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Owner of The Coupe in Columbia Heights Responds to Your Comments

by Prince Of Petworth December 13, 2012 at 10:30 am 94 Comments

3415 11th Street, NW

Dear Neighbors and Friends,

Thank you to everyone who took the time to comment on PoPville the other day. Your comments, though painful to read, were heartfelt and thoughtful – my entire Management Team and I are truly grateful. I got the sense that for many of you, your words were just as painful to write as they were for us to read! It’s that sincere desire you have for us to succeed that drives us and motivates us to work (24/7) to address ALL your concerns.

We opened The Coupe just over two months ago, giving Columbia Heights its own (and long anticipated) community gathering place – similar to what Tryst and The Diner are for Adams Morgan or Open City is for Woodley Park. Like The Coupe, all of my places had their share of opening problems and growing pains. We overcame many of those problems by changing and growing in response to the needs of the communities we serve. That is the common thread in all my places and what I believe has helped make us successful – an unwavering commitment to servicing the needs of the community by listening to what you have to say and taking whatever action is needed to make it right.

Many of the concerns and comments you expressed became evident to us soon after we opened. Throughout all of October and November, we tried to tackle what we could, knowing all the while that the affects of our efforts were being outpaced by the growing perceptions and the simple reality that more needed to be done. Just this last week we quietly launched a new menu that’s been in the works since early November and we completed a four week period of intense staff training – but much more is needed if we’re hoping to make The Coupe the place you, me and my staff want it to be.

Call it coincidence (maybe bad or good timing), but just as PoP’s blog was posting at 12pm on Tuesday, I was an hour into a major planning session with the Coupe Management Team over how we could tackle many of the very things you identified in your comments. Over the next two weeks, and the first week of January, we are making some much needed changes to our layout, service, consistency, signage, kids menu, pricing and a host of other things that you helped identify – and we would welcome more feedback. While we can be contacted through our website, I’ve setup another email for anyone in our community wishing to provide us with specific feedback, ideas or thoughts – [email protected]

We know that during these first two months we have not lived up to the expectations and standards you have come to expect from us, and for that we are deeply sorry. And you didn’t have to express it in words, we saw the expressions on your faces. We are working to make sure we see those faces again – -and again, and again!

Thank you for your support and patience, and on behalf of the entire Coupe family – Happy Holidays.

Constantine Stavropoulos


Tryst, The Diner, Open City
Tryst at The Phillips, The Coupe

  • Anonymous

    Great response. Let’s hope it translates into action.

  • Anonymous

    much respect for this response.

  • What a nice, straightforward, and heartfelt letter. Thanks so much for writing to address the community’s poor experiences. I wasn’t planning on coming back to the Coupe after our poor service, but I think I’ll swing by again. Much appreciated.

  • Capital X

    “We know that during these first two months we have not lived up to the expectations and standards you have come to expect from us, and for that we are deeply sorry. And you didn’t have to express it in words, we saw the expressions on your faces. We are working to make sure we see those faces again – -and again, and again!”

    Perpetual disappointment?

    • Coffees

      I believe he’s just expressing the thought that people will, indeed, still have faces during their repeat visits.

  • Anonymous

    It is great that the owner is taking people’s feedback into account. I haven’t been to The Coupe yet and now I am very excited to try it out.

    • ANon

      I would recommend you give it a month or so before you try it out, otherwise you will just be wasting your money.

      Their problems were fundamental, not superficial. They take longer than a day to fix and I went a few times between the week after it opened and a couple weeks ago giving it every opportunity, and it was worse, not better; and considering they say they’ve been addressing problems since October and have yet to solve one, doesn’t bode well.

      I hope they succeed, but they’ve falled pretty far and it has a long way to go. No one should expect to go in there in the next 3-4 weeks and expect anything different.

  • On a positive note, a friend of mine had the Eggs Benedict at Coupe a couple of weekends ago and he said they were in the top 5 he’s ever had and he’s had a lot. Seriously, dude can’t get enough Eggs Benedict.

    But very happy to hear you’re listening to your customers and working on getting better. Good luck!

    • Anonymous

      First time I went and had the Benedict it came out on pumpernickle toast, so they have at least improved on this item.

  • Hoodrat

    Well, kudos. I actually thought all the grumping was over-the-top, although there was clearly some need to work on the service. I have had three very nice experiences at the Coupe – once for brunch, once for breakfast, and once for a late-night snack. Other than lamentably slow service the first couple of times, I had no serious complaints. The space is lovely and the food was good, and the service issues will hopefully disappear as the kinks get worked out. If it was on the pricey side, that seems pretty well in line with other spots in the neighborhood. Best of luck to the Coupe, and I really hope the initial reactions don’t doom the place because I think it’s a nice addition to the neighborhood.

  • ctk

    Props to Mr. Stavropoulos. I want to see the Coupe become a great neighborhood joint.

  • AnononThursday

    This is a really considerate response. I wish more restaurants with negative reviews took them as seriously. I too had not tried the Coupe yet but had been warned off by the negative responses. Happy to give it a shot after it is relaunched with better service and adjustments are made to the menu. Best of luck.

  • Anonymous

    Great to hear. You’re a great addition to the neighborhood, and we all wish you the best of luck for improvement and ultimate success.

  • Mt. P

    I have been to the Coupe a number of times with my wife and 10 month old, friends and family. I have never had a bad experience and it is quickly becoming a weekend tradition for us to visit. I am really impressed with the letter from the owner, but I didn’t need it to keep coming back.

    I hope there are others out there that feel the same way.

    • dat

      I’ve been there twice now and had a pretty good experience both times. I do think the food is overpriced (but isn’t it everywhere?). The entrees I ordered were hit and miss – but I expected that from a restaurant that just recently opened. I’ll definitely be back – especially after hearing that they are working on improving things even more.

      Love the atmosphere.

      • Anonymous

        I’ve been 4-5 times or so — can’t really complain. Decent food and service at an acceptable price. But making a decent experience a great experience will definitely lure me out there more often.

  • Anonymous

    Have to echo the above comments — I haven’t been to the Coupe yet, but I just think this letter should be the model for how restaurants/businesses respond to customer criticism. Very graceful.

  • This is how to use social media. Spot-on customer service response here.

  • [email protected]

    Very impressive and timely response. I am looking forward to watching them change, grow and continue to play a positive role in the community in 2013! Another great use of social media and props to @Popville for creating such a great online community!

  • Didn’t address the half smoke on a baguette problem.

  • Quit charging me for fries when I order a burger!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I thought this was America?

    • Rockandroar

      You’ll be happy to know that The Coupe no longer charges extra for fries. We’re all very happy about that.

  • christina

    Lovely and thoughtful. Now, bring back Boulevard Tank 7 on tap!

    • Anonymous

      I know that it’s on tap at Open City…

  • Matt

    Can we have a similar thread topic about all the ridiculous things at The Pig?

    • Anonymous

      Went there two weeks ago and loved it.

  • While I have had some subpar food on several occasions, my last visit was very positive — the hashbrown bowl was delish.

    I am rooting for you!!!

  • This is an awesome response! Like other folks, I haven’t been to The Coupe to date but will definitely try it out after reading this letter.

    As a management major in college, I’m very impressed with their public apology and plan of action going forward.

  • m

    This was a great response and one that we were hoping for. I have been to the Coupe twice and had bad service and mediocre/bad food both times. I decided not to go back even though it is in a great location. After this response I will give it another try or even two. Thank you.

  • Otis St.

    Much respect for responding, even more respect if they turn it around.

    • Anonymous

      Was going to write my own comment, but this about sums it up

  • Ashley Swagz

    Well, I appreciate the response. Especially when so many cafe/diners still carry the attitude that Hipster Rude is somehow cool and chic. It’s not.

    I look forward to you ironing out the kinks. We all know that no Restaurant in DC is AWESOME 24/7 but I do think you need to cut yourself a break. Expecting that you will be able to exceed all expectations in less than a few months of being open is not realistic and I for one do not hold it against you. Thanks for the gracious response and I’m looking forward to being a return diner.

  • This reminds me of the time we had a loooong string about how crappy the CH Giant was. Their manager responded, and, in my opinion, the place improved markedly. Still some issues, but the lines are not as bad as they used to be.

    I too hope to see improvements at Le Coupe because I’m counting on it being my hangout the way Tonic used to be back when it was good.

  • Anonymous

    Sweet, maybe come springtime I will give them another try :)

    POP should do a re-judging in the spring too, assuming things get better.

  • Plus ONE for all the positive karma here!!!1!!1!0

  • Thank you Constantine! I had a so-so meal there last month, but will go back next week for lunch. FWIW when Tryst opened there were some serious glitches but they got turned around reasonably quickly. And I heard that the menu at the Diner was recently revised in response to complaints about the changes.

    • As of last week, the menu didn’t look revised at all and was still the “new” one they started using this year.

      • Bummer! Well hopefully that will be implemented soon.

  • As someone who left a totally candid response before, I’m happy with this post. I planned on giving the place another try anyway, the atmosphere is good, ensuring that the seating is social is key too, one of the great features of Columbia Heights/Petworth night life is that it allows neighbors to meet. I’m stoked to have so many revolutionary businesses moving in after years of nothingness. I think success is instrumental to listening to customer feedback and I think the fact that owners are paying attention means that we’ll all be alright. Cheers.

    • Anonymous

      Revolutionary? Whaaa … ?

      • I’ve lived in Petworth/Col HTS for many years, we haven’t had spots like Meridian Pint, KBC, and The Coupe until recently, it used to all be corner shops and Chinese carry outs. I am thankful for new business, even if they have kinks to work on.

  • Thanks, Mr. Stavropoulos! I just checked your online menu, and I see you have already made the egg section much more vegetarian-friendly. I had lost interest after my first two visits — I’m a very easygoing vegetarian, but the menu previously lacked enough appealing options. So I look forward to coming back soon now that this has been addressed. Please consider making some of the other menu items vegetarian-optional, such as offering the baked eggs and breakfast burritos with or without sausage.

  • styglan1dc

    A classy and very respectful response. I look forward to dining at the Coupe in the new year.

  • Anonymous

    Great response, but come on people — “affect” is a verb, while “effect” is a noun…

    • jt

      Not to be “that guy,” but both “affect” and “effect” can be either a noun or a verb — for a total of four different meanings between the two. Trying to fit all four into a single sentence is kinda fun.

  • Anonymous

    yay! thanks Coupe management for this nice response. I really, really want to love your restaurant but share some of the gripes others brought up. Its a great addition to the neighborhood, and with the fixes identified on this thread, it’ll be great.

    While some of the things I’ve ordered there have been merely okay, the pancakes were AMAZING. So dont change those :)

  • WalbridgeGuy

    Like a lot of commenters, I really want to see this place succeed because I love the concept. Really encouraged by this response. I’ll definitely be giving the place a second chance in the near future!

  • live from Columbia Heights

    great response.

  • whatcamefirst

    This response is exactly the kind of thing that makes me passionate about supporting local businesses/owners. I sincerely hope The Coupe tweaks & polishes the things Mr. Stavropoulos alludes to here. I was one of the commenters with a negative first experience but I am certainly more inclined to give it another chance now. Mad respect for this response.

  • UStreeter

    This guy has been successful for a reason.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sorry but I can’t believe how un-cynical this city of cynics can be sometimes.

    He said he was sorry and sincerely wants you to come back and spend some more money at his restaurant. What he did not say was anything specific, at all, period. Will burgers still not come with fries? Will the croque still taste like wet toast? Are they gonna fire some people?

    I live my life by “actions speak louder than words.” So, while it was a nice letter let’s not all jump back on the wagon. The consensus two days ago was that the place sucked. In my book it sucks until I actually see it get better. I’m not saying it can’t or won’t get better, just that a nice letter changed nothing as yet.

    I do hope they turn it around.

    • Anonymous


    • hungry

      This also reminds me of the positive interaction that “we the people of CoHi” had with the mangement of The Heights via PoP. While not my favorite resturant, their professional response to all of our gripes did wonders for my opinon of them as well, and they have since gotten more of my business. Best wishes Coupe! You may never get all of my coffee money (strong competition at room 11) – but nothing would make me happier that to be able to work you back into my weekly rotation and support 11th street! Thanks for your response.

    • christina

      Yes, very good point. Some of their waiters are so bad that I’m not sure training can help.

  • boo Derby

    very nice. I have yet to try the Coupe (was actually talked out of going last weekend) but certainly will now!

    and THANKS for the tip of the hat to having a kids’ menu. whether i like it or not (most of the time i do), i have a kid AND i like to go out. our monday half-price burger tradition was killed at the Red Derby when they suddenly announced a ban on kids after 7pm (i can’t get him at school until 6.30, haters, because i have a job). oh, also nice was that they announced this in front of my son on the evening that we decided to have my 50th birthday party there. he was CRUSHED. nice 50th birthday present consoling a sobbing young boy…

    i get people not wanting to have kids in bars all the time, but really, was it THAT big a problem (we leave by 8 anyhow for bedtime)? my family was one of the first to go to the RD when they first opened and had been loyal to the place since then. BOO.

    • Derby

      It’s a bar. Let’s keep the kids out, please.

      • also have kids

        so, Derby, you’re issuing a blanket ban now? so much for brunch with the family. i’ll make sure my friends choose better in the future.

        • saf

          And before you had kids, would you have wanted kids in your bar?

          Also, the OP said “after 7.”

        • djdc

          I doubt that “Derby” is actually speaking for the Red Derby.

      • DSB

        As the father of two kids, they have absolutely no place at a bar. It’s inappropriate to thrust the social responsibility of your child onto another bar patron so you can feel good about being out. Stick to restaurants, please.

        • pru

          As the mother of a kid and of another on the way, you have absolutely no place telling another parent what to do in such a peremptory tone. It’s inappropriate to thrust your opinion and perception of social responsibility and good parenting onto another parent so you can feel good about your choices and parenting. Stick to raising your own kids, please.

  • LoganGuy

    Nice response. I will definitely give this place another shot just because of his professionalism.
    Hopefully you did more than just talk to the staff and you let some of them go though. Just saying.

  • Andy

    Great letter. Looking forward to the upgrades. I was really excited about this place but dissapointed by all the reviews that made this place just look so much unlike the Diner in Adams Morgan both in food and prices (I’d think Columbia Heights is a lower average income than Adams Morgan, so more expensive didn’t make much sense).

    Also, bring back the old Diner menu and quality! I still love going but I have to say not as much as I used to.

  • Anonymous

    Meanwhile, I LOVE my Room and Board Furniture purchased on 14th street, the alternate site where which ultimately did not become Mr. Stavropoulos’ venture. There was a lot of handwrining when Room and Board swooped in over the 24 hour spot initially proposed.

  • Lamonting

    Did not respond to the original judging because it just seemed like piling on. Though I did mention the outpouring to my partner and said at the time, “the owner will respond.” We had met him as he was putting on the finishing touches in the last minute push to get open. No one invests that much money with a desire to fail. So I hope folks record the email address he has set up for ongoing input and do what we can as a community to help him (and his staff) succeed.

  • The Real Jason

    I had an absolutely vile meal here about 2 weeks ago. My bowels seriously shifted and I contemplated refusing to pay. I do hope things are turning around.

  • Anonymous

    Yay, we want to love your restaurant and know you can get it right, just you know… get it right :P

  • DC-cg

    i’m happy he wrote this letter, i so badly want the coupe to succeed in the same way its counterparts in adams morgan and woodley have. i read many of the comments from the previous pop review and agreed with most of them, so we’ll see if they’re able to execute on these proposed improvements.

  • Anonymous

    He does have great customer service, but in my experience, it doesn’t translate into meaningful change. We stopped going to Open City because of how mediocre-to-atrocious the food had become. When a plea to return, accompanied by a comped meal for 4, was equally disappointing, we gave up. When it’s free and still not worth it? That’s bad.

  • steve

    The reason for the poor initial comments were because of expectations from the owners’ other successes. If The Coupe is what his other establishments are too their respective neighborhoods I consider myself very fortunate.

    Take 2 months to fix. We’ll be here for many years. I totally appreciate your candor and plans to remedy.

  • Anonymous

    thoughtful response, of course i’ll come back!

  • Tom Geiger, Customer #748

    Well, hopefully they can turn things around. The $8 hummus – which included half of a baby carrot (cut into three slices), a celery nub, two paper thin crackers (which, in retrospect, may have actually been made of paper), and a spoonful of hummus – was an embarassment to restaurant owners everywhere. The prices were so out of sort with the quality and portions of food that my friends and I renamed this place “The Poope.”

    • Anonymous

      Don’t order the guacamole at El Chucho then. The avocado pit takes up half the $8 bowl.

      • Anonymous

        Not any more! The guac at El Chuchos is now a generous portion and pit free.

  • Heartening

    Great to see this response. I really, really hope they give some thought to real vegan options too. The tide is gaining momentum and ignoring people who are not interested in meat and other animal products is going to get to be a serious liability. We often preclude many establishments when out with large groups of friends due to an utter lack of options. Be a leader!

    • Nick

      Vegan? Not vegetarian, but actual vegan? Groan………………….

  • Anonymous-est

    Dear Mr. Stavropoulos,

    Thank you very much for your thorough and candid response. I’m one of the many wannabe-fans and I have a lot of faith in the Coupe. Like others, I would really love for it to become one of many wonderful cornerstones in the neighborhood. It’s reassuring to know you hear our cries and are taking steps to improve your business model and standards of practice. I do look forward to giving the Coupe another try a couple months from now.

    Best of luck with all of it, and happy holidays,
    North of the Coupe Resident

  • brian

    I will continue to support them through their growing pains.

  • hungry Vegan

    I hope they add more VEGAN options. I mean, at least often a tofu scramble or something. Otherwise I will not be going back since there are few options for me to eat.

  • Anonymous

    This is a lovely considerate response from an owner. And after going in there twice I really liked it. Cozy and such. And Like Tryst and The Diner- A pretty moderately priced menu, with good fare in comparison to competitors in DC… atleast you can get a reasonable entree for under $12. In fact their coffee comes with comforts of home, little animal crackers, mugs, and cozy seating. Free Wifi. Just like Tryst. And honestly… lets all remember:

    Tryst has ALWAYS had TERRIBLE service. It doesn’t stop it from being flooded with people on a daily. It’s a coffee shop that is absurdly busy all the time – those pretty foam flowers people adore don’t just get into a computer behind 10 other orders and a full bar and arrive at your table in 2 Minutes. Sorry man. With people working there who have never had a job before or are coming from different backgrounds – $2.77/HR isnt going to buy a robot that can move fast enough for some of you people..they work off tips. If they suck that bad, act accordingly. And I’ve been in the industry for over 5 years, went there often and have friends who work there- I still say the service has always been bad. Nevertheless they have good product, and they’re cozy. But really- what do you expect?… It’s a coffee house with people who come in and move constantly until they find the coziest seat- making rotations scattered, confusing food runners, servers, and others around even. Also, rookie servers. The truth about the service industry is that it has a high turnover rate. So…Which one out of a millions factors would you like? Also- people sitting for over 4 hours in one spot with a check average of $6.00 at certain times of the day- COME ON PEOPLE, its bound to leave room for error… lets remember that a server isn’t a servant- they are responsible for GUEST services, they’re human. Chill out a bit. Be kind.

    I know the drinks take long too. They need two bars- they’re too busy all the time. The DMV has the same issue but you still go…Bars & venues work that way too if they’re cool. If you want some slave labor-and get your stuff faster than the actual proper restaurant order turnaround time of 6-12 minutes depending on item and volume, than maybe you’ll want to go somewhere a bit more posh. Because only in those places are staff paid, trained, and polished enough to act like your personal butler.

    Sometimes critique of a place gets too “ex-girlfriend,” too much drama. If you really don’t like it that badly, just go somewhere else. DC has an absurd amount of new places, and even newer ones popping up everyday.
    Go somewhere to enjoy yourself. Seems like everyone these days are going out almost hoping to bitch about it later. Or get something free.

    • Anon

      “Go somewhere to enjoy yourself. Seems like everyone these days are going out almost hoping to bitch about it later. Or get something free.” <– this.

  • WarderSt.

    I thought that the menu looked different when we came this past week. And I have to say it was a big improvement for us. I love that they finally listed what was in each item as well. For example, the first time I was there I ordered the vegan french toast but wasn’t sure if had soy milk (and my fault for not asking). This time soy milk was clearly listed as an ingredient. The vegan french toast is delicious, by the way. Anyway, our food was MUCH better this third trip and we’ll be back again soon.

  • Very nice to see this article picked up by The Consumerest.

    Good job all and Mr. Stavropoulos, best wishes.


  • Christian Salinas

    Thanks for listening. I would have to say that I would like to see the space a bit warmer in the decor. The coffee area is to bland and cold that doesn’t inspires me to seat down and enjoy a cup of coffee. The walls need some accessories and better lamps. Don’t be afraid of colors.

  • Anonymous

    I never had plans to go to the Couple because it is kind of out of the way for me, but just based on the owner’s response I think I will plan to go within the next few months.

  • Identified

    Well done Mr. Stavropoulos.

    I have yet to try the Coupe, but I have been a regular at the Diner since it opened.

    I look forward to your efforts at retooling this new restaurant, and have faith that you will do so effectively.

  • joelharder

    Nice letter – but, I’d like to see a timeline for change and also make sure a manager walks to each table to ask customers about their experience (especially at night).

    My biggest pet peeve is that the Coupe offers Breakfast ALL Day long but you close the Expresso Bar around midnight.

    No disclosure on the menu? No training to wait staff to make an expresso/cappuccino?

    LMAO! Breakfast All Day but….

  • jenster8dc

    THIS. This is how you respond to criticism. Well done, Mr. Stavropoulos.

    (Now can you please go over to Metro and show them how it’s done? :-) )

  • S

    I love the coupe, although I view it as my go-to place to work on stuff at 3 am rather than a place for great food…..

  • m

    We walked in for mid-afternoon lunch. Not one employee acknowledged our presence. We decided to sit ourselves and waited for 10 minutes for a waiter to come over. Nope thats asking too much! So I got up. Grabbed menus myself and called a waiter over. Held my tung. But, this place is a joke!

  • Anonymous

    I have been waiting for a place like this in the neighborhood since I moved here 3 years ago. The atmosphere is great. Really well done put together layout and décor. Recognize a lot of staff from Diner on 18th street and it is good to see them at the new place. My issue(s) is around the food and drink.
    Keep it simple. Good comfort food at a reasonable price. For example, skip the frog legs and focus on making really good, authentic Buffalo chicken wings with plenty of good quality blue cheese dressing and celery. If you can succeed at that – you have most of the restaurants in this town beat. I was at the Diner on 18th street last week and ordered the buffalo style chicken something-something (not wings…maybe thighs?). Anyway, it was positively awful.
    Iced tea. I just want regular black iced tea! Every time I have ordered is at The Coupe it has been over-brewed – so I have had to water it down with my glass of water. Black tea is pretty forgiving… skip the fancy black, Darjeeling Brand X single brew cup and go with a basic (Neste?) black tea and serve it pitchers with refills.
    Napkins – why so heavy on the starch? I am afraid to put it up to my face it is so rough. Either make the napkins feel like something you actual want to use – or switch to paper.
    Agree with folks about the French fries…dollar upcharge is silly.
    I have faith that changes will be made and that this diner will become a great place to go for years to come.

    One more addition: Tryst + desserts: I was recently at Tryst and had the chocolate cake. My friend has the pumpkin cheesecake…both of our desserts were very dry. Finding a solution to keeping the cakes/desserts moist would be great…even just wrapping them in Saran wrap before putting them back in the display case would probably improve the situation. Probably won’t eat dessert there again.

  • J

    We’ve gone there for the last time.

    The food isn’t any better despite a “changed” menu that basically looks the same.

    This should be a business case study on how successful businesses from the same owner – Tryst and Diner – can’t be replicated. If this place was half of what the diner is it would be amazing. It’s just sad as we own our place in CH and they would have had us as customers forever, at least 3x a month, and we now refuse to ever go there again. That bad.

  • People if you want great coffee, walk across the street to Columbia Heights Coffee Shop. Good brew and no attitude. Nice mom and pop shop and they are there every day. We live in the building behind the restaurant and have put up with the construction noise for well over a year plus the major noise from their trash service which arrives at 5:30-6:00 am and then the parade of loud delivery trucks and loud employees in the back. No regard for his neighbors. Hope yall enjoy it. We wont be going.


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