H Mart Coming to the old Townhouse/Secret Safeway Space in Dupont?

by Prince Of Petworth August 24, 2010 at 9:07 pm 57 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user icubaji

Back in July I posted some photos of H Mart to a photos from PoPville post. I had no idea there were so many fans. H Mart is a specialty Asian Market with locations nationwide including a few locations in MD and VA.  So I couldn’t believe it when a tipster sent word that H Mart was negotiating for the old Secret Safeway space at 1800 20th St, NW in Dupont. I believe there are a few folks negotiating for this space but thought the fans of H Mart would be psyched to learn about this possibility. Of course this is only scuttlebutt so I’ll be sure to update as more info becomes available on the new tenant.

If an H Mart does sign a deal on this space, do you think it’ll be a good fit with the neighborhood?

  • damiPahbs

    All i know is that if H-Mart opens near Dupont i will be there all the time. I LOVE that store so much that i drive 45 minutes to Rockville some weekends to buy their most awesome and supper affordable and fresh produce.

  • Anon

    I would be amazingly psyched to see H Mart in such a centrally located urban setting, but given what I imagine is a pretty high cost to lease that space I can’t see it fitting in with their business model. I would be sooooo happy to be proven wrong, though!

  • LP

    Of course there are a lot of fans, many of us are Asians! Even roundeyes love the place! I hope it moves into Dupont because it is right near my house!!!

  • Richard Head

    Is the space big enough for an H Mart? All the H Marts I’ve been to are the size of a Wal Mart.

    • The H-Mart in New York’s Koreatown is smaller than the Townhouse space. Also the H-Mart in Wheaton is pretty small — not all as big as the ones in Rockville or near Fairfax Circle. (And smaller even than the one in Merrifield, I believe.)

      • Jessica

        the HMart in New York is also SO much better than any other HMart because it’s in New York.


        • It’s just okay really. But it is small. (With very short shelves. I regularly bump my head.) It’s cheaper than the Japanese-focused Sunrise Mart in the East Village or the general Asian grocery M2M (Morning to Midnight) also in the East Village. So for price, HMart is the way to go.

          The best though is the Japanese grocery in New Jersey. That store is fantastic.

  • SG

    No way. I usually believe the scuttlebutt, but this second hand-rumor doesn’t make sense in the same way. I’ll eat my hat if true. Would be too good to be true!

    There’s no legit Korean population around there, and it’s waaayyyy too small.

    Also- I thought it was a almost a done deal that Cesar Chavez was going to occupy this space.

    And while I’m at it, I wish that building was demolished and redeveloped. It’s such an eyesore and bad use of space.

    • Xi

      H-Mart is not just for Koreans, us Chinese folks love it too!!

      • And my Japanese partner is a fan as well. There’s enough Asians in general to support it.

        Also, my experience living in Oakland, CA — the Korean grocery store was usually the first thing to move into a neighborhood that became Koreatown.

        (Also my predominantly Puerto Rican neighborhood in New York is about to get a Chinese fish market and grocery store, which also will attract a broader Asian community).

        • K

          Hell, I’m white as wonder bread and I goddamn love H-Mart. Used to go out of my way to shop there during my Southern Exile years in Atlanta… I’d still go out of my way on occasion if I had a car.

          But walking distance HMart?!? This is a B.F.D.!

    • engineergirl

      Back when we were talking about H Mart in July I remarked that there doesn’t seem to be much of an Asian population within DC (they’re all in the suburbs). But shortly after that I volunteered with an organization that provides free meals to the poor, and was floored by how many Asian people showed up. Not sure if there are many living near Dupont, but they’ll find a way to get there if the selection and prices are good enough.

  • MJ

    Holy, Heych Marts, Batman! Woo hoo. No more 30 minute drives to VA for good asian grocery. Let it be so.

  • Yes, I’m a huge fan of H Mart and it would be great to have one so close. The space doesn’t seem big enough, but we’ll see.

  • Salty

    If this turns out to be just a pipe-dream, I will be sorely disappointed; it’s high time that we had a decent sized Asian grocery in the area. Just think, no more trips to B.F.E. VA or MD to stock my pantry. Heck, even a “down-sized” H-Mart would be fantastic. Of course, I really, really hate to think what this would do to the awesome folks at the Hana Grocery store (corner of U St. and 17th St.)

  • i love lulu

    It would be a much better fit on H Street NE. We’d love to have it here.

    • food eater

      what’s your reasoning that it would be a better fit on h ne than in dupont? its not immediately apparent to me and my first reaction is to disagree.

      • DL

        Both start with the letter H?

        • Anonymous

          right next to sesame street?

  • The H Marts I have been to have had a better variety of vegetables than other markets, often at very good prices.

    They have also reeked of strong fish or meat smells. The interior of the stores are not that attractive or well laid out.

    I find it interesting that one is opening in the Dupont area and has fans waiting on it.

    • Anonymous

      totally, their layouts suck. totally 1970’s vibe design.
      but the variety and the price is what is attractive.

      do you find it interesting because you assume people want more of a whole foods feel?

      • And by “people” you mean white yuppies?

        It’s amazing that people who seem to be most scared of grocery stores need the most coddling to make them “appealing.” Meanwhile the rest of the world continues to shop at grocery stores that are so retro.

        Quality of the food and price is what count

        • @Christopher-NYC

          I’m not scared of these stores. I shop at them. I cook and that is where I can get the ingredients I want.

          I just think they could be improved in terms of sanitation, organization and presentation.

          People in the Dupont Circle area take those things for granted, that is why I thought it was interesting that such a store would locate there.

          • Why change if their current format is successful?

            I mean here in NY, we have Gristedes which are gross, but always busy and all in the nicest neighborhoods.

            I’m not sure Dupont Circle residents take those things for granted at all. Some do, but plenty were going to Townhouse and the pre-remodeled Safeway on 17th.

            Location and selection and price still count for something.

          • saf

            AHHGGGGGG! OK, we get in. You’re in NY. Whoop-de-do. It’s not really contributing much to the conversation, IMO, except irritation. (on our parts)

      • @Anonymous

        That is what I think.

  • mike

    This would be fantastic since you usually have to go out to MD or VA for Asian groceries. What would make it even better (and I hope they do it) is sell Momo or Shilla baked goods like they do in their suburban stores.

    • Didn’t a Japanese grocery store / corner store open up on 17th Street and U street?

      • anon

        Hana has been there for a pretty long time. So odds are if you haven’t been there, you probably wouldn’t be trekking to H-Mart.

  • coco dleprechaun

    the h mart in anandale is fancier than the others, its like a whole foods. im a big fan of this place

    • Anonymous

      ah. i’ve only been to the ones in maryland.

    • engineergirl

      The only thing that makes it “fancier” is the dim lighting. It actually reminds me more the Soviet Safeway on 17th Street with its cramped, crowded, awkward layout.

  • my captcha is my credit

    I shop at H mart weekly, and if this miracle does happen I could give a crap if they have any Asian dry goods, I just want the fantastic selection of produce at fair prices. Heck, it might even keep some of the Dupont farmers market vendors honest!

  • porky

    This is the BEST news I’ve heard ALL YEAR!!!!

  • Brian Kraft

    All this time I thought the Secret Safeway was the one way out Wisconsin by GDS, because it turns its back on the Avenue and is hidden behind trees. I knew the Townhouse was related to Safeway, but I thought it was just “The Townhouse”. What is the nickname for the Safeway I’m thinking of?

    • saf

      I call that one the Secret Safeway too.

    • CA

      I never knew there was a Safeway there…maybe with the retirement of the official Secret Safeway in Dupont, we can call for nominations to have the title transferred up the road to the one off WI Ave.

  • Emmy

    OMG OMG OMG! That is the best news I’ve heard yet! We should start a campaign to bring them here.

    It will be more mobbed than the Trader Joe’s.

  • That is the best news ever…I really hope it happens, no more trekking to VA or MD!

  • A

    Yay for H Mart! I too will bring them lots of business.

  • People from all over the world shop at H Mart. This is amazing news. I am sooooo psyched! I will so be there on a daily basis. Finally a one stop shop inside DC for miso, soba, tropical fruits, buckets of tofu, beef stock bones, Pocky, and tahini! They have the best deal on pine nuts anywhere hands down.

    • djdc

      “They have the best deal on pine nuts anywhere hands down.”

      Ha ha. That’s not a sentence one hears often. Or ever.

  • Annonymous

    I work in the building. Management told us that they are converting the Safeway space back into the entry and reception area for the offices above and will convert the remaining space into additional offices.

    • JenDC

      I heard the same thing from the Safeway management.

  • This place would actually make a good homeless shelter – seriously.

  • goaldigger

    If this spot doesn’t work out, how about the old Ontario Theater on Columbia Rd? (used to be CVS and clothing store on the end). Either that or a Trader Joes, something useful needs to go in there.

    • superdude

      I’ve been asking Jim Graham about that space for ages now (well, two years), and nothing’s been done. You should email him!

    • JimB

      I’m doubting an H Mart or Trader Joe’s would go into the old theater, what with the proximity to two other supermarkets (Safeway and Harris Teeter).

      I’d like to see a movie theater around Dupont/AM again. Heading over to Georgetown or fighting my way to Chinatown is mildly inconvenient.

      Or turn it into a lazer tag arena. Yeah.

  • Petworthian

    Haven’t been to H Mart yet although I did like the Eden Market in Arlington. Do they carry kaffir lime leaves, galangal, coconut milk, fish sauce, udon, soba, pad thai noodles, Japanese eggplant, bubble tea? Any good frozen short cut Asia dinner entrees?

    • Yes. To all of those … well don’t know about the kaffir leaves. But definitely to udon, soba, and pad thai noodles. And daikon and japanese eggplant. (Although Giant sells daikon and Japanese eggplant anymore.)

      And you get udon and soba in both pre-made frozen varieties and in dry varieties.

      As well as a large selection of natto.

      Eden Market is really not as broad. The closet H-Mart to Petworth is in Wheaton, btw. Used to go up there all the time.

  • Deborah

    OMG! Yes, please!

  • Martha

    Please please please please let the H-Mart come!

  • Chris

    Hana is just a few blocks away, and is super impressive. The store is tiny (like… 300 square feet of customer space?) but amazingly well stocked. Aside from produce (supposedly they get some on Thursdays, but I’ve never witnessed any actual quantity of produce) they have just about all the things I need when cooking Japanese.

    My personal favorite hana item are the vegetarian gyoza sold in bulk packages labeled “For Industrial Use Only” — delicious!

  • sunsquashed

    Please, please, please let this happen!!!
    Taking the Orange line out to the burbs and walking to H mart is slightly less then convenient. This NEEDS to work out.

  • Anonymous

    Has anyone heard new updates about this?


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