Zuppa Fresca Abruptly Closes in NoMa

250 K Street, NE

Last night Zuppa Fresca wrote on their Facebook page:

Zuppa Fresca is closed. We have decided to close due to situations out of our control. We hope a tenant is found for the space who can comply with the outrageous demands of the Landlord and Management Company. We will be posting our entire story soon to let our customers know why we had to leave. We only hope that our story will help other young business owners who are trying to find truthful andhonest landlords and management companies.

Zuppa Fresca opened up (in what was going to be Gillian Clark’s Kitchen on K Street) in NoMA at 250 K St, NE back in Feb. 2012. They say they will be posting their entire story on their Web site soon. Stay tuned.

31 Comment

  • brookland_rez

    I’ve been by there numerous times and never saw too many people there. A restaurant at that location might be a little ahead of its time, as the area develops more a restaurant might be more viable there, say in about 5 years.

    • I went to Zuppa Fresca several times. While the food was creatively conceived and sometimes well-executed, the service was always awful. They could not get an order straight or the food out in a reasonable amount of time. I watched many times while other tables around me had the same problem. I don’t think the problems were about the location- it was about not being able to get a drink or food in less than half an hour. Really disapppointing. I’m dying to have a place in the neighborhood to go regularly.

  • Needs to be a destination-style place. High profile that people go out of their way for.

  • Our nanny-share family used to live in that building. Never once did we see anyone in Zuppa Fresca apart from bored-looking employees doing nothing.

  • Zuppa Fresca will reopen in Bloomingdale !

    (that’s my opinion anyway lol)

  • I’ve been by that place a number of times at all times of the day in the ~5 months they’ve been open and it was nearly empty all the time.

    This “it is the mean landlords fault” default excuse is tiresome. Leases are black and white, incredibly straightforward. You owe this much, over this period of time, and for that amount of money you get “x” space and services. The shocking truth of the matter is that most small businesses have no idea what they are doing, no proven business plan, no legitimate revenue or cash flow projects, no idea of the costs of utilities, insurance, payroll and so sign leases without either understanding them, or with the assumption that they will have a rockstar business. I am sorry your business didn’t do well and you can’t pay the bills (which it sounds like here), but you committed to something, and the landlord has bills to pay too. If you can’t pay them, someone else can.

    Because leases are so straight forward, they are incredibly easy to litigate and despite the number of times I’ve seen “waa, the landlord was a meanie” posted about, I never hear about how they decided to litigate it and profit from the landlord supposedly not abiding by the lease requirements. You say they “lied”. Great, take them to court. If your case has merit there are legions of law firms in town that would love nothing more than to take the case and make the greedy rich landlord pay through the nose and set you up with an early retirement fund.

    But I suspect this isn’t the case.

    • I agree. Having signed a commercial lease in the past, there is really no doubt about what you’re getting into. I recommend to consult with a broker that has a legal background before signing ANY commercial lease. They are a completely different beast than residential leases. That being said, I’m curious to hear their side of the story. I wonder if it has to do with certain paragraphs in leases involving operation expenses and their annual increases. Hopefully they didn’t gloss over the lease before signing. Those operating expenses can really sting sometimes.

    • i am beyond surprised that you find something tiresome.

  • My husband and I live in the building and have been to ZF a few times. It has always been good, everyone was friendly. For us it is just a matter of wanting to get away from our home (and building) when going out, otherwise we would’ve gone more often. I wonder if there were any issues with Bozzuto blocking changes to the space – the decor needed to be adapted from the original concept. Also, we’ve had our own problems with outrageous, above market rent increases.

    I wish the ZF guys much luck and hope another tenant will take the space. Maybe a coffee/sandwich shop?

    • You mean the outrageous, above-market rents that you knew about when you signed the lease? I’m not saying Loree Grand isn’t overpriced, but it’s not like anyone MADE you live there.

      • She obviously indicated outrageous, above-market rent INCREASES. Just because you pay a lot to begin with doesn’t mean you should automatically expect to be gouged with increases by your landlord.

        • The concept of ‘above market’ is a bit overused sometimes. If someone comes in and pays that rent, it’s difficult to call it above market. It’s unfortunate that rents go up, but owners (who are different from management companies) have a right to charge what they want. I agree, that the market is overheating a bit causing people to pay more for housing, but that’s just the way it is.

          • I brought this up about Loree Grand because Bozzuto now manages several bldgs in the area. As a result, they tie rent increases to the prices paid at these other properties. That’s all well in good, however the other buildings, like Senate Square and Flat 130, have better finishings and amenities. At the time we were resigning they were also listing the same unit on CList for almost $300/month less than they were offering us, their current tenants. We negotiated since we wanted to avoid moving this year (may have long distance move next year), but many chose to leave.

    • As a resident of LG, the leasing agents tell you when you sign your first lease that they are giving you a “concession” in the form of “below” market rate and show you the supposed market rate. Most residents after the first year see a 9-12% increase, and often move out because of it. If you’re just going to rent it to someone else for a similar “below-market” rate, I don’t see the point in not offering that “below-market” rate to the current resident as opposed to paying your people to get it ready for new residents.

  • I live close by and ate there when they had been open for two weeks. My guest and I had two different plates, and they were both sub-par and overpriced. I never returned.

    I hope something succeeds in that space.

  • this place closed because it was subpar and the owners had no idea what they were doing. it’s immature to blame your business failing on the landlord when you completely failed in marketing to and satisfying your customers. i think these owners need to go back to their 9/5 rather than waste more retail space.

    • I tend to agree with all of you, but we’ve not seen their story yet. They said they would post it – so perhaps we should wait for that before we all cast judgements.

      • the space is pretty huge. I don’t think they knew what they were getting into/ had wildly inflated ideas concerning their future success.

  • Anyone have any thoughts on this building? When you say rent increases were outrageous, can you give examples?

    • I live at Senate Square so i am probably biased, but I don’t think the interiors are even close to being as nice as ours (i.e. at Senate Square we have granite counter tops, real hardwoods, etc whereas Loree has carpet etc….). This probably all goes back to the fact that Senate Square was supposed to be all condo but went bankrupt under construction in the depressed economy of 2007-08…long story short you have rentals build out like condos at Senate, whereas Loree is strictly a rental property (and it shows).

    • Our rent increase was 17% between the first and second year lease. When we signed our first lease they were giving away 6 months free parking and a waived amenity fee just to fill the place and then after we were there for a year they decide that they want to bank on the fact that it is more of a hassle to move than to pay the increased rent. The real slap in the face was the fact that an identical unit was listed on Craigslist for significantly less than what our renewal was quoted. They think that Senate Square and Flats 130 are “comparable” units and determined the rent based on that. If I wanted to pay for hardwood floors, higher ceilings, and a pool in my building. I would have done that in the first place. The fact that my rent is being based on those units is ridiculous. To top it all off, they closed the dog park (a major reason we bit the bullet and renewed) about a month after we re-upped. Despite promises of a replacement, nothing has been done.

      It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the management company did something shady to Zuppa Fresca. They know that they have the power and aren’t shy about exploiting it to their full advantage

      • dt

        Yes, Bozzuto plays the same games at Senate Square. Their “market rent” for a 1br was something like $2500 (more than I was paying in the heart of Dupont Circle, and this was in 2008 when nobody wanted to live in near NE) and they gave ‘discounts’ of many hundreds of dollars to fill the units. Then there’s all the fees (amenities, parking, etc), and then things started getting ridiculous with the amenities (reservations and payments for things which you supposedly already have paid a fee for). I finally simply moved out and bought a house in Trinidad – same monthly payment, but with more space, more freedom, free parking for 2, a private backyard, plus a fixed rate mortgage means my payments will never, ever increase. I’m amazed that people stay in these places so long but I guess it’s a real landlord’s market these days.

        • Not my experience. My rent only increased $50 a month between the first and second lease at Senate Square.

  • I too am sick of the excuse “It was the landlord’s fault…”

    It seems like Bozzuto has been HELPING to promote Zuppa Fresca since day one! If anything, they should be grateful for a landlord that knows that the area is still on the upswing, but still needs sit-down dining options. My friend who lives at the Loree Grand said that she would receive weekly emails about the place from building management. Nearby Bozzuto properties also did the same according to Yelp.

  • Ate there once a few weeks ago. that was enough. Sure the staff was friendly but that place seemed like a first business. Ugly decor, 3 of the 4 things we ordered they were “out” of, served us cheese curd instead of finished mozzerella by accident….and we were really the only people in the place the whole time.

    I wanted it to be good. But it wasnt.

    Hope the put something great in that space!

  • I live in the Loree Grand. Here’s the deal with leases and rent. It’s becoming VERY common in DC and particularly in new buildings, so expect more of it in the future.

    The so-called ‘standard’ rent at LG is incredibly high. $2200 to $3000 or so per unit. HOWEVER, what the management does is they give nearly everyone some form of discount. This allows them to keep the ‘standard’ rent higher than the actual market rate. What’s the market rate? It’s what people actually pay WITH the discount. But the problem arises during the second year of the lease when tenants are suddenly hit with MASSIVE rent increases. This has caused a continual exodus from the Loree Grand. Now, of course, this is all legal and the LG is at capacity, so they are working with a high-demand market and pricing as the market bears. No debate to be had. Tenants right have been shrinking and I personally find many rent control laws bad for development a detriment to civic improvement… but that said, I do find the particular approach that the Loree Grand or Bozzuto have to be dishonest. Nothing illegal about dishonesty, but I don’t have to respect a dishonest person either.

  • Sorry to see it close so quickly, but I’m not surprised. I live close (Senate Square) and I could never bring myself to try this place because of (a) the tepid Yelp reviews and (b) the fact it was ALWAYS empty. Seriously, if I wanted to dine in a silent, empty room I would just make something at home – kind of defeats the purpose of going out to dinner.

  • Let us make it clear that Bozzuto is not the Landlord. Did we forget what happened between the Cohen Companies and TIAA-CREF. I am pretty sure the shaky Landlord situtation did not help Zuppa at all. From what I hear the space was misrepresented in the first place and Zuppa was trying to work it out with the Landlord and Bozutto ignoring them completely. (My friend lives in the building)

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