Muleh Closes on 14th Street


A reader reports:

“It looks like muleh is packing up their stuff, but I don’t see any sign posted. Wonder if the rent is too damn high? The old Vastu space is still sitting vacant. Did you see the article on the new urban blight in the New Yorker recently? I think this is happening a log in DC now, and there’s no incentive at all for landlords to rent their spaces rather than wait for that big-fish rental prospect.”


20 Comment

  • They are anticipating urban blight in Friendship Heights too. Bummer.

  • DCRA needs to be waaayyyy more aggressive with tagging things vacant. If building owners start getting hit with high taxes they’ll be a lot more likely to make sure space is occupied.

  • Yup. In places like Paris and Amsterdam, they’ve made a concerted effort to keep the Walmarts and Targets out and the small bakeries, restaurants, book shops, etc., in. In America, everything bows to the Almighty Dollar and the concept of property rights. It’s one reason (among many) why our cities suck.

  • I believe Pacers Running Store is moving to the old Vastu space next door.
    All the real estate brokerages have already landed on the street so who knows what will go in here.
    With Room and Board and West Elm across the street it unfortunately was a matter of time. Sad.

  • Must. Resist. “Moolah” joke.

  • What does a space like this rent for? I predict for 14th in the next 18 months a restaurant like PF Changs and some retail such as J Crew etc…It is increasingly becoming a mainstream destination.

  • How can we get people to understand – and pay for – a dynamic urban environment? Small plate restaurants need browsing shops nearby.

    • But after paying more than the price of a decent dinner for all those small plates (and still being hungry!), there is no moolah left to spend at these shops…

  • It’s a shame that some of the shops that took a chance on 14th St before the small plate revolution are now being forced out. Vastu, Muleh, Go Mama Go, Pulp… Well, that’s America for ya’…

    • Don’t know that all the places cited were “forced out”

      Go Mama Go – original owner died
      Vastu – original owners sold – perhaps new owner didn’t have the right business plan?
      Pulp – original owner died and business sold.

  • while I think it’s a shame these stores are closing, muleh was really expensive. as for 14th becoming too mainstream, really what is there from u to n that’s mainstream ie national chain? West Elm, Chipotle, 7-11, room & board (although only in 7 states and a big draw for the area), Mitchell Gold (also not a huge national chain and replaced Storehouse a much larger chain at the time)? Yes, there are restaurants from restaurateurs outside of DC (le diplomate, tico) but the majority are local owners. I just don’t see the mainstream aspect. Just because the B & T crowd has pushed out the locals doesn’t mean it’s mainstream. As a resident of Logan, I’m glad most small local businesses are thriving: Logan Hardware, Current, Cork Market, Salt & Sundry, Miss Pixies, Home Rule, etc.

  • Muleh was open for exactly two years. I have never heard of a two year term on a commercial lease…never. No landlord or tenant could ever sign such a thing. Their rent wasn’t increased to affordability. Their term sheet had a monthly payment schedule, every month for the term of the lease (atleast 5 years, minimum). For the term of the lease, yearly rental increases are inflationary (2-3%). They simply didn’t sell enough uber expense stuff to pay it.

    The point is, they opened the store and existed the first year on the rental concessions from the landlord (free rent and TIA) and then their business model fell apart when that money ran out.

    Ever look in the store? They had like two racks of clothes there, both of which were the definition of unaffordable.

    • Are you sure? I thought they were there a long time longer than that (though I believe they moved locations within that block). I’m pretty sure they were open in 2010 and almost certain earlier, I just have all the years running together in my head.

      • And to answer my own question, their web site says they’ve been around since 1999 and selling women’s clothes since 2004 which definitely jives with my memory of that block over the past 15 years.

  • in some ways, this is a somewhat more upscale repetition of what happened to 18th Street in the early/mid 90s. The hangers-on usually have owned their space. The one thing 14th has going for it is the big anchors which may help draw/keep some related businesses.

  • Sad to see some of the great non-bar/restaurant business’ leave 14th…even if I could never afford Muleh. I hope they keep it retail…14th is already soo restaurant saturated.

  • Aglets

    Does this mean we can get the old Red Room back? Pinball for everyone!

  • Pioneers like Muleh don’t like to mingle with the mainstream. I am surprised they lasted this long.

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