Pound the Hill in Danger of Closing at 621 Pennsylvania Ave, SE

621 Pennsylvania Ave, SE

Pound the Hill opened up at 621 Pennsylvania Ave, SE in March 2011 (at about the same time they closed their NoMa location.) Pound the Hill’s Bistro launched in Jan. 2012.

Eater DC interviewed owner Karl Johnson:

How close are you to being forced to close?
That’s a really hard question to answer in this industry just because of the nature of how random cash flow is at some times. We’re in a pretty bad situation. We’re doing absolutely everything we can to not let that happen. That’s kind of why I sent out that email was not to say “we’re closed tomorrow” but to basically say, “this is very, very, very realistic that this might happen” and put my pride aside and say, basically, come help me.

22 Comment

  • Oh that would be a bummer – when I was a telecommuter I’d go there to work when I got sick of my regular spots closer to home. Always loved the food and vibe there. Unfortunately, it’s really out of the way from where I live/work so I never really make it there. Hope the folks in that neighborhood can rally enough support to keep them going!

  • why did they move from NOMA? not enough business? I used to work around there and they were the only game in north NOMA! we were happy when they came and I supported them – I can no longer support them since they are in another neighborhood but I wonder why the move to restaurant. What was their rent? what is their rent now? I mean there is not enough information out there to make an informative decision.

    • We manage the building Pound occupied in NOMA. It was my understanding they closed due to poor sales. It appears the same reason for Capitol Hill.

  • I left a comment on the Eater article (which other commenters have echoed) that they should try to return to the coffeshop/wine bar/casual food model until they’re in good shape again, and then perhaps open up a bistro in another space. The bistro food is actually really good, incredibly good, but it’s awkward having a fancy meal in the converted coffeshop. And the people that just want to chill with a cup of coffee or a sandwich or a glass of wine have other options nearby that won’t kick them out at 4pm.

  • It’s a tough hybrid model for sure. I agree that they should follow more of a Chinatown coffee model. Big Bear seemed to make the Pound model work but that’s in a neighborhood where it’s the only game in town and has tremendous street presence and that “it” factor.

    • Big Bear is the right comparison. I recently moved from Bloomingdale to Capitol Hill and like a lot about Pound. I don’t like being kicked out or not really feeling welcome just for coffee and light food in the evening. I’ll go by though. They’re good, but just don’t instill that neighborhood community feeling of a place like Big Bear.

    • Did you post this comment in 2009 and it just now appeared?

  • i would consult the guy from back alley waffles. he’s a pro in this arena

  • We will do everything we can from a distance to assist. Can we order gift cards? Our DC daughter and her friends like you and want to see you continue. That’s good enough for us. Give us the word. Good luck!

  • I used to get coffee there when it was a coffee shop, however, a coffee shop should smell like coffee – not soup, or other kinds of food. I’d be sad to see it go, but to be honest I always felt it never knew what it was. Coffee shop? Wine bar? Lunch place?

    • Exactly– and there should not be a heavy coffee aroma while I’m sitting at a white tableclothed dining table with an artfully arranged plate of gourmet food in front of me. I feel like Pound’s problem is that they are trying to do too many things at once.

  • Maybe the owner isn’t good at this? I went to the one in NOMA and it was passable but not excellent, and the reasons circulating for its closure were lame. Not trying to be mean but this just might not be the right gig for him.

  • Too bad. I really like this place. But there are some weird things about the business model. Using the ipad to checkout is cool but good god the lines back up and I really think it’s because the ipad is so slow… having to hand it back and forth, many people (including myself, the first time) not really being sure how it works, etc. Maybe it’s cheaper for Pound but it’s awkward and makes for a slow line.

    And then, when they first started serving food I noticed that there were some very generous portions… too generous for the price. Sure enough, after a few weeks the portions got much smaller (probably after they figured out how quickly they were running through things!).

    I hope they can figure out how to make Pound last because it’s unique. A great coffee house with food and a liquor license!

  • valentina

    I loved their Nutella Latte, but once they moved to Capitol Hill, that was fineto. There was no one I was going to travel all the way over there. I hope they are able to turn things around.

    • Not a fan of the Nutella latte, but I live and work in the Capitol Hill area and liked coming here before they started doing the bistro thing at night (now I usually go to Peregrene).

  • Just went there a week ago; excellent lattes and egg/spinach croissants….

  • I think maybe the weird name had something to do with the poor sales. First of all, the sign looks like it says “poond.” Poond. what the heck is that?? Also, “Pound the Hill” doesn’t sound like it has the remotest thing to do with drinking coffee.

  • I think giving up the bistro model at night would be helpful. Casual dining is still “in” and the ability to meet friends for coffee and/or wine after work is great. I miss that option at Pound.

  • Ate there last night. Delicious. It would be a shame to lose them from our neighborhood.

  • We were turned off by the bistro thing. We tried to get a coffee on a Saturday afternoon and were turned away because they were transitioning to an evening bistro. Now we go elsewhere where we know we can get our coffee.

    They could use more comfy seating, too. I hate having to stand to drink my coffee because an employee if is doing paperwork at the customer tables when there are no other seats.

    It’s too bad because I like their coffee.

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