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Devestating News for Logan Circle/Phenomenal News for H St, NE – HR 57 on the Move

by Prince Of Petworth November 21, 2010 at 10:10 pm 62 Comments

HR 57 is located at 1610 14th Street, NW. We last spoke about them back in Jan. ’10. And we’ve said that they are one of the best spots to hear live jazz/blues and we’ve also listed them as one of the best date spots in the city.

That is why I think the news is so devastating for the Logan Circle neighborhood of 14th St, NW. It is such a unique space that can not easily be replaced. Logan Circle will obviously still thrive but removing this neighborhood gem is a punch to the gut even if it is replaced by a really good restaurant. I had heard about the possibility of a closure for a while but I sorta pushed it to the back of my head hoping it couldn’t possibly be true. I’ll be honest – I’m destroyed by this news.

The huge news was broken by City Paper Sunday afternoon:

“Tonight, however, staffers — including owner/director Tony Puesan — confirmed that the first week of January will find HR-57 relocating to a property at H and 9th Streets NE. “It’s a very nice place,” says Puesan. “It’s just in a little bit cheaper building.” The current building, which Puesan owns, is being sold.”

The author Michael J. West speculates:

“it’s a risky venture trading a Metro-accessible location in the U Street corridor’s established jazz district for a still up-and-coming neighborhood whose transit options consist of a shuttlebus and still-unfinished streetcar system.”

I think this is a huge score for the H St, NE area. Despite the concerns mentioned above, I think they will be hugely successful. Of course I haven’t seen the new space at 9th and H St, but I’m certainly looking forward to checking them out.

What do you guys think – will HR 57 thrive on H St, NE?

  • Erik

    I hope this means they can afford to tune their piano more regularly.

  • 007inAfrica

    A little saddened by the news… It is currently so easy to get there – I must admit it will be much harder for me to make the trek to its now location. Bummer.

  • West’s comment about H Street accessibility via transit is patently false and makes me wonder if he’s even ever been to H Street. There are several bus lines and 3 CaBi stations on H. Ridiculous and misleading to assert that the only options are the shuttlebus and unfinished streetcar line.

    • plow

      face it, buses are not going to replace the trains for a gigantic majority of washingtonians.

      yes you take the bus, i take the bus, jason the fearless takes the bus. cookies for us. most people will want to go where trains take them.

      having a business of metro accessible 14th is a huge thing. having to move from that to a place without it kind of sucks.

      the bikeshare is great, but how many available docks will there be on h street? 3 cabi stations, so maybe 50 docks? it’s a great and fun option and i’ve got a key, but thats not mass transit.

      • K

        Plus, and most importantly. H and 8th Street is only 8 blocks from Union Station….a metro stop. Walk out the back door of Union Station and you are directly on H street and walk 8 blocks. (quicker then getting to Adams Morgan via Dupont Circle North or Woodley Park). Or if you don’t know about the back door at Union Station or want to walk over Hopscotch Bridge then walk out the front and walk 9 blocks. Still a pretty quick walk.

        I get why people say the Argonaut or Rock and Roll hotel aren’t metro accessible. But the other end of H street where Ethiopic, Sidamo, Toyland and now HR-57 are totally is.

        • Anonymous

          8-9 blocks is not much of a walk, but most people do not want to walk on H Street, especially at night. Plus, getting a cab around there at night is not easy. Having lived near H for 4 years and also seeing how much it has improved, which is great, there are still many other parts of the city in which I’d much rather spend an evening. Of course, if having a jazz place in a neighborhood with some “edge”, then H is just the right spot, perfect for finding diamonds in the rough.

        • Pointing out the obvious

          Right, because crossing the Ellington bridge requires a map and a sherpa? Lets not kid ourselves, this new location is much less accessible unless you live on H St.

        • Tres

          For people who live downtown, H Street isn’t just a 9 block walk, it’s those 9 blocks plus a metro ride, plus yet another nine block walk if you lived in in certain parts of Logan, for example. For the VA and MD peeps, it may be roughly the same, but for the inner cluster of DC folks, it can be a real chore compared to the option of hanging in lower NW.

          I personally think the solution is more cabs and bolder cabbies not afraid of less established neighborhoods. When you weigh my 45 minute metro “commute” to H Street, to the option of an under 10 minute cab ride for only slightly more money, it’s a no brainer. Forget metro. When I’m out to have fun, I’m not going to consider a 90 minute round trip to go to HR57. I’d rather stay home, drink, and listen to Billie.

          On that note, I encourage people to tip handsomely on cabs taken to H Street or any other place where cabbies think “here be dragons”.

          • Anonymous

            Now we need to tip cabbies handsomely for taking us where we need to go? Should I also tip them extra for not blatently displaying their racism/sexism/homophobia like normally do? How about for driving in a safe manner? Or not driving around in circles to make the meter go higher?

            I’m sorry, but sometimes my job requires me to do things I don’t feel like doing, and I don’t get paid extra for it.

            Boycot cabs. Hit them where it hurts. That’s the only way those scumbags will ever learn.

          • Anonymous

            Also, donate to help us get safe cabs in DC!


          • Anonymous

            Cabs cannot refuse to take you to H Street. Just get in a cab before they ask you where you want to go.

          • Tres

            Right, cabs can’t refuse someone by law, however they often do. The unfortunate thing is that you can’t always get in the cab first.

            It’s more about creating the impression that people go to such and such a location have money and are good passengers. Make the cabbie think more highly of H Street. That’ll make them more likely to troll for fares on H Street, which is what we’re really after — trying to affect where they pick up fares as opposed to where they drop off fares.

          • CA

            They’ve done it to me after I’ve gotten in. I guess I could have stood my ground, but as a small woman who’s been assaulted by a cab driver I have no desire to make them even angrier than they already are.

  • Jason

    Uh yeah, shuttlebus or the bus bus. what the hell. oooh so scared of the x2 wah wah call the wahmbulance. There’s another transit option..

    • Greg

      Or your mom’s Buick.

    • Kim

      There’s also the 90/92/93, which makes this easily accessible from U Street, Adams Morgan, and Barrack’s Row.

  • Tres

    I think people are aware buses exist in our city. Bottom line, trading a metro for a non metro locale makes it harder for people to show up.

    Sounds like the the club couldn’t have paid the rent that the new owner would have imposed. Obviously, the move was necessary to preserve the club. I think it’ll have a good life on H — only adds to the charm of a already charming neighborhood.

    • Kim

      The thing is, this is .7 miles from Union Station metro. The old location was .6 miles from U Street metro. They are close to equal in terms of metro accessibility.

      • Anonymous

        where are you figuring the distance from? looks like a mile to me from union station to 9th.

  • DM

    I think that is awesome…

  • Anonymous

    The type of venue that HR-57 is — a small recital hall and not really a bar — is filling a small enough niche that people would probably follow them wherever they go. They could move to downtown Manassas and the hardcore jazz fans would be there every night. So I think they’ll be fine.

  • x

    bummer… i enjoyed having a cheap hangout accessible by foot. they’ll get a good new audience over there but i’ll be going much less often if ever. it was fun while it lasted…

  • Petworthy

    Counting DC9 that’s the second small live music venue we’ve lost from Logan/U/Shaw recently. I understand live music venues need to chase the cheap rents… but I’m wondering why nothing has opened up in the Petworth/ColHights area? Everything gravitates toward H NE.

    • Anonymous

      Even though H St NE at least has the cool/hip vibe that U Street does. Petworth and ColHeights are becoming very nice neighborhoods, I they don’t have the “cool” factor that I would guess a live music venue would be looking for in scouting for neighborhoods. All this is only IMO though.

      • Anonymous

        i think petworth/columbia heights will attract more professional places than h street.

        classier joints and chains.

      • TaylorStreetMan

        Agree. By the way, what ever happened to Twins Jazz that was up around 14th and Colorado somewhere?

        • DCKid

          It’s actually on U Street…13th or 14th I think?

          • Anonymous

            there were two of them.

        • rockcreek

          The building was gutted and is now an almost-finished condo.

  • fl

    The only people who think the current transit options are perfectly fine to H St are its perpetual cheerleaders who probably live close or for one reason or another have decided this area is totally worth the hype. As much as I see the potential, it’s not there yet.

    • Anonymous


      • anon

        Totally agree. Pretty ridiculous to expect DC’s limousine liberals to lower themselves to the level of Proles & ride the X2.

        • Anonymous

          ha! if only the X2 was full of “Proles”.

  • TaylorStreetMan

    On the accessibility of H Street: ironically, the luxury of having a pretty good metro system (or having one at all!) has made DCers lazy and unwilling to move beyond their transit comfort zones.

    The fact that since H St is not metro accessible makes it almost inconceivable to trek on down there is testament to that. In just about every other city in the country (without a metro) people would say “oh, they moved across town? A little less convenient, but let’s go!”

    I think we’re spoiled. If the metro doesn’t dump you off within a few footfalls of your destination, then it’s somehow a hardship. I know that for folks without a car, it’s more difficult, but like others have said, there are other ways to get there without the train. My brother doesn’t have a car and he hits H St all the damn time.

    Anyway, I think the move is awesome and a welcome addition to that growing area. So, let’s get a little more resourceful and support them!

    • Anonymous

      you don’t really hang out there much do you?
      your post makes it sound like you don’t realize that h street is mobbed on the weekends. people say “A little less convenient, but let’s go” all the freaking time.

      your characterization of dc people as lazy ( when it comes to going out and drinking/going out ) is wildly inaccurate.

      • TaylorStreetMan

        I’m responding to the people on this blog who are saying how much of a pain it’ll be to go there (and to the reporter from City Paper, who seems to fear for the very life of HR57 because of the move).

        To the mobs and gobs of people who make it out there and have a great time, kudos. I still think DC people are Metro-spoiled, though.

        your characterization of me if wildy inaccurate. :-)

        • Anonymous

          i didn’t characterize you.

          • TaylorStreetMan

            you saw the smiley face, right? just goofin’ with you.

    • dcdude

      I’d venture to guess that for most people, laziness isn’t the issue. It’s safety. You’re more likely to get mugged walking 8 blocks from Union station or waiting for a bus at 2 AM in the morning than you are walking a few blocks to the Metro.

      • TaylorStreetMan

        I could see that. It may indeed be a shorter walk from Union Station to H and 9th than it is from Woodley to Adams Morgan, but the perception (if not the reality) of the safety of that walk is probably the bigger barrier.

        • K

          look up the crime statistics. You are more likely to get mugged walking in the Dupont Circle, Adams morgan or U st area then the H street area. To all that say the walk from Union Station to H st is “sketchy and scary”. Walk out the front door of Union Sta., Down F st, stop and get a cup of coffee at Ebenezeers, and walk the length of F st untill you get to 9th st, bank a left and walk to blocks to the corner of H st. Then all you’ve done is have a really pleasant stroll across capital hill. It’s less then a mile and about the same length of a walk from the Metro to Logan Circle.

          • jindc


            I appreciate and agree with your attempts to convince the trolls that H St NE is not crime central. However your directions will get our new friends stuck as 9th St doesn’t go thru to H St. Better off turning left on 8th St and then taking a right onto H St.

            I’m thrilled to have HR-57 coming to the neighborhood.

    • RegO


      Definitely a good amount of neighborhood snobs in DC. I don’t get it. DC is a small place, you can get to basically any neighboor hood in 15 minutes drive/bike ride/cab, and public transit doesn’t take much longer.

  • cahbf

    a score in theory for H street, but really, people like the idea of hr57 but everytime i go, it’s empty. its one of those places people like the idea of but never really go

  • I think the issue being raised is that there are people who are not comfortable walking 8 blocks from the metro in this neighborhood, or taking the X2 bus. You can argue, and I’m sure you will, about whether or not these people are stupid. The point is that they exist.

    So, the crux of the discussion is–will HR-57’s reduced property tax payments compensate for the new location’s reduced foot traffic?

    I’m not saying H St NE is a “foot traffic wasteland,” because it isn’t. There are great establishments there, and it’s quickly becoming a popular nightlife destination. But you do have to admit that on a given night, there are more people walking around and patronizing the establishments on 14th street.

    Now all that being said, I think this move is probably a smart business decision on HR-57’s part. Regardless of whether they rent or buy the 9th and H street space they’ll move to, it will surely be cheaper than their current space. And as another poster pointed out, HR-57’s target market is probably not comprised of the same people who will find H street too “scary” or “inconvenient.”

    So, I think they’ll keep their target market and reduce their overall cost of operations, while investing in a location that will increase in value as more businesses flock to H street and the streetcar line is completed.

    • Tres

      It may not be that much cheaper, actually. The owner of HR57 owned the building. If he had bought long enough ago, it’s possible that the club was paying him far below current rents, and that he was allowing it.

      • That’s fair. I know they’ve been in operation on 14th street since 1993, so you’re correct that the building was probably much cheaper then.

        I think, from the comments I’ve read from HR-57 owner Tony Puesan, that it’s the property taxes that are hurting him financially. You’re probably right that his own business is getting to pay him below-market rent, but it may be that with increased property taxes he needs a full-paying tenant to make the 14th street building a viable investment.

        I’d also heard that Puesan was planning to sell the building after HR-57 moves, but I admittedly have no idea if the new 9th and H location is one he owns or if HR-57 is renting from someone else moving forward. While you’re right, rent may not necessarily be cheaper if he doesn’t own the new building, if he DOES then it’s conceivable that overall operation costs will be lower as a result of less expensive property taxes on the new building/the same or lower rent HR-57 will pay to Puesan as landlord.

  • Ryan

    Don’t pretend that taking a bus is a viable option for most people going to H Street. They’re incredibly unreliable and infrequent, especially on the weekends, and especially at nights.

    • Kim

      How often do you ride the X2? It’s definitely not infrequent. In fact, on nights and weekends, when metro waits can be 15 minutes, sometimes the X2 comes with more frequency than the metro.

      • Anonymous

        the x2 is very frequent.
        the 90’s are very unpredictable.

    • gk

      really? the x2 is quite frequent; so are the 90 lines. people are just weird/afraid of the bus.

      • Anonymous

        yeah. it’s probably my “fear” or weirdness that makes the 90 buses so infrequent. or bunch up. nothing at all to do with it being such a long route.
        sometimes people that complain may actually know more and have more experience than you.

    • Anonymous

      Right, like the metro with it’s 20 minute waits, that doesn’t serve that many neighborhoods, and stops running after 12am, is supposed to be more convenient?

  • bad_e_bad

    I think the move is a good thing. HR – 57 and it’s bulding are kind of beat. It’s dirty, and the venue hasn’t done much to keep with the times. Not necessarly the good date spot it was a few years ago.

    Speaking of dirty and dated, when is Wonder Land moving?

  • it’s gonna be much harder to get to….i worry it won’t thrive in the h street corridor.

    • Ben

      I actually think it will do fine there–they’re moving from an area of town saturated with entertainment options, to one that practically has none.

      As a Logan resident, I will be very sad to see them go.

  • Happy

    Agree that it’s a risk, but a calculated one for sure. H ST NE is packed on the weekends and most Thursdays and this will likely only increase in the coming years. I also believe there are a lot of locals (ie people who live within a mile of this location) that fit the jazz crowd bid.

  • Dfig

    Big Fan of HR 57 and happen to live right down the street from this new location so I’m very excited…the area really lacks any jazz options so this will be a boon for a crowd that is diverse enough to frequent the new spot! Good to hear!

  • Anon

    I’m looking forward to bar hopping night out on H Street soon…I must be the last person in DC to go over and check it all out…I will then retreat back to my equally scary NW neighborhood.

  • SF

    This is awesome news. I have been hoping for a jazz venue on H for a while now. Welcome to the neighborhood, HR 57!

    As for people who think transportation on H is an issue: of course it is, but not any worse than Adams Morgan, and it will get better. When the streetscaping is finished I think people will come to H just to stroll up and down the blocks.

  • Stephanie

    I certainly hope people still make the trip out there (not that H St. NE is so far “out there”) — HR-57 is one of the most unique spots in the District. My fiance and I went on our first date (and got engaged) there! We’ll be sure to check out its new location…

  • anonymous

    I think it’s great that HR-57 is moving to H Street. The real jazz lovers will follow them wherever they go. I grew up not far from H Street and have been looking forward to its revitalization for years. It is good to know that it is now drawing businesses willing to believe in all that H Street can be. People tend to forget or probably are unaware since they only recently moved to DC, that it wasn’t that long ago when 14th Street and U Street weren’t the most appealing place as it is now. I think the people who lived conveniently to the U street corridor have a lot of entertainment options available to them. I’m glad that there is a budding scene on H Street that will actually be convenient for a lot of us who live in NE.


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