Reader Reports Raku Closing in Dupont when Cathedral Heights Spot Opens

3312 Wisconsin Avenue, NW

A reader reports:

Raku in Dupont [1900 Q St, NW] by Kramerbooks will be closing in roughly a month and moving over to Cathedral commons.

One of the servers told me yesterday.

Continuing the decline of eating and drinking establishments in Dupont.”

Ed. Note: An email to Raku for confirmation was not returned.

According to a liquor license placard the Raku opening in Cathedral Commons will be:

“full-service casual restaurant serving Pan-Asian cuisine and sushi. Total occupancy load of 114 inside premises. Sidewalk Café with seating for 36.”

This is right next door to the second Barcelona restaurant whose liquor license placard says:

“Full-service restaurant featuring Spanish and Mediterranean food, tapas, and wines by the glass. Total Occupancy Load of 225, inside seating to be determined. Summer Garden with seating for 36.”

Stay tuned for opening dates.


29 Comment

  • What the heck is going on in Dupont? It’s not like the residential population has changed significantly…but none of these places can stay in business. Is the (commercial) rent just too damn high?

    • I don’t think Raku has a problem with staying in business. It is busy every day of the week from what I can tell.

      • Agreed @ “it’s always busy.”
        There must have a been a big rent hike, Raku tried to negotiate, and the landlord did not relent. My guess is that the Cathedral Commons project was always in the pipeline and now they’re spinning it as a relocation. A restaurant probably needs about a few weeks to settle affairs, strip/sell the assets, and properly close up shop.

        • It’s possible, I guess. I would just be surprised that a landlord in that area would hike the rent too much. It isn’t exactly a booming area, despite the very stead and solid crowd that Raku and Kramerbooks next door seem to enjoy. But who knows. Circa across the street also seems to do very well throughout the week. It’s a shame. I liked Raku a lot. Hopefully something decent will replace it.

    • My theory, for whatever it’s worth, is that there’s just more and better competition now in other nearby parts of town. For lunchtime places, there are a load of good, new-ish options just below Dupont (I’m thinking of Shake Shack and the strip around 19th and M), closer to the dense concentration of Dupont offices. I also think that a lot of offices have sprung up/relocated away from Dupont, moving that lunchtime traffic away from Dupont. And am I’m guessing a lot of old Dupont dinnertime business has moved east toward 14th and Shaw.

      • Agree 100%. Dupont is no longer the destination it once was even 5 years ago.

      • Sure, but Raku isn’t large and it’s always full during the week and actually has a pretty good lunch crowd.

      • The area below the circle used to be dead, now there are quite a few choices and, to fair, this stretch of DuPont still has going concerns.

    • Old people are no fun. :-/

    • maxwell smart

      Rising rents would be my assumption. It’s the same story just up the road in Cleveland Park. For whatever reason they would rather have a vacant space then a paying tenant. I would also guess that Cathedral Commons and all of these new developments are offering great deals to attract restaurants, retail, etc to incentive people to justify spending more then they should on a studio apartment, which in the case of Cathedral Commons is a lot.

    • You’d be surprised. Even just 4 years ago, you could easily find a studio apartment in Dupont for around $1100. Those same studios in Dupont are now going for often over $1800. The neighborhood is largely just too expensive for young people to live anymore. It’s not full of, frankly, geriatrics. I live in one of the few studios that are actually somewhat affordable, and all of my neighbors are AARP card carrying members. In my building, and just about my entire block.

      All the hip dining in the area is now east of 14th street. The decline of Dupont will only continue on from here until the owners of these commercial properties drop rent significantly enough to allow new and innovative restaurants and eateries to open that would normally be unable to open without substantial investment.

  • Really? They’re pretty much always packed whenever we go!

    • The owner is a friend of a colleague. From what I understand, They’ve never met their expectations there.

  • Sad – had dinner there after signing my first lease in DC eight years ago.

  • now i’m craving pumpkin ginger soup

  • So sad, it’s a pretty good place and one of the nicer patios in the neighborhood. I hope something worthy takes its place.

  • Kind of intrigued by this sentence in the Barcelona placard: “Summer Garden with seating for 36.” Where exactly is the summer garden? The sidewalk doesn’t look very garden-y (or even wide enough), and I think the Giant grocery store occupies the rear of the building unless I’m mistaken.

  • I’ve always resented Raku because of the really cool bistro it replaced a million years ago. Anyone remember Cafe Rondo, which was run by an older Serbian dude? It was great–not pricey, but exactly the type of food you’d find at an average Mediterranean cafe in say France or Italy. Real croque monsieurs–not the kind served in DC that always have some extra spin on the traditional recipe and marked up to like $15–and salades composes or nicoises, beignets, etc. As my friend put it–Dupont was really cool in that strip for awhile but went from being about gay bars and hip underground spots to noodles and teapots. Bye Raku.

  • Raku is really, really great. Great sushi, great noodles, great pumpkin ginger soup. Always quick service. Sad to see them go.

  • Raku always seems packed but maybe traffic has declined some and they want to concentrate on the new place. They have been there for quite a while so it’s ok. I’m excited to see who picks up that spot. The restaurant turnover going on here is a good thing, can’t stay the same forever.

    • This. We seem very quick to forget that, even at the peak of their popularity, hot areas like M Street in Georgetown and 18th Street in Adams-Morgan always experienced dizzying turnover of restaurants and retailers. It’s a good thing that “meh” restaurants are turning over for better stuff. I’d rather have Board Room than Anna Maria’s, the god-awful Italian eatery that sat in that space for decades before.

    • Blithe

      Well, even packed and popular restaurants can’t always handle major rent increases. I imagine that this would hit moderately priced restaurants and businesses particularly hard, since raising prices would also deter many potential customers. (Not saying that this is the case with Raku — just responding to Carver’s comment.)

  • This is getting sad. Even Raku, an always busy lunch spot, can’t afford to be located here.

  • Used to get raku’s Singapore noodles 10 years ago when I lived in dupont which were awesome. Agree with other comments that dupont seems to have been dying a slow death during the past few years.

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