“Frustration with Non-Existent Park View Restaurants”

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“Dear PoPville,

Perhaps I’m just frustrated, but I know many of my neighbors are feeling the same way. It seems like in our neighborhood, there have been a lot of big deal restaurants that have been in a stage of development for months if not years.
There are at least 3 restaurants in particular:

1. Hilltop – which has been coming soon for over a year
2. Tipsy Peacock– which has been “about to open” according to its owner since late 2014 and
3. Most discouragingly, Midlands, the much hyped beer garden whose website still says opening in Summer.

Do you have any updates on any of these restaurants? Also, is this a thing that affects all restaurants? Or is there something special about ours that is making it difficult to open these locations?”

42 Comment

  • I’m frustrated by the lack of sit down restaurants in general in Park View between New Hampshire and Harvard. Alfie’s was hugely successful, booked out days in advance, and I haven’t a clue why other restauranteurs haven’t considered opening more formal establishments in the area given the significant demand.

  • My guess would be investors backed out or found more exciting projects. I guess when you move to an up and coming neighborhood you just have to be a bit patient. I wouldn’t worry too much as the level of investment in the DC restaurant scene has been intense and will only increase with Michelin ratings.

  • I live right by Midlands and walk past it every day. They were delayed by permitting. Now they have permits and are building out as quickly as possible. I’ve seen them working on it every day now after a hiatus of a few months. It won’t only be an outdoor space. The indoor space is just as large as the outdoor. I’m just not sure how they will configure the inside.

  • Oh boy there’s a a couple of things to unpack here. First, it seems silly to complain that your neighborhood isn’t developing fast enough — either move somewhere you’ll be happy with that has more going on (and is probably more expensive) or deal with the neighborhood you chose to live in, like everyone else in the real world.

    (Third option: open a place yourself!)

    Second, is Midlands actually that hyped? I contributed $10 to their crowdfund and yes they were hoping a bit optimistically for a summer opening, but I don’t think they’ve actually been in the works for that long. Seems like an unfair complaint.

    • I don’t think the complaint is “I’m frustrated because my neighborhood isn’t developing fast enough,” but rather a complaint about places that announce their plans to open and them seemingly take longer than expected. These delays seem to have become a trend around the city, and PoP even ran a little unofficial “who’s gonna open first” poll a couple months back between Slim’s Diner, Timber Pizza, Swamppodle, Hilltop, and a couple other places that seemed to be experiencing similar delays.

      • But unless the OP somehow donated to these places announcing their plans, I don’t see that they have a stake to complain. I could see a legitimate complaint of the OP thinks that they don’t actually have real plans to open an establishment and they’re just stalling to avoid a vacant tax, but I didn’t quite get that vibe from the OP.

        • Come on. People can be disappointed/excited about all kinds of things for all kinds of reasons; a personal stake in the matter is not a requirement.
          .
          The OP is within his/her rights to be disappointed that places whose opening he/she was eagerly anticipating — and in two cases, where the establishments claimed they were opening MUCH sooner — have not yet opened.

          • Oh, they can be disappointed in anything and everything they want. They just shouldn’t expect others to care about such concerns. But everyone is entitled to an opinion, that’s true.

          • They don’t expect you to “care.” Just raising as topic of conversation, and it seems like others are interested. If you’re not, then don’t read this post. What’s it to you, anyway?

        • Wait. People donate to restaurateurs? Not investing, which would compensate you with some of the profits, but they just donate out of the goodness of their hearts? Why?

          • Good question. People give away money for all kinds of dumb causes. The dumbest seems to be giving money to for-profit enterprises and receiving absolutely nothing in return. Hey, thanks for the free money.

          • I’m guessing that most people who do so are doing so in hopes that a proximate restaurant improves their property value and/or quality of life. I’m willing to bet that the OP either lives in this area and/or owns property there.

          • The “donations” collected got various perks – the $10 donation got you a glass you could bring in for $1 off all drafts. Other perks where the ability to reserve tables etc.

          • It seems so-very-DC to buy a house in a neighborhood with the hopes that it might someday actually be a place you want to live. To use a worn phrase, it is what it is, not what it could be.

      • As the old saying goes: Everything takes longer and costs more than originally projected.

    • +100000000,

      if you hate the lack of development either open your own place or move.

      It not easy to open a restaurant, how long has Shaw Bijou been “coming soon” it’s not just Park View.

  • I think it just takes a ridiculously long amount of time to get some of these open because of DCRA, Pepco, and Washington Gas. Most of them are changing the occupancy which requires the building be brought up to code and the costs and time associated with that can be very difficult to estimate especially for first time small business owners. Many of these buildings were neglected and in rough shape so it just takes a lot of $$ and time to get them habitable and up to code.

    Just look North to Petworth – Homestead took years to get open, Slim’s Diner was a couple years in the making, even places that are probably smaller, one story places so they have less code issues to deal with have taken almost a year (Timber Pizza and Twisted Horn).

  • I’m sorry you’re frustrated, but believe me. You aren’t nearly as frustrated as we are.

    Come on by sometime and I’ll give you a tour. We hope to have more news about our space soon. You can also get the latest info about the midlands on our Facebook page.

    Take care.

    Peyton

  • Maybe the strip below NH is not ready for more ?

    Remember the Mothership fiasco ? Mothership tried to offer average grub at an above-average price, right next to one of the most, I would say, problematic intersection of the whole area.

    It can be possible that these guys are doing their homework and assessing the market and its ability to generate enough for their investment. In all fairness, I went to Mothership a couple times and it was meh but more than the food itself, its was the whole grungy aspect of this section of Ga Ave that prevented me from trying again. If you are a woman, these few blocks can feel like you’re running the gauntlet, especially after dark

    • +1. I’m a woman who lives in Park View and I rarely walk south of Newton or north of Irving on Georgia Ave. If I have to go in that direction, I almost always take Warder or New Hampshire.

    • Except Alfie’s opened up in that space and was constantly packed.

    • Alfie’s and Tchoups have both proven the location was not the factor limiting Mothership’s success. Same location, seemingly greater success. Of course concerns with that part of GA Ave are perfectly valid…hopefully more successful businesses will encourage even more to open and eventually make that stretch of road safe and welcoming.

    • Mothership was usually quite busy but was operating on a shoestring budget which bit them in the end. It wasn’t for a lack of clientele. Alfies did much better but was only intended for a pop-up (which I despise). The new restaurant seems to be finding it’s groove and has invested pretty heavily in the outdoor space which is nice because that means they have put more into a patio than the owners Zuckerman Partners have invested in all of their properties along GA combined. They turned back the clock on several projects that were going to happen when they purchased the Midlands lot and Murry’s. At least things are being built out now. However the Murry’s ‘Perch’ seems to just be a work around for Zuckerman to not pay vacant tax rates.

      There was an announcement today on the Park View blog that Redbrick is developing the couple lots across the street on Lamont.

    • This is way off base. The issue with Mothership was the food – it was odd and not very good. The success of all the pop-ups in that space since Mothership closed provides support for the issue being the restaurant, not the location

    • I don’t think there was any problem with Mothership other than the owner being about to have a baby and not wanting to work that kind of job anymore! The place was full all the time as well.

  • Too much “dead zone” with that vacant “Cadillacs Special” lot, the big dentist office that looks like an abandoned warehouse, the abandoned strip mall, the abandoned Murrys. Am I missing any? The former Mothership is no longer empty, I guess. The uncertain future of Park Morton. With time these will turn over, but there are simply too many long stretches of blight/nothing in those few blocks. I live right there and don’t walk those blocks (not because they’re unsafe, but because there’s not much there).

    There are so so many restaurants within a 10 minute walk of GA and Park (all of 11th Street, the trio of bars at GA and Princeton, etc) that I’m not too surprised there’s a stretch without much (still, you’ve got Small Fry and whatever came to that Mothership spot).

    The stretch between NH/GA and GA/Park is jam-packed with active retail and restaurants. Maybe if that were more spread out, you wouldn’t have “dead zones.”

    I understand that I may have missed the point of this post though about not promising “opening soon!” without prospect of opening soon. But for all GA Ave’s faults, there is plenty of activity up there.

    • But there is a lot there. You mentioned Small Fry, but further up you have Walters, DC Reynolds, Looking Glass Lounge, and then Heat Da Spot and Colony Club. Then there was Alfie’s and now something else is coming in. It’s been discussed many times, but I think the common denominator in Park View is Zuckerman Partners. They’re sitting on so much vacant real estate.

    • I think this is somewhat the case everywhere in DC – places plan to open and get delayed by DCRA, utilities, shaky funding, other issues.

      I think it’s more noticeable in up and coming neighborhoods because there are more vacant storefronts and every opening takes on more significance. I get frustrated when this happens over on H St too, fwiw.

  • Midlands got caught in DCRA hell and just got approved a month ago for their internal buildout.

    In other permit news – the place across Lamont from Mothership/Alfie’s/Tchoup just got it’s raze permit approved. Hello 9 unit apartment building with ground floor retail. I also think Union Drinkery got permit approval a month or two ago and have begun their buildout.

    • ALso, I would like to add, work has begun on the 143 unit portion of the Linens Factory on Lamont near Georgia. I think the plans call for the other building housing ~76 buildings, but I don’t think the permit has been approved.

  • The city has decided it would rather an open air drug market operate on that stretch than businesses.

    • Doesn’t some (most?) of the blame go to the Zuckermans for not getting their properties developed more quickly and putting in temporary places instead?

      • Look at what Murrys has turned into since they have owned the property. Great job from buying a property that was set to be developed into 80 high end apartments with by a reputable architect with a retail grocer and turning it into what it is today!

  • I can’t wait for Midlands to open, but in the meantime, there is a lot to like on this stretch of Georgia – Tchoups, Walls of Books, Colony Club, and Small Fry to name a few (I’m sure Salsa with Sylvia is awesome too, I just haven’t been yet). However, as a neighborhood resident, I would put in a plea to the developers for a neighborhood grocery store, maybe in the Georgia Ave. Market space. Safeway and Giant are fine options, but with Murray’s closed, it seems like there is room in the market for something small nearby.

    • Salsa with Sylvia IS awesome. The studio space is gorgeous and the staff there is great.

    • Cardon Studio as well. It’s pretty great to have our own neighborhood music school. Books, dance, yoga, music, more than bars, these can change the daytime life on lower Georgia ave.

  • I spoke with the owners of Midlands and they’re hold up is DCRA on the approval on their alcohol license and I believe Certiciate of occupancy.

  • LOL – I just realized the link. Well done Dan. That place is pretty awesome.