How can retail not open for so long in DC?

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Topic: How can retail not open for so long in DC?

General Discussion January 16, 2015 at 10:27 am

How can retail not open for so long in DC?

Honest question here — how can retail stay “about to open” for so long? For instance, Rito Loco has been “about to open” for months, and shows no sign of making their target of opening in January (which was mentioned on PoPville last year). Calabash Tea has been about to open for even longer, and shows no sign of opening. I remember in Columbia Heights when Z-Burger was “opening soon” for like 2 years (and I was shocked it actually did open).

How can retail places stay closed for so long before opening? Why do so many retail places have such difficulty? Do they have to pay rent all that time; and if so, how can they afford it without any sales? The residential property market is so tight, how can the retail market be so slack?

Anybody understand this?

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This is written by one of the Co-Founders of Rito Loco. This process has been a complete nightmare for us, one that started in October 2013. We finally obtained our building permit on January 16, 2015. It took almost 1 year to navigate the through the system of Zoning and DCRA approvals. Financially it practically destroyed us and in face we will have to borrow another $100k in order to build out our dreams.

We have been paying rent since Dec 2013 and now are even paying investors. Our delays were totally uncalled for, with paperwork being lost in the system for weeks at a time. Everyone at DCRA was a huge help but the system is littered with flaws. We are lucky to have a supportive notwork of friends and family to help us, where most business probably would have declared bankruptcy before they even opened. The system isn’t built to help the little guy or small business owner that’s for sure.

The silver lining of all this is being made aware of the Great Streets grant program which we have applied for and hope to hear about their decision during the first week of February. If we get the grant then obviously the wait will be worth it. We will keep everyone posted.


Thank you so much for explaining this! I never dreamed to actually hear from a co-founder of Rito Loco. This situation is terrible — I can’t believe that DC would make you face this, especially since small businesses are key to keeping our city vibrant.

Good luck on the grant. I’ll be buying plenty of burrito bowls when you open!

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