Wild Update on Bankruptcy of Hawk ‘n Dove and Sister Restaurants

329 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE

Thanks to all who sent links. Back in late March we learned that the group that owns Hawk ‘n Dove, Senart’s Oyster House and The Chesapeake Room had filed for bankruptcy. Now the Wall Street Journal has a wild update:

“Investors who bought several restaurants that fueled the dining boom in Washington, D.C.’s Capitol Hill neighborhood are accusing the D.C. restaurateur who sold the eateries of sabotaging the restaurants in a scheme to take them back. And they want their scooter back, too.”

Read the full story here.

Another interesting tidbit from the story is that it reveals how much the restaurants made in 2012 and 2013:

Chesapeake Room – (2012)$1,866,632.13 (2013) $1,398,753.27

Boxcar Tavern – $2,164,337.81 $,518,616.22

Lola’s Barracks Bar & Grill – $1,942,360.60 $1,460,913.78

Molly Malone’s – $2,341,216.04 $1,830,501.34

Pacifico Cantina – $1,774,920.69 $2,294,417.39

Senart’s Oyster & Chophouse – $1,826,282.32 $1,379,095.55

24 Comment

  • Did Boxcar Tavern really drop from $2,164,337.81 in 2012 to only $518,616.22 in 2013???

  • Interesting. This definitely warrants further investigation and a heavy dose of auditing. Interesting that they placed Cervera’s brother in charge of operations after Jose Cervera sold all of the restaurants to these buyers. Hmmm.

  • Does this surprise anybody? From everything I’ve observed, this guy might have some serious behavioral issues.

  • The restaurant business in DC’s “hotter” neighborhoods seems like the ultimate in “pump and dump” enterprises. Compare them to Chevy Chase, DC, where Arugula, Parthenon and American City Diner hold steady – nothing fancy or particularly inventive, but frequented by predominantly neighborhood patrons who dine to eat as opposed to “have an experience”. It’s like once the $2M opening burst subsides, they are in financial jeopardy. Great neighborhood cities have older, established restaurants that serve older, established patrons who age together to become unremarkably iconic. So much of the DC commercial market lacks the mentality to make anything become venerable.

    • Perfectly stated.

      Maybe there’s a crook involved, or maybe it’s just possible that those places are AWFUL. Just a total waste of money. Sure, they are dressed up well enough, dark wood, nice tvs, etc. but the food is terrible at all of those places. The drinks are overpriced and the service is just terrible.

      If pacifico did not have the roofdeck, I would never go there. Molley Malone’s drink prices are ridiculous. These places aren’t good neighborhood establishments and they’re not the good nightlife destinations they price themselves as.

      Cap Lounge and the Ugly Mug are the only two places worth drinking at around there. Everything else is a joke.

      I just wish they would actually go out of business and people with better ideas, food, and drinks move in.

      • Those people with better ideas and execution have moved in, so people have moved on from these places that fall short. You (generic you, not dolph strike) can’t complain anymore that DC doesn’t have good and interesting eating and drinking options.

        • Well, they clearly have not moved into these restaurants, which is what I was saying.

          Sure, there are some okay restaurants here and obviously good top of the line food. But there still isn’t a great food culture in this city, nor will there ever be. There’s no history of it, the cost of opening a restaurant is extremely high, and they serve a transient population that will only be here for a few years, try every restaurant, then move on.

          You can compare the food scene here to any other major metropolitan area in the US and I guarantee you we are worse.

          Tell me if DC is better overall than any of these places:
          NYC, Chicago, SF, Austin, New Orleans, Philly, Miami, Seattle, San Diego, LA, Houston (we might beat Houston, MIGHT), Boston

          Throw smaller/emerging areas in the list, and we actually don’t compete with them either (per capita, that is, we may have more restaurants and such, but our culture is much worse).

          Again, I know we have a few great restaurants and a couple great chefs, but we are very behind once you start to look top to bottom.

          Hill Country made the list of DC 38. HILL COUNTRY.

          • I think we have plenty of good dining options. I’m far from transient and still don’t think I’ll ever get to try all the restaurants I want to here.

          • Boston and Philly might be on par with DC, but by no stretch of the imagination does either city have a superior food culture to DC. Maybe you just really like cheesesteaks and chowder.

          • you are out of your mind if you think DC has better food culture than Boston & Philly. DC has more high-end restaurants, yes, but there is a history of good food and solid neighborhood restaurants all over Philly and Boston.

          • oh, c’mon. what all of those cities have, and what we lack, are generations-old ethnic communities within the city. (I say this as the descendant of a restaurant family.) you cannot seriously expect new yuppie neighborhoods to suddenly sprout the kind of dining culture of a Little Italy — they’re two completely separate beasts. the new yuppie ghettos of most of those cities are filled with exactly the same sort of generic crowd-pleasing sports bars that we get here.

      • IMO – the food got worse when it transferred owners. I used to go to Pacifico because the food was ok and you could drink on the roof, but I’ve only been back once since the new owners and an order of tacos shrunk significantly in size. Used to go to boxcar – not anymore. Last time I was in Chesapeake Room, I barely tipped the obviously high waiter who tried to overcharge us and refused to serve us tap water with our wine.

    • Who goes to Cervera restaurants, aside from maybe Pacifico, to “have an experience”? I go to these places when I want something in unfussy and uncrowded (the equivalent of going to someplace like TGI Fridays). Seems like you have it backwards.

      • Agreed. I was really excited when his places started opening up, because they were straightforward, comfortable bars and restaurants with solid food options that weren’t dives. Nothing groudbreaking, but they filled a void in this neighborhood.

        I frequented Lola’s and Molly Malone’s especially. I still enjoy both of them, but he expanded way too fast and basically had 10 restaurants with variations of the same concept within a 4 block radius. There’s no way that’s sustainable. Pacifico Cantina was the only one that was actually unique and they squandered its potential. I still sometimes go to Lola’s or Molly Malone’s and Hawk and Dove when I have to (big group or Tune Inn is closed), but the food at HD and Chesapeake Room is overpriced and mediocre, the service at Pacifico Cantina is terrible, and Senart’s is going to have a tough time competing with Hank’s. I hope if they close, we at least get some retail. We have soooo many restaurants.

        • Molly Malone’s is my office’s go-to spot whenever there’s a retirement party or the like. It’s waking distance from the navy yard (although most still choose to drive!) and it has fast service and basic food that everyone likes. Everyone going to panic if it goes away. 🙂

  • None of the restaurant’s Facebook pages were updated since the sale. When you stop trying, you’re going to lose sales.

    • Sort of seems like they were like “he did all the work for us” and they could just switch chairs and everything would be good. Clearly not.

      I only go to Boxcar, Molly Malones, and Senart’s occasionally and mostly if Matchbox and Ted’s is overcrowded and I really want to eat out. There is nothing special for all that price. The decor is better than the food and that just seems wrong.

  • It’s too bad; Chesapeake Room was pretty good when it first opened. I’d go there quite often for a decent meal or a couple of drinks at the bar. Not mind-blowing but dependable and comfortable. I stopped going when the bartenders started getting bad. Haven’t been back since the original sale, so I don’t know what’s happened to the food.

  • This wasn’t an arms length sales transaction, there were so many conflicts of interest inherent in the deal with the brothers. The investor group violated the #1 principle of investing – do your homework. They deserve to take a bath on this obviously shady deal, imho.
    I’m interested to see how this will affect Cervera’s developments in Blagden Alley (his new mansion townhouse and the restaurant in the DC Boxing Gym space).

  • What I find interesting is that revenue for each of the restaurants dropped by about the same amount – $500,000. Under normal circumstances – decline in quality, patrons spending less, I would have expected a bit more variability. Maybe I’ve been reading too many mystery novels.

    • I noticed that too, but I chalked it up to the restaurants essentially being the exact same concept in the exact same neighborhood.

      • The $500K losses look suspicious to me, too. I’m not a fan of most of these restaurants, but they’re always busy. So I doubt a drop-off in business is the reason.

  • Ooooooo brother on brother violence. Thanksgiving 2014 is gonna be ugly. And no Christmas presents for you.

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