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Holy Cow: Temperance Hall Sold…to the Owners of Wonderland Ballroom!

by Prince Of Petworth December 10, 2007 at 10:39 pm 54 Comments

My sources are telling me that our beloved Temperance Hall has been sold to the owners of our beloved Wonderland Ballroom. Crazy! I’m still digesting the news but I’m thinking things will probably stay the same. My source did not know if they were keeping the staff but my guess is they probably will. General Manager Dan Searing has done a fantastic job and of course Scott and the new bartender Eric have been stellar. It seems to me that they won’t want to fix what’s not broken. That’s my hope anyway. So what do you guys think, is this good news, bad news, or everything will stay the same anyway so it doesn’t really matter?

UPDATE: Temperance Hall to Change Name to Looking Glass Lounge
DCist spoke to the owners of Wonderland who confirmed the name change. They also said that the place “will have a slightly different feel.” Now I’m starting to get worried.

  • markus

    This is a very troubling development, in my opinion. While the redevelopment of Georgia Ave makes the dilution of a neighborhood gem like temp hall inevitable, I’m afraid a direct relationship with wonderland will accelerate things.

    And while I’m sure the sale is good for the wallets of temp hall ownership (and I hope that trickles down to dan searing in some way), I hate how adams morganized wonderland has become. I remember how fun wonderland was when it was new, but now its often unbearable and too often filled with the adams morganite crew thinking they are “slumming it” by going to columbia heights.

  • richard

    Yes, yes yes. The orange-liner’s and PBR crowd has discovered wonderland. I don’t care. It’s still a fun place and SUNDAY NIGHT is wonderful with LOCAL LIVE MUSIC! These are business people. Temperance is a good idea. I don’t think much will change.

  • bogfrog

    what?! At the Georgia Ave seminar at the Green Door just recently, Lakritz was talking about what a beacon the Temperance site has been. This sounds very strange. And anyway, who are the current owners/sellers of the Temperance business?

  • whaa!?!?
    my baby……
    In the name of all that’s holy, wonderland (and I do love the wonderland as well),
    take care of my sweet, sweet, garlic-fries-and-rye-whiskey baby……

  • LL

    I heard that scott may not be part of the transition.
    Why must DC ruin every bar I love :(
    I hope they keep my favorite door man at least…he gives the best hugs.

  • Binklesworth

    Look on the bright side – at least it hasn’t been taken over by Starbucks. I don’t see any issue with this unless, as LL said, someone loses a job over it.

  • richard

    Again, these are business people. They obviously will keep whatever is working.

  • Ed

    They’re firing Scott. his last shift is next Wednesday.

  • AngryParakeet

    Is the restaurant/bar only being sold, or does this include the building? If the building, too, changes hands, I fear for Yoga House which is also a pleasure on the still “gritty” Georgia Ave corridor

  • pauper

    They’re firing Scott = SUCKS!!!!

  • AngryParakeet

    Markus’ comment was accurate re the once-charming Wonderland. The last time I went I took a friend visiting from Milwaukee to show off the place and was embarrassed by the poor service, music choices, and the other patrons’ self-adoration. I wondered where they came from; since I avoid Adams Morgan I didn’t know.

  • Anonymous
  • Wonderland is still good — just go early in the evening. Or on off nights. Mondays, Wednesdays. Avoid going out in DC on the Weekends at all costs. You’re faith in humanity will thank you.

  • hmmm

    I don’t exactly understand these comments, the owners of Wonderland are not exactly mean, corporate businesspeople. As far as I know Wonderland is the only business they own.

    And you can’t blame them for the horrid orange line people that started showing up at Wonderland. They didn’t invite them. Word got out it was a cool bar…people showed up, not exactly a conspiracy.

    I would be surprised if the essential nature of TH were to change very much. What makes a bar at the end of the day is its clientele.

  • I’m not worried at all. Wonderland is the best thing that ever happened to Columbia Heights. Adams Morganized? Sure, people come from all around for w’land – is this a problem? The neighborhood is safer for it. Wonderland has cheap food, happy hour specials, and free live music. Even on the really busy nights – which truth be told is only Friday and Saturday – the crowd is interesting and diverse.

    Matt’s a great guy and cares a lot about the neighborhood. I am sure whatever happens at Temperance will be a good thing, and if his influence should happen to cause more people to brave Georgia Avenue, I can’t imagine how this could be seen as negative. It can only spur more development which that area sorely needs.

  • e

    As far as I can tell, Wonderland itself hasn’t changed much in the last 5 years. The clientèle, yes, we can all tell that. But that’s not the fault of the owners, that’s the fault of the same market forces that led them to open there in the first place.

    I wouldn’t worry that Wonderland’s owners would in any way harm Temperance; they do a good job and are pretty consistent.

  • Rafa Benitez In Marseille

    What’s so bad about Adams Morgan? I live in Adams Morgan – 16th & Columbia.

    I drink at the Wonderland and Temperance Hall. Am I a bad person?

    You’ll Never Walk Alone.

  • Anonymous

    Has Wonderland changed, or have I changed?

  • Sveiks

    Don’t you have bigger things to worry about today, Rafa? YNWA, indeed.

  • Steve

    Sad. I guess the new owners want to put thier own fingerprints on the place. I suspect it will be full of Belgan beer and PBR for the hippster crowd.

  • Otis Gal

    Great, we’ll have to move, the neighborhood is going to hell in a handbasket.

  • Anonymous

    Guess its time to move to Brightwood! Who wants to be the Baron of Brightwood?

  • pauper

    But where will I get my UFO? I guess this is like a gentrifier being gentrified.

  • Rafa Benitez In Marseille

    Never fear Sveiks – the la’s are two-nil up. I can take a few minutes out from adjusting my gameplan to talk about developments in Petworth and Columbia Heights.

    Reclaim the Kop!

    Keep Flags Scouse!

    Gary Neville is an inbred cxnt – Fact.

  • Sveiks

    This sucks. Are they going to get rid of the garlic fries too? This is a travishamockery and it’s not even April Fool’s.

  • Steve

    As they are ruining the joint, I have dibs on one of the cool chandiliers!

  • Sveiks

    I’d like to see a PoP exclusive on the story behind the story, featuring anonymous insiders and the sort.

  • Looking Glass Lounge is such a stupid name, even if there is an Alice and Wonderland theme. Temperance Hall is a great name.

  • Katie

    I just hope the food stays in top quality at Temperance. Wonderland is not known for its kitchen….

  • nandito

    Looks like I’ll be spending more time at the Red Derby.

    Temperance is far from perfect. The service can be pretty bad and the drink prices suck. But Jesus, the decor and the name are great. The new owners shouldn’t be changing what works for this place.

    Seriously, “Looking Glass Lounge?” Awful.

  • Steve

    PoP – suggest an interview with the new managment like you did with candiates. They have a community to win over. The reason folks went to Wonderland was word of mouth from folks like us in the neighborhood. If they don’t have us, they don’t have crap!

  • jpk

    who are you people? all this worry about hipsters (whoever they are . . .), pbr, the orange line, having to move to avoid people you don’t like. let’s all take a deep breath and relax. the world is not ending. one bar is being replaced by another. it’s not like a t.g.i. fridays is opening up.

  • Steve

    jpk – its not just one bar – it is our ONLY bar. It reflects us in our neighbor hood. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, its not avoiding people we don’t like, its about loosing a PLACE I like. There are lots of things that go into that – people, food, decor, staff. Change isn’t always bad, but in addition to a building, they are buying a clientel. If we want to hang out at Wonderland, we go down the street to Wonderaland. It would be my hope that the new owners would recognize that there is somthing that works at Temperance and give it some differnance, rather than creating a rabbit hole on Georgia Avenue, which is the way it sounds.

    As I have mentioned before, I think more information on intentions would be good.

  • Rafa: 16th & Columbia is Columbia Heights — unless you are selling real estate, in which case 16th & Columbia is DuPont Circle.

  • pauper

    Oden, I don’t know that 16th and Columbia is Columbia Heights. I would call it Mt. Pleasant before I called it Columbia Heights. Although I guess it depends on whether you’re on the west or east side of 16th.

  • Hmmm… I see an opportunity for “Oden’s Ice House and Rib Pit”.

    I wonder where I can get a mechanical bull on the east coast…

  • Otis Gal

    Don’t forget, we’ve got the House too! Girls! Girls! Girls!

  • Otis Gal

    Or did Wonderland buy that too?

  • Before I took over Grant Circle and started the Grant Circle Mad Demon Pop’n’Locker Crew, I was Vice President of Criss-Cross-Downrock for the Columbia Skyscraper Breaker Prophets. We OWNED 16th & Columbia when we sent a competing crew off in tears after a particularly vicious dance-off.

    I’m pretty sure it’s known as Columbia Heights. At least the building I lived in at, er, 16th & Columbia, was known as Columbia Heights. Besides, you’re less than two blocks from the Columbia Heights metro station at that point.

  • pauper

    Simply put, you frighten me…

  • pauper: Don’t hate the player, hate the game. All I have are these streets and my killer-awesome moves.

  • New2CH

    Please, please, please, Wonderland owners, if you are reading this, don’t change much. The name is awesome, and the decor is the coolest by far of any bar in the area, if not all of D.C. The jukeboxes are also fantastic. As is the Sunday brunch (great omelettes). Changes to any of these would be a major drag. I would go over there a lot more if not for not being crazy about the location, that is all that is stopping it from being an enormous success, and once GA Ave. is developed in two years, that will turn into an asset instead of a liability. Wonderland already has its audience, Temperance Hall serves a different crowd … if you try to change it to be more like Wonderland, you’ll lose lots of customers, without much gain … because why leave Wonderland, in a better location, more established, etc.? Temperance is such a uniquely cool, beatiful, chill space and concept, changing it just for change sake seems insance. Just improve small items at the margin … better marketing, more menu items, etc., but don’t change the vibe that makes it so unique and so loved. if the chandeliers and jukeboxes are gone, so am I.

  • New2CH

    Also, please don’t hire rude, too-cool-for-school staff that often populate Wonderland, nor add the packed fratish atmosphere. I would much rather drink and eat with pleasant service, in a relaxed, unique, sit-down atmosphere, than be packed into to yet another super loud bar that caters to those who want to feel cool. There are so many options like that in D.C., the last thing we need is another … I am really discouraged by this. Is looking glass lounge set in stone? Perhaps if enough people object, they’ll reconsider the name change???

  • AngryParakeet

    To Otis Gal: The House features only “Girls! Girls” kind of like they ran out of room on the sign. I think that is telling.

  • Dan

    I just wanted to let everyone know that while it is unfortunately true that Scott will be leaving Temperance Hall, you still have several chances to let him know how much he will be missed. He is working tonight, Tuesday, Dec. 11, as well as Wednesday, Dec 12, Saturday, Dec. 15, Sunday, Dec. 16, and his last night will be Tuesday, Dec. 18.

  • R & M

    …the garlic fries are definately staying!

  • Jay’o

    First they got rid of the pool table and then this…

  • LS

    Hopefully TH’s brunch will stick around. Wonderland’s brunch went to crap after just a few weeks of starting it. It went from a yummy diverse menu to three different kinds of grilled cheese and “bottomless” bacon that somehow never gets refilled.

  • tommy h

    how long have the (soon to be former) owners owned Temperence Hall and who owned it before that?
    don’t answer, it wasn’t a trivia question to see who knows “their” neighborhood or city the best.
    change is not always bad and it always happens.
    embrace it and quit crying, you posers.

  • James

    Wrong move firing Scott, he’s the man and always greats me by name whenever I enter. I will definetly have to find the new place that he goes to work and avoid Wonderglass Lounge

  • Dan

    Sorry folks but I made a mistake regarding Scott’s schedule. He will not be working Sunday, Dec. 16 because we are closing at 4pm that day. We will be open for brunch at the usual time, 11 am. Thanks.

  • Dan: This is all very suspicious and we don’t believe you. You’ve taken Scott and replaced him with a pod person.



  • Anonymous

    My thoughts on this whole thing boil down to the following question… if you all loved it so much the way it was, why didn’t you go there enough (or refer enough of your friends) to make it profitable? If joe englert is losing money, the bar is for sale. That dude does not fuck around. Better new management than closed all together, wouldn’t you say? In the future, remember that your dollars are votes. Think about how you use them. If you love a local business, support it.

  • nevilles’stache

    they say in the city you are never more than 50 feet from a rat. I say in the world you are never more than 50 miles from a scouser…go figure


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