Columbia Heights Scuttlebutt: Z Burger Coming to the Tivoli at the Corner of 14th and Park Rd, NW?

“Dear PoP,

I just noticed that the corner space at the Tivoli (where the Japanese restaurant and coffee shop used to be) is completely gutted. Any idea what’s moving in?”

I’ve been getting tons of emails relaying a similar message. You may remember back in April we learned that Z Burger was negotiating a lease in Columbia Heights. We just didn’t know where. It seems that mystery may be solved. I’m hearing that Z Burger will be moving into the former space of Mayorga Coffee, and more recently home to Nori sushi. The space has been vacant since July ’09. You may recall that it had an unusual layout. You can see a complete gut renovation is taking place. If a Z Burger does indeed come to fill this space do you think it will be a good match?

Z Burger on Wisconsin Ave, NW in Glover Park

57 Comment

  • Damn I didn’t know Mayorga Coffee had left. I used to go there to pick up a cup of coffee every morning when I was in high school….dang.

    Oh well I hope this place stays.

  • I feel like we already have burgers with Five Guys. But I guess it could work. I wish something more interesting would go into that spot.

  • How about reopen the theater and have concerts and movies there… crazy thought I know…

  • Wish they had made this into a full theater: combine the space with Gala for a much larger theater that can accommodate big events, but I gather it’s too late for that. That being said, burgers sound fine (though why why why not Shake Shack or Ray’s????). They will do very well given the huge amount of human traffic around the civic plaza now; it is a far different environment than what Mayorga had to deal with.

    • I would also love to see this building restored to its full glory as the beautiful theater it obviously once was, but the space in question appears to be what was formerly the lobby.

      Rejoining this space to the Gala theater would certainly add to the experience of going to see a play or musical performance, but it’s so much more valuable to the landlords as a retail space. It just doesn’t make sense to do anything different, sadly.

  • anyone else tired of all these burger places?

  • Z-Burger? Seriously? Is that the best they could do for that spot? I’d love to have a Z-Burger next door to it or in DC USA, but not a spot like that. Someone has set the bar way too low…

  • I think its a wast of prime real estate. But I’ve also never been to Z burger so I guess I’ll reserve judgement.

  • In their gutting/renovation, I hope they’re respectful of all the restored elements from the old theater lobby in that space.

  • Whatever happened with that French bakery that was trying to get into the area? I’d rather have them…

  • I’m a Z Burger fan and I especially appreciate the nice design to their locations. The Tenleytown location is pretty impressive for a burger joint. However, I’m not sure a burger joint is the best suitor for the marque location of the Tivoli lobby. Because it is a marque location, whatever occupies the location will go a long way to defining the character of the neighborhood. It’s at the most prominent point of the intersection and is the most architecturally stated building in the neighborhood.

    This is just a wild thought, but what about a visitor/tourist office? It might encourage people to visit the north neighborhoods for special events, festivals, and weekend outings in CH, Mt. P, and Pet. Additionally, it could serve as a foot and bike patrol office for MPD.

    • That idea is worse than the z-burger… that’s probably the worst idea i have yet heard… Good thinking, but how bout not!

      • I think it’s better than a burger joint. Especially given the fact that (disagreeing with Lester) that Z Burger is just fugly.

        so, do you want to offer some concrete reasons why you think the idea is no good?

        • Never been to a visitor/tourist center in my life that was any good… the money involved then has to come from the city as mentioned, and i don’t see much value in an office for foot and bike cops… Those are just the ones that pop out at me on first glance… if you want I could probably scrounge up a few more… Cheers!

    • It would cost the city money to do that and we can’t seem to pay for teachers, police and all the others things we enjoy.

      As it is no one wants to pay more taxes anyway, thinks everything should be cut, and I doubt the business would jump on board…

      Isn’t that how most V & T centers operate?

      Although I do like the idea.

  • I’m happy for any sort of new business, but can’t we do anything else but a food establishment? Clothing store, book store, etc.?

  • CH 14th Street commercial zone is looking more and more like Tenleytown every day. This city has zero vision or creativity when it comes to commercial development.

  • I with everyone. I’m a bit tired of all the fast food in CH but considering most of my time in CH the commercial space was a bombed-out shell, I’m still in the “it’s better than nothing” camp.

  • For 30k monthly rent. I already feel committed to a minimum of three burgers a day.. I’m with you Z..

  • YAY!!! More burgers and fries!!

  • I was hoping they’d put a nice neighborhood establishment like JRs or Nellies in that space.

  • It is a real shame, however, the space is, from what I believe, expensive, oddly shaped, and thus tough to negotiate for many businesses… I am tired of having fast food nation have its reign up and down that segment of 14th street, but what can u do. I can only speak for myself, and I will likely have a burger or two every few months and still lament over how such a prominent, architecturally spectacular, space is so wasted… At least its no longer being used to hold sheep… (Sigh)

  • definitely mixed feelings about this, but i’m definitely in the camp of this is better than nothing. this is still a very tough economic climate for opening new business locations and i’m glad Z burger is willing to give it a shot in this fabulous location. i love the details inside this section of the tivoli and it doesn’t exactly shout burger joint to me, but again, i’m glad to see another business moving into our vibrant neighborhood. welcome!

  • You all sound like the DC government is picking and choosing which businesses will go in that area. I am not sure they can say no just because it is another fast food or burger joint, or at least the DC Gov Crew shouldn’t be able too.

    Clearly there is a market for burgers and fast food in our area. Restaurants like “The Heights” are not possible on every spot and they would not survive in CH – YET.

    I thought it was up the the entrepreneurs… Maybe they actually did their homework and decided they can make more money with burgers.

    They want to succeed, make a good living, and take care of their families too.

  • +1 (one more seatbelt extension)
    Washington Sports Club lobbied to have another hamburger outlet. Fat people are their bread and butter. I heart fat people too. It will make CH that much more jolly and that sidewalk it plenty wide enough to accommodate more girth.

    Though something charming like Liberty Tree or Pilar would have been preferable.

  • From a consumer standpoint, I really wish that Mayorga could have toughed it out … the restaurant part was iffy and not very well executed, but it was a nice local business for that space, and there was some creativity and promise there.

    From a pragmatic standpoint, sadly, I fear the rents and limitations on spatial re-configurations with this particular space are going to render it cost-prohibitive for anything other than a chain with a lot of corporate backing. My guess is that the odd layout will be a deal-breaker for a lot of prospective tenants and that it’s not a “build to suit” option given the old theater steps/entryway that goes with that space not being subject to removal or alteration. So I’d meter any expectations about dream businesses moving in, unless some very well-funded local has tailored a business to this space already. I’ve never been to a Z Burger, but it does seem to be (a) brightly lit and (b) open to all hours, and that’s such a tragic space to have vacant. Does that put me in the “anything is better than nothing” camp? I suppose it does.

  • I know Gala is using the space (and that’s great), but I still think that a cinema and drafthouse would be such an amazing use for the space and a real, sustainable anchor. The Bagdad Theatre in Portland OR is a fine example (and very successful):

  • Boring but better than nothing. This location of Z Burger better sell shakes. The one in Glover Park doesn’t.

  • I know it’s heresy to even suggest altering historic buildings – but the ticket booth needs to go before any good use of this space is possible. It is nothing more than a (very saturated) urinal as it is now. I believe there could be a great architectural solution – (think the pyramid at the Louvre) but sadly don’t believe for a minute that it could actually happen.

  • hey genius “corporate chain” haters. Z burger is a locally owned business with 2 locations in glover park and tenleytown. for more examples, see Fro-yo, Tynan, Pete’s, Red Rocks, Thai-thanic, and Allero. they all do quite well and clearly are a winning formula.

    yes, we could use more non-food options, but this is better than a vacant storefront where homeless people and people selling incense, t-shirts, and stolen CD’s seem to like.

    mayorga and nori failed b/c their owners were bad business people.

  • +1000

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