CEO, Josh Hahn, of EatWell DC Responds to Recent Judging of The Heights in Columbia Heights

To the Prince of Petworth Community,

Recently there was a lengthy review discussion of The Heights. We would like to thank all who
shared their comments. It’s important to hear about the components of our restaurant that are well
received and enjoyed as well as those areas in which we need to improve. We would now like to
address some of those areas.

The message on the blackening charge has been heard loud and clear. Effective immediately, this
charge is removed, though the text still appears on our menu for a few more days.

Sysco is the largest wholesale distributor in America and services virtually every restaurant. We
purchase our basic commodities such as flour, sugar, spices and Heinz Ketchup as well as paper
supplies and cleaning products. They are an efficient partner to most food service companies. While
the Sysco truck does pull up to our door each week, we also have fresh bread, produce, seafood,
poultry, eggs, dairy and meat being delivered daily by small, local companies such as Lyon Bakery,
Profish, Capital Meat and Coastal Sunbelt Produce. We only purchase natural proteins and dairy
items that come from local farms where all the animals are treated humanely.

We now own and operate a 13 acre farm in La Plata, Maryland. EatWell Natural Farm has recently
begun harvesting and has delivered over 50 crates of fresh produce to our chefs and restaurants.
The bulk of the growing season still ahead, we expect to fulfill most of our tomato, summer squash,
zucchini, cucumber, pepper and green bean needs as well as some 20 other varieties.

Improving our food quality and service has been our top priority this year. We recently installed
professional chefs in all our restaurants to both improve quality and allow our managers to better
focus on service. We have some great team members, many of whom have worked for us for years,
but finding and retaining the best service people can be difficult in our casual segment. Internships
drag away many as does the allure of downtown. These departures occur frequently and the turnover
is detrimental to efficiency. We are constantly evolving our hiring and training methods and seeking
new ways and benefits to attract and retain the best.

We believe our pricing fare. We have made many changes over the past few years that are costly;
organic, ethical raised, local products. We have hardly passed these price increases on to our guests
but a grass fed, 9 oz patty, ground daily on a custom baked bun with hand cut fries is costly.

We hope, given the opportunity, you will find that we are doing all we can to provide the best food,
service and value. We take our role as a neighborhood restaurant seriously and work hard to offer a
wide variety of food and drink across many different meal segments.

Should you have any comments or concerns, I invite you to reach out to me directly.

Kind Regards,

Josh Hahn
CEO, EatWell DC
The Heights, Logan Tavern, Commissary, Grillfish, EatWell Natural Farm
[email protected]

76 Comment

  • I, for one, quite like the Heights. Went there twice in the past week. So, haters, suck it!


  • Kudos to him for the reply. I’ve never understood the hate for the Heights.

  • I wish they would vary their menus more between locations. What have different names when so much of the offerings are so similar?

  • I always appreciate hearing from the owners in a thoughtful response like that.

    I love the Commissary and Logan Tavern. I’ll have to check out the Heights too.

  • Seconded. I think The Heights is a good, solid restaurant to get sustainable, local food in the neighborhood. I think it’s great that they have their own farm, source local when they can and serve tap water.

    Also their consideration for vegetarians is much appreciated and should be emulated by more restaurants in the area.

  • Personally I enjoy the food at the Heights. You can tell when things come out of a can, and I have found that the food is fresh and well-prepared.

  • “We believe our pricing fare.”?

    How do you get to be a CEO and I’m a federal attorney when you can’t speak good English?

    • Come on – in FAIRness to him, it was probably just an oversight. It is quite easy to forget (when writing) which version of a word to use – there, their, etc. it is quite easy to do. The rest of the message was fine. Also, to be FAIR to him, I am sure he uses the word FARE quite often because he is in the food business.

    • What does being a federal attorney have to do with another’s ability to speak good English?

    • Maybe he was trying to make a pun.

    • Commas are your friend.

    • JD, I don’t think you can equate how well a person writes English with being smart. We do have CEO’s that might not speak/write English very well, but still get the job done. In this case, it was just a matter of editing; and as someone else pointed out, word misses this kind of errors.

    • MR Native.: pardon if I make any typos as My english is not very good looking, but I believe his passion, heart and devotion has made him a CEO in the restaurant business. On the contrary I believe your ignorance will keep your maximum reached of prefrfeszional(<– intentional tipo) "HEIGHTS" and career ceiling at/as/is/are forever being a "Federal Attorney". I take it you meant to say "write" not "speak". There sue me.

  • this note is just another example of why i like the heights. great place, good food, great neighborhood restaurant.

  • Kudos for the response (I was the one that complained about the blackening charge). I owe them a second look.

  • Props for addressing the bloodbath that was the review a few weeks ago.

    As a reward, I’ll give the place another try. Maybe in a month when they’ll have more of their own fresh produce available.

  • Nice response, thanks!

  • This is a great response. I’ve been meaning to try several of these restaurants and this is good information to know.

  • I like The Heights for what it is: a neighborhood restaurant that doesn’t aspire to be The Next Big Thing in the DC food scene. It’s consistently good, especially the boneless southern fried chicken. For as much hate as the re-judging spawned in the comments, they have to be doing something right when they’re as consistenly busy as they are.

    • Seriously — anyone who has a gripe with this place, I encourage you to get the boneless southern fried chicken and you will eat your words. It is so good!

  • THIS is why i love this blog.

    owners ( or ceo’s whatever) that aren’t dicks reading, thinking, responding here in a clear manner. plus they have a farm? smart.
    makes me like the place before i even had an opinion on it.

  • wow, responsive and caring management goes a long way (you’d be surprised how few do)! it starts at the top, people. this dude deserves a hat tip.

  • My comment on the previous thread was mostly supportive of The Heights. But I hadn’t realized the extent to which their foods are locally, sustainably sourced (although I understood that their use of Sysco was not a problem at all). With the very fact of the review but also its content, I am even more supportive of this good-enough restaurant I can walk to from Petworth! And ditto to the earlier comment on support by The Heights for vegetarians (which my wife is).

  • What was the beef? Not enough veggie touchy-feely food?

  • I’ve only eaten at Logan Tavern, and I thought it was good. I’m definitely going to try more of their restaurants after reading this post. Reviewers of restaurants on this blog can be incredibly harsh and it is good to hear the management come out and respond in a respectful way.

  • Props to this CEO. Perfect Response.

  • Shoot! I missed the original discussion.

    My 2 cents, short and sweet:
    – Good food, fair prices (enough to keep me coming back despite…)
    – Really poor service, every time

  • I intend to boycott all of their restaurants until they open one in Bloomingdale! Who is with me! : )

    To the CEO reading this……….. Bloomingdale is the perfect opportunity to try something new; Bring It! Challenge On!

  • andy

    The Heights II: The Blackening.

  • I think the Heights is good and I love their bloody mary menu. Mr Hahn, please do us a favor and fix Commissary! If that could get up to the Heights or Logan Tavern quality it’d make my life a lot better. 🙂

  • You gotta love a company that responds to community compliments and critique! That’s pretty impressive.

    Though “We only purchase natural proteins and dairy
    items that come from local farms where all the animals are treated humanely.” is a bit of a stretch.

    It’s nice to see someone at the CEO level craft a thoughtful response. One of my most frustrating things related to customer service is when you email or tweet a company–whether good or bad–and they can’t be bothered to reply. I tend to patronize companies that respond and don’t ignore.

    • “natural” is subject to interpretation. i’m curious what an unnatural protein would be…test tube meat?

  • Lyon Bakery HOLLA!!!!!!!!!!!! Best artisan bread bakery in DC! I love learning of the many DC restaurants using them for freshly baked bread, delivered daily! Good job Heights!

  • I think it is great that a reply was sent that was well thought out and answered questions and comments honestly. The Heights is no better or worse than the majority of places around town. I go there once in a while and its been good. Wish it was brighter at night, but thats just ambiance.

  • I’ve written a couple reviews of the commissary on yelp that had a couple minor complaints, and each time a manager has written a positive message to me (they were aware of both issues and trying to rectify them). I have to give EatWell DC props for excellent customer relations.

  • Never been there, but now I want to try it. Boneless southern friend chicken, eh?

  • regardless of where the food comes from, at the Heights (and the other restaurants in the chain really) the food doesn’t taste very good and is very bland in flavor. I have no problem with the management of these eateries, I just think their food isn’t all that great especially given what they charge for it. And I’ve given all the restaurants many chances over the years.

  • Never even heard of this place (I live in Arlington). But after reading the owner’s cordial and lengthy response, I’m checking this place out this weekend.

    Thanks PoP. Good stuff.

  • I don’t think I actually made a negative comment in the earlier thread, but I will admit to having a negative opinion of their lunch/dinner menus. I like their brunch quite a lot, so I hope that Mr. Hahn and his team are successful in bringing the rest of the menu up to that quality. I also have a much better opinion of the entire restaurant than I did previously. Thank you Mr Hahn for responding!

  • I like The Heights. It’s not the greatest restaurant in DC, but fine for a beer and burger with friends. Bar and wait staff have always been friendly, even when obviously new to the gig.

    I’m not surprised people don’t love this place, but can’t imagine what there is to hate about it (although the Blackening charge does sound a little silly).

  • So, the guy whose job it is to promote his business tells you how great his business is and how much he cares about your petty gripes and you guys all suddenly want to discard the bloodbath and give the place a shot?

    He *is* a good CEO. And I’m a federal attorney.

    The true problem at The Heights isn’t really their fault. It’s the same problem all of the restaurants in Columbia Heights have except for Ruby Tuesday and IHOP (which have their own problems): REAL people don’t go there.

    But at least they got rid of the regressive blackening charge.

  • Personally, I must admit that I hate The Heights. I hate it because I have never experienced anything but abysmal service and nonsensical and/or rude behavior on the part of the staff. However, I must commend Mr.Hahn for his thoughtful and responsive comments, and for reading PoP in the first place. That level of involvement and investment is laudable.

    I will still not go back to The Heights – I have already given it too many chances to convince me – but I respect Mr. Hahn’s decision to take part in the discussion with civility, rationale, and facts.

    • Just out of curiosity, what rude things have you experienced?

      • I once asked what kind of toast was available. When I was told “none”, I expressed a certain amount of disbelief. The waitress then rolled her eyes at me and said, brusquely, “We have no toast! Just Hallah!” and then stormed away.

        I once sat at the bar and waited 15 minutes for a drink while the bartender tried to bed the only other customer in the place.

        My husband once waited for a cheeseburger for 45 minutes. When it arrived, it had the wrong kind of cheese on it and was overcooked.

        I sort of have a “three strikes” rule.

      • I’ve never experienced blatant rudeness, but I have experienced pretty awful service.

        Things like getting abandoned by the waitstaff for 30 minutes, or parts of an order being forgotten and not corrected until much too late are pretty much the norm.

        That said, I love the food enough to put up with it.

  • One thing not addressed in the reviews is the behavior during happy hour among many patrons. Seeing obese diners buy massive quantities of happy hour priced goods only to take out in doggy bags (besides when they dive back in for seconds out of the doggy bag)really changes the atmosphere of the place.

    Used to go there all the time until I started noticing this trend and a change in the diner demographics.

    • What a great idea! Bag the food at cheap happy hour prices and take it home (possibly to your hungry neglected children? Beats cooking in the summer.) Brilliant! Actually I did this once after sneaking out for 25 cent wings on NFL night…my pregnancy craving wore off, but hubbie was delighted to help me finish off the batch.
      Does diner demographics mean changing from skinny hipsters to morbidly obese hipsters?

  • Anonymous 4:12: That is a really weird comment.

    Anyway, I live a half block away and eat at The Heights about once a month. It’s a fine place. The food is good, not great, the atmosphere is quite nice and the prices are reasonable. That said, Meridian Pint does the same kind of food but much better.

  • I’ve gone to the Heights, Logan Tavern, and Commissary for years (used to live in Logan but moved to Mt P a couple of years ago). I love them even more after this post. I’ve often had mediocre service at the Heights, but about a week or so ago, we had fabulous service at a weekday lunch. Our waiter was so attentive we were shocked and pleased. So maybe they did respond to the previous beat-down post.

    I don’t understand the food complaints. I’m a big foodie but I come to these restaurants for casual neighborhood fare. I used to be a big turkey burger fan but now am obsessed with their veggie burger. The fried chucken is good too. If you want more cutting edge food you have many other options in DC.

    PS Hey federal tax attorney what is a “real” person?

  • I must admit I have not been to the Heights in about a year anda half, but before that I probably once a year. I always had horrible service. By that I mean servers would disappear for 20 minutes at a time, I would wait for 30 minutes to place my order, I couldn’t get my check, etc. The worst part of all of this is every single time at least one person in my group had their order messeded up.

    I want to like the place becuase it seems like it should be an upretentious place with decent food at a reasonable price, but bad service keeps me from ever wanting to go back

  • For dinner, you can bring a bit of Grillfish up to Columbia Heights. I’d love to see more fish offered.

    I also wish you would bring innovative dishes and charge a premium for them. It’s easy to get tired of the same Americana menu.

    You need to get past your only claim in the neighborhood: They have a great patio. It’s got to return to memorable, original (sea)food.

  • Solid response by the CEO but I agree with the consensus of the earlier post on The Heights. I have never personally experienced bad service or food but something has been off about this place from the beginning. The bar is OK as is the food. My suggestion would be to rebrand themselves to actually be known for something and spark some new buzz.

    • never had bad food or service and the bar is ok. but you think they should rebrand themselves because ‘something (not sure what) is off”? riiight.

  • I love that they actually have a farm, no matter what the size. I think more restaurants should do that.

  • I am a server at The Heights and I want to add that is would surprise most people to watch our food deliveries every day. We very obviously use FRESH, high quality proteins and produce. We had a sockeye salmon tartare special a few nights ago that was amazing, and I was there as a diner, not a server. Good work, Josh!

Comments are closed.