a million other ADD kiddies there misbehaving in the exact same way.
    The same logic can be applied to the annoying frat boys who have overrun the neighborhood. Wouldn’t you rather they were at IHOP and not sitting next to you?

  • Doesn’t IHOP put smiley faces from whip cream on your pancakes?

  • I wish it were going to be a Cracker Barrel instead, but I’ve never seen a Cracker Barrel that wasn’t situated right next to a major Interstate. Maybe we can get someone to build a big Cracker Barrel on the site of the old Convention Center, since it’s so close to the terminus of I-395.

  • You’re gonna all be complaining about the IHOP when it’s immediately established as a high school students’ hangout (including all the high school “students” everyone loves to hate from the low income housing units). Mark these words.

  • I’ll only go to get the free unicorn that farts rainbows. Who doesn’t like rainbows?

  • potty talk…My goodness – monkeyrotica certainly loves to talk about poop, farting and other bodily functions. Does he ever make a comment without mentioning such things?

  • flipflopirate for the win.

  • I, for one, hope it attracts all the obnoxious loud junior high and high school students, and parents who believe that making their screaming kids be quiet is stiffling their creativity. So that the nicer restaurants in this neighborhood can be left for those of us who really want to enjoy it.

    I’m not sure about the 24-hr thing. There aren’t too many upstanding folk out and about at 3AM on a weeknight in this part of town. I don’t know if all IHOPs have to be open 24 hours but if they have the choice, I’d be surprised if this one is.

  • Two thoughts:
    I like the idea of a 24-hour trough, and I don’t hate IHOP, in general. I bet this could be a cop hang-out, which means more police in the area. Whether or not they’d respond is another question.

    But, I fear that anon at 10:27 has it right (even though he thinks he’s being sarcastic): the place will be overrun by an element that I’m frankly not comfortable with. Noisy, vulgar local kids who have no respect for basic community manners, who will trash the place at every opportunity. I don’t like the idea of going out for pancakes with my small child, and sitting next to a half dozen teenagers who can’t get through a single shouted sentence without three m’f*ckers thrown in.

  • I regularly shop at the chain retail in DCUSA (esp. Target and Childrens Place) because the people of Columbia Heights and DC generally lacked the ability to conveniently buy the inventory these stores sell.

    However, this is not true of restaurants in this neighborhood and the city, at large – there are plenty of local, non-chain establishments that offer great food for a fair price that WE MUST SUPPORT WITH OUR PATRONAGE!

    The Heights and Commonwealth already offer fantastic breakfasts and I will continue to patronize these establishments. Let the ‘burbs have their IHOPS and let’s work to keep DC and our cities as the places where smaller, creative and unique entrepreneurial efforts are rewarded and large, omnipresent corporations that drive existing, treasured small businesses into the ground are not welcomed.

    And if IHOP is uprooting Ellwoods, that would be a public health and urban planning disaster.

  • I hope all you IHOP haters get violated with a country fried steak. Romantically. Silly fudgers, who stole your kool-aid?

  • I (anon at 10:27) wasn’t being sarcastic. Every urban IHOP i’ve been to, and I’ve been to a few on my travels, is a teen hangout, especially on weekend nights. The teens around here suck, generally speaking. Think Gallery Place but worse.

  • Geezer,

    Not that i’m a huge IHOP fan, but the Heights and Commonwealth are a totally different price range than IHOP. Brunch at those places is going to run you $10-15/person even if you don’t get juice, drinks, coffee. These places are fine, but not exactly economically feasible for everyone. If someone wants to open up a “smaller, creative and unique entrepreneurial effort” that costs $5-7 for brunch (other than the FL Ave grill), I’m all for it.

  • Don’t local teens deserve a place where they can get together after school and suck? At least with an IHOP, you know where they are, you can avoid them, and they’re less likely to throw rocks at your head when you walk down the street.

    Really, this is the best thing to happen to hyperbole since Hitler!

  • so this is Grahams doing. LOL. tell me this. When there is a late night shooting in front of this ihop. (and mark my words. there will be. if its 24 hours) Will Jim Graham-Stand and shutter his beloved IHops doors?

  • why doesnt Jim Grahm do something worthwhile and negotiate a small business loan for Ellwood Thompsons instead of courting more Trash Retail for this Eyesore of a mall he helped crap out in columbia heights. Whats next Olive Garden?

  • It is not “uprooting” ellwood thompson’s. They will be in a totally different (far, far smaller) space. There are still a TON of vacant spaces in DCUSA, recall, with little apparent movement on any of them. Considering they (a) have a lease (b) presumably still might open eventually and (c) are in a HUGE space that would otherwise be tough to fill, I am guessing no one will uproot Ellwood’s. Just a question of whether Ellwood’s (and their financiers) view the CH space as a viable money maker. I can’t imagine it would not be, but banks may be looking at dated demographics in the area and might not really understand the level of desire for this type of store here.

  • I think we all hope it’s going to work.

    I hope that IHOP is going to be too square for the kids to hang out in.

    The IHOP in Wheaton was not a teen hangout.

  • The IHOP on Alabama Ave in Southeast is not 24-hours. Therefore it’s safe to say that this one would not be required to be open 24 hours 7 days a week.

  • it may not be required to be 24 hours but lets be honest. this ihop would rake it in during the late night. friday and saturday anyway. it would be silly of them not to be 24hrs.

  • so long as we are going with the suburban strip mall theme here. (does DCUSA have any experience with Urban Retail? no matter) can we get the place in potomac yards. whats it called. Hops? the brewery place? I mean of all the shitty suburban crap to bring here that would actually be kinda cool. And to court them all you would have to say is “look everything else from Potomac Yards opened in Columbia Heights. why be left out?”

  • and so completes the Rockville Pike-ification of Columbia Heights.

  • People need to look at pictures from the riots to see all the “suburban” chain stores that dotted 14th St like Peoples Drug, Hot Shoppes, Safeway, Lansburghs (technically not 14th st), etc.

    What seems like “suburban” to you is due to the abject racism of corporate America from 1970-1990 when chain stores abandoned any area with a lot of black people.

    So I reject the use of the term “Suburban” to describe these stores.

  • peoples and safeway were at least local chains.

  • Waa…Waa…I hate the suburbs and chains and frat boys and people from Maryland and Virginia and strip malls and god knows what else. It sounds like chocolate chip pancakes with a whipped cream smiley face on them are just what many of you need. And if you can stop crying for five minutes, I will buy you a balloon.

  • Hot Shoppes actually opened its first store in Columbia heights in the 1920s. The owner was one J Willard Marriot, of the Marriot Hotel empire.

  • On behalf of all the fat chicks in the area, I welcome the IHOP! And Lane Bryant will make a killing off this restaurant within a month after they open. woowhoo!

  • I sense a lot of jealousy emanating from many of these comments. IHOP is a hell of a lot sexier than most of you, and you know who you are.

  • Lol. Sure, IHOP is not a dream come true. But there is space.

  • Honestly, the people who should be irritated by this are the former owners of the old Waffle Shoppe on Park … they got pushed out for pancakes!

    But I cast my lot with the naysayers. Over/under before there is an incident involving a weapon at a 24-hour IHOP in this location: 7 months.

  • Wha? Safeway isn’t a local chain…it was founded and is based in California…

  • There goes the neighborhood again!!! Just when we were coming up in the world! UGGGGGGGgggg

  • Wasn’t Safeway started by some dudes in Landover, and the first store was on Georgia Ave?

  • Giant was local, Safeway was from Oakland, CA. (as I remember)

  • You gotta love it when a neighborhood is looking and wants the…Worst Omelet
    IHOP Big Steak Omelet that comes in at 1,490 calories

    IHOP doesn’t provide nutritional information aside from calorie counts, but with a boatload of steak, a bucket of cheese, and handfuls of hash browns, this omelet’s fat and sodium numbers are surely just as appalling. We can only hope and want more of the same! Bring it on!

  • Monkeyrotica, I certainly know where and when Hot Shoppes opened, but are you denying that in DC in the 1960s and 70s Hot Shoppes wasn’t a suburban-style restaurant akin to IHOP/Friendlys/Shoneys/Cracker Barrel? It was because that kind of restaurant wasn’t considered suburban until the corporations shut them down in downtown DC.

    I didn’t suggest that a locally-started chain like Peoples, which we once visited in Ohio, shouldn’t be considered. I’m not a locavore.

    Tops Drive In
    Dart Drug
    Ginos (owned by players from the Baltimore Colts)
    Roy Rogers (Marriott)
    and of course Pappy Parker Fried Chicken (Marriott)

  • I’ll gladly drag my offspring to IHOP. I have yet to spring for the over-priced eggs at The Heights or food that they would not touch with a 20 foot pole at Commonwealth. My kids like most have simple tastes and lets face it that fritatta is no different than scrambled eggs with a bunch of veggies to them. So far the eateries at and around DCUSA have done a great job keeping the kids moving on so I will look on the bright side and predict that the IHOP wants yuppie with kids or retirees money over the change that local kids will drop.

  • IHOP will do well in Columbia Heights. Sure, the local yuppies, hipsters, and high brows will avoid the place and grumble when it opens, but the majority of the neighborhood will embrace it. There are often lines at Five Guys, Petes, Potbellys, and Panda Express because the food is good, the prices are low, and the vast majority of locals enjoy cheap, good food. Not everyone can afford a $15 brunch at Commonwealth!

  • Sorry-hipsters. I know this seriously deflates your high end dreams. (“I moved back to DC for strip mall fare?”) This will be interesting to watch. (I do not feel comfortable in Columbia Heights)

  • I’m pretty sure IHOP has a “heart smart” low-fat/salt/calorie menu for those with restrictive diets or who suffer from flavor intolerance. So all of us can enjoy a nice IHOP egg white omlette, steamed chicken breast salad, and a tall cool class of STFU.

  • this ihop will completely destroy everything that is precious and good about columbia heights. that blue ihop sign will be a blight on our shining gem of a neighborhood.

  • IHOP will make it. But is it good for the hood? There is a divide of sorts between homeowners and renters. For renters, it increases the amenities for the hood. For the homeowners, I would think it decreases the trajectory a bit. A better deal would have been the Colorado Kitchen lady’s restaurant that is opening in Petworth. IHOP is low brow in my opinion. It appeals to a wide range of people, including the lowest common denominator of consumer.

  • If you are lucky, they will include poly-syllabic coffee drinks, so that you can order something along the lines of a “double tall, no foam, no deposit, no return, soy latte”.

  • This is an interesting ( and somewhat humorous) dilemma. For folks who have smarted from the huge dearth of sit-down establishments East of the Park, this is “progress.”
    For those of you who, consciously or not, assume that neighborhood transformation equals (it’s God’s will, after all) a glut of trendy-high-end restaurants ( never mind that
    that first pregnancy will mean a trek to the land where joints like IHOP thrive)-I suppose this is a Danteesque experience.

    Maybe the Depression will end soon-and the aforementioned transformation will pick up where it left off. Maybe not. To quote Jack Kerouac-“what will happen”?

  • Having an IHOP: The Pros

    While it is clear from the discussion that many are opposed to the IHOP, there are a variety of benefits.

    Once again, there is an investor(s) willing to open an IHOP that signals an opportunity.
    By having another franchise/chain, it shows other prospective retailers that CH is successful and suggests additional economic opportunity.

    A franchise like IHOP has a higher success rate than a local owned business. IHOP has a tested and proven product that has brand loyalty. Sure, we all like to order and get a product and service that we expect.

    Clearly, IHOP will generate additional traffic along 14th Street. This will help the other retailers in CH to put more eyes and legs on the street. We have to keep supporting Target, Staples, and all the other chains. If CH does not, then who?

    Although it can cut both ways, the franchise should make for a good neighbor. IHOP should continue to reinvest in the physical appearance of their building.

    Now, the “cons” for having the IHOP…

    The franchise will threaten ithe independent businesses like the new coffee shop that opened up the street. ­

    Loss of community identity. Why should CH look like all the other places in Virginia and Maryland? What made CH feel and other DC commercial business districts standout? It was…character and a sense of place!

    Why should CH settle on homogenous products and services targeted towards the general population?

    And finally, dollars are leaving the city and our tax base. The profits from IHOP and others chains rarely stay in a community. The profits from IHOP are going back to California to their headquarters, distributed to shareholders (if there is anything left), or invested in corporate expansion. Dollars from independent retailers are often put back into the neighborhood and in the city.

  • CH: I have to agree with you on the loss of community identity. For decades, Columbia Heights has been best known for its empty storefronts. IHOP is helping to take this away, and we residents should not stand for it!

  • What makes me laugh is that these same people who are bemoaning and IHOP being in their precious little alterna-neighborhood of Columbia Heights is that they represent maybe 20% of the total population of this neighborhood.

    I have spoke to and read on this blog from old-schoolers who describe what Columbia Heights was no more than 5-10 years ago. Of course there are still problems, but the neighborhood has done a 180 since those bad old days when the only grocery stores were crappy bodegas and the only restaurants were Chinese fast food.

    The only people who can afford to dine exclusively at Commonwealth, the Heights, et al are either hipster brats with trust funds or working stiffs who bust their butts all day for their families and/pr themselves. The big difference though is that the folks who make their own money and those who support families welcome and affordable, family friendly restaurant within walking or Metro distance from their front door. The complaining always comes from those who have no real connection to the “real world” and care only for what image is associated with their habitation of Columbia Heights- not what’s best for the other 80% of residents.

    I hope (perhaps naively) that these complainers will wake up and realize that commercial development in this area, ESPECIALLY empty store fronts, is essential to establishing long-term viability for the neighborhood. Independents and chains alike make this possible. It is foolish to think that DCUSA is going to cater to whatever trendy niche cuisine or clothing store is popular at the time because 90% of you only use this city as a weigh station until you move out. Families and longer term (read: older) residents are what are going to support this neighborhood in the long term.

    Just try and keep some perspective.

  • I agree with CH that the downside is that the products are targeting the general population. However I’ve argued with local business owners in the past that they aren’t educated in the field of marketing and have no idea how they can compete with starbucks, target or whoever their competitor is.

    You look at Pfeiffers Hardware in Mt Pleasant, Hellers in Mt Pleasant, Pete’s a Pizza, 2Amys, Ercilias, Haydees and plenty of successes and they’re great. Then look at low performers who “get it” like Moroni Brothers, Dos Gringos, Tonic and others. There you’re paying more for their mistakes but they’re targeting YOU, so for many it’s ok. The worst are the local joints who can’t figure anything out. Burritos Fast, the original Burrito Brothers, various dollar stores and gift shops, some of those places in the Tivoli space, crappy food by the pound diners, etc. Then they’re local, they don’t get it, they don’t understand you, they aren’t marketing toward you, and any positive experiences are accidental. I will continue to support Burritos Fast, but not as much as I did before I ran up my cards on $4 gas.

  • My point is that being local and being incompetent is no panacea for the neighborhood.

  • Actually Warder Kid touched on something that was obvious to me, but might need to be explained.

    DCUSA is new development with “new development” mall rents. Given that real estate is an auction, local start ups would have a hard time making ends meet there. It should be expected by all people that the stores they want to bring in follow the national chain model. This allows the surrounding store fronts to cater to the local, niche and specialty market in counter-marketing.

    Indeed both kinds of businesses are needed in Columbia Heights, both the hyper-efficient well-run middle-of-the-road chains and the local businesses narrowcasting to the community.

  • “You look at Pfeiffers Hardware in Mt Pleasant, Hellers in Mt Pleasant … they’re great.”

    I’ll give you Pfeiffer’s, but Hellers is a textbook case of a badly run small business that survives only because they have no serious competition. The food is mediocre to bad (e.g. the bread – consistently terrible) and the service is worse. They constantly have 2 people tripping over one another in a futile effort to do the work of one competent person! Every time I go in there it’s a reminder not to get too misty-eyed about small, locally-owned businesses …

  • I would much prefer a place like IHOP move into DCUSA considering the huge amount of empty space there. They pay the rent. They most likely will outlast the local places that cannot even raise enough capital or credit to open up these days. They will employ people and fill in the currently empty space. I was once a young hip urbanite who is now a downtrodden parent. My kids are not welcome at many of the highbrow places that people cite. 2Amys is openly mocked for their family friendly atmosphere. I would love a place not just for breakfast but the random Wednesday where we are super busy to grab a quick meal that does not involve clowns, kings, red headed step children or mariachi bands.

    DCUSA is all chains but Target has returned much to the community. Ask the kids at Bancroft elementary about their beautiful library paid in full for by Target. Check out all of the local events that Target sponsors for children and adults alike. The Kogad (sp?) atrium at the National Portrait gallery opening was a lot of fun and sponsored by Target the big national chain. Let us not forget the numerous CherryBlossom events that recently took place. Not to mention the donations based on receipts that Target gives to local schools. My kids’ school west of the park has greatly benefited from the businesses at DCUSA. They have been great about donating to our causes. Don’t be so quick to put down these chains. Most of them are managed locally and realize that they need to help keep the community healthy to sustain their businesses.

  • I don’t object to IHOP because it’s inexpensive; my concern is the lack of urban identity that comes with a proliferation of the same strip mall retail you can find in every town, city and state of the country.

  • Rockcreek — exactly. To me Heller’s = crap food and horrible service. Why people continue to throw their money away there, I’ll never understand.

  • I LOVE Hellers and the donuts and cakes are significantly better than you can get anywhere else in the city at that price point. The donuts, in particular, are world class. Anyone dissing Hellers has absolutely no freaking clue what to buy there. They may sell breakfast sandwiches, but buy their donuts. they may have salads in the case, but buy their donuts. get real. Hellers is a gem.

    The owners know me and are always nice to me, so I get totally fine service.

  • “The owners know me and are always nice to me, so I get totally fine service.”

    You shouldn’t need to know the owners to get decent service. Honestly, everything at Heller’s takes twice as long as it should – watch the bald,
    Rainman-like checker process a credit card sale some time, for example.
    Just for confirmation, count the number of coffee orders yelled over from the
    register that are completely missed by the person working the urns … it goes on and on, and it’s maddening – especially if you’re in a hurry. If a Firehook opened up on Mt. Pleasant Street, Heller’s would probably fail in six months.

    I’ll concede that the donuts are decent, but they don’t make up for the awful, sub-Wonder quality bread, or the mediocre cookies and pies. Plenty of bakeries manage to do it all well.

  • Monroe said: “My kids’ school west of the park has greatly benefited from the businesses at DCUSA. ”


  • I like diversity and live in CH and a dining option at 1am-4am is something new to our area. Many kids will love going for breakfast before a 9am soccer game. School students a place to hang. OK, it is not great food. But it is fast, yummy and cheap. Imagine if many folks around DC came for late night food.

    Though negitive points posted are possible I view commercial development as something good for everyone. IHOP in downtown DC, especially if open very late, will be a slam dunk good option for many if it can be kept safe. A cop hangout? How awesome would that be?

    Anyway, perhaps posters can be more inclusive. Many lower income folks who live in the area will love $5/pp breakfast.

  • hmmmm….elwoods/ihop
    i’ll stop but i won’t hop.

  • It’s better than jumbo slice.


  • rooty tooty fresh and fruity

  • Rock Creek, introduce yourself fercrissakes, the bald guy is, yes, not very smart or perhaps has had a brain injury or is otherwise slow but he’s not a bad guy. The guy with the dreads is a problem, but again, he likes my family. It’s not always obvious who is nice to everyone and who is nice to me while excluding everyone.

    I’ve gotten very good quality hamburger and hot dog rolls from Hellers. I’ve gotten great gingerbread cookies. And the donuts are without any argument the best available in DC and if you don’t believe me, order the glazed CAKE donut. Their cakes are acceptable as well.

    honestly, I challenge you to name me a consistently BETTER bakery than Hellers in DC that sells that variety of items at that cost. Cake love has some great items, but the cost is prohibitive. There are all manner of stellar cupcake houses. I missed the Pie restaurant around 8th St NW. Sticky Fingers is bland as cardboard and I was suckered by their vegetarianness to try it three different times to three separate disappointments including asking the clerks what their specialties were.

    But Firehook sucks so bad that I’m boycotting them- I have been flat out ignored in the Cleveland Park location so many times that I personally called the manager and she offered to give me free coffee but I don’t want to go back. Firehook has zero quality control credibility in this discussion. The last two times I went in the clerks huddled off to the side flirting with the coffee guy in Spanish and one time I wasn’t even the first or second person to storm out! And I speak Spanish and they were talking about their weekend plans and stacking coffee cups. Let alone the fact that firehook is about 50% more expensive than Hellers- $1.50 cookies? $4 pastries?

    I end up in Hellers once or twice a week.

  • I understand that people want more family friendly establishments.

    I get the tough economic situation that shortens the list of businesses that are viable in a DCUSA lease/price point.

    I even empathize with the need for more dining options (like Julia’s or Pho 14 or even Potbelly) that can provide a quality, affordable service to the entire community, not just the old timers or the newcomers.


    *Unless that other way is McDonald’s-esque….in that case I will turn tricks in Zimbabwe or NOVA or some other equally horrible place to raise money for the resistance!!!!

  • For anyone who has ever been to Boston, Flour is the model for a bakery I’d like to see in DC. It pretty much kicks the living crap out of any bakery or sandwich shop I’ve ever tried in this city. I will never get why this city doesn’t have more half-way decent affordable food options, good bakeries (and no Firehook and Cake Love, both of which are terrible, do not count). There is a reason why anyplace that opens that has decently good food at non-ridiculous prices (like Posto by U Street, or Granville Moore’s on H Steet) is forever packed to the gills — there is just not much competition at the 15-20 dollar entre (or for a deli, in the 5-10 dollar lunch) price point in this city. We all know there isn’t a single good pizza by the slice place as well. If I had the spare cash, I would be investing in any good restaraunteur who has a concept for a fairly priced food option in this city, akin to a Flour. I simply will never understand why a city with this much pent up demand is SOOOO far behind every other major city I’ve lived in / spent much time in (New York, Chicago, Boston, Seattle) in terms of quality food. Heck, even Baltimore and Philly, much poorer cities, are considered better food town than D.C. Food that uniformly sucks in DC: tapas (Jaleo would close in about a week if there was decent competition), chinese, pizza, bagels, deli. I am telling you, open any of these that are TOP quality anywhere in NW DC, you’ll make an absolute killing.

    Until we get some good options, I’ll settle for IHOP. Better than nothing. Although wish it was an OPH.

    (BTW, I do hear, from numerous sources, that Taylor’s is great but I haven’t been due to location — perhaps they can expand to this section of town?).

    Sorry for the rant. But I am not going to cry for local entrepeneurs until the ones we have actually get it right. Are you listening, Nori? I would be there every week if their Sushi was merely adequate …. sigh. Hopefully Room 11 will prove an exception, I have high hopes.

  • You don’t get good, moderately priced places in DC because the rents here are ridiculously high, ensuring that anyone who makes a go of it has to have a shitload of cash on hand going in, or more often, has to cut costs everywhere all the time, and the first place that happens is in food quality. Many of the places in NYC and elsewhere have had their leases forever, have commercial rent control, or are allowed to rent tiny, little 200 sq feet places to do their thing. You have none of that here.

  • That is a reaonable (albeit immensely frustrating) explanation. Maybe that is why H St. NE seems to be getting a disproportionate share of great places — I am guessing the rents there are still cheap. You’d think at some point folks would lower rents rather than suffer vacancy (plus, to attract tenants who can invest in the space and thrive long-term), but based on the sheer number of perpetual vacancies on Georgia Ave. and in CH, I guess not …

  • snobs, snobs, snobs!!!

  • classy brew, classy brew

  • I drink the ihop coffee…I like the ihop coffee.

  • I simply will never understand why a city with this much pent up demand is SOOOO far behind every other major city I’ve lived in / spent much time in (New York, Chicago, Boston, Seattle) in terms of quality food. Heck, even Baltimore and Philly, much poorer cities, are considered better food town than D.C.

    Quite simply it’s because none of the cities you mention had MLK riots like we did in 1968. The riots shut down all local businesses for 10 years, roughly. We are closer to Detroit, South Central/Watts, Newark, etc in that regard.

    I was at a meeting of tech entrepreneurs around 2000 when I realized that three of the guys had the same story- they saw their grandparents run a business on 14th st that got burned down and promised themselves they’d start their own business.

    What would be different if all the small local businesses weren’t destroyed withing 4 days in 1968? Well, everything.

  • We need a Trio at Columbia Heights.

  • I love how douches try to pretend they didn’t nurse college party hangovers at 3am in an IHOP like the rest of us. Ugh.

  • First of all, we’re going to have to live with IHOP and other chains during this economy. Local outfits dont have the ability to take on this risk in this economy. Some do, thankfully we have Tynan, Room 11, Meridian, but it takes a lot to open up a restaurant/store when the economy is so bad. Plus financing isnt as easy anymore. Just be patient – once it’s seen that businesses come here and do well, more will follow.

    I don’t really care to refute 40 different non-sequitors that they threw out, but anon 4/28 might be the biggest food snob ever. Michel Richard has said DC is a very good food city, so I’ll take that opinion over yours. Of course we arent New York, no one is. But give this city some credit. Perhaps you just don’t like anything?!?

  • Hi everyone!

    I just wanted to let all the readers know that IHOP is being asked to begin a phase-out period of battery cage eggs with an introduction of cage-free eggs. Many of their competitors have been able to do it (Burger King, Denny’s, Brueggers, Quizno’s, Wolfgang Puck’s restaurants, Ben and Jerry’s, Hardees, four-hundred universities (the list goes on)). So the question becomes, “why can’t IHOP?”

    Consumers are not requesting that much from them, honestly. These are just basic humane standards of care. Cage-free systems offer hens a higher level of animal welfare than do battery cage systems. Making these transitions over time are very reasonable steps in the humane direction.

    Unlike battery hens, cage-free hens are able to walk, spread their wings and lay their eggs in nests. It is also extremely practical to still produce the same amount of eggs as would be produced in battery cage systems. Most importantly to the American population, the sanitary conditions are greatly improved in a cage-free system. Alarms should be raised over the severe food safety concerns involved with IHOP’s egg production. In the video of IHOP’s primary supplier, Michael Foods, (, one can see dying and decomposed chickens laying on the eggs.

    Evidence shows there is more Salmonella risk in caged flocks compared to cage-free flocks. In fact, factory farming is considered the reason Salmonella emerged as such a major egg pathogen in the first place.

    According to the CDC, eggs now infect 50,000-110,000 Americans every year. Data shows that operations which cram thousands of hens into tiny cages are not surprisingly up to 20 times more likely than cage-free facilities to harbor Salmonella infection.

    Please call IHOP at 1-866-444-5144 and politely ask them to begin the phase-out of battery-cage eggs.
    Thank you for your time.
    -Emily J. Spivak

  • Although I’d prefer a Silver Diner or even Hard Times Chill Ihop will work. Its about time. Right now there are so few options for grabbing a bite in the neighborhood late at night that its downright depressing. This is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

  • I looked back I cannot believe how silly some of the posting were (see below)
    They are trying to turn Col Heights into a ‘name brand’ not a neighborhood with businesses / services that recognize the cultural and economic diversity.

    Nate Says:
    April 27th, 2009 at 7:49 am
    Ugh! I have never liked Ihop. **Not much cachet**. I have a very low opinion of it.

    saf Says:

    April 26th, 2009 at 11:20 pm
    **Oh vile.**

    “lack of urban identity” What does this even mean?
    Times Square is full of chain stores…

Comments are closed.