A Sad Question, I Know, But What Would You Like to See in the Hitching Post Space?

Believe me, it gives me no pleasure to ask this question. Back in Oct. ’10 we learned that The Hitching Post was for sale at 200 Upshur St, NW across from the Old Soldiers Home. The Hitching Post is of course an iconic little restaurant/bar that has been open since 1967. And despite the fact that there are many many fans, it is completely understandable that the owners, Mr. and Mrs. Carter would like to enjoy a retirement after almost 45 years of proprietorship. While some thought the Hitching Post had abandoned their plans when they renewed their liquor license, I’m sad to say plans have changed a little but only from the space being for sale to the space now being for lease.

I’ve been in touch with the Carter’s daughter who tells me that they are looking for rent of about $2500-$3000 per month. What do you think is a fair lease price? But her other question is even more intriguing – what would you guys like to see in the Hitching Post’s space? A bakery/cupcake spot? A different themed restaurant/bar? A deli? A wine bar? Keep it exactly the way it is?

Do you think it would be possible to retain the Hitching Post’s charm under different management/ownership?

43 Comment

  • This is a great question, and it says a lot about the future of the neighborhood. Part of me says “don’t change a thing,” but I know that’s not how things work. The trick is to retain some history with a bit of the new.

    First of all (and most important), don’t change the interior or the jukebox!

    Second, keep the most popular menu items: chicken, greens, mac ‘n’ cheese

    Third: keep it a neighborhood place, no matter what the neighborhood becomes. It should be a place where locals can plop down and talk to their neighbors.

  • Just drove by the place today and asked myself the same question. And don’t forget about El Limeno. There just isn’t the traffic to really support much of anything in this area. Yet, there’s no significant retail for several blocks from here. It just isn’t an attractive location. I think it’s a real dilemma. Couple of ideas. What about a military themed bar to appeal to the retired soldiers across the street? I don’t know if that would be steady business. Hitching Post did have an alcohol license. Second idea, a small, high end dinner spot. It is a cozy space. Perhaps it could draw on the Lincoln cottage heritage and go with a 19th century theme. Bonus idea: Lincoln cottage association could have a gift/coffee shop here, off the government property. They could serve soup/sandwiches, and ice cream. Maybe bike parking for a nice cycling destination. I don’t know who else would be interested.

  • That’s the perfect location for Spike Mendelsohn’s new bloody jewel heist themed hotdog stand, “Resevoir Dogs.”

  • A classic BBQ joint. Or vietnamese.

  • tea house manned by monks

  • I’m sorry but I was never impressed with the hitching post, not even on the dive level (and I love dives). I wouldn’t mind an apple bees, though (kidding)

  • cheese, wine and deli ๐Ÿ™‚

  • A breakfast/cofee style place, like the Highlands cafe. Or a BBQ place.

  • Living in that neighborhood, I don’t care what opens up in the Hitching Post’s space, as long as *some restaurant* opens there.

    And…if we could just get El Limeno sold, leased, or whatever–maybe get a coffee shop on that block as well–Upshur and Rock Creek Church could become the nexus of the neighborhood.

  • The Prince of Petworth All-You-Can-Eat Royal Breakfast Buffet and Bar.

  • Some place with bullet proof glass?

    I joke, I joke.

  • an artistic dive bar would take the toll off the loads of house guests we have around the corner at our place

  • How about another church? I am sure there is another church that I have never heard of in PG county that would love that spot.

  • Eastern NC BBQ. I’d eat there three times a week.

  • A restaurant for sure. Cupcakes…kmn.

  • Rocklands East

  • Hitching Post = greasy, frozen, fried, overpriced food. I never really got why people love that place.

    • If you are not of a particular generation and didn’t grow up in that area during a “great time” or don’t know the Carters you wouldn’t get it.

  • Some kind of nice BBQ. If it’s done well, people would make the trip up the hill to eat.

  • What is the current parking scene for the Hitch? I assumed a lot of out of neighborhood drivers stop in there (my co-workers at least did). Just curious what sort of parking would be available (or not) for a future business. I’m all for walk up a business but unfortunately it is not the busiest area for that.

    That said: I’d like a BBQ place with a very limited menu but all delicious. Keep the menu short and simple. Draws neighborhood southern transplants, hipster carnivores and destination foodies.

  • That neighborhood area is going to be a tough nut to crack. There are some pretty serious crime problems in the subsidized houseing on the north side of the street. I see my neighborhood drug dealer selling his wares out of his red minivan, I suspect the area has serious problems.

    I also recall there was a shooting on the corner of El Limeno a while back.

  • i just want a place that will continue to serve mutant fried chicken. it can be called whatever it wants to be.

  • I am kind of in agreement with the not-so-impressed review. I love fried chicken, and I think there is a real need for a place that serves “dive” or “greasy spoon” or “soul” or whatever you want to call it, vs. say, DOMKU. The problem is, HP is sort of outrageously expensive for that and the food isn’t remarkable.

    I also think folks who’ve said it’s a tough (limited) market are right – not because of crime so much but because there just isn’t the demographic support for more ‘exotic’ things. I think of Fusion as a great example of this (Limeno was was really mediocre even as ‘ethnic’ food) problem. And, we have Fusion, Moroni Bros., Sala Thai, DOMKU, Pink Snapper and Sweet Mango (lots more if you’re willing to head over to 14th St. Heights/upper CH) if you’re looking for ‘ethnic’. That’s pretty saturated.

    I’m a huge fan of the Rib Pit (speaking of bullet-proof glass) – which comes much closer to the mark in this regard. I do think we could definitely use something less ‘specialty’ and less expensive like that at this eastern edge of the neighborhood.

    The other problem with the HP is that it’s rather cramped…I suspect this is much of what drives their relatively high prices. Sure, they give you a heaping plateful to offset the cost, but they basically (I guess) have to charge so much per-top to make the numbers work; adding extra pasta or chicken is only a tiny fraction of that cost. I’d bet you this, more than anything else, is the big challenge for that location.

    I dunno what the rent/sf is like for the HP vs. the Limeno space, but my WAG is that Limeno makes much more sense as a sit-down restaurant (Rib Pit addresses this by just being take-away) than HP. HP’s tight space, nice corner location and nice patio possibilities strike me as a natural for a coffeehouse/bar. What are the regs for alcohol? Can you have a ‘bar’ (or wine/beer bar) without food, or can the food be cold-prep muffins, hors d’oeuvres? That space could be reworked to greatly improve the amount of seating if you could remove a bunch of the cooking equipment (food prep area space overhead).

    If the HP weren’t an ‘institution’ among some of the DC establishment, it would have gone under a long time ago; I’d bet a look at the books (and the explanation for the renewal) would show that it does serve largely as a bar.

    So, make HP into a coffeehouse/bar and make Limeno into a soulfood joint.

  • Rocklands in Tunlaw is tiny – can serve Rib Pit style stuff without bulletproofing and still be winning.

  • Finally trekked over to Rocklands and found the ribs tasty but the beans were too vinagery. I imagine a place in the HP or El Limeno space that serves eggs, grits and pork chops, red eye gravy and biscuits in the morning, along with astonishingly good coffee, cappucino, fresh OJ, fruit salad, bagels and sweet rolls. Then a segue to fried chicken and Memphis style BBQ with that sweet sticky sauce. With killer hamburgers, homemade mac n’cheese, potatoes au gratin, slow cooked greens, and chicken nuggets for the kids. And pie. Definitely pie.

  • IHOP, Chipotle or Panda Express

  • I’d take a butcher or a bakery.

  • Given the size of the space, a restaurant is going to have a tough go at being profitable in this location (unless there is room to add tables in whatever space is upstairs). I suspect that the Hitchin Post was successful (or successful enough) in large part because they owned the building and did not have to worry about paying an ongoing mortgage. This could be the reason for the decision to rent it now rather than sell it outright -it may make it easier to find a taker.
    The location makes it a bit difficult. Given the distance from the metro, it’s either a destination venue -which requires a big enough name and concept to get people to go there, or a neighborhood place – which requires deciding which Petworth it will service (the working/middle class families version or the “priced out of Columbia Heights and buying in Petworth because it’s the next hot neighborhood” crowd.

  • Dunkin Donuts.

    Thank you, goodnight. ๐Ÿ˜›

  • A genuine pub.

  • Definitely some kind of coffe shop/cafe. Hasn’t the Lincoln Home upped the traffic to this area? If you’re a tourist looking for lunch wouldn’t you rather hit this cozy place across the street rather than take a car/bus/metro ride downtown?

  • Lots of good ideas! I thought about Subway. I also thought about a Coffeehouse/Cafe. I think a unique new spin on that concept would be very appealing for the neighborhood.

  • Please no Subway! A coffeehouse/cafe would be nice.

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