New French Bakery, Caprice, Coming to Columbia Heights!


Rendering for Caprice to be located at 3460 14th St, NW

Back in Aug. ’10 we first learned of plans for a :

“French coffee shop and bakery, with authentic French pastries and several varieties of bread– including real baguettes!– baked on site.”

It’s been a long year of anticipation but I am overjoyed to say that a lease has been signed and construction has begun on Caprice, a new French Bakery coming to the Allegro retail space at 3460 14th St, NW.

I sat down with the owners on Tuesday afternoon and have been smiling ever since. It is an insane coincidence that I’ve just returned from Paris so every time they explained a pastry or a baguette, I could actually taste what they were talking about.

So let me share some details first:

Construction is slated to be completed around the end of November.

There will be a small indoor sitting area for about 10-12 people and later in the Spring there will likely be a small outdoor patio area.

The Chef Baker lived in France for 20 years.

The bakery is locally owned by a family that lives 2 blocks away.

While there will be a variety of breads including real baguettes baked daily on site, the head Chef Baker also has a passion for pastries so expect to see Pain au Chocolate, Croissants, Macarrons, Petits Choux and more. In the future they will also offer soups and sandwiches. Think cheese and butter on a baguette. Ham on a baguette…

The hours will be 7am – 7pm though they could be extended if there is enough demand (see questions below.)

You can see from the photo about that there are actually two big spaces. They are both roughly 900 square feet with one being the public area and the other being the baking area.

So this leads me to a few questions that owners had for you guys: You can see that the baking area can be visible from the street so if you wanted you could actually watch the baking process – is that something you’d be interested in? Would you like to be able to watch the kitchen/baking area from the street.

Another question they had was about coffee – is there a particular brand you’d like to see served? Illy? Counter Culture? Something else?

Finally, how do you like the hours of 7am – 7pm? Are they good or would you prefer earlier? Later?

Stay tuned for more info/details as we get closer to the opening date.

106 Comment

  • That’s awesome. Now I’m even more jealous of everyone who lives at Allegro.

    • +1. It’s going to smell so good!

      I am overjoyed by this news. A bakery is sorely needed, and I am excited that its one of our neighbors!

  • WOW! I was soooo hoping that this would be your 10:30 news, and my hopes were correct!

    • Just read this more detail and wanted to add: macarons!!!

      As a closet Panera fan I was secretly excited about the one opening in Columbia Heights, but now I am absolutely going to give this place my business instead.

  • Thank God!

    A place calling itself a “bakery” in D.C. that makes something BESIDES cupcakes!

    About frickin’ time.

    • I get where you’re coming from, but I’ve never heard any cupcakery call itself a bakery, except for maybe Crumbs, which calls itself a bakeshop. All the others call themselves cupcakeries, right?

      But your point of “why aren’t there bakeries in DC?” Is pretty spot on. Thank goodness it’s a little less true now! Really excited for Caprice

  • Please stay open later than 7 pm! DC is a late-working town!

    • I’d prefer it open earlier. All that bread so late would be kinda stale

      • In France, bakers generally make several batches of bread throughout the day because a baguette only has a few hour shelf life before it’s stale. Hopefully, this place will follow suit and make several rounds per day (and shun preservatives) – and only charge the equivalent of a Euro for a small loaf.

        If there was a place like this within a few blocks of my walk home from work, I would stop ever single day.

        • +1.

          Hoping this place will make fresh bread throughout the day.

        • Hopefully, this place will follow suit and make several rounds per day (and shun preservatives) – and only charge the equivalent of a Euro for a small loaf.

          Cheap, always fresh bread is possible in France because the city and town governments subsidize the bakeries. Probably not gonna happen in DC. The amount of effort to make a real baguette is much more than $1.75.

          • Glad you pointed that out – I tried to do the math and gave up. But hope everyone has a realistic sense of the costs involved.

            Asking a bakery to produce fresh baguettes every day means you have to get your ass in there every day and buy one, like they do in France, not just once a month for your dinner party.

            Or we could do like Bora Bora and have baguette mailboxes outside our houses for daily delivery.

        • That being said, I’m definitely excited to try this place out.

    • Wouldn’t mind seeing it open earlier either. I am usually out of town by 6:30, but could definitely see myself stopping for coffee and a pastry on the way out.

  • Illy coffee would be great! And if the chef baker can make great brioche I will be there everyday!

  • Yes! I’d like to see a local joint start brewing intelligentsia. As a brief but former Chicagoan, I can attest: it’s delicious.

  • If this place is as “authentic” as it sounds…. I’m going to be in BIG trouble. The highlight of my vacations to France is the morning trek to the bakeries for a coffee and a morning treat. YUM!!!!

    PS: Two months to my Paris trip!!!

  • SO excited for this to open, sounds amazing.

    +1 for illy coffee and later hours!

  • PLEASE!! serve a regular old french roast, in addition to the currently fashionable lighter roasts.

  • Would love to have the kitchen in the window! Sit at a table outside with my pastry and watch it all happen. Though I would probably hate to work in a kitchen with a window. Maybe a window with shutters than open for certain times.

    Please make petit fours! I tried and failed. (Fondant icing is really hard to make.) Petit fours will be the next cupcake guaranteed.

    • Ditto on the petit fours. I consider myself a pretty experienced baker– I can do wedding cakes, macarons, and beautiful cupcakes that rival any sold in DC– but I can only do petit fours if I buy the pre-made fondant that tastes horrible. And even then, it’s a lot of work.

  • Sweet! Hopefully the smells from the bakery will drift into my house (as Thaitanic currently does). No Illy please. Counter Culture would be great, but they could also experiment with something cool/different to set themselves apart. I really like Redbird, but Intelligentsia, Gimmie!, Grumpy, Metropolis, Stumptown, etc… would be good too. Maybe they could just get their beans straight/fresh from Qualia?

  • This is so sorely needed. Later hours would be great… even just until 8. It’s always great to pick up a fresh baguette after work!

  • OMFG! Real baguettes! Yes, on seeing the bakery from the street. If the espresso tastes like it does in Paris, I don’t care who roasted the beans.

  • Pretty amazing news! I HOPE HOPE HOPE its good enough to become a destination bakery as otherwise it migth _still_ struggle a bit to have enough business from just the immediate surrounding area.

    And it certainly sounds like it has all the incredients to become such!!

  • This is exciting. The area has only Heller’s (whose baked goods taste like ass, and whose coffee tastes like ass leakage) and Sticky Fingers (not assy, just inadequate). Now we can get some actually delicious baked goods … and, fingers crossed, GOOD COFFEE.

  • Holy freaking shitballs. This is so awesome. Best PoPnews in months.

    I think the best bakery in CH, I’m reluctant to say, is Giant. It’s really the only reason to go in there. Thank the good lord that trip will no longer be necessary.

  • claire

    I will definitely make the trip there when it opens! And I second whoever suggested using Qualia beans for the coffee.

  • Pets de nonne, svp.

  • Please let them invest the time, equipment and expertise to make real freaking baguettes and not the second-tier substitutes peddled by Pain Quotidian and their ilk.

    Also, ficelles.

  • Hurray I can stay local. Just tried Paul Bakery on Penn. Ave. and it’s good but now I can walk to our neighborhood bakery.

    • I was thrilled to hear about Paul Bakery and it certainly lived up to its hype, but now, having a French bakery a few blocks from where I live – that’s just going to be heaven. A locally-owned, non-chain boulangerie/patisserie in Columbia Heights. Wow.
      I can even live with the limited hours until their business (judging from the comments here) takes off.

  • I really wish that little shop on Florida that is going to be the Arthur Trechers fish place would have been turned into a small bakery, perfect location and size for it. Instead we get fish : (

    What if Marie Antoinette said “Let them eat fish” it just is not the same thing : (

  • I’m moving into the neighborhood at the end of the month and this will be a couple of blocks away! so excited! yes to baguettes and croissants and macaroons!

  • Can’t wait for fresh baguettes in Columbia Heights! Are you looking for an apprentice?

    Also, I’m a fan of the bakery visible from the sidewalk, and of Counter Culture coffee.

  • Ya bakery—boo French

  • orderedchaos

    Huzzah! So excited for this place — love the idea of walking a few blocks for fresh bread & pastries, and that the owner lives in the neighborhood makes it even better.

  • Hurray! I love being able to get good baguettes, daily.

    For coffee, I like Illy. I’d like seeing the bakers at work. Plus, keeping that view open to the street would make the street feel more vibrant than a blank storefront would. My other hope is for a really good, simple, chicken baguette sandwich like we had in Paris. Paul’s at Archives was disappointing – the chicken was too wet and was carved too thick.

  • I would LOVE to watch the baking happening. Yes please to the windows!

    Hooray for a real bakery making good bread!

    For coffee–Stumptown!

  • so excited – this should be a great addition to the neighborhood! props to the owners for seeking out advice from their potential patrons.

  • Quartermaine coffe is delicious and roasted locally. Ham and butter on a baguette is the sandwich they need to sell. Every single place in Paris sells them.

    • anon. gardener

      oh man oh man that sounds divine!! There is nothing better! Doesn’t have to be a baguette though – any good bread will do. lunch is going to suck today – nothing is going to live up to my imagination.

    • saf

      And cheese. I want a decent cheese sandwich.

  • Intelligentsia coffee, please! CF would also like that.

  • anon. gardener

    In high school I worked in a french bakery run by a french family – the guy had been a baker his whole life in france, i forget why he moved his business to the states. the hours were 7 to 7, and you could watch all the bread making, etc from the windows. What you describe sounds very authentic to me. I can taste the petit pain au chocolat right now. this place can’t open fast enough. will they make some honest to god quiche as well? please?

    and i vote for illy coffee.

  • I live in Capitol Hill but helllll yesssss I am totally down for making a trip every so often (read: When I Need Shit From Target That Is Too Expensive At CVS).

    And +1 million for having a window where you can see the baking happen!!!!

  • “Authentic”? Will there be unpasteurized cream and butter involved? I doubt it. It just won’t be good enough. But the best we can get in DC.

  • OMG OMG!! I am bouncing up and down with excitement!!! This is the BEST news! I echo others’ calls for a good french roast. Can we get coffee in french presses? I would also like to see the baking process through the window.

  • Uptown Bakers in Cleveland Park (long gone) always closed at 7. drove me freaking crazy. 8 is better. Lots of people do their shopping after 7. Also, Uptown would bake throughout the day, so if you got there in the afternoon, you could buy warm loaves. It was sublime. I hope this place will bake all day.

  • Finally! I don’t have to wait til the MtP market on saturdays for bread

  • Oh thank goodness– competition for Heller’s. Maybe this will cause Heller’s staff/ownership to realize that they need to stop acting like such jerks. I will gladly walk the extra three blocks if someone would greet me with a smile on their face.

    So excited for this!

  • For coffee, I vote Lavazza or Douwe Egberts!

  • best news ever. and yes to later hours, soups and sandwiches, and watching baking form the window.

  • illy is AMAZING and would def be cool to see the baking from outside… while drinking my illy coffee!

  • While I enjoy Illy and Counter Culture, I’d prefer to see a local coffee option like Swing’s. The Embassy Row blend is a particular favorite.

    The hours seem good. Watching the baking process from the street sounds cool, but I doubt I’ll ever actually stop to watch.

  • I’m getting all teary eyed just thinking about it. Thanks for sharing the good news!!

  • If you’re expecting a lot of people to be picking up bread for dinner after work (like me!), you could always follow the model of Tartine Bakery in SF: bake pastries in the morning, bread in the afternoon.

  • I find myself in Columbia Heights maybe once every three years, so I’m not sure if my comments would be worth much, but here are my two cents:

    I do a lot of baking myself so I would absolutely appreciate seeing the bakery from the street. Given that we live in an era where more Americans watch cooking shows than do actual cooking, I think even non-bakers would like to see the operation.

    I also like late hours– I live one block from Eastern Market but hardly ever go because they close at 7.

  • YES! This is awesome!

  • Certainly pants-pooping news! +1 on the visible kitchen, will not only add to authenticity, but also to the overall storefront. +1 on the later hours, at least until 8. Expect you’d be able to capture a lot of that return foot traffic heading back from work. If you’re not sure of a good closing time, have dinner or beers outside of Titanic one evening, or several evenings on different days, and observe the volume of pedestrians at various times. +1 on Swing’s (best in town), but also fan of Illy. Please, please, please have outdoor seating as soon as you can. My personal dream is to have an uninterrupted strip of outdoor seating from my street (parkwood) to the metro. Also, choux chantilly’s please! And lastly, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for choosing this location!!

  • COUNTER CULTURE COFFEE PLEASE

  • I agree on 8 pm opening hours. If anything, you can be closed from 2-4:30 (like a European “siesta”). You’ll do most of your business from 7-9:30, and from 5:30 to 8. Most of your clientele will be downtown worker bees who work til 5:30 or 6 (or later) and eat at 7:30 or later.

  • Meant 8 pm closing hours

  • Opening is fine, def later opening (us folks on the Hill are lucky if we leave the office at 7pm)!

    Plus PLEASE serve Intelligentsia coffee!! There’s only a few places in DC that do, and as a Chicago girl I really miss it!

    • P.S. Illy sucks b/c it can barely ever be brewed correctly. Very unforgiving coffee. Not what you’d want to start out with.

  • Thank you for this news! I’m so excited and will be a regualr. Yes to the view of the kitchen! I appreciate so much the people who open businesses like these in my neighborhood.

  • Intelligentsia, s’il vous plait!
    (Illy or Metropolis would be acceptable.)

    Also, looooove the siesta idea. Could be a good way to start, anyway, if limited hours help keep costs down, to meet both rush hours.

  • Thank you to the handful of commenters who gave Qualia a shout-out! We’d certainly love to explore being one of a few bean suppliers for what will be a unique addition to DC, much less the neighborhood. If the proprietors of Caprice are reading this, and you’re interested, you can reach us at qualiacoffee@gmail.com.
    Further support from the commentariat would be amazing, and would let us know how the community would appreciate our coffee in Columbia Heights!

    • Yeah, I agree. In my opinion, Qualia is in a similar quality category to a lot of the independent roasters with great reputations (such as Intelligentsia which got a lot of shout outs here), but with a bigger/better focus towards Ethiopian beans. Much better than Illy.

  • Just returned from Paris, haven’t been back for 24 hours yet. This is great news! What about cafe richard coffee (although I have heard Intelligentsia is good too)? Fresh croissants please and the Religious pastries (the cream puffs with chocolate).

  • Woohoo!! How exciting!
    What I’m hoping for:
    – that the baguette will be airy and crunchy just like in France, not dense and soft like too many baguettes here.

    – that they’ll use good ham for the ham/butter/cheese sandwich, like the Madrange at Breadline, not the deli ham you can buy at the local supermarket.

    – that there’ll be buches de Noel and galettes des Rois this winter!

    – I hope there is not ONE f*!$# cupcake in the store!!

    – I would love to watch the baking and pastry making.

    – 7am is good, 7pm a bit early on weeknights, but it’d do. Those hours also work on weekends, yes? Ahh, one can finally send a boyfriend off to go buy croissants for breakfast on a Sunday morning, almost makes me want to get one of those again.

  • As an allegro resident I can’t wait. And I vote Illy.

  • 8pm closing would be awesome! As would being pet-friendly. I know I’d love to stop by with my dog on walks. Exercise for him; baked good for me.

  • God I cannot wait!! This is going to be awesome. I LOVE LOVE the open kitchen idea. I have been considering Allegro for a while bc I love the modern look and this is gonna convince the GF! It’d be awesome to say that I have a chic (chique?) bakery in my building :) Thanks PoP!

  • Every time I visit Paris I can’t wait until it is the next morning so that I can go get a freshly baked baguette. I am so happy this is happening in Columbia Heights. I used to live half a block from the location, but I moved about a mile away so it will be a longer walk, but I am sure it is a walk / bike I will happily make. Thank you thank you thank you.

  • If there’s any way to get beans from Philz Coffee (SF) or Blue Bottle, I would be more than ecstatic.

    Would love pour over or French press options.

  • The recent trend in France over the last decade within the bread baking community has been a gradual return to traditional baguettes using slow sourdough fermentation and whole grain flour. While the ubiquitous white-bread baguette still reigns, bread enthusiasts are gradually reviving the culture of heartier, soulful bread. Hopefully the Caprice baker will follow suit and offer naturally fermented organic flour as well as the iconic –albeit vapid, quickly leavened, bleached, white bread- baguette.

    http://www.thefreshloaf.com/bookreviews/goodbreadisback

  • PLEASE!! NO ILLY!! Counter Culture and/or an organic fair trade brand. Please see Black Gold if you are going to make some snarky comment about the fair trade request..

  • I would vote for Counter Culture coffee. Also, 7pm seems way too early to close. I would say 9pm. Thanks for posting about this!

  • jesus you people are particular. i love coffee, but i’ll drink whatever they make.

  • \o/ I live in the Allegro and am very excited to hear about this today. Reminds me of the boulangeries in southern France. I will be a loyal parton!

  • I live right around the corner and this would be awesome! Please open at 6:30 so I could stop on my way to work!

  • Holy effing crap I can’t wait. YES to watching the baking from the street and YES TIMES A MILLION to warm, rich, flaky, buttery croissants. Also +1 to whoever suggested the “fiesta” idea in the middle of the day, to allow you to stay open later(8ish?). It’s so annoying that things close so early in this town. PLEASE HURRY and OPEN SOON!!

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