It’s Not A Rumor – Room 11 In Discussions to Expand

photo(9), originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

Yesterday when I mentioned Room 11 (11th and Lamont Streets, NW) was having a gin tasting and Punch Club was set to return, a reader mentioned hearing a rumor of an expansion. Well, obviously I had to get a taste of gin and while I was there I asked if the rumors of an expansion were true. And they are! However, it is only in the very very very early stages and nothing has been finalized. The space where they would expand is currently occupied by Jeans N Things. This makes a lot of sense as I don’t think I’ve ever seen a patron inside Jeans N Things.  Hopefully the negotiations will go well as Room 11 could definitely use some more room.

66 Comment

  • After they expand, they should change their name to Room 11 N Things.

  • This is really interesting and I think it’s great, though I can’t help raising my eyebrows. I mean, they just opened and they’re talking about expansion already? There must be a lot of things that have been going on behind the scenes that are not obvious. Maybe they wanted to use the space nextdoor all along but it wasn’t available, or maybe they offered the landlord more money than they’re getting from Jeans & Things and they decided to boot them?? Who knows.. but the timing is certainly odd.

    I also have been wondering since they day they opened their doors how they would be able to survive when outdoor seating isn’t viable 6 months of the year and that’s 2/3 of their capacity….

  • I inquired about Jeans and Things awhile back and they said they had just signed a new long term lease, so something is a bit fishy here.

  • I talked to the proprietor of Jeans & Things a long while back– before Room 11 opened, and he told me the same thing — that R11 one day hoped to expand, and he was interested. It sounded like a long-term plan, though. And to anon9:59, I bet that they did sign a long-term lease, b/c Room 11 wants to expand into there, so they need the space held. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a deal of some sort between the two. Seemed amicable when I had that convo with J&T’s.

  • I barback at Room 11, and Dan, partner/bar manager, has said they’ve been in talks with the landlord to expand next door since they signed the lease for the bar. Things are still in the early stages, the landlord wants to see how Room 11 works out first b/f he considers giving up Jeans N Things.

  • So another small space that could be used for a non alcohol/food establishment will be gobbled up. 11th Street will be all booze within two years. Nightlife district only more or less.

  • Sounds good to me. I’ve also never, ever seen anybody even go in the Jeans & Things. Also, I’ve dined outside at Room 11, which was pleasant except for the voracious mosquitos, so more indoor seating would be welcome.

    voiceofreason, you’re sounding a lot like DCDireWolf or Bronat lately. 😉

  • I’ve been shopping at Jeans and Things for the last 5 years. They have an excellent sundress and jean selection for $20. However I’m happier for Mr. Franklin(owner) and Room 11 to expand!

  • “So 11th Street will be all booze within two years. Nightlife district only more or less.”


    Let’s see… where is the most valuable residential real estate in DC? Dupont Circle, U Street, Adams Morgan.

    What makes real estate valuable? People wanting to live there.

    What do all those places have in common? Tons of alcohol and food establishments.


  • Mr T, +1 on that.

  • Jamie, at least you are honest about valuing property values above anything else in the community. A lot of folks talk out of both sides of their mouths around here.

  • I’m glad they’re expanding. I’ve never been able to get a table, outside or in, in the 4 times I’ve tried to go to Room 11, including on opening night, and had simply crossed it off my list as not worth the pain.

    On opening night, I tried to stand around with my friends and glasses of wine, waiting for a table, in the cramped perimeter outside where we were allowed to drink without being in the way of the waiters, and ended up getting a burrito next door.

  • Room 11 has been packed to the gills with locals every time I’ve gone for a drink, which indicates to me that it is doing an excellent job of meeting the needs of the community! Bring on the 11th street nightlife district!

  • VOR only wants a neighborhood of failing businesses, apparently.

  • just because i don’t want a nightlife district on 11th does NOT mean I want a neighborhood of failing businesses. that isn’t logical in the least.

  • where was everyone from 6-8 last night? plenty of room for Dan’s demo and drinking!
    but believe me, i’m not complaining – I received extra gin because of it. good stuff.

    and the “timing” on the expansion thing isn’t odd at all: 1) they were in talks from the beginning. 2) the reconstruction was done themselves, found more issues than expected, and just needed to get the place going.

  • You make a big, false assumption that most people want to live near eating and drinking establishments.

  • “Jamie, at least you are honest about valuing property values above anything else in the community. A lot of folks talk out of both sides of their mouths around here.”

    I think you misunderstood my comment. The point was not that I care about property values above everything else. I’ll try to lay this out more clearly.

    Property values are only objective measure of the desirability of a community. This is a pretty basic concept of supply and demand.

    Since communities that have lots of eating and drinking establishments are valuable, then these types of businesses are obviously something that most people want to live near and hence make a community more desirable.

  • @voice I am not sure you read my last comment or not before this “false assumption” comment, but since it is indisputable that the real estate near eating and drinking establishment is among the most expensive in the city, how do you figure?

  • the most expensive real estate in the city is in the palasades and the side streets of georgetown and upper 16th near chevy chase, not in high density nightlife districts.

  • “thee most expensive real estate in the city is in the palasades”

    Not per square foot buddy…

  • It makes sense to me that we would have many more eating/drinking establishments than anything else. We eat multiple times a day. Do you buy three pairs of jeans a day? How many kites are in your daily routine? Even if you only eat out once a week, that’s still 3 or 4 times as often as you need to buy clothes, or kitchen gear, or pretty tsotchkes, or pretty much anything else I can thing of.

    What other businesses do we use as frequently as we use restaurants and bars? And if you agree that the average resident uses food-related establishments much more often than any other kind of establishment… why shouldn’t there be more of them?

  • well, you seem to be making my point that the most important thing to you is property values. that’s fine, i just don’t share that priority.

  • WDC, more of them? absolutely. All of them? Not so much.

  • So according to “Jim” failing businesses include non-alcohol/non-food establishments?? Huh? You can have a thriving business corridor that is more mixed. Not all of us are 20-something fraternity beer swigging boys nor 30-something wine tasting amateurs. A bicycle shop, independent bookstore, organic produce/gourmet food store would be better options. They meet a need in this community and would be welcome additions….and yes, they would also raise your precious property values.

    “The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.” —

  • Voice of Ridiculous Rhetoric –“So another small space that could be used for a non alcohol/food establishment will be gobbled up. . . . you seem to be making my point that the most important thing to you is property values. that’s fine, i just don’t share that priority.”

    I hope you are not as dense as you appear from your screeds.

    Property values rise because desire for that property increases. The same applies for the success of a business. There are lots of “non-alcohol/food establishments” that could theoretically open at Jeans N Things, or elsewhere in that area. They don’t because there is insufficient demand for them, whereas there is high demand–greater desire–for food/alcohol establishments in that area.

    Businesses people want or need succeed, and those not meeting the needs of the neighborhood fail. Jeans N Things wouldn’t be considering closing if it was making a living for its owner. As numerous people have commented, it is virtually always empty, except for the proprietor. By contrast, Rm 11 apparently is doing well, and needs more space.

  • @voiceofreason, One of the many reasons I live in the city is close proximity to eating and drinking options, as well as transportation and shopping opportunities. I have no need or desire to get in a car and drive anywhere, especially to a place where I might drink a couple of glasses of wine. Mixed-use zoning, with residential units in close proximity to commercial and entertainment corridors, is the very definition of city versus suburban-style planning. I suspect I am not alone in wanting to live within close walking distance of eating, drinking and other commercial destinations, judging by the numbers of people living and moving into Columbia heights, Petworth, U Street, etc. If you want to live in a purely residential area, there are plenty around DC to choose from, but Columbia Heights is definitely not one of them – and never has been (except for the period after the riots).

  • I don’t think Jeans N Things is considering closing, the landlord is considering closing them, big difference.

  • No, failing businesses include failing businesses (Jeans N Things). There have been plenty of alcohol and food businesses that have failed as well.

    It’s just silly to suggest (as some posters have, either expressly or implicitly) that there is some dark force other than economic demand that prevents anything except a “liquorhouse” (as my grandmother would have called it) from opening in this area. Figure out something enough people want/need, and you can open whatever you want and succeed.

    We all have an idea of some business we would like to be close by. Someone in another post floated the idea of a kite store. While I like kites as much as the next guy, I can pretty much guarantee that a kite store in the 11th St. corridor would fail, because not that many people are going to buy kites, and certainly not multiple kites. If someone thinks differently, then open a freaking kite store and give it a shot. But don’t blame a successful food/alcohol establishment for the lack of other types of successful businesses.

  • Oh boy….Jim tell us something we don’t know. Your obvious observations are boring and your perspective simplistic at best. It’s easy being an observer. Let’s talk when you know what it really takes to run a business and realize what is really at stake.

  • Ok, VOR… next exercise in our little logic lesson.

    You seem to take as given that not all storefronts should be occupied by restaurants/bars. Ok.

    1. should the other spaces remain vacant if the only interested parties want to open restaurants/bars?
    2. assuming someone opens something that isn’t a restaurant/bar, and it is not profitable. Who should pay for its continued existence?
    2a. How should non-restaurant/bar businesses come into being if individual investors don’t see profit potential?

  • Jim, if Jeans N Things is paying their rent on time every month, but the landlord thinks he or she can make more money by buying them out of their lease and expanding a wine bar, that is a force preventing other businesses from existing on 11th Street. That force is called greed. You want to celebrate it, fine, that’s your right, but I disagree. I’d rather have a less used, but upstanding clothing store, mixed in with the bars along with a few other non-eating/drinking places. I’m quite sure I’m not alone.

  • We’ll talk when you aren’t anonymous…and apparently, VOR doesn’t know “something we don’t [already] know.”

  • WDC:

    1. no, they shouldn’t, the rents should be reduced to attract smaller businesses, not to the point of eliminating profit for the lessors, but enough to attract other businesses.

    2. i’m not advocating for failing businesses-only a variety of businesses

    3. there is plenty of profit potential in other businesses, just not as MUCH now as in alcohol. but making maximum profit shouldn’t be the goal, good community development should be the goal. Landlords can still make a good living without being greedy.

  • VOR, do you, by chance, have a Five Year Plan?

  • An independent bookstore, a bicycle shop, an organic/gourmet food store???? These are all viable options, will fill a need in this community, and will attract a more diverse clientele to the area. If you don’t think so. Have you been by the bike shop on R St. and 14th St. NW? It’s always busy and they serve an important need.

  • When in doubt, red-bait, eh WDC?

  • WDC, rent control is what kept Manhattan so interesting for all these years, a variety of different kinds of businesses, large and small, coexisting, but now that the rent control periods are finally running out, you’re seeing the place not so slowly morph into big chain city.

  • Perhaps those advocating for more businesses like the jeans store, and fewer businesses like Room 11, would be better served if they pursued opening such businesses themselves, or buying commercial real estate and leasing the space to their choice of business at a reduced or nonexistent profit, rather than just complaining about it here. Regarding the three specific options listed above:
    1) an organic/gourmet food store is hopefully on the way, Ellwood Thompson, and the spaces on 11th Street are way too small for such a business
    2) independent bookstores are relics of the past, and will never make a profit as long as,, and the Kindle continue to succeed. If you would like to lose your life savings and ensure that your children never go to college, then by all means open up an independent bookstore.
    3) a bike shop might actually work, except that City Bikes just down Columbia Road a few blocks has an established clientele and it would be hard to compete with them.
    However, a store that as far as I can tell, sells primarily insanely skin-tight jeans to young women does not serve more than a small slice of residents, and adds little activity to the streetscape.

  • If you have a street that is nothing but bars/restaurants, you will only get people to come at night, and only to eat and drink. You will have a nightlife district only. Clearly some people want that, and that’s valid. In the long run though, I don’t think it will be beneficial for the neighborhood as the 20 somethings move out, as they always do.

  • commercial rent control?

    say it aint so

    has anyone ever heard of such a thing?

  • “well, you seem to be making my point that the most important thing to you is property values. that’s fine, i just don’t share that priority.”

    Well, if logic doesn’t work on you then there’s not much to work with here. Property values are not the driving factor for me: they are an indicator of somewhere being desirable. I was trying to demonstrate that people – lots of them – actually do want this stuff, which is undeniably reflected in the high demand (and hence price) of real estate.
    Can you understand that?

    I’ll try to dumb this down a little more.

    The reason that Ward 1 is the most densely populated ward in the city is because tons of people want to live there.

    If these people didn’t want to live near a lot of food and drink establishments, then:

    1) Why would they be there? It’s clearly among the most expensive places to live in DC.

    2) How would all these places stay in business?

  • One of the things I miss about living in Adams Morgan is the selection of entertainment options. But I rarely partook of those options on the prime entertainment nights – Firday and Saturday – because it was just too crazy. Many of my former neighbors felt the same way. There is a fine line between a good a selection of dining/drinking establishments primarily for the locals and an entertainment district that the locals won’t frequent because it’s too packed with crowds from far and wide. 11th Street is a long way from the latter, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to be concerned about it becoming just another strip of bars and restaurants.
    I don’t see how Room 11 can function if it doesn’t expand. The patio season will be ending soon and the inside space is smaller than many living rooms.

  • “If you have a street that is nothing but bars/restaurants, you will only get people to come at night, and only to eat and drink. You will have a nightlife district only. Clearly some people want that, and that’s valid. In the long run though, I don’t think it will be beneficial for the neighborhood as the 20 somethings move out, as they always do.”

    I guess you forgot about DCUSA two blocks away? Who ever said we wanted ONLY bars and restaurants?

    Columbia Heights is right now the foundation of one of the most awesome communities that DC has ever had. We have better retail that serves most common needs than any other neighborhood in the entire city. What we lack is a better variety of nightlife.

    As far as people moving out or whatever, it may also surprise you that 20-somethings aren’t actually the target audience of most restaurants and some bars. Room 11 is certainly not targeting drunk hipsters. Most people have more disposable income as they get older.

    Anyway, the evoltion of Ward 1 in the last 20 years speaks for itself.

  • “me”, commercial rent control exists in cities nationwide, at varying conditions and rates and periods of time. it’s certainly not unheard of.

  • We have commercial rent control in DC, it’s called subsidies and tax breaks.

  • jamie, 11th Street is a very different animal than 14th street.

  • Jane Jacobs, for the win. (imho)

  • Ever notice that voiceofreason has the same hatred for this place as DCDireWolf? Remember when his motives were exposed in a previous post? Just saying….

  • Agree with WDC, Jamie, and Mr T on the value of eating and drinking establishments in neighborhoods. Not only is it a good / service that people partake of frequently, but dining out is one of the few types of commerce that can’t be replicated by the Internet. It makes sense that a higher % of commercial space will be taken up by dining establishments in the 2000s than was the case in the 1950s-80s.

  • I don’t hate Room 11. Not in the least.

  • speaking of eating places, the founder of ben’s chili bowl died. RIP.

  • Why does room 11 always get all the hate? What about the new Belgium place, Social, thai tonic, heights, commonwealth, red rocks, the derb, wonderland and whatever ends up at Nori.

    please spread the hate around…

    my personal opinion is room 11 is a lot cooler than all of the above by the way. it’s pretty small, and good place to talk, quiet, etc.

  • I don’t hate Room 11, I do hate greed and shortsightedness in neighborhood planning. To me, it’s not about the individual businesses, it’s about the pattern.

  • So…

    opening a business that serves the community = greed

    encouraging and supporting entrepreneurialship = poor planning

    columbia heights going from a deserted, crime infested rat hole 10 years ago to a vibrant, thriving community (still dealing with its share of problems, but on the way up instead of the way down) = “the pattern” that we fear

    I guess we will have to agree to disagree.

  • Jamie, I don’t want a deserted, crime infested rat hole. I also want a vibrant, thriving community. I just think we get there better and faster with a variety of kinds of businesses, big and small, bars and retail, restaurants and others. We’re not in disagreement on wanting the neighborhood to be great.

  • OK, voice of reason or DCDireWolf, whoever you are, you’ve made your point in this and many other threads, time to let it go. Not a single other person aside from one anonymous party has chimed in agreeing with you. If the expansion of Room 11 somehow harms the neighborhood, then by all means feel free to lord it over us all and say “I told you so.”

    Actually, the closure of the jeans place may actually help the self-image and health issues of the young women in the neighborhood. Check out this photo and see what I mean – the clothes they sell not only promote an unrealistic body shape for most, but are so tight they may actually do harm by cutting off circulation. The expansion of Room 11 may save a young woman from developing a dangerous blood clot, or some kind of gynecologuical issue! Just kidding, partly:

  • voice of reason is bitter because he wanted to open a chocolate shop on 11th street and failed to do so. end of story. don’t feed the troll.

  • Eric, that’s not true at all. I don’t have any plans and have never had any plans to open a business anywhere.

  • Voiceofreason: How about you send POP a picture of you in your newest sweet jeans from Jeans N Things?

  • Second that!

  • (1) Voice of Unreason a/k/a DcCryWolf did indeed have plans to either open or work with his friends in opening a high end chocolate shop. Funny how all the outrage goes away when it is your / your friend’s yuppie business.

    (2) For the record, NONE of the parade of horribles predicted by VOR about the wine bar have come to pass. I’ve probably been there 12 times, and 11 of those times, there were multiple non-white patrons. There have been no problems with noise, garbage, or drunk / unruly patrons that I am aware of; on the contrary, that block is far cleaner and more attractive than it used to be. A wide variety of almost enitrely local people are the main clientelle — it doesn’t bring hordes of tourists or outsiders, but rather provides a pleasant, reasonably-priced dining and drinking options for area folks.

    (3) I believe (not sure, but I think so) that the guy who owns both properties also is the proprietor of jeans and things. If that is true, that means that VOR wants to restrict the owner of a property from closing his own business to use the property for another purpose. Even if not, it is not for VOR to tell someone who has been in this area for decades (unlike VOR), what he should or should not do with his property, and to essentially takemoney out of his pocket by prohibiting him to renting it out to a higher bidder.

    (4) As evidenced by the lines / success, Room 11 is providing a service that the community enjoys and wants more of. People vote with their feet.

    (5) I would love an independant bookstore. I’d also love to win the lottery. Neither is going to happen. Independant bookstores, record stores, and video rental stores are not viable business models, alas, in the Itunes / Kindle / Netflix / era. And small scale retail is just never going to have much of a chance when up against DCUSA and Target in particular. If it did, the innumerable vacant spaces in the neighborhood would have filled up by now with all sorts of retail options. They simply can’t survive. Now, if you think there is so much demand for non-restaurant retail, the answer is simple: go to a bank with proof that there is such a demand, get a loan, open a business, and laugh all the way to the bank.

    (6) My sense is that this isn’t remotely close to happening in any event, so this is all much ado about nothing at this point.

  • Totally agree with Tecun. I think we have a direwolf in reson’s clothing. A douche by any other name is still just a douche.

    And why does he babysit on these pages? Normal people post and move on in their day.

  • As a general point, it really isn’t a choice between small scale retail and eating establishments on 11th. It is a choice between eating establishments and nothing. 11th Street is never going to have anything close to the critical mass to be a daytime shopping destination, ever if EVERY single commercial space became a retail space. Between (a) being the the middle of two large commercial strips, both of which are MUCH more accessible to public transportation, (b) being only a few blocks of commercial businesses, (c) being in the middle of a recession where almost no new retail businesses are opening even in far more lucrative locations, (d) having to compete with a massive mall which sells an enormous variety of goods three blocks away, and (e) given that, unlike the service industry, retail’s sales are gradually eroded, more and more each day, by online retailing, there is simply no viable economic future for retail on 11th street, even if rents were constrained FAR below market rates. The choice is vacancy (which we used to have) and service businesses (which we now have). Arguing for illusory “options” for fictional retail possibilities is pointless.

  • So what about all the families with small children living in/around 11th street who might not want tons of nightlife moving in across the street? Not everyone in the district is a single twenty-something looking to network with fellow hipsters at the local dive/winebar/gourmet pizzeria.

    I love a cool new bar as much as the next person, but as someone who’s lived next to a bar before, especially with a full-time work schedule, I can tell you it has it’s drawbacks. Let’s be considerate about where new “districts” are planned before we change a neighborhood wholesale.

  • What is excellent about 11th St is it’s much closer for many of us, and saves the hassles and huge crowds of 14th St. It’s so much easier to shop at Arthur’s on 11th than to wait in a huge line at the Giant.

    My favorite restaurant is typically the restaurant that’s closest to me that also has some variety…

    So far, have not liked beers or wines at Room 11, but the vodka tonic is ok. The paninis with mint are excellent!

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