Bloomingdale Firehouse Update

The old Bloomingdale Firehouse is located at 1626 North Capitol Street, NW. I was happy to see some improvements when I walked by last weekend. You can see what it used to look like here. And in really good timing a reader commented earlier today:

“I attended the Bloomingdale ANC meeting last night were the developers of the Firehouse were there to pitch their alcohol license and said the first floor restaurant will be open for July 4th and the second floor tavern will be open by Aug 1, and the third floor would come after that. Go Bloomingdale!!!!!”

Though I thought it was interesting that another reader commented a dissenting opinion a couple days ago. He wrote:

“I live on Quincy near the firehouse and I don’t (a) want a gigantic late night restaurant right on top of me, and (b) don’t think one would succeed.

Let’s take Saint Ex, for example, which is a restaurant on a corner. It’s decent sized and it probably does a good business. But what happens if you were to triple the size of it and put it in an area that with way less street parking and way less foot traffic. I’d say it’s a bad bet.

Also, given what it took for the alcohol approvals at Big Bear, would it take any less to get a license for that spot? I’m not being facetious. Does someone know?

Anyway, when I saw the construction, I thought “condos.” But that was before I saw this stuff about the blight designation. Maybe the best thing for him is to do the minimum amount of work to hold onto the space until the neighborhood can sustain a restaurant that size–if that is what he really wants.”

More updates as they become available.

55 Comment

  • This place should totally be a tavern. I’ve dreamt of it for years. That entire intersection is slated for major rehab, so it’s only a matter of time before the the gentries and beer loving old timers take hold and this place will rock!

    Like “The Nines” in Ithaca! Good music, good people, good pizza, good beer! No bullets.

    • Oh, Ithaca… if only we could transplant The Nines, Moosewood, Ithaca Brewing Company (with the growlers, of course) and maybe even a Collegetown Bagel down here, DC would be complete!

  • Thanks for the update POP. Many Bloomingdale residents are very excited. However, there are a loud few who live in the past and are not in favor of improving the neighborhood. This is a sad fact that we all must overcome. That said, please give a voice to both sides and do not amplify the voice of those who live in the past.

  • I love the progress/redevelopment in the neighborhood! (Bloomingdale Resident)

  • There is enormous pent up demand for bars and restaurants in Bloomingdale, Truxton, and Eckington. Is a relatively pricey (17-18 dollar entrees is pricey enough) restaurant going to make it just a block from the complete clusterf*ck that is North Capitol between Florida and New York Aves? It seems like its going to be a hard road. I know I couldnt afford to eat there often.

    But, what has been even harder is for a restaurant to open there at all. IF one opens, I think it has a decent chance to succeed. If it doesnt, then at least the groundwork has been laid (kitchen, CofO, liquor license) for another restaurant to occupy the space. At this point, I’m just glad to see work toward revitalizing an area that could be impressive, but right now is fairly unsightly.

    As for the commenter’s concerns about being so close to a late night restaurant, I think they’re completely out of line. This person bought a house a few feet from North Capitol and then doesnt want something of value to occupy the space? I think we both can agree that the current situation sucks, so why fight an improvement? Afterall, you did buy near one of the busiest intersections in the city, now is not the time to start regretting that decision.

    I am also skeptical to agree with any over enthusiastic optimism that anything will ever open here. There have been a lot of false starts, and while things are looking good – I still will only believe it once they open their doors.

    As for the liquor license, I believe the local ANC is on the record saying that the North Capitol Street properties would receive far fewer problems with acquiring a liquor license than Big Bear did. And, ultimately, big bear got their license – so I would put the Firehouse’s chances at pretty good… but who knows.

    • Absolutely. N Capital is a major artery, destined to become a commercial strip, along the lines of Conn Ave in Dupont. Call me crazy, but the bones are there.

      That condo development which’ll come up on 50 Florida NE will have 250 units. That’ll expedite everything round here.

      There argument I’d use against the anti development types is look at how this’ll beef up your prop values. If you’re retiring, you might expect to add $100k of value once 3 – 4 sit down places are open on N Cap and condos sell. You can sell and move to quieter climes.

  • Let’s look at it in a positive way.

    1. Bloomgdale NEEDS great sit down restaurants badly. I live there, trust me we need something other than options for crack heads and drunks.

    2. This has been a bad hood, recall recent shootings? doing something positive for the hood is a good thing, I don’t see rushing into that area to improve it.

    3. It is a big building, they do not have to build it all out at once, they can start with one restaurant and see how it goes. I know I will be a regular patron for sure. It will be unique, I think it will draw people in. They got it for a steal, ain’t like the rent will be high.

    4. They said they would have valet parking with over 100 parking spots in valet available.

    5. North Capital is noisy from the traffic alone, I doubt a few people dining outside will add much to that level, it ain’t like it is a quiet Dupont side street or something.

    6. DOT and WMATA said at the meeting that 700 people per day get off the bus stop at that park between the firehouse and liquor store. They could not move the bust stop for that reason.(I don’t believe it but that is what they said) if only a portion of them hit the restaurant they will do fine.

    7.Now how do we get boundary stone open? Hook a hood up!

    • Correction on 2. I meant to say I don’t see anybody much else rushing in to improve that area.

      They said it would be a 3 theme building with roof deck.
      First floor would be akin to DC Chop House, second floor would a “tavern” be akin to I think he said postpo or busboys with cheaper food and the third floor would be a total tavern / cigar room. There will also be a roof deck.

  • I think the bigger issue with this block is the Capital Food Mart. It would be great if it actually had non-frozen foods, cause it would be a great asset to the community, but if it gets its liquor license, it may be a problem to fill that block with restaurants.

    • Is there any hope for a Yes Organic Market to move into either that space or the space on 1st St next to the Yoga District? Seems like both spaces are larger than the Yes space up on Columbia Road in Adams Morgan – and a Yes would bring in non-frozen, healthy food.

      • My info is the guy just signed a 10+ year lease, so no. But honestly, I would prefer a locally owned store that would sell good stuff.

        • For real? And he wants to sell singles on a Sunday? How can this be stopped? I dont want to deal with this for the next 10 years.

      • Do you not like Timor?

        • Timor definitely has its downsides. Such as the owner being a bit surly. I ask a basic question like “where’re pita chips?” and I get an answer that makes me think I might be the dumbest person on the planet.

    • I’m not sure I follow the hating toward Capitol Market’s liquor license. I say bring it. Most markets change with the neighborhood. No reason to think that they won’t sell higher end beer and food if the neighborhood will sustain it. Look at Windows. And certainly it’s not like it will make a difference to the drunks, who get their singles at the 6 or so beer-selling establishments w/in a 3 block radius.

      • This is a really important point that Eli brings up. Does anyone know what the Capitol Market’s plans are? Perhaps they want to bring in wine, beer, fresh bread, flowers, cheeses, and fresh fruits and vegetables? Would that change anyone’s mind about the market’s liquor license? Anyhow, before I make up my mind about the liquore license, I want to know what the owner’s business plan is. What if they want to follow a business plan more like Windows? Would the neighborhood feel differently about the license?

  • I live in this corridor and can’t wait for more businesses to open, so I’m excited about the Firehouse. And the neighborhood could use more! I like the prospect of having bars, restaurants and retail in the neighborhood better than what we have now, which is pretty much nothing. It is still fairly lonely and dark if you have to walk up North Capitol from the metro or bus at night.

    (I’m looking at the comments to the previous posting, by the way, and I’m consistently amazed at how negative my neighbors are. Perhaps it’s a DC thing; or a people-who-comment-on-blogs thing, but it’s bothersome to me that people can’t disagree or question without being kind of nasty about it.)

    Oh well . . .

  • As a Bloomingdale resident I am excited for the restaurant to open and am looking forward to more updates.

  • more info on the new place from the ANC meeting last night:

    The 1st floor of the restaurant will be sit-down. The interior seating on the 1st floor will accommodate 70 to 80 people. The outdoor seating on the Quincy Place NW side will accommodate about 70 people.

    The 2nd floor and the open air roof deck will accommodate 100 to 150 people. The roof deck, which will be use contemporary soundproofing to have sound travel up and not out laterally, will accommodate cigar smokers.

    The plan at this point is to open by Independence Day – at least the first floor of the restaurant.

    There is no offstreet patron parking on site. Valet parking will be supplied – at the Joe Mamo former-Exxon gas station site on the northwest corner of North Capitol & Florida Avenue NW, and at the empty lot on the south side of the unit block of Q Street NW. The valet parking will be outsourced.

    Regarding liquor licenses – there are two formal applications. One is for a restaurant-class liquor license for the 1st floor. The other liquor license is a tavern-class liquor license for the upper floors. The applications for the liquor licenses should be submitted in the next 14 to 21 days.

    What about music? Steve said that there would be live music. But no dancing girls with poles! And no go-go. Music will be specified on the applications, it appears.

    There will be daily trash collection.

    Okay, on to hours of operation. The outdoor seating would have earlier closing hours than for the indoor seating. Outdoor seating would close at 9 pm Monday through Thursday and between 10 pm and 10:30 pm Friday and Saturday. Steve will be looking at U Street business hours for guidance. The closing hours for inside seating may be at 2:00 am (not sure if this is just Friday & Saturday or on all days). In any event, the hours of operation are not cast in stone, so stay tuned.

    The restaurant will start off with lunch and dinner and perhaps breakfast and morning brunches later on. Meals will cost between $17 and $18 a plate.

    Steve May is also coordinating the renovations at Shaw`s Tavern at 6th & Florida Avenue NW, which is intended to be similar to the Liberty Tavern in Clarendon. Shaw’s Tavern should open sooner than Engine Company 12.

  • Also wanted to say that I walked by the place this weekend and the copper work is looking spectacular. If they put as much effort and attention to detail into the rest of the project this could be a place that the whole neighborhood can be proud of.

    • Is it really copper? I thought from afar it was but looking at the close up photo it looks like paint.

      • it’s spray paint.

        • Disappointing.

          • Completely unsurprising when you look at other NextGen development “projects”.

            Let’s face it – Brian Brown is a scam artist who tried to make a huge profit illegally reselling the fire house. Don’t expect anything good to come of this latest load of b.s. he is trying to sell you.

  • I’m all in favor of anything that keeps Bloomingdale residents contained in Bloomingdale.

    • The only problem is that while we dont want to come close to you, when we get cool places assholes like you are going to be tempted to visit.

  • I think it would be cool if they turned it back into a firehouse. That would be a lot more useful than a bar. Especially if your house catches on fire.

  • fantastic news. and the progress looks almost real this time! i really hope they can pull this off.

  • I wish them the best of luck! I live right around the corner and can’t wait to check it out. A good roof deck would be amazing! I was worried that it might be another Ibiza or Fur but it didn’t sound like that from their presentation.

  • Hopefully this will be successful enough to allow Brian Brown to finally repair the dangerous pit where his fence used to be, and maybe even move his exercise equipment, junked furniture, toys, etc off his porch and into his basement. Not getting my hopes up.

    • what’s wrong with exercise equipment? have you seen the out door gym on first street?

    • After alerting DCRA about that total safety hazard, I am pleased to report that work is underway fixing it. Lets hope it actually gets finished though, and we don’t just have even more rusting rebar sticking out into the street.

  • I’m just glad that a cool old building is being used. And glad it isn’t being used for high end condo no one making under 100K a year could afford.

    • just a steep restaurant. $17/18? i hope they have some stuff on the menu that will allow me to go often, but at $17 a plate, that’s not going to keep me coming too frequently.

  • Personally, I cannot wait for this to come along, and I think it will do well. I certainly plan on 2-3 visits a week without fail.

  • Does anyone know anything about the operator? He was named in the Bloomingdale listserve as Steve May. I’d love to know if he has other successful projects – it would give me a measure of confidence.

  • They should make it multiple businesses. Maybe a restaurant on one side and a coffeeshop on the other. Take a look at what they did with this firehouse in Baltimore:

    • he’s lucky to have found one stable idea. this has been an issue for a number of years now, with a few restauranteurs backing out.

    • Good suggestion…the ATM might even count as a 3rd (small) revenue stream, and certainly helps those businesses out with more foot traffic!

      Then again,
      cash machine + N Cap -locked enclosure = crimespot

  • Ugh, more “I want to be urban but just not with the urban truths.” “I want to move to a city, displace it’s residents, bring in everything from where I am from and turn DC into a miniature replica of my hometown.” “Oh, I am a compassionate liberal and love all, just don’t have anyone who is black and from the city near me and get rid of everything they might like, drive up property taxes so they have to sell their home generations have grown up in and move to PG.”

    If you want Suburban cookie cutter taverns, pubs, and fad driven coffee shops, live where they are. Don’t you realize by bringing them here destroys every allure the city had in it’s first place? Besides, all that junk is so passe. The new pioneering is in Detroit, Cleveland, and the now “urban-esque” older near suburbs of Baltimore and DC. You hipsters are so 2005 “urban living” housing bubble.

    • For the record, if a retiree is driven out because of property tax increases, it means two good things: that the sales price of their home is enough to modestly retire two people, and that the income from that property as a rental would support a comfortable retirement for two. It’s likely that turning their home into a rental would result in a higher income than the displaced have ever seen.

      I only hope it works out that well for me, once the Hillbots start gentrifying me out in the mid 2000’s.

    • get a grip mike. hang in there. you’ll be okay.

    • who are you talking to and what are you talking about?

  • Mike (12:11pm):

    I can’t say I agree with you that it “destroys every allure the city had in it’s first place.” I especially disagree because I don’t believe there’s a single concept of what a city should be like. Even our own city has taken many forms over the decades. Plenty of neighborhoods in DC have long been “like my hometown.” Who’s to decide what is city and what is not?

    I certainly appreciate the frustration of that comes from population transitions. How else would you have it? That people are not allowed to do what they will with the money they’ve earned?

  • I live 6 doors down from the firehouse on Quincy Pl. NW and I welcome this news with open arms. Don’t believe that local residents won’t support this.

    I used to live around the corner from Perry’s in Adams Morgan, and I can still visualize that fantastic roof deck atmosphere. The firehouse could be the same or better, with that amazing view of the Capitol Dome.

    I can hardly wait.

  • Oh Mike. The urban charms of liquor stores, window bars, drug use, gun violence, three lane roads, houses that are not taken care of, no parks, bad schools, few trees, crumpled sidewalks, etc… No one is proposing that the tavern should become an Applebees. Oh, and it has nothing to do with skin color. Really, nothing.

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