TGI Fridays Coming to the Corner of 14th and Monroe St, NW in Columbia Heights

3334-3336 14th Street, NW

In May 2012 this was the space where we thought an Olive Garden could be coming. We finally know who the tenant will be after a liquor license application was posted out front at the corner of 14th and Monroe St, NW. Thanks to the many, many readers who sent emails.

Alas it will become a TGI Fridays:

“New casual American cuisine restaurant. Entertainment will consist of occasional Deejay and/or Karaoke. Seating for 290 patrons, total load is 325. Sidewalk Café with seating for 16 patrons.”

Hours will be Sunday through Saturday 10am-2am.

This is located right across the street from  Ruby Tuesday to the east. I wonder who will have the better salad bar?


And it’s located across the street from the Dance Institute to the north:


And a block away to the south is DCUSA:


148 Comment

  • I will predict this will be the worst TGIF ever….and THAT is hard to do.

    • You’ve clearly never been the the TGI Friday in Foggy Bottom.

    • No way it’s worse than the one in Foggy Bottom.

      • Having been victimized by the TGIFridays in FB several times before, I was surprised the last time we went. Our server was good, the food came fairly quickly and it wasn’t inedible. Granted, expectations were very low… but $2 Bud Pints? Ok.

        • I’m a little confused by the wording of “victimized” in your post. How have you been victimized at the Friday’s several times? And if so, why do you keep going?

          • Victimized in the context of eating in a restaurant. Long waits for food, crap service, gross food etc. Maybe a little in-artful, please don’t over analyze it.

            Went to the FB TGIF initially because I went to undergrad at GW and did not know any better when I first moved there. There wasn’t as many options in that area close to campus as there are now. Certainly not many that took our student dining card.

  • Worse stretch of restaurants – this section of 14th Street or 7th Street near the “China”town metro?

  • Cool! I suggest Happy Hour duels every day – diners meet in the middle of the street and hurl iceberg lettuce and deep fried zuchinni sticks to the death. Winner gets an endless bowl of pasta and breadsicks.

  • Geez – really? Who makes these decisions? Can we get a little variety please?

    • What the hell are you talking about? A little variety from the nearly everywhere else in the city that doesn’t have chain restaurants? OMG! 2! 2 chain restaurants are going to be across the street from each other! What is a person who doesn’t want to eat in one of those establishments to do?!? Surely it is too much for this hypothetical person to walk a block or two in literally any direction from that corner to where there are a ton of locally owned restaurants. You could go either north or south on 14th, east to 11th street or west into Mt. Pleasant. How will people escape the monotony?

      • lol. That’s what I was thinking, too. All it takes is to walk a block or two in any direction to find other dining options. It’s not that difficult of a process.

      • Seems you are totally missing the point. Happy ranting.

        • What exactly is the point?

          • The loss of neighborhood character is something everyone has to deal with (and has the right to complain about) whether they go here or not.

          • The loss of neighborhood character? Really? That corner was a crappy furniture store for years. I will probably never step foot in that TGI Fridays, just like I have never stepped foot in the Ruby Tuesday, but there is nothing out of character about a low-priced restaurant in a neighborhood that was predominately low income for the past 50 years. I suspect that lots of longtime residents will frequent it, and I don’t begrudge them an affordable place to eat out.

          • figby

            Loss of neighborhood character is exactly the point. When you keep cheering the development of huge, crappy condo buildings, this is what follows. And it’s a false choice between “this” and “blight.”

      • Actually there are a few more chain restaurants that just two (Pollo Campero, Panda Express, Lime Fresh, IHOP, Potbelly, Pete’s, Five Guys…)
        Plus in addition to TGIFs being a chain – it is terrible food.

  • For that area…..that seems about right.

    • I for one am shocked that a main stay of the suburban mall would want to be on the opposite corner from a crack den disguised as a liquor store. Don’t they know that this area is not safe and creepy/sketchy guys hang out there all the time?
      Oh. I’m sorry. That was last week’s commentary on this neighborhood. Now we are back to the Columbia Heights is an overly gentrified, corporately over-run facsimile of the suburban mall. I have so much trouble keeping straight which story we are going with and when. Is it back to Columbia Heights is a flourishing dreamscape of both diversity and locally owned business next week or the week after?

    • All they need in that area now is an Olive Garden and they’ll be set!!

  • I hate bland chains with bad processed foods as much as the next urbane and urban professional gentrifier, but maybe local restaurant groups should take note at what void is being filled and what undeserved audiences are being targeted by TGIF’s and its ilk. It’s really hard to take a family out in D.C., really hard to find a place where your grandma feels comfortable, still kinda hard for working folk who just want a decent sitdown casual meal to find a place with table service.

    • mtpgal

      I could not agree with you more.

    • +1 good point. Sometimes you just need a place where you can scan the menu and understand it all. Kind of like diner food.

    • Decent sitdown casual meal? You know we’re talking about TGI Fridays, right?

    • While I might quibble with the word “decent,” you are right on the money. So many restaurants opening up in the last few years as so “concept” it boggles the mind.

    • Who says this place will make any money?

    • When you put it that way, these microwave restaurants seem more like brick-and-mortar condom advertisements.

    • +1000

      I’m a fan of the local restaurants that have opened on 11th Street, but I’m also a single 30-something with some disposable income.

      It’s not realistic to think that a family of four could make them their regular destinations for a night out.

    • Excellent point! Local restaurant groups are missing the opportunity to serve the customers you just mentioned with a good family restaurant serving better food than TGIF. I am not at all surprised that TGIF is opening in Columbia Heights. I was guessing that they were going to be part of the Wal-Mart-oriented development at Fort Totten.

      • justinbc

        Local restaurant groups have to charge more because the insane DC rent prices hit them harder than someone who has their rental costs subsidized by a large network of chains that overcharge people for total crap food. When you make all your food in a large warehouse and ship it out (or buy it all in cans from Sysco and heat it up) then it’s significantly cheaper than trying to buy fresh produce and local protein like many (but by no means all) locally owned businesses.

  • Truly a great day for Cool Heights. Also Kaopectate.

  • Well-played, Columbia Heights. You have managed to combine the worst aspects of both urban and suburban living.

  • TGI Fridays will be a great fit for “Little Manassas.” Just a matter of time before Applebee’s & Olive Garden realize the potential & open up shop.

  • TGI Friday’s doesnt have a salad bar, so Ruby Tuesday’s will win by default

  • I feel lke I don’t even need to boycott it. It’s gonna sink itself.

    • No it won’t. Chain restaurants thrive in that area. Probably the lack of competition from decent places to eat.

  • I guess this means the rents in Columbia Heights are now so high that only chains can afford them? The Chinatown effect?

  • Ruby Tuesday, Ihop, and now TGIF. Can’t wait for the Applebee’s to open next.

    • And then a Golden Corral!!

      • See, now….I was going to stay out of this conversation because all of my perspectives are reflected in the accompanying commentary (e.g. I generally frown on chains because these types of corporate venues are often inconsistent in food/service quality and – as a slim person – just driving by makes me ‘feel’ fat….kinda like when an amputee can still feel their missing limb….until they look. I also get the arguments about benefits serving a diversity of incomes/tastes and the fact that only corporate chains could afford the build-out/rent…..etc.). But, then somebody had to go and mention ‘the Corral’….one of my college staples about a generation or so ago…. Ohhhh, how my inner fat boy would be all over the Corral like a deep-fried bacon-wrapped Jack Daniels barbequed rib and onion ring chimichanga swimming in hot chili con carne and queso (TM)! Mmmmm….to be a yoot again…..

  • brookland_rez

    Chain restaurants have their place, and Columbia Heights seems like a good location for a TGI Fridays. The one in Foggy Bottom is pretty bad, let’s home this one is better.

  • Guys – relax. I know the person working on this location and this won’t be your regular, run-of-the mill TGI Fridays. They are going to try to do something new and exciting: small plate TGI’s! They are also mulling about doing artisanal happy hour cocktails for $10. Trust me – it will be a hit.

  • Slam Columbia Heights as the “worst stretch of restaurants” or “Little Manassas” all you want, but I think the dining options within a half mile radius of this intersection are some of the best/most diverse you can find in DC.

    • justinbc

      There are some good places, but any of them would be hard pressed to lay claim to “best”. It is refreshing to hear someone other than a Bloomingdale restaurant rave about how amazing their neighborhood destinations are though.

      • Hell, let’s just try two or three blocks away. Maple, Room 11 and El Chucho are all excellent neighborhood places to eat and drink, and Meridian, Red Rocks, KBC and the Coupe all do varying degrees of a great job. Does every restaurant have to be Granville Moore’s or Little Serow?

        Where do you live, btw, Tex?

        • justinbc

          I thoroughly enjoy Room 11, El Chucho, and Meridian Pint. I haven’t been to Maple, but have heard good things, and I find Red Rocks sloppy excuse for pizza nearly inedible. The point is even the places I like I wouldn’t call the best at what they do, and they’re far from it.

  • Wow. Columbia Heights just keeps getting worse.

  • Because what Columbia Heights needs is to become even more like the cookie-cutter suburbs. Thanks for nothing.

  • not sure why so many haters here. tgif is world famous, so they must be doing something right.

  • yeah i agree i probably would not trek up that far to get dinner there…but i might do a happy hour if its cheap! But i agree…there is a complete lack of moderately priced dinner options (casual sit down) in the city. I mean maybe i am cheap but i am fine with this…kinda wish it was outbacksteakhouse…that would be amazing

  • Believe me I wanna hate on TGI FRiday as much as the next person but I have a feeling this one is gonna do well. OUtdoor seating is a big draw even to the most mediocre restaurants. And with the massive influx of families, well,. this is an easy place to take the kids. I have a 7 month old and now all of a sudden I can see myself in there when we are desperate to get out of the house and our usual spots (like merdian pint and DC Reynolds) are packed. But it would have been nice to at least get a better chain like a clydes. A pp made a good point, its the worst of both suburban and urban living sometimes. Crap chains and crap crime all rolled into one!

    • I basically agree. Though I don’t have kids yet I have fond memories of TGI Fridays from when I was a kid. It’s an affordable sit down restaurant. That stretch is mostly fast-food where you order from the counter. You also know there are going to do a good build-out. So even if they don’t do well and close it will be good for future restaurants.

      I think that the big difference between this and the Ruby Tuesday is how they engage the street. Ruby Tuesday has tinted and mirrored windows so you can’t see inside. That makes it less likely to draw in people who are walking or biking past. The TGI Fridays is going to have outdoor seating and engage the street more. Think of Lou’s sports bar on Irving. I don’t really like chains but I think this is going to be a good addition.

  • Columbia Heights, look on the bright side: at least you don’t have Chef Spike taking up 3 restaurant spaces in your neighborhood. I’d take TGIF’s anyday over Spike’s fare here on the Hill. haha!

    • While Spike’s places are a joke, at least they aren’t the worst-of-the-worst, Sysco-product, frankenfood chain restaurants.

  • I know this news sounds like the apocalypse but that corner has been pretty dead for years and it’s now going to be alive. As someone who lived through the bad old Columbia Heights, I’m not going to turn my nose up at TGI Fridays, even if I never go to it.

  • Bwah aha hahaha. This will complement the Ruby Tuesday’s nicely.

  • I wish we could get a Chotchkie’s or Flinger’s to open here!

  • Does the Ruby Tuesday’s even do any business? I’ve never been, but when I go by it usually seems fairly empty.

    • brookland_rez

      I go there every once and a while. The salad bar is the best part. When I’ve been, it’s usually about 1/2 to 3/4 full. Not exactly bursting at the seams, but it seems to do adequately.

  • Mmmmm….Fried Mozzarella


  • I can’t wait to ironically have happy hour there with my artsy/tattooed friends. We will eat jalapeño poppers and talk about how the neighborhood is going to s#it.

  • epric002

    why is an inexpensive casual sit-down restaurant only available from a chain? no one is hating on inexpensive, casual, or sit-down, we’re hating on cookie-cutter, bad food, and bad service. also- can someone please explain to me the strategy behind putting identical businesses directly across the street from each other? i’ve never understood why this happens. pharmacies seem especially fond of this tactic.

  • austindc

    Well now my Friday and Tuesday dining options are covered, but where do I go when I have a case of the Mondays?

  • Turning into Rockville Pike 🙁 Can we get a Bennigan’s?

  • Hey Farva, what’s the name of that restaurant you like with all the goofy shit on the walls and the mozzarella sticks?

  • It’s not like the neighborhood is a sentient being that makes choices about its retail offerings based on the feelings of the people who live there. There is a big, long unrented spot that a large corporation sees as an opportunity.

    I don’t understand why people ask “who makes these decisions?” Like there’s some holistic development of the neighborhood by an overarching body. There’s a landlord and there’s a renter. The space, the prices, the demographic, and whatever else retailers take into account, are what makes the decisions about what we have.

  • the next restaurant that comes in on 14th should be required to have a day of the week in its name to keep the theme going.

  • This will make the 14th & Monroe intersection even worse than it already is, traffic-wise.

  • Is everyone really that surprised a TGIF is coming to CH? Hopefully, it will do well. Everyone cant expect that CH will be similar to U St. or 17th St. There are decent places to dine in CH but it is not an area for upscale dining.

  • Easy for all those who do not live in the immediate area and or block. This will bring down home values for everyone. Traffic and parking which is already a nightmare for residents will become even worst. Also, this building is not the right fit for such a business; there is no way they will be able to handle the volume of trash that will come from this business without the horrible smells and rats. The argument not to go there if you don’t like it is very easy for those that will not be directly impacted by this. Also, no one ever consulted with residents which is a very shady way of doing business. There are enough places of this kind within blocks for those who want to eat at this type of establishments (Ruby Tuesday, Z-burger, 5 Guys, Ihop).

    People should be consulted before these permits and licenses are given to businesses.

    • Scrillin

      While I’m no libertarian, the idea that businesses need to go above-and-beyond the permitting and everything else that the government requires so they can consult with “People” and “residents” is ridiculous.

      You wanna know why it’s hard for small and cheap/casual restaurants to open in DC? Crap like this.

      “Consulting with residents” is just a dog-whistle for “Getting a group of 5-10 busybodies together to lobby the ANC and whoever to micromanage everything that goes on in the neighborhood and become the death of fun.”

      I know it sucks, but you do not have control over private businesses outside of normal government regulation!

      • justinbc

        I regularly see Public Notices for Zoning etc… posted around town and can immediately imagine the type of people above going and yelling about the stereo being too loud and kids drinking outdoors. Either that or they completely miss the signs because they never leave their house because they’re too busy posting on internet sites about a lack of signage.

  • Thanks, board, for that response. Priceless. You never let me down. Once again the needs/desires of longtime residents win out over the desires of residents who are still unpacking. And I’m talking about more than a two block radius.

  • Two things. No, three:
    1. It can’t be worse than Ruby Tuesday. The food there is scarcely edible.
    2. I will go, just because I have a small child and older, not-so-adventursome older family members. I can take everyone out, everyone will find something they will eat, and it will cost less than my summertime electric bill. Can’t say the same for Le Diplomate, love it as I do.
    3. Seriously, people, what did you THINK was going to occupy that space?? Do you have any idea what the build-out costs are, let alone the rent? ONLY a large chain could float the expense of getting a place like that ready and still keep up with the monthly costs. If you thought you were going to get something locally-owned and artisanal-ethical-organic, you were naive. Other than a large chain restaurant, I can’t really imagine what kind of store would be appropriate for that space, AND would be able to afford it. A large chain clothing store, like Urban Outfitters? A large chain furniture store, like Crate & Barrel?

  • IF TGIF is smart they will have the Sunday NFL package and couple of local beers on tap. That will help get their non-target ‘demo’ in the door. Most people don’t need gourmet wings if the game is on. I just need a seat, multiple HD sets, beer and napkins.

  • I think it’s nice that the neighborhood will have another affordable dining option. We don’t need another place serving underwhelming $25 entrees and $10 beers.

  • WBJ is now reporting that a Five Below (ie: a five-dollar store chain) just got permits to open in DCUSA, too. Pretty safe to say that CH is the place for your cheap suburban fixes, but I think it’s a net positive for the city that there is such an option within city limits. Conversely, people complain that Logan is too high end, but again it’s a net positive that such retail/restaurant clusters exist within city limits. Can’t please everyone, everywhere.

  • ew. Very disappointing, but not surprising.

  • Can we get Red Lobster instead? Can’t beat the cheddar bay biscuits and fried shrimp.

  • Why does the rest of 14th street get fabulous new restaurants and we get a crappy chain restaurant? This sucks.

  • People should calm down. I heat this will be an upscale version of the restaurant, Dieu Merci, C’est Vendredi. They are boasting their new “Sans Fromage” menu.

  • I dont understand how all these CH residents can be upset about TGIF coming to CH. It makes no sense at all. You were all getting an Oliver Garden before, and now all this nonsense about TGIF. Keep in mind CH is not a high end area, it is urban, and wont have the feel as other up and coming neighborehoods like 14th, and U St. This is not surprising, and everyone is acting like children. BTW – I love the red lobster comment, I mean really?

    Rather than being positive about this chain restaurant coming to CH, everyone is being a downer. It will blend well, and offer something for everyone. Whoever is complaining about high places not coming to CH? Move out because its not happening. Down the road CH will have more places like Meridian Pint, Red Rocks, KBC, and Maple. Its a great start. For those who continue to complain about high end places not coming, why dont you all take the risk and open one yourselves?

    • justinbc

      I should just point out that you claim 14th St will not be like 14th St. I’m not sure if that has more to do with lousy real estate terminology or your own lack of understanding of DC cartography.

      • What do you think it means? Why do people like you Justinbc have to come on this site and be rude. Go back to where you came from.

        • saf

          OK, Justin can sometimes be a bit brusque. But I don’t have any idea what you were trying to say either.

          • When someone says 14th Street, I think of Logan Circle so the comment made sense to me.

          • justinbc

            @anon 5:37 Then say Logan Circle. It’s a much more specific real estate boundary, kind of important when you’re comparing different neighborhoods, all of which happen to have 14th St running through them.

          • Whatever. How do you rationalize away your aggressive and unpleasant demeanor in all of your comments? Is it because you are defensive about your impaired comprehension skills?

    • Oliver Garden? Is that where you get smacked over the head with a ladle if you ask for more gruel?

  • I for one and shocked that corner sat vacant for THIS long. Glad that side of the street will get some vibrancy. I don’t get all the MOANING about Fridays and chain restaurants in general. DC is over saturated with “trendy themed” small plate, pretentious, 15 dollar happy hour cocktail establishments that FRIDAYS seems like a breath of fresh air! That neighborhood isn’t exactly high income. There are still a lot of low income families around there who NEED an affordable sit down restaurant. Jesus! Only in DC do people complain about a restaurant that will give JOBS and AFFORDABLE FOOD to the neighborhood. Sorry that this will not be an expensive french restaurant where they charge you for the butter. Sorry that this will not be a Tryst where you can compare tax returns while eating 20 dollar mini crab cakes.

    • justinbc

      I would imagine that would be the first breath of fresh air that TGIFridays could ever take credit for.

      • Oddly enough, TGI Friday’s was actually a hip and happenin’ place when it first opened in NYC in the 1960s. Of course, then it got franchised all over the world. Maybe 50 years from now, Boundary Stone or Big Bear Cafe will have spread to every corner of the earth and people will complain about having a lame-o chain like that coming to their neighborhood too!

  • Love all the comments about LOW INCOME Area or Bottom of the CUrve. With new Condos selling around $550,000ish on average, and single family homes over $1M, and rents for 2bd/2baths around $2600, this doesn’t eactly jive.

    The fact is that between Wst all the way up to Oak on 14th, there are about 3,000 units of low income, subsidized housing, and this concentration will preclude COHI from getting those glitzy lower 14th St establishments. There is a lot of money in COHI, but there is also an entrenched low-income population that is not going anywhere soon. Its just a short, but not so pleasant, stroll down 14th St to the glamour, but rest assured its nice to be spitting distance to Target, Giant, Bed Bath….because no matter where one lives in the
    city am SURE these stores are needed by all types.

    • justinbc

      Pretty much every neighborhood has access to a grocery store, so I’m going to exclude Giant from that argument and point out that Target & Bed, Bath & Beyond both offer free shipping, as does Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot, etc… so no, those stores aren’t really necessary for other DC residents.

  • Is this better than the wasteland that CH used to be before all the redevelopment started? Yes. It is still depressing because it means CH is taking yet another step in becoming even more of a downtown version of, say, Rockville Pike? Yes again. Call me crazy but I don’t want to feel like I could be anywhere. I want char acter. I want it to feel like it has a sense of itself. Instead CH has Ruby Tuesday, DSW, Target, Chipotle, and soon, TGI Fridays. Welcome to wherever, ’cause basically there’s nothing to differentiate CH from your average strip mall…well except the section 8 housing…but that’s another matter for another discussion.

  • As much fun as it can be to hate on Ruby Tuesday, you all should be aware that it has an excellent salad bar where an eater who is willing to forgo bacon/cheese/ranch/etc. can have a healthy, affordable, tasty meal. It might not be as trendy as a Chop’t or a Sweetgreen, but it’s a viable option for those who want to eat well, whether or not they can afford the pricier fare that can be found in restaurants nearby.

    (The rest of the menu isn’t bad, either. I myself am partial to the zucchini cakes and french fries.)

  • I have one word to say about most of the big box restaurants along 14th: Sysco

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