Friday Question of the Day – What Retail is U Street Missing?

“Dear PoP,

The Georgetown valet signs are up at 13th and U St, NW (below Boundless Yoga). It is sad to see such a beautiful and prime retail location go to a dry cleaners. The cleaners is huge and spans the entire building along u st. It even has a nice cafe area – but totally lost on a dry cleaner. Sigh. Had such high hopes for this spot.”

It is a great building that we judged back in March ’11. So let’s make this a two part question – for this specific prime location (13th and U St, NW) what do you think U Street would have most benefited by? What do you think U Street is missing in general?

I would love to see a beer garden like H St, NE’s Biergarten. Though I’m pretty excited that some skiball will be coming shortly to U Street, NW.

What would you like to see?

186 Comment

  • How disappointing…DC has to have the highest number of dry cleaning places per capita in the USA.

  • All DC neighborhoods need 24 hour diners.

  • – Bank of America ATM (duh)
    – Healthier food options (Teaism, etc.)
    – Fancy pizza (Comet Ping Pong, Pete’s, etc.)
    – Shopping other than furniture or vintage
    – Low-key wine bar with good food (e.g. NOT Vinoteca or Veritas)
    – Hardware store

  • A normal clothes store would be cool. Like a Gap or Old Navy. Not a boutique.

    • AKA – White people clothes.

      Yeah that’s right – I just snarked on ya

      • really? I’m white and I haven’t worn gap, old navy, or banana clothes since I was 20. I wouldn’t actually consider it normal, anyway. just omnipresent.

      • I thought the Gap was for black people now. Or is that A&F? Or is A&F for brown people? Can’t keep it straight. I think BR is for gay yellow people.

      • i’m white. doesn’t feel like you snarked at me. you don’t like it? i don’t give a shit. i’d shop there if there was one. they are a great company with actual liberal ownership and politics i like. unlike places like urban outfitters or whole foods.

        i think it’s a great suggestion.

    • just metro over to metro center if you want chain clothes.

    • Yeah. There just isn’t enough khaki in this town…or places to where one can have it dropped off to be cleaned.

    • There’s about 100 cRap stores in the area; why would you need another one? I don’t shop at boutiques, but they’re much preferred.

      • “I don’t shop at boutiques, but they’re much preferred.” You’re anti-chain but you don’t shop at boutiques. I’m guessing you get all your stuff at second hand stores then?

      • Boutiques are way expensive. Theoretically I might be able to afford them, but I balk at paying that much for clothes.

        And the use of the passive voice raises the question… “much preferred” by whom?

  • a good sushi restaurant, a salad shop. any healthy food, really.

  • Great restaurant. I interest it.

  • Teaism would be fabulous! And, Julia’s Empanadas. A friendly post office. A book store. A nice coffee shop with delicious coffee where you’d want to hang out. A spa. Really, anything positive that is not another bar/night club.

  • I’d rather not have chain stores/restaurants roll into U street. U St Cafe makes great coffee and is a good place to hang. A spot that has good bread delivered (baguettes) would be awesome. A healthy sandwich shop woud be great, such Breadline near the WH. And I second a Bank of America ATM. Why does CH have four of them and we have none?

  • Specialty butcher shop. Pasture raised meat cut to order, charcuterie (pâtés, terrines & sausages), prepared meats and vegetables, smoked/pickled fish, braises, stews, stocks, ragouts, fresh pasta, farm eggs & poultry, soups, dry goods and such.
    Lamb/pork shares (raw & prepared) and virtually any cut or animal in the region available within reasonable notice.

    Like Brooklyn Larder or Butcher shop (Boston).

    • I can’t believe nobody’s cashed in on the whole specialty butcher thing. There are loads of foodies within walking distance of U Street with money to burn on overpriced specialty meats and related products. There would be a line out the door.

    • as someone whose parents are butchers, i agree. Rents are TOO DAMN HIGH even though the customers may be here. Maybe.

  • Being that Boundless is above it (I do go there), I’m glad it isn’t a cafe/restaurant/bar with outdoor seating. A dry cleaning business is quiet and doesn’t smell like food or coffee…

    • Only dry cleaners with off-premises plants are quiet. Trust me, I used to live above a on-premises one in New York, and quiet, it ain’t.

    • Don’t dry-cleaning facilities damage the building because the chemicals seep into the walls or something? Wasn’t there a PoP post about that a while ago, in connection with a building near the Whole Foods on P Street?

    • I go to Boundless. U St ain’t quiet. A casual restaurant downstairs can’t possibly be louder than U St already is.

      Sirens during savasana.

  • Healthy take-out options

  • Sigh, it’s skeeball. Although skiball does sound refreshing on a hot day. It would be nice to see a bookstore/music store.

  • A nice bakery. Right now we have to walk all the way to Whole Foods for some decent bread.

  • A vitamin store, sit-down Chinese restaurant, hardware store, butcher and /or seafood shop, salad joint, bookstore, tea shop and an Arby’s.

  • Murrays’ Cheese Shop! Mmmmmm….cheeeese.

  • Guitar/musical instrument store. Other than that awful place on Conn. I don’t think DC has a single place to buy instruments (or even guitar strings).

  • A decent grocery store? Or even better – a Trader Joes…..

  • A legitimate corner grocery – like the one on Columbia Rd NW in Adams Morgan across from Kalorama Park by the Grill of Impanema. U St is an incredible place to live, but having the pricey Yes! as your only quick walking distance grocer kind of sucks. Somewhere where you could pick up quick essentials would be great and could have likely fit into a space this size.

    • What about that place on U just west of 15th (next to the CakeLove cafe)? I’m blanking on the name, but they re-did it a few years ago and it’s actually a pretty good bodega/grocery store hybrid. Disclaimer: I haven’t been there since shortly after they re-opened.

      • greenroofgoddess

        They are much improved and underappreciated. They have great bread (either from Firehook or Marvelous Market…I can’t remember), and a decent selection of wine and some veggies and dry goods. Not as many options as Yes, but more convenient that braving the Whole Foods madness.

      • It’s pretty good and that is what I’m talking about, however, for me, that is really far as I live on the eastern side of U Street. For people who live in East U St, LeDroit, Shaw, etc, something along those lines over this way would be great.

  • A good bagel shop!

    • +1 to a good bagel shop!

    • Does not exist in DC. IMHO, good bagels and pizza in DC are relative terms. As in, this is relatively good, but I’ve had better…in NYC.

      Yeah, I went there, and I would still choose to live in DC over NYC 9 times out of 10 if given the option. The 10th time would include an Ellis Island sized boat full of money so that I could afford one months rent.

      • Oh, waaaah! I can’t afford to live in NYC, so I make due in DC but I really want to make it a cheaper version of NYC so that I can afford NYC on my paltry budget.

        Take you, your 24 hour diners, your tall buildings and your cracker thin crust and go back to NYC.

        All of you.

        • Did I say I want DC to be a mini NYC? There are many reasons why I chose to stay down in this area after college over moving to NYC. I don’t think I could live in NYC. Too claustrophobic. It’s one of many things I love about DC. I can see the sky. But, in MY opinion, I prefer the bagels and pizza up north. I also prefer the cheese steaks in Philly. Best Southern food I’ve had has been in the South, best deep dish pizza in Chicago. Funny how that works out. Areas that are known for making a particular type of cuisine tend to make it the best. I still choose to live in DC. I like it better.

          However, I’d move pretty much anywhere for an Ellis Island sized boat full of money. See what I did there, I made a geographical and cultural hyperbolic statement to allude to a heaping shit ton of money. I tend to do that. Why speak straight-forwardly when I can add a hyperbolic quirk to make it funny? Part of my recognized excellent sense of humor.

          You’re just being a dick. Not even a Washington Monument sized dick. More like a tiny sized miniature that I could buy at the gift shop.

          :Apparently being slightly hungover fills me full of piss and vinegar. Good think I like pickles.:

          • Grandpa Simpson: ” I’m full of piss and vinegar! Used to be just vinegar.”

          • The cheesesteak I had at Geno’s, aka the place that invented philly cheesesteaks, was just about the worst and especially the most overpriced cheesesteak I’ve ever had in my life

            Everyone at my table just sat around looking at each other thinking .. “How much money and time did we just put into getting this meal..?”

            I was in NYC recently and got a good bagel shop recommendation but I didn’t have time to go

            The Bagel Place in College Park has pretty good bagels for this area

          • @Shawn (since it won’t let me reply directly to him) I’ll admit that I haven’t been to Pat’s or Geno’s, but the best cheesesteak I’ve had in Philly was Jim’s Steaks. Knew it was the best from the first bite. I’ve also heard that Tony Luke’s is fantastic, but haven’t gotten a chance to go. Next time.

            and @Anonymous (if that’s your real name), I’ve definitely had what I would consider great pizza in NYC. We might just have different definitions of what we want our pizza to taste like. Pete’s APizza is the best slices I’ve had here, and it’s good, just not the best.

          • To Shawn: you shouldn’t have gone to Geno’s. Should have gone to Pat’s instead (right across the street).

            As the sign at Pat’s says: “Don’t Eat A Mis-Steak”

      • I have spent about 6 months total in nyc and still haven’t found great pizza or bagels there — despite a dozen people telling me they know where “the best pizza/bagel in new york” are. I think people are talking about the good old days when they talk about bagels and pizza in nyc. the coffee, however, now that’s better.

    • Bethesda Bagels, a handmade NY style bagel is coming to 1718 Conn. ave in September.

  • hell I’d take an urban outfitters for god’s sake!

  • A legit Deli. I’d like corned beef and pastrami on rye, please. thanks.

  • andy

    Yakitoriya/Ramen Shop. Itadakimasu!

  • me

    Comfort One Shoes

  • Awesome suggestions! I’m in favor of a:
    – Hardware store
    – Good sushi (read not Thai)
    – a decent grocery store further East on U
    Everything else just needs to grow into the neighborhood.

    Now only if we could have some downtown business district cleaning service to help pick up the crap off the sidewalks…filthy.

  • A Chic Fil a
    An innovative soul food restaurant
    A *Southern* style bakery (hot sweet yeast rolls, pound cake, cininamon buns, etc)
    A church
    A barbershop

  • There is a hardware store on U st. already – right next to Wholefoods.

  • Bank of America / Wachovia / Any normal commercial bank

    Trader Joes


    NY-style Bagelry

    Paper Source, or any similarly-themed paper good store

  • I would take U Street as it is, with only one change… properly timed traffic lights!

  • As I was riding the 90 bus past the storefront in the post above this morning (on my way to work in Adams Morgan), I was thinking that it would be nice to have some place like SweetGreen or Chop’t along U Street. Subway doesn’t have the same salad selection, and my waistline doesn’t particularly appreciate Jumbo Slice or Amsterdam Falafel every day…

  • I agree with bakery, bagel shop, & cheese shop suggestions (oh to have a Cowgirl Creamery…). A nice healthy non-chain soup/salad place would be nice. Also a Dolcezza.

  • Bakery – not cupcakes or fads. Serious bread, breakfast stuff, desserts and a small deli/lunch selection.

    Chick Fil A


    Butcher/Cheese place

    Bike shop

  • It saddens me how many people want MORE chain stores in DC. If you love suburban megamall stores, why bother to live in a city?

    • It saddens me how many people are snooty enough to lump all chain stores together as worthless. A lot of them are chains for a reason – they’re good places to eat/shop/etc. That said, it’s fine to make fun of the person asking for a GAP.

    • Jesus – because you don’t want to be car dependant, support sprawl and live in a vapid cul-de-sac that is why!

      With the revitalization of U.S cities it’s no doubt that what were considered suburban only stores will begin to make inroads into cities. Department stores were once only found in larger cities but with the advent of the car and the mall they moved to the suburbs. What is old is new again.

      • Anything you want, you can can get at a local store. Tell me what you “must have” from a chain, and I will tell you where to buy it in DC. If not, you can order it online.

        No need to pollute DC and increase its D-bag quotient even higher (if that’s possible).

        • It would be better to get from a chain in DC than order online. Also, tell me where I can get a reasonably priced pair of just regular dress slacks for work? I know of chain stores but not local stores that won’t kill my budget.

          • What’s reasonably-priced? A pair of pants made by a 12-year old in Vietnam, shipped in a container overseas and then trucked from the West Coast to DC, placed on a shelf for way too little? A pair you then wear 7 times before realizing the fabric quality is crap and the stitch count is too low, and the pants fall apart?

            People don’t realize that if you buy a quality pair of pants and treat them well, they can last 10-20 years. Instead, people want “cheap stuff now”.

            Do yourself a favor and get a pair of well-made pants from a tailor. You may pay 5 times as much upfront, but it’ll pay for itself in time, and it has less impact on the environment if you care about such things.

          • My strategy is to buy expensive well-made clothes secondhand. Good for the envinronment AND my wallet. But I don’t know of any Goodwill or Salvation Army type places in DC that have decent things in stock– any recommendations?

          • By the way, I also grew up n a house where we made our own pants. It’s really really easy, cheap, and they’ll fit exactly as you want them too.

            Shirts on the other hand are too difficult.

          • If you’re such an expert at making pants maybe you should open up your own shop, maybe you should open up your own shop…you seem to think there is a market for them in the area.

          • As for vintage clothing, most of the best selections get picked up by store owners from New York, Philly, etc. There’s not as much of a market here for anything except kitsch, halloween costumes, etc.

            I’ve heard Silver Spring has a couple of nice places though with clothes people actually want tp wear. Not sure about the Arlington area.

          • @Jesus while having tailor made pants might be really nice you appear to be assuming that everyone has a high level of disposable income to drop on such luxury items.

          • @Tricia – I agree with Jesus on this one. While it is true that tailored pants are expensive, it’s cheaper in the end as they will last longer if you take care of them.

            Pants from the Gap, BR, etc. fall apart really quickly. So, you could pay $20-50 for crap, or pay $100-250 for well-made pants that you can wear the shit out of and still iron smooth at home.

    • Because only chain stores can survive when everything is made in China.

      And most people living on U ST can afford bespoke clothes. There’s a reason why that stuff exists where rich people live and not, where middle class people live. Chain stores are it for the middle class.

      Live in the real world my friend.

    • I prefer for the chain stores to stay up in suburbia, er, Columbia Heights. That way, I can avoid them 99% of the time, save the occasional requisite trip to Target.

  • Flashy Pachinko Parlor!

  • I think U St would have most benefitted from a dry cleaners, which is what they got.
    I wish one would open in the over-3-years-and-still-empty retail spots in the building above the GA Ave/Petworth metro.
    Every empty stroefront doesn’t have to become a beer or food joint. Neighborhoods need basic services – like dry cleaning.

    • Marcus Aurelius, are there any dry cleaners in the vicinity of the Georgia Ave.-Petworth Metro?

      (I haven’t seen any; just wondering.)

      Somehow that space right on the corner (next to the Sala Thai) seems to me like it would be perfect for a restaurant-type place, like Cosi or Panera.

      Are there vacant retail spots at ground level further along Georgia Avenue, like just past the Subway and Cricket?

      • There’s a good dry cleaners on Upshur between 8th and 9th.

      • The closest dry cleaners I am aware of is on Upshur, across the street from Domku.
        There are a number of vacant retail spots as you move south along Georgia Ave. Businesses seem to be springing to life now that there has been some development and there are plans for more.

  • I would really like a knitting store/paintball deathmatch combo. You know like the one over there in that other place.

  • 24 hour CVS type store and a 24 hour “Diner” would clean up around here.

    A youth hostel / cheap B&B would also be great!

    • Aren’t there 5 CVS-type stores in the area?

      You hostel = more bedbugs. No thanks.

      • All I know is that the rite aid at 13th and U closes early not sure about the CVS on 14th.

        Youth hostels do not = bed bugs. People living in filth = bed bugs.

        • You’re not very bright.

        • You are seriously misinformed if you think bedbugs arise from filthy living conditions.

          • Unfortunately bedbugs have made a real resurgence, and it’s not related to filth at all. (Although I imagine they thrive even better amid filth than in non-filth.)

            They’re all over the place in NYC, and apparently the D.C. area has been getting them too.

          • Sorry; I meant that to be a reply to Anonymous from 11:31, not to Anonymous from 11:37.

  • An Amsterdam-style coffeeshop.

  • an excellent suggestion!

  • A coffee shop that stays open past 4 pm (U Street Cafe!!). One that’s eclectic, interesting, not a chain, where you would want to hang out. Bring back Sparky’s!!

    • Sparky’s sadly did not make enough to stay open.

      But yeah, miss Sparly’s and Marina to boot.

  • To Anon at 11:15. The Good will is on South Dakota. – 2200 South Dakota Avenue Northeast, Washington D.C., DC – (202) 636-4225

    • Depending on where you live, one of the Arlington stores might be more convenient (if you have a car):

      Arlington Retail Store & Donation Center
      10 South Glebe Road
      Arlington, VA 22204

      Arlington Retail Store (retail only)
      4714 Columbia Pike
      Arlington, VA 22204

      • I’m the one that commented above, and that Arlington store is the one I usually go to. There must be a lot of rich, careless people who live around there because I’m always finding expensive clothes and shoes that have hardly been worn (sometimes with the price tags still on).

        • I’ve often donated stuff there, but never really gone through their retail store. Good to know! :

    • Other possibilities for the person who wanted to find “expensive well-made clothes secondhand”:

      I don’t know what these stores are like myself, but typically when this topic comes up in the Washington Post Going Out Gurus’ live chat, they recommend consignment stores like Mustard Seed and Secondi.

  • A really good Tex-Mex restaurant. Not Alero. Not Chipotle. Not fricking tapas.

  • Agree with others who have asked for a real bakery that sells bread, rolls, etc.

    Would like a butcher too, although I am hopeful that the Amish market that is supposed to open on 14th street will have one. (can we get an update on that store, PoP? It’s been a while since we’ve heard news. Please tell me it is still happening!)

    What about a medical building? It seems like the neighborhood could really use one. I would love not to have to schlep downtown or to foggy bottom to see the pediatrician/primary care doc/dentist.


  • The city needs a gun shop.

  • Movie theater! I miss the theaters around DuPont. They showed good indie films.

  • At least 2 hardware stores are needed in the U Street area, and the same goes for Columbia Heights. Beauty supply and hair styling shops are also needed.

  • Ohers…..A really good bagel shop and pizza shops (NYC style.. yeah, yeah! :)) Also a real diner.. not dinner.. diner..

    What happened to, what i believe was supposed to have been, a mexican restaurant at 14th and V?

    N not to put a damper on things, but can the corner or 14th and U become any cleaner? I hope so..begining with the liquor store by the bus stop… pleaseeeeee

  • An Indian restaurant! And I like the Comfort One Shoes idea, too.

    • fuck yes.
      to the indian.

      remember that pakistani place on 14th? islamabad? yeah, i want that back.
      awesome and cheap.

  • god, so much.

    1. a craft supplier
    2. an apple store
    3. a go cart track
    4. ferris wheel
    5. a place to learn trades
    6. offices, that’s what u street really needs. day jobs.
    7. an asian super market like h-mart or grand mart
    8. harbor freight
    9. an architectural salvage store like second chance or community forklift
    10. a vespa/ golf cart store
    11. bigger sidewalks so we can have more outdoor seating
    12. public art
    13. a scuba diving school
    14. a toy store
    15. a store for locally made arts and crafts.
    16. a vegetarian burger joint
    17. a real pit bbq place
    18. a raw foods restaurant.
    19. hardware store like fragers
    20. BUMPER BOATS!!!!!
    21. utrecht
    22. a brew pub
    23. a smithsonian
    24. hudson trail outfitters or REI, or the like
    25. miniature golf
    26. a Keen outlet store
    27. a coffee roaster
    28. a bakery. like everyone has suggested.
    29. a dollar store
    30. a place where you can buy a dozen crabs and eat them on picnic tables.
    31. sears.

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