Cause Philanthropub Closes at 9th and U Street, NW

1926 9th Street, NW

From Cause’s website:

It is with deep sadness that we report that CAUSE is closed for business. What started as an idea for a fun new way to help others has unfortunately not been able to achieve its purpose. Despite a great response from people around the country, CAUSE has not been able to achieve regular profitability, and thus not been able to generate the donations that were the reason for starting the restaurant. It is certainly a huge disappointment to us, as we truly believe in the idea but a number of factors have kept us from reaching our goals. We knew going in that it was a very difficult industry, but we hoped that the mission behind CAUSE would help carry us to success. We would like to thank our great team and the entire community that has been very supportive in this endeavor.

Back in June we learned there could be trouble when they announced offering “adult cereals”. To which commenter monkeyrotica predicted:

“So this is basically that Cereal Bowl restaurant in Cleveland Park, only with booze and brunch and a higher pricetag? The question remains whether they can build a sustainable business model on legions of idiot manchildren.”

Cause opened up just south of U Street at 1926 9th Street, NW in Oct. 2012. We judged them here.


37 Comment

  • Unfortunately, many of their employees found out about the closing through a public Facebook post over the holidays while they were out of town on vacation. To say that this place was “unprofessional” would be an understatement.

    • i liked the place and their business model. i’m sorry it didn’t work out for them. i’m surprised at the expectation to actually pull a profit in the first year of business.

  • Unfortunate, but not surprising. Their business model was flawed.

    • there are a few bars across the country that follow this bm and have proved to be successful
      one is in portland

      • Yep I’ve seen them work quite well in Portland. Unfortunately, DC and its people couldn’t be more different than Portland and its population.

        • How so? You can’t argue that DC has lots of people interested in supporting good causes.

          • You’ve spent too much time with politicians, or watching House of Cards. The collective mentality definitely exists in DC, especially among the younger more educated folks. I am constantly amazed by how passionate other DC residents are about improving their neighborhood, country, or world, and how much of their free time or money they’re willing to devote to their causes. Nearly anyone with a handful of free hours a month does volunteer work of some kind. You don’t see that in many other parts of the US.

          • I’ve never been to Portland so I can’t compare it to DC, but you act like DC doesn’t have a significant number of civic-minded people. That simply isn’t true.

          • DC is the 2nd richest city in the country, and the 17th most charitable. That speaks volumes.

          • Er, not really.

          • “DC is the 2nd richest city in the country, and the 17th most charitable. That speaks volumes.”
            My guess is church offerings are the primary driver of charitable giving on IRS forms. Yes, some churches do some good for the destitute in their community. But many of them are also insular and not outwardly service oriented.
            Furthermore, most church offerings go to facilities, salaries, and overhead. Which church members get to take advantage of. That’s more like paying for services rendered, rather than “charity” to the needy. And I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the DC has a higher percentage of athiests/non-believers than other parts of the country.

          • Yeah, there’s a huge correlation between religion and reported charitable giving. Most people just give money to their church/temple/synagogue.

        • Is that hipster angst I smell? 🙂

        • Do Portlanders not care about where their money goes or the financials of the organization distributing their donations? Because when I asked who they’d be giving to, I was only told that the beneficiaries would be “non-controversial.” And their business plan wasn’t good for a for-profit restaurant, much less one that planned to give away a large portion of their profits. I would have whole-heartedly supported the place if I was confident that my money would transparently make it into the hands of a reputable charity.

          • Yeah, I guess that’s what the person above mention. People in DC are very likely to do research into where their charity money is going. A Portlander probably just wants to feel good about it and not question things.

          • They listed the charities on the bill

          • So I could find out what charity my money would go to AFTER I ate? Very helpful.

  • Seriously, I wish this place had things on the menu like “All Beef burger,” “Grilled Chicken Sandwich,” and a slew of other boring things that would actually get people going there.

    Cocopuffs with Vodka sounded repulsive, and there were at least three “heart” or “tongue” items on the menu. Foul.

  • So sad. I really wanted to believe something like this could work in DC.

    • I wouldn’t place blame on the “philanthropy” end of things. It seemed like they had no clue now to run a restaurant.

        • Definitely +1. I’m guessing most of the commenters blaming the failure on lack of compassion of DC residents never went to the restaurant. I went a number of times and I got the general impression that they didn’t know how to run a restaurant. The last time I was there the bartenders had no idea what beers they were serving and gave me an ale when I asked for a saison. The food was good but they had no identity for their food except “we give profits to charity.” Regardless, it’s a shame.

          • Seriously. Some of you people are so cynical about your fellow city residents. If people here were half as terrible as described I would be out of DC in a heartbeat!

    • Pretty much this.
      Also, if you want to support a place that has philanthropic goals, go to the The Saloon on U Street. They tack on a nominal surcharge (like 25 or 50 cents) to every drink, which is then used to build schools in Africa. They’re already built 15 schools in Africa over the past 10 years or so!
      Effective, direct, competent philanthropy.

  • It was always too damned hot upstairs.

  • i applaud these guys for trying something new. ok, maybe it didnt work out, but a lot of nonprofits close because of funding issues. i hope they keep fighting the good fight.

  • “thus not been able to generate the donations that were the reason for starting the restaurant”

    They never gave ANYTHING to charity the whole time they were open?

    • They weren’t able to turn a profit which is where they envisioned the general flow of donations would come from. However, they did hold several sponsored charity nights that raised a few thousand dollars for specific causes.

  • Man, this is too bad. I only went there once but really liked it. There were probably only 4 people including myself upstairs at dinner time on a Saturday so it’s sort of understandable but still sad. The Jukebox was great and the whole set up was different and fun. Bartender was really nice too and the food that we tried was pretty good. How is this place gone but Drafting Table still exists? Worst restaurant in DC in my opinion.

  • About a month after they opened they refused to let me (and my two friends) into the establishment because I was carrying leftover food in styrofoam (in a plastic bag). Even after telling them I had no intention of eating it in the restaurant, and was stopping for drinks, they were somehow convinced that it was Not Okay. Never went back.

  • Loved, loved, loved this place

    Went several times a month for great burgers and great chicken wings

    Was best, reasonably priced food on u street

    Sad to see them go and hope another establishment picks up on the theme: “good and reasonably priced eats” – SOON

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