Townhouse/Secret Safeway Closes at 1800 20th St, NW in Dupont – What Would You Like to see There?

I’ve been getting a steady number of emails with the following type of query:

“Dear PoP,

Have you heard anything about what will be going into the now-vacant Townhouse/Secret Safeway?”

Unfortunately I haven’t heard any details on who/what may be moving in. I don’t even have any reliable, or for that matter unreliable, scuttlebutt on the space. Have you guys heard anything?

If not let’s dream a little. What/who do you think would be the perfect tenant for this location.  A brewpub?  Would a restaurant be a natural fit here?  Given the large space and location what do you think will work best here?

Also, for the folks that live nearby, will you miss the grocery store?

49 Comment

  • An Arby’s.

  • There was some discussion the week Townhouse closed on the DupontForum yahoo group where Mike Feldstein of the Dupont ANC said that the owners of the building were in discussions with a couple of “up market grocery stores” about moving into the space and were about to start talking to a third.

    I live a couple of blocks away, so I would gladly welcome another grocery store moving in! Anything to not go to the Safeway on 17th Street!

    • I agree. DC needs more not less food stores. I would think a store model that embraced smaller urban locations — a MOM’s organic — or an independent bodega, would be preferable. Especially over another restaurant.

      • When I moved to DC from NYC I was surprised to find that there aren’t bodegas all over the place here like there are in NYC.

        Is the rent just too expensive to support lots of little bodegas?

        • most closed because of the riots and dc has been slow to recover.

          man, there should be a primer on the riots for every new resident. it has shaped most everything about present day dc.

          • There were riots in every city. Yes they hit DC hard but are only partially to explain for the problems since.

            My current neighborhood in Brooklyn has bodegas all over the place, but was pretty much a bombed out shell after the 1977 blackout-related riots and looting.

            One thing about NY is that not only does it have a respectable entrepreneurial culture and a large immigrant population, but also NY landlords are far more willing to pay more per square foot. (Brooklyn’s downtown is often seen as sketchy — but actually has some of the highest square foot rents in the country, so high that large corporations won’t pay the cost to move there.) Also our development rules favor putting a store in a space over having it empty. Permitting is easier and density helps keep foot traffic high.

            SF was similar — as was Oakland — to me one of the reasons DC is a poor walking city is lack of variety of amenities in all neighborhoods. Too much time having to go to other neighborhoods to get the basics: groceries, a movie, a bar, a chinese restaurant.

        • I too came from DC, 10 years ago, and still miss these.

        • Prince Of Petworth

          If you find yourself in Bloomingdale – Timor Bodega is fantastic:

        • I guess you’ve never been to Mt Pleasant. Almost too many bodegas there…

          • I lived in Mt. Pleasant for 6 years. These convenience stores are simply that: a convenience store. The ones we refer to in NYC were much more extensive, with hot/cold food bars, good delis, a much wider selection of groceries, fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, flowers, etc. etc.

        • Density. DC isn’t remotely as dense as Manhattan, or even Brooklyn. The height limit is a significant reason. When you have the kind of apartment building size and occupancy you have in NYC, it’s a lot easier to make a go of a bodega that serves the immediate community.

          • sheesh don’t you guys know that NY, especially Brooklyn, is far superior and THAT’S why we don’t have corner stores?

        • capitol hill has many bodegas. They’re great

        • DC is still a pretty car centric / car friendly city (compared to NYC). The Bodegas aren’t all that necessary. There’s quite a few spread around the city – but as you noticed, nothing on the density of NYC. Typically, the selection is [email protected] and the prices are exorbitant, so anyone with a car just goes to a supermarket. Anyone with a car and job outside the city shops on their way home.

    • I really hope that is the case… as a big foodie the Safeway at 17th just isn’t cutting it.

      • You should try the Beef ‘n Cheddar at Arby’s. I think you would like it, and therefore appreciate the opening of an Arby’s franchise in this space, once Townhouse has vacated.

        • with the curly fries of course..

          • No way man. Arby’s curly fries are the most overrated fast-food items around. You gotta go with the original home fries at arby’s – if the recipe hasn’t changed since I worked there several years ago (Yeah, I worked at arby’s, what?)- they’re classic.

            Also, you’d be surprised what that roast beef goes through in order to get on those buns. It defies physics.

  • I’m rather sad about the closure. I lived across the street and used it frequently. Something good better go in there!

    I wonder if they plan to kick out all tenants and renovate the building. As is, the building could win the horse’s ass award. A makeover would be nice.

  • I will DESPERATELY miss my little Secret Safeway. Since I live across the street, I welcome any new neighbors that are not filming a reality show. I think I still have PTSD-like symptoms from when Real World was filming next door…

  • I work one block from there, and my colleagues and I are VERY sad about the closing! We are all keeping our fingers crossed for another grocery store, and hoping it happens soon (we heard the same rumors alissa did).

  • more grocery stores closing because of gentrification

  • San Francisco has about 7-8 Trader Joe’s locations, but DC only has 1-2. It would be a great addition, as well as at DC USA.

    • San Francisco has 3 Trader Joe’s locations.

      • Four. But whose counting? (Admittedly 3 are close-ish together, while the 4th is way down by SFSU.) But I think Oakland does better as all the Lucky/Albertson’s became Trader Joe’s.

      • Corrected, Oakland has two. Part of the issue is zoning. It’s much easier to replace an existing business with the same type of business in Oakland and SF than to switch. So when a grocery store closes it’s replaced by another grocery — no need to go up the ladder of zoning approval again. I think some of DC’s turnover comes from not having that kind of micro-zoning.

        • Why are you on here again complaining about our city? You don’t even live here!

          Also- DC isn’t a good walking city? Whaaatt? You NYC wannabes will say anything. Enjoy walking by honking cabs, stinking exhaust, obnoxious i-bankers, and hordes of dbags of every stripe.

          (The problem with true carpetbaggers is that they continue moving from place to place without ever being happy… always looking for something they won’t find or coming to the realization that they’re a wannabe.)

          • I think they were pointing out challenges, not really complaining about our city.

            And please, DC has a greater % of dbags than NYC. The yuppies that move here make the city devoid of culture, every bar and restaurant is so similar it’s pathetic (Small plates and overpriced “micro” beers please! Mussels for everyone! More semi-‘fancy’ pizza and beer joints! the varieties!), and everyone is so uptight and square that we just look like a bunch of clones. People don’t get hype at concerts, the true neighborhood bar scene is lame, and we all just focus on what each other does for their day job, who has the best badge, etc. etc. it’s nauseating.

            And, I actually do love it here a lot and think it’s better than most other big cities in this country. But please, it doesn’t hold a candle to NYC – or even Chicago, if it weren’t in the arctic – and we can’t ever pretend like it does because it’s cleaner and quieter here, that’s just not a good take.

          • +1 – DC is a great walking city.

          • Poor walking city? WHAT? Have you
            1) Ever lived in DC
            2)Lived outside of NYC
            3)Experienced the OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of this country’s development?

            DC is one of the most walkable places this country has. And there are plenty of places in NYC that are completely unwalkable. It’s hard to believe, but even having sidewalks in many places in this country is a huge accomplishment, let alone a movie theatre.

            This is such a misguided comment, I don’t even know where to begin. I think my head just exploded.

  • I live nearby and was crushed that this closed. The staff was really upset, too, even though no job losses were involved – they just liked their customers.

    When I talked to a store manager he said plans had already been made for the upstairs tenants to expand their offices into the renovated space, so I’m not holding out a lot of hope for anything decent. Maybe plans have changed, however.

    • how did they close but not have anyone lose their job?

      • I believe the employees were all moved to other Safeway locations.

        • Were any of the cashiers or baggers lazy douchebags? Because if so, they were relocated to the Georgetown Safeway. The honeymoon is over and the hostile customer service at the registers is getting back to the DC norm.

  • check out

    These stores are owned by Tesco, the British grocer, and they are opening in the western U.S.

  • I’m not really sure what a bodega is.. a convenience store? Does Metro Market on P street count?

  • We need more burger joints and overpriced cupcake shops.

  • I worked within a couple blocks of the Secret Safeway for over eight years. And I would patronize the store almost daily. The employees are what I miss most…and the convenience was super. It was a very nice store. Maybe a Yes Organic Market might move in.

  • I work near this, and yes I miss it for getting office snacks or quick necessities, but I’ve heard that the charter school that is next to it will be taking over the store…but that’s serious scuttle butt.

  • That’s really sad news, I used to live nearby and shopped there often after work.

    Good news in Petworth is that the market on Warder and Rock Creek sells skim milk! Wow!

  • How about a duckpin bowling alley?!

  • kiki

    I live only a few blocks away and would love a Trader Joe’s! The one we have is so packed and crazy to get to for me.

  • Yes–I do miss it. The folks who worked there were nice, and it was very convenient for when I did not have that one ingredient.

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